Dreams Come True in Voluntown

Made For TV Home is Revealed

The Girard family in Voluntown has a new home.

It only took only a week to build thanks to thousands of volunteers and ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

By now, most Connecticut residents know the story behind the story. 

The Girard family has seen more tragedy in a year than most people see in a lifetime. But Thursday, the family was crying tears of joy, overwhelmed by a community that came together and worked so hard to give them at least one happy ending.

Hundreds of volunteers stuck around Thursday afternoon and followed the script. "Move that bus," they yelled over and over in unison.

To the sound of cheers and applause, the television crew moved the bus and revealed the Girards' new house. The "reveal" scene has become a trademark of sorts for the program.

It is said your home is your castle and Thursday, the Girard family came home to theirs. The designers actually used a castle theme for the large house.

From the turrets to the balconies and drawbridge entryway, the Tudor style home represented a new beginning for the Girards. 

Building the home was a week-long labor of love for the builders, as well as many volunteers from southeastern Connecticut.

"These people always helped everyone else. Even when their luck was down, they helped other people." one volunteer said.

It wasn't an easy task. Since the work began last Friday, extreme weather made the 'extreme home' nearly impossible to build. Workers battled rain, snow and ice to get it done. They succeeded.

"We were able to prevail and deliver the house on time," builder David Gesiak said.

The Girards' reaction when they got their first glimpse of the house made all the work worth it to those who had invested time and labor.

"I cried," Bruno Hayn, of Home Designs, said.  "We accomplished what the family had always dreamed about. They haven't had a lot of dreams fulfilled lately." 

Fulfilling the dream was one of the most important things the volunteers could have done, Hayn said.

The "reveal" seems to bring out the whole town. School was canceled for the day because of the traffic issues and to allow students and teachers to participate in the big event.

The Girard family home burned to the ground last year.  Then, the second tragedy rocked the family and community. In June, Thomas Girard and his 18-year-old son Marc drowned.

Thomas and three of his children went for a swim in a local lake. When Thom began having trouble breathing, Marc made sure his two younger siblings were safe before rushing into the lake to help his father. Both died as Marc tried to save his father’s life, leaving Carol and her four children Adam, Jacqueline, Lucas, and Hannah devastated. 

Marc had just graduated from Norwich Free Academy and was planning to study to become a priest.

Thom, who was a computer technician, donated his time to raise money for the elderly and the poor and to repair computers at the children’s elementary school.

After the fire, the family members moved into a tent, then into a tiny camper on their property.

Eventually, they were forced to move to Carol’s mother’s house, almost 40 miles away from where the children go to school. The children sleep where there is room -- in the living room or in the cellar, due to lack of space.

The new house has five bedrooms, three-and-a-half bathrooms and it is completely green. There are solar panels and a geo-thermal heating system. It will be one of the only state certified green homes in the state.

To further help, Connecticut Light & Power is supplying a year's worth of power. 

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