“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.”
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.