A few months after Ty departed and the bus moved, the Simpson family members were left with the task of making their new home their own. And while a new dream house might sound like a cure-all to any family’s woes, they’re finding it comes complete with its share of joys, complications and surprises. The paint might be dry and the crews might be gone, but the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Simpson family is far from settled. The green Victorian situated on Abercorn and 55th streets is abuzz with activity inside. Jim intensely works the phone for his myriad of projects, Carmen gets Katelyn and Isaac ready to go out, and Zoe sits in his stroller watching the flurry with an amused smile on his face. Besides an all-new house and a constant stream of curious commuters craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the new residents, life continues to move at the typical frenetic Simpson pace. Hailing from Baxley, Georgia, the Simpsons arrived to Savannah in January 2010 to start a new church downtown called the Church of God. Wanting to stay close to work and be near medical services for their special needs child, Zoe, they settled on a foreclosed fixer-upper on Abercorn and 55th with the intention of renovating it all themselves. They rented a house across the street from the property and rolled up their sleeves to get to work, but between establishing a new church and starting an audiovisual business, the renovation schedule started bumping back. “Things started to get rough at one point—we couldn’t afford to stay in our rental across the street so we moved into our unfinished house. That meant no kitchen, laundry room or other basics we’re used to,” Jim says. Through a friend, they heard about Extreme Makeover: Home Edition coming to town and wanted to get the church involved with the build. While Jim had no intention to apply, his wife, Carmen, insisted. “It was a one in a million chance. If we did everything in our power to try to win and we didn’t, I was ready to put my work boots on and help the family that did,” says Carmen. The minute their packet shipped in the mail, thoughts ran through their heads on what they would do if they actually won. “We started asking, ‘What if they pick us?’ It seemed so far-fetched. So we asked ourselves, ‘How are we going to handle this and how can we give back?’” Carmen recalls. So they came up with a list of how they could help people around them, both in the community and globally, if they won.
Photos by Luis Melendez, Bart Baldwin and David Hartfield