Extreme Makeover Home Edition: Rhode Island

May 6, 2008

The Extreme Makeover Home Edition crew made their way to Rhode Island last February to visit Warwick’s Silva Family who lived in a small, one-story home which was found to contain lead. One of their children tested positive for high levels in his system. To make things worse, the lead, which was all over the house, property and in the soil, couldn’t be covered up but had to be removed. Their house was also a foster home for children as well as their two sons and three adopted sons. So there were a lot of kids to think about.

They didn’t have the money to do all the work necessary - I can only imagine how expensive it would have been to remove all the lead inside & out. So a family friend wrote to ABC and soon Ty and the crew were making plans to demolish the house and build a new one.

Our sales manager { who also lives in Warwick } found out about the taping on our local news channel and suggested we donate albums to the family. We said, “Sure!”, but who knows how to go about doing these things. Turns out - she does! Within a day she had an appointment with the lead designer (who isn’t one of the people you see on TV, BTW…) and was out the door and off to the set with a briefcase filled with Rag & Bone Albums. A few hours later she called us from the car to say she had a lovely time, they liked our books and picked out a few for the family. She also had a surprise for us.

When she returned to the studio, she had a shoebox full of the Silva family photos. “We get to make the family album and even put it together for them!” We were thrilled and honored!

I have to say, if it was me who visited the set of the show, I wouldn’t have walked away with the precious family photos, but our sales manager is one of those people you trust from the first moment you meet her, so she was handed the box of photos no questions asked.

We bound the book that day and mounted the photos that night. We didn’t know who the family was, so we had to just start matching photos as best we could, “Is this photo the same little boy as in that picture?” We had our fingers crossed hoping we didn’t mix up someone’s baby photos.

On Saturday, February 22nd, two days before the final unveiling, we delivered the albums and were treated to a VIP tour of the house. We slipped paper booties over our street shoes and got a grand tour of the house. The producer was so nice to us. We were just donating books, but we were treated like special guests.

I always wondered what it was like in one of these houses built overnight. Did it smell of paint? Was it made out of cardboard? Was it crooked? Absolutely not! It was beautiful inside. If you saw the show, you know how beautiful the whole house was. There was no paint smell and it didn’t have that “new house” feel either. If we didn’t know any better, we wouldn’t have thought much about it really other than what a beautiful house. It felt like a home. I guess that’s the best way to describe it, it just felt like a home, not just a house. It wasn’t about paint and drywall and tile, it was about all the people who put their care into building a home for a family who needed one.

And the whole Extreme Makeover crew couldn’t have been nicer! They are as sincere as you see on TV. They really love what they do as do all the volunteers and everyone who donated time and materials. You know you’re doing something wonderful for a very deserving family, so you can’t help but get a little teary eyed on the set. There were hugs all around and we were invited back for the unveiling two days later.

On Monday the Rag & Bone staff wore big blue “Extreme Makeover” T-shirts and camped out in front of the Silva house along with hundreds of other volunteers. It was cold and windy, but no one seemed to care. The taping took longer than expected. We kept yelling, “Move that bus! Move that bus!” then the producer would thank us, the cameras would move then the producers would get us to chant again, “Move that bus”! This was all for the pre-taping: the bus didn’t budge!

The Silva family pulled up in the Limo after that, there were tears and hugs all around. We couldn’t hear what Ty was saying when he was talking to the family, but the crowd nearby was “awww”-ing and wiping tears.

Finally, we yelled “Move that bus!” one last time and the bus really moved. The family erupted with joy, and we all yelled. There were hugs for the build crew and the carpenters. { there were lots of hugs all around! } We heard Ty say something like, “Are you ready to take a look at your new home!?” and the Silva family waved goodbye and walked up the front steps.

But the door was locked!

Dad turned around with a sheepish, “Huh?” and we all chuckled. Turns out, the film crew had to set up inside - put on the booties and get ready to tape inside. So we all waited together for another ten minutes or so.

Eventually, they went inside. We stuck around and got to meet the Mayor of Warwick, Scott Avedisian, and thanked the producers.

This past Sunday, May 4th, we invited friends and family over to watch the show. We donated a Large Album with the Secret Garden cover option with black pages - the first page included gorgeous calligraphy in white ink. The second book was a Blue Arbor Large Album. And a handful of Pocket Brag Books.

It was a feel-good time for the Rag & Bone Crew. I can’t help but tear up when I watch the show and I can say that everyone involved was as generous, kind and sincere as you would expect. Even the designers you see on air thanked us for coming when we toured the house. Thank us? Whaaa? Thank YOU we said.

Our books were on-air (but if you blinked, you missed them) and we’re listed on the ABC website under “Ty’s Secret Project”.

If the Extreme Makeover crew comes to your town, they’re always looking for volunteers. Join them for a time you won’t soon forget. If they make it our way again, we’ll try to do more. It was our pleasure.

Congratulations Silva Family - you deserve all the good fortune that’s coming your way!


Our Album is on the coffee table there, in the middle. See it?

Visit Extreme Makeover Home Edition


  1. What a great story! I grew up in Warwick and my family still lives there, it’s so much fun to read about local stuff way out here California!

    I don’t think I’ve commented before, but I love your blog. You’ve been on my Google reader since I signed up. I first discovered Rag & bone shortly after moving here, in a bookstore in Menlo Park! I was so excited to find something from “home” and also to find that there’s a bookbindery in RI!!

    Then I worked in the San Jose Paper Source for a while and we sold some of your albums. I used to talk them up. ;) Thanks for all of the great links!

    Comment by Jess — May 7, 2008 @ 12:22 am

  2. wow… i think its amazing to be part of such a great show. i love the series. a pity that the local tv network did not pick it up for a second season.

    Comment by Ruth — May 7, 2008 @ 3:49 am

  3. That is so cool! Did you get to meet Ty? He’s such a nut, but you can’t stop watching him. I agree that the show is indeed a awesome way to help people out who need it. I get a little teary when I watch too - you’re not alone! And congrats. Kelly

    Comment by Kelly — May 7, 2008 @ 1:47 pm

  4. Hey Jess, thanks for the kind comments - it’s what keeps me going! Glad we can bring a little bit of Rhode Island home to California for you. Jason

    Comment by Jason Thompson — May 7, 2008 @ 2:18 pm

  5. Hey Kelly, We didn’t meet Ty, though he was pretty accessible during the days he was around. We have photos of him painting in the front yard of a neighbors house. And he was just walking around sometimes, but we didn’t say hello, most of us tried to be respectful, or maybe we were just shy. Jason

    Comment by Jason Thompson — May 7, 2008 @ 2:19 pm

  6. Hi there!
    I follow your blog since about a year. Although I’m more into textile, I do like your posts on paper in a broad sense. Thanks for sharing.
    I know the TV program, because a commcercial station here in Belgium also broadcasts it. Great that you could participate in this way.
    Goog luck with everything you undertake!
    Veerle, Belgium

    Comment by Veerle — May 7, 2008 @ 2:53 pm

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