Groves contacted Greg Adamson, a sales associate with Prudential Utah Real Estate in Lehi, Utah, and founder of the Heart 2 Home Foundation, a volunteer organization that gifts home renovations to those in need. Think "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" without the television cameras and occasional madcap themes.
Groves had learned about Heart 2 Home on the local news. She called with two ideas in her head: to volunteer and to ask Adamson for a recommendation on her situation. Adamson encouraged her to apply for assistance, and within two months the family was selected to receive an entire home makeover.
"In about 10 days, the home was torn down and rebuilt," says Groves, who now volunteers for Heart 2 Home. The new house has a therapy room for the children and a full gym so that Groves’s husband, a personal trainer, can work from home. "Greg completely changed how we function as a family," Groves marvels. "We got more than a home—we got a life."
Adamson’s first foray into charitable rehab came in 2004 quite by accident. "I was listing homes for a builder who was inspired by ‘Extreme Makeover,’" says Adamson, 33. He and the builder chose to help an elderly woman living with two dependent children. The home was in a shambles. "It ended up being an $80,000 project," he says. "We went to contractors and asked for donations of time and materials. No one said no."
That was supposed to be the end of it—until other families began calling. Adamson teamed up with Tiffany Berg, a Salt Lake City TV news anchor who had covered the first build, and architect Chad Walker, who had been the architect for the builder, to establish Heart 2 Home. "We couldn’t turn our backs," Adamson says.
With Adamson’s leadership, the foundation has performed 12 home renovations, including two in which the homes were completely razed and rebuilt.
Heart 2 Home has from 50 to 500 volunteers work on a project. Most hear about it through the local media and just show up to help. Interior designers, plumbers, and electricians volunteer their services; local and national home stores offer appliances and furniture.
"It’s intoxicating," Adamson says. "We spend 12 to 15 hours a day putting together these homes, and the community comes together just like when they used to have barn raisings."
On more than one occasion, volunteers have started a renovation even before all the supplies were donated. "At first we were very naive," Adamson says, "but it worked—probably because we didn’t know what we were getting into."
With the recession hitting the construction industry particularly hard, Adamson has expanded the foundation to help other local charities, including several cancer charities. "We’re refocusing on doing smaller renovations, such as finishing off the ‘honey do’ list for the husband who has cancer. We want to bring more awareness to cancer issues," he says, because the disease has affected those close to him.
One expansion charity is United Partners for Health, which needed a mobile medical unit to provide medical services to the uninsured. In stepped the Heart 2 Home Foundation.
"Greg and his foundation transformed a 31-foot trailer into a complete mobile medical unit that allows us to visit thousands of people and offer quality, free health care," says Kurt Micka, executive director of United Partners for Health. "No job is too big for him, and he follows through and gets the work done."
What drives Adamson is the support of his wife, who also volunteers, and their three children, ages 8, 5, and 18 months. "I want my kids to see me involved. It’s a big part of the older children’s lives. My dream is that they’ll see what dad’s done and their dreams will be bigger and better. I love that we’ve helped change families’ lives. I love that we’ve made an impact on the community. As long as I’m doing that, I’m fulfilled."
Utah Heart 2 Home 761 S. 2575 W.
Lehi, UT 84043