Zdroj Family Says Thank You

We wish you all could have been at the press conference today to hear from the Zdroj family. The appreciation they have for the community and the effort that was put forward for them was overflowing. We thought you might enjoy a few of the quotes from the conference.

“I could not have chosen a better place for our family to settle,” said Mizzy Zdroj. “We are so blessed by this community. And I am so honored and so grateful to everyone who volunteered. I hope that each and every one of them has an awesome Christmas with their family.”

“This home is a chance for our kids to have Christmas in their house and celebrate the season. We never thought anything like that would be possible. The first thing the kids said to me was, ‘Santa Claus can come down the chimney!’”

Chris Zdroj said, “It’s amazing, it’s humbling – and it’s an affirmation.”

Mizzy Zdroj to Eric  Christophe of EFC Custom Homes
“When the house burned, I told my family that there was a plan for us. And Eric, you have been a huge part of making that possible. God bless you. You are family now.”

“I want to express my undying gratitude to you and your family and to this wonderful community. To the firefighters, to the people who have traveled from all over to give my family a home for Christmas. And we’re going to pay this forward. You can count on it.”

Community Support for Habitat for Humanity and Zdroj Family

EFC Custom Homes and the Central Texas community presented two checks totaling $25,102.78 today at the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Zdroj Family press conference.

EFC Custom Homes’ vision for the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build was that it would be only a first step to Rebuilding Bastrop County. As part of the renewal, EFC Custom Homes decided all contributions raised around the build would be equally divided between the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition family and Austin Habitat for Humanity. Funds going to Habitat for Humanity were to help with the organization’s rebuilding plans for Bastrop County.

Through t-shirts sales, raffle ticket sales and sponsorships, more than $25,000 was raised in less than two weeks. And today, Eric Christophe of EFC Custom Homes presented a check for $12,551.39 to the Zdroj Family and $12,551.39 to Habitat for Humanity.

“Our goal is that the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition house will be only the first of many homes to be rebuilt in this community and hopefully this money will help Habitat for Humanity move forward with their plans for Bastrop County,” said Christophe.

Dedicated Community Answers the Call

Throughout this build, EFC Custom Homes has been asked how is it possible to build a house at such a rapid pace. It is quiet a science of construction management and a lot of sleep deprivation. But it is only thanks to extremely dedicated vendors and volunteers that donated everything for the Zdroj family home that this feat has become a reality.

When we sent out a call for volunteers, they came. When we asked for skilled workers, they came. When we asked for materials donations, they came. When we asked vendors to help, they came. This house is definitely a house built by the Central Texas community.

EFC Custom Homes would like to thank the many people and vendors, who said “yes,” when we called to build this beautiful home for the Zdroj Family.

If you have a chance to say thank you or can support these vendors, please do. They helped make this Extreme build a reality.


  • Danze & Davis Architects, Inc.


  • Dave’s Fence
  • Greenscapes Landscaping
  • Mulch Matters
  • Here We Grow Again, LLC
  • Tapia Landscaping
  • Tejano Landscaping
  • The Great Outdoors Nursery
  • Trees of Texas


  • Azil Property Services
  • Merry Maids


  • ABC Home & Commercial Services
  • Anchor-Ventana
  • Austex Construction
  • Austin Contractor Services
  • Bradco Supply
  • Brundage Bone  ê-repeat. Delete?
  • Brundage-Bone Concrete Pumping
  • Buffalo Framing & Truss
  • C&Z Enterprises
  • Casa Mechanical
  • Case Mechanical
  • Central Texas Reinforcement, Inc.
  • Christophe Carpentry
  • Christophe’s Home Improvements
  • ClimateMaster
  • Clover Framing
  • Consolidated Crane + Rigging
  • Cope Plastics
  • Cool Insulation
  • Creative Stone / Elite Stone
  • Dale Cook Backhoe Service, Inc.
  • Dallas Rail & Mantel
  • Daltile
  • Davey Tree
  • Derrick Rental
  • Doug Gorton Professional Painting
  • Equipment Management Services, LLC
  • Estrada Countertops
  • F.L. Crane & Sons, Inc
  • Fine Lumber + Plywood, Inc
  • Flooring Solutions, Inc.
  • GAF
  • Garage Interiors
  • Guardian Protection Services
  • Hill Country Ecopower
  • Hoffman Construction
  • IESI/Progressive Waste Solutions
  • J.E. Abrahams Co.
  • Jeff Johnson Construction
  • JLD Painting
  • Joe Bland Construction
  • Joe Cook Hauling
  • JRS Builders
  • Kohler
  • Kraftmaid cabinetry
  • L&M Drywall Inc.
  • LA Grange Overhead Door, Inc
  • Lauren Concrete LP
  • Liberty Builders of Texas
  • Lighthouse Solar
  • Lott Brothers
  • Lumber Liquidators
  • Mastic Home Exteriors by Plygem
  • Marcelos Sand and Lawn
  • Maxwell’s Closet Classics
  • McAlister Excavation
  • Meyerson Custom Builders
  • MHR&R Enterprises
  • Mike’s Metal
  • Mike’s Metal Construction
  • MLA Geotechnical
  • MLAW Engineers
  • Mobile Mini Inc
  • Mr. Appliance
  • Numen Development
  • ProBuild
  • Professional Land Surveyors
  • Plygem Windows
  • Reese Custom Homes LLC
  • Reinforcement Steel Supply
  • Robles Construction
  • S&B Drywall
  • Select Blinds
  • Sharp Propane
  • Silestone
  • Southern Custom Trim
  • Squeaky Clean Windows
  • Startex Concrete Designs, LLC
  • SUPERTHERM Coating
  • T&T Construction
  • Teocalli Decks & Fences
  • Texas Concrete
  • Total Trim & Cabinets
  • TreeHouse
  • USG Corporation
  • Versa Tile and Carpet, LLC
  • Wade Cook Backhoe
  • Wheeler
  • Wilkerson Construction


  • Globe FireSuits
  • Motorola Solutions
  • Shelby Gloves
  • Texas Wildfire Relief Fund


  • All American Sleep + Mattress
  • Allthingswhite.etsy.com
  • Blissful Meandering
  • Glideaway
  • Mine Safety Appliances


  • Angeli Carriages
  • ABF Freight Systems, Inc.
  • Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus, LLC
  • Campers Direct America
  • Central Transportation Systems
  • Crestview RV Center
  • Diamond Coach
  • Kawasaki of Caldwell
  • RV Outlet Mall
  • RV Station
  • United Rentals


  • ALE Cares
  • Aqua Water Supply
  • Bam-Bam R&R
  • Bastrop Opera House
  • BlackoutSign.com
  • Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative
  • Blue Branch Farms
  • Classic Accessories and Christmas
  • Classic Bank
  • Chapman Woodworks LLC
  • Costco
  • Eminence
  • First National Bank
  • Greatbigsingsinc.com
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites of Bastrop, Texas
  • Houston Container Connection
  • Hyatt Lost Pines
  • Imagecraft Exhibits
  • Koehler Barton Insurance
  • LiftMaster
  • Live Air Networks
  • Lost Pines Artisans Alliance
  • Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shot
  • Mission Restaurant Supply
  • MSA Pittsburg, PA
  • Navis Pack & Ship
  • New Era
  • Sam’s Club
  • Servpro of South Austin
  • Smash Designs
  • Staples
  • Strong Events
  • Talon Inspections & Construction Consulting, LLC
  • Texas Rain
  • The Home Consignment Center
  • Turnout Rental


  • Carl’s Jr.
  • Chili’s
  • Domino’s Pizza
  • DoubleDave’s Pizzaworks
  • Frito Lay
  • La Cabana
  • Little Caesar’s Pizza
  • Mission U-Too
  • Murphy’s Steakhouse
  • Pepsi
  • Pizza Hut
  • Rudy’s BBQ & General Store
  • Southside Market
  • Sparkletts
  • Starbucks
  • Taco Cabana
  • Texas Coffee Traders
  • Texas Roadhouse
  • V&V Sausage Company
  • Wendy’s
  • Whataburger

Creature Comforts

by Pamela Baggett

The Zdroj family not only lost their home to the wildfire in Bastrop County, but also their chickens, rabbits and some pets. But Daisy the donkey managed to find her way to safety. The Extreme Makeover: Home Edition crew decided to build her a new home, too.

Daisy’s shed is inside a corral and part of a trio of special critter havens adorned with animal murals. Her shed has a butterfly roof that mimics the Zdroj’s home.

The rabbit shed houses three rows of three cages. The floor is raised several feet above ground level to keep the animals dry and to make it easy to keep the cages clean.

The state-of-the-art chicken coop will house at least 14 nesting birds. The sky-blue coop has egg-shaped openings from inside the coop for the chickens to access the nests, and hinged drop-down doors on the outside to make it easy to collect the eggs. Three sides and the floor are wire mesh with foldable sides to protect against the elements and other animals looking for a meal.

Like the rabbit shed, the coop has a corrugated metal roof and raised floor to keep the chickens dry.

Since all special homes need “curb appeal,” this one has an egg-shaped, flap front door.

Karen Baker, a member of Single Volunteers of Austin, was part of the paint crew. “I’ve done a lot of painting, but this is my first chicken coop,” she said.

Day 7 Update

Move the Bus:

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and EFC Custom Homes invite the community to help “Move the Bus” for the Zdroj Family tomorrow afternoon. Fans will check in at Riverbend Park in Smithville and will be shuttled to the build site. Check in time is tentatively set for 1:00 p.m. but subject to change. Fans should wear holiday attire.

Construction Update:

Today, EFC Custom Homes and volunteers from throughout the community put the final touches on the house and worked diligently on landscaping. Some Tuesday project highlights included:

  • Final wall and trim painting
  • Fixtures installed
  • Critter housing finished and painted
  • Water capture completed
  • Grass and trees planted
  • Walkways finished out
  • Fencing begun

Furniture started to roll in this afternoon and designers are hard at work getting the house ready for it’s unveil tomorrow afternoon.


Fund Raising for Family and Habitat for Humanity

Money is being raised for the family and Habitat for Humanity throughout the build week. Rebuild Bastrop County t-shirts are available at volunteer check in as well as raffle tickets for an exclusive home tour.

Contributions raised throughout the build will be equally divided between the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition family/build fund and Austin Habitat for Humanity. Funds going to Habitat for Humanity will be used toward the rebuilding efforts in Bastrop County.

To donate, visit https://www.wepay.com/donate/109821

Buescher State Park Employees Support Neighbors

by Bonnie Anderson

Day 6 of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build in Smithville brought a new crop of volunteers and insight into the lingering effects this wildfire has had on this area of Texas.

Willie Steinhauser, who has worked as a ranger at Buescher State Park for over two years, was one of many packs of volunteers who came to help along with five of his co-workers including his boss, Cullen Sartor. Monday was their day off but they wanted to use the free time to volunteer and help their neighbors.

Beuscher State Park is less than 4 miles from where the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build site is taking place. Although Buescher State Park was not damaged in the September 4 Bastrop Wildfire, they have been working to help out their fellow employees at Bastrop State Park. A large-scale clean-up effort is underway to clear brush, trees, and other debris.

Only five miles from the build site, Bastrop State Park was nearly destroyed. According to their website, “fire affected 96 percent of the approximately 6,565-acre park. Most notably, the fire had a significant impact on the Lost Pines ecosystem, an area of isolated loblolly pines, and home to the endangered Houston toad.” On December 2, Bastrop opened additional areas of the park but some areas remain closed until they can safely remove any trees and brush that were destroyed in the fire and may pose a threat to visitors.

Many volunteers at the build site have asked if the trees in the surrounding areas will ever come back. “We think that the trees with some remaining green on them will come back but the completely charred trees are unlikely to recover,” said Willie. “We will be learning about the effects of the wildfire devastation for many years to come.”

Texas State Parks are currently facing a crisis. Record heat along with drought and destructive wildfires has led to a decrease in people visiting the state park system. According to Executive Director Carter Smith, there are three simple things you can do to help the Texas Parks & Wildlife system.

Both Buescher and Bastrop State Parks employ certified wildland firefighters. During the fires, these firefighters joined forces with members of the Heart of the Pines Volunteer Fire Department to fight the immense blaze. Steinhauser explained that even though some state park employees had lost their homes in the fire, they still had a strong desire to help out their neighbors.

“You’re all part of the same community and when we work together, this whole event proves what you can accomplish,” said Steinhauser.

Day 6 Update

Construction Update

Some Monday project highlights included:

  • Painting throughout the house continued
  • Plumbing fixtures were installed
  • Tile and backsplashes
  • Countertops installed
  • Start landscaping

Overnight, the wood floors will be installed, fencing put up, and the road will be paved. Tomorrow, EFC Custom Homes will be complete with the build, handing the keys over to the designers. The designers then have 24-hours to get the house ready for the Zdroj family. Furniture move-in will begin in the afternoon. Austin’s New Era Images, a national sponsor of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will be bringing out 20 volunteers to help move furniture in.

Today, Motorola Solutions made a donation of 22 of its latest mission-critical radios designed specifically for the fire service, the APX7000XE radios. Additionally, Motorola Solutions provided the remote speaker microphones, XE RSM, designed to enhance firefighter safety.

Tomorrow, Globe will be on hand to put fire retardant on the firehouse.

Move that Bus

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and EFC Custom Homes invite the community to help “Move the Bus” for the Zdroj Family on the afternoon of December 14. Fans will check in at Riverbend Park in Smithville and will be shuttled to the build site. Check in time is tentatively set for 1:00 p.m. but subject to change. Fans should wear holiday attire. Please check our blog at http://www.rebuildbastropcounty.com and http://www.facebook.com/EFCustomHomes for updates.

Storm Troopers

by Shannon Hoge

Chris Berban, squad leader for the Central Texas 501st Legion was one of a handful of Star Wars re-enactors including an Imperial Officer, Storm, Sand, Snow, and Clone Troopers on site for ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition taping in Smithville  on Sunday.

Berban and members of the Legion, also known as Vader’s Fist, have come from all over Central Texas including Austin, San Antonio, and Houston to donate their time.  The 501st Legion is a Lucas Films approved organization that coordinates visits with sick children and adults in hospitals, as well as charitable and fundraising events.  All of the Legion’s members are employed full time and come from many different industries, including but not limited to technology, public service (police officers), and corporate businesses.  Each member designs and creates their own costume replica and typically, as they will in Smithville, makes a Storm Trooper mask for the family and autographs the inside.  Upon first glance, one wonders what Storm Troopers are doing at such an event.

Berban explained that family patriarch Chris Zdroj and his eight-year-old twin sons have long been fans of the Star Wars saga.  Zdroj had movie memorabilia that he had been collecting since he was a young boy in the 1970s, which was all lost when the family’s home burned in September 2011.  Berban explained that his squad is known as Elite Troopers with hearts of gold.  This was proven true when Berban said that members of his squad had taken pieces of their own Star Wars memorabilia and will be donating it to the Zdroj family to start over with.

When Storm Trooper, Stephen Bellard from Houston was asked why he volunteers to be part of these types of events he replied, “It just makes me feel good.”

Berban shared a personal story noting that he lost his father at an early age.  His family was the recipient of community support and donations and that memory has stuck with him through adulthood.  Berban said he “sees opportunities like this to pay it forward”.  He says the squad members are often happy their suits include masks, “because it helps hide the tears”.

Flooring Solutions Volunteers

by Elissa Portillo

Volunteers Eli Hernandez, Rigoberto Mendoza, Vicente Mendoza, Ramon Mendoza, Juan Zavala, Juan Carlos Sanchez, and Derek Matlock are all members of The Flooring Solutions Company who chose to spend their day off working for a good cause.

The seven workers had been working all day on Sunday installing the ceramic tile and hardwood floors throughout the Zdroj family’s new home. Project Manager Derek Matlock, said when the company heard about the volunteer opportunity, the crew jumped at the chance to give back.

All seven workers expressed that their motivation to work on their day off stemmed from their desire to help out the Bastrop County community that was badly damaged in the September wildfires.  Matlock added that when he learned about the extent of the damage it prompted him to want to help in some shape or form.

Matlock went on to say that even though they lacked “deep pockets,” the crew felt that they could still contribute by offering knowledge and expertise. The generosity of these seven individuals and their willingness to devote their time demonstrated the crew’s desire to “pay it forward.”  And even though they were physically tired at the end of the day, the crew continued to smile as they realized that they were affecting the lives of a family in need in the best possible way.

“This Isn’t About Me.”

by Jennifer Herber

The Heart of Pines Volunteer Fire Department firehouse stands about 100 yards from where Mizzy Zdroj’s house once stood before it was ravaged by fire. As part of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s (EM:HE) build, the firehouse is undergoing a major renovation and expansion. Although it did not burn, it sustained some damage and served as post for the fire fighters who worked around the clock, even while some of their own homes burned to the ground.

Leading the charge on the firehouse is longtime Bastrop resident Sandy Meyerson, owner of Meyerson Custom Builders. Meyerson’s home was spared from the fires and he said it feels great to be helping the very people who helped save his home.

 “It’s the least I can do,” he said. “I’ve never seen an outpouring of volunteers like this. It never ceases to amaze me how people will come out to help. It renews my hope in mankind.”

Heart of Pines Fire Station makeover in progress.

 Meyerson and a crew of volunteers that includes subcontractors, students and employees from local businesses, started by gutting the firehouse. A second truck bay and a brick tower were built. In addition, the exterior of the firehouse got a new coat of paint and bricks half way up the wall. The bathrooms will get all new appliances, new windows were installed and the crews are adding storage lockers for all of the fire fighters, something they never had before. Meyerson said they will also be getting new tools and fire equipment and a new central heat and air unit to replace their old window unit air conditioner. The firehouse will also have new automatic bay doors, thanks to La Grange Overhead Doors.

Meyerson, who spent 38 hours on site the first day of EM:HE, is no stranger to volunteerism – he is also a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight, an organization that flies cancer patients to treatment.

 “But this isn’t about me. So many people are working so hard to make this happen,” Meyerson said.

 Tyler Sager, 18, one of six students from Barbers Hill High School, east of Houston, drove three hours to volunteer. Sager and his friends helped paint and place stone on the outside of the firehouse and picked up excess wood around the site.

 “I enjoy volunteering,” he said. “ I do it for the reward.”

 Shelly Wilson, a cashier at the H-E-B in Bastrop, has volunteered at the site for the last four days and like Meyerson, she feels lucky that her home was spared. She sees EM:HE as a good way to give back to the community.

 “My son called her (Zdroj) a super hero,” she said. “I don’t know her personally, but she does so much for our community, so I wanted to help.”

Lucelva Davis, who works for Payless Shoesource in Bastrop, moved to the area from Connecticut six years ago. She narrowly escaped losing her own home to the fires and said, “I feel blessed. I live a block away from where homes burned. If the wind had changed, it would have been me.”

 Davis said she has never seen a community come together like this.

 “I’m getting to see Bastrop come back to life,” she said. “We’re not giving up.”

 Davis, who is also an antique dealer, said that the fires made her think about what’s really important and thinks it might be time to downsize and sell some of her things.

“You never see a UHaul following a hearse,” she said.


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