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BUILDING RECOGNITION

From the outside, the old Lebanon County
house and its adjoining building looked tired and worn.

From the outside, the old Lebanon County
house and its adjoining building looked tired and worn.

The farmhouse had shed bits and pieces of its white paint,
and flecks of white were scattered around the backyard.

The window panes looked thin and tattered, and the roof
looked as though it had borne the weight of one too many snowstorms.

Inside, though, freshly painted walls radiated tranquil
shades. And the hardwood floors gleamed under a recent polish.

There was warmth that felt like home in those rooms. And for
the Central Pennsylvania family that lives in
the house, some generous help will make it more of a home.

Jim and Linda Litschi of Myerstown won a contest offered by

Harrisburg-based WHTM-TV (Ch. 27) to renovate the house,
“Extreme Home Makeover” style. More than 70 business owners are supporting the
project. Builders, electricians, window specialists, lighting companies and
more will donate expertise, time and materials to remodel the family’s house in
a week.

Business owners and managers said it’s a good way to give
back to the community. But there is some spinoff. The name recognition and
networking helps business, they said.

Jeff Musser, president of Dillsburg-based Musser Home
Builders Inc., is the project manager. This is the third year he has
participated.

Musser gets most of his lights, electrical switches and
wiring he puts in his houses from Yale Electric, which has stores across the
region. Yale participates because the project gives the company an opportunity
to give back to Musser, said Jenn Gibble, lighting consultant for Yale. Yale
has worked with Musser for nine years, she said.

“We are supporting one of our biggest customers,” Gibble
said.

Musser buys doors and windows from Advanced Sash & Door,
which has stores in Lower Paxton Township
and Silver Spring
Township. Advanced
participates because Mike Sheely, the company’s owner, wants to support Musser
and give back to the community, he said. But there are other reasons.

“It allows you to network with other builders and suppliers
in the area. There are 30 or 40 different guys here,” Sheely said.

All of the materials and labor are donated. But those
donations helped participating businesses garner more work.

Sheely made sales through the connections he has built at
the station’s previous makeover projects, he said.

Musser picked up several jobs at the makeovers, too, he
said. And while that may not be the sole reason he participates, the spinoff is
nice, he said.

“The name recognition we get is big,” Musser said. “It’s
amazing. When your name is attached to something this good, there is a positive
association attached to it.”

Volunteers will work around the clock to finish the work in
a week. They will start revamping the house May 2.

The Litschis are not allowed to watch the local news station
May 2-9. They will stay in donated hotel rooms that week, and they are not
allowed to drive by the house or ask anyone in their neighborhood what is
taking place at their house that week, said WHTM assistant news director Cathy
Hobbs. The house will look totally different when they arrive for the big
reveal May 9, she said.

It would normally take five months to complete the work the
volunteers will set out to finish in a week, but Musser said he could not share
any other details until the reveal. He

also said he would not reveal the cost.

If Jim gets his wish, the 50-year-old heating system and
roof would be replaced, he said.

And the house could be made more accessible for the children
with disabilities who live there.

Seven of the Litschis’ 12 adopted children have special
needs. Those children are between the ages of 1 and 17, so there is never
enough time for home-improvement projects, Linda said. The Litschis also have
two grown biological children and another who passed away.

“The house has needs, and we keep chasing the needs of the
house. Jim does all the work,” Linda said. “If the house is done, there will be
more quality time with the family.”

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