A House of Fingerprints: Church's Generous Donations Lead to House Renovations

By: Tim Schmidt
Posted 11/7/19

The disrepair, however, had finally mounted to the point where something had to be done. "It wasn't a case where the house was not livable," Brandwein said. "It was a case where things fell in place …

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A House of Fingerprints: Church's Generous Donations Lead to House Renovations

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The disrepair, however, had finally mounted to the point where something had to be done. "It wasn't a case where the house was not livable," Brandwein said. "It was a case where things fell in place in the wrong way over and over again. I couldn't fix it. It was a snowball effect downhill." Brandwein's life has been about fighting adversity. The divorced father of four takes care of his children with each disability check that comes in each month. He has been out of work for a few years now, living with a disease that has invaded his nervous system. Prone to seizures and chronic pain that requires him to walk with a cane, Brandwein decided that the generosity offered by the church was an opportunity not to ignore. "Being the father of a family you are expected to do and take care of things you are supposed to do," said Brandwein. "You are supposed to work but I can't work. You are supposed to make sure things are fixed and safe and secure for your family and I couldn't do that either. It snowballed and I couldn't stop it." To help Brandwein, the Warrenton Wesleyan Church came up with its own version of the popular television show, "Extreme Home Makeover." While Brandwein's 950-square-foot, 60-year-old three-bedroom house on South Side Avenue wasn't torn down much like what happens in the show, the entire inside was completely refurbished. From installing new floors and carpet to gutting the entire basement to collecting new furniture, the makeover took care of everything possible underneath the roof that only a few months ago was replaced by the church. The entire project was made possible as the leadership of the Warrenton Wesleyan Church and its members donated money for supplies and volunteered their time working. Ryan Akers, lead pastor at the church located on South Highway 47, estimated at least 60 people chipped in with the work, from painting to nailing to doing small chores like everyday cleaning. The entire project was completed in an eight-day period late last month. Volunteers arrived daily at 8 a.m. and remained on the job until midnight. "I have never been more proud of this church," Akers said. "Just the way people stepped up; they didn't hesitate to help. It was amazing that money poured in and support poured in. It was pretty incredible to watch." A few local businesses pitched in, including C&J Floors in Warrenton, by selling items at cost or donating time during the weeklong remodeling. Though Akers declined to say what the final cost of the project was, nearly everything in the house was transformed. Before the Brandwein family was asked to stay elsewhere for the week, they each received a tub to fill with belongings they wanted to keep. The rest was thrown into a dumpster. "More than anything, we wanted to show how much we loved him," said Ryan's wife, Taylor Akers, who acted as the general contractor. "This was a great way to do it." Other than a few subtle hints, Brandwein didn't know what to expect when the finished project was unveiled. While the kitchen was made to look like an old diner, the girls' room still has that feminine touch and Brandwein's 13-year-old son has a place to hide out. So what were the kids' reactions? "They are beside themselves," Brandwein said. "They don't know what to say or think." Even the Akerses themselves were overwhelmed by the entire mission. "There was one day I walked into the girls' bedroom and I started crying at the reality of the work," Taylor Akers said. "New friendships were built. It was amazing." Earlier this month, Brandwein said the remodeling project has yet to sink in. "It's great for the hundreds of fingerprints on the house," he said. "It wasn't a construction crew doing this; it was people doing this, coming into my house and leaving a mark." One that Brandwein and his children will remember for a lifetime.


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