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.”
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.
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.
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
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”.
Today marked an incredible start to the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build in Smithville, Texas. To learn more about the Zdroj family, who were selected for the Bastrop County build, we have included part of the announcement press release:
Smithville, Texas – ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and EFC Custom Homes surprised the Zdroj family this morning with the traditional “Door Knock” to inform them that they would be the recipients of the new home for the Bastrop County build. “EM:HE” host Ty Pennington and the team of designers, joined by Eric and Herman Christophe of EFC Custom Homes, were on hand for the life-changing moment.
When the largest wildfire in Texas history hit Bastrop County in September 2011, more than 1,300 homes were destroyed, including that of the Zdroj family. What began as a small wildfire in the area quickly raged out of control fueled by high, shifting winds and record draught conditions to become a wildfire that consumed more than 34,000 acres. While Mizzy Zdroj and other unpaid heroes from the Heart of Pines Volunteer Fire Department, along with countless local and national firefighters, fought the flames day and night, many of their own homes were destroyed. The Zdroj family not only lost their house and belongings, but Mizzy’s livelihood as well when her farm and art studio went up in flames.
As is often the case in the Bastrop County community, it is the firemen who are giving back to the community through toy drives and food distribution over the holidays, and certainly this year the community has a debt of gratitude for the extreme efforts that went into saving the community. So, EM:HE, EFC Custom Homes and the community of Bastrop County will be giving back with one of the biggest Christmas gifts ever – a new home for the Zdroj family.
“My family and this community owe so much to the firefighters who gave such heroic efforts and bravery to save the lives and homes of others in the community while in many cases sacrificing their own homes,” said Eric Christophe, President of EFC Custom Homes. “I am so happy to have the opportunity to pay that forward by helping Mizzy and her family rebuild their lives. It is my hope that this is only the first step of a path to begin rebuilding Bastrop County, even better than it was before.”
The “EM:HE” design team, EFC Custom Homes and a community of volunteers have just seven days to build a brand new home for the Zdroj family. While construction is underway, the Zdroj family will be whisked away on a dream vacation to New York, NY for a NYC Christmas extravaganza.