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A St. Paul woman whose home day-care business is known as the heartbeat of a multicultural neighborhood learned Friday that her family will be featured on the popular ABC television series, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
Sandy Morris and her children, 15-year-old Catricia and 12-year-old Mychal, answered a knock at their door in the District Del Sol neighborhood to find host Ty Pennington. He will lead a cast of thousands to demolish the house and build a new one in its place.
"It's so surreal. I'm shocked. I feel blessed," Sandy Morris, 40, said outside her yellow 100-year-old house at 226 Prescott St., just south of downtown St. Paul. She and her children huddled under leaky skies after ABC-TV film crews spent hours inside their house preparing scenes that will air at an undetermined date.
Morris, who grew up in the house, said "Extreme Makeover" came just in time, because the foundation is crumbling, the roof is sinking, walls are buckling and the basement has mold. Still, she said she is sad that it will be torn down because of all of the family memories. She bought the house from her mother, who has since died.
"It's going to be quite emotional," she said.
The Morris family will take a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico, while hundreds of workers, led by TJB Homes of Blaine, builds a new house in 96 hours. The construction firm built an "Extreme Makeover" house, in Minnetonka in 2007, in 99 hours.
Sandy Morris was working as an early childhood education teacher when Catricia was born. Frustrated that she couldn't find suitable day care, she started her own. Tia (Aunt) Sandy, as she is known to the children, teaches them Spanish and creates a regular curriculum that keeps parents coming back, said Nina Edmond, whose daughter NaTouri has attended for four years.
"It's a very good day care," she said.
On Friday, several parents of children under Morris' care came to her house as she waited to find out if she was chosen from five nominated St. Paul families.
"The love and support they've given me is just amazing," Morris said of her day-care families.
Tom Budzynski, who owns TJB, said the new house will provide plenty of personal space for the Morris family but additional space for the day-care business that Sandy has operated for the past 14 years.
"She's a very caring person," he said. "We're going to make a difference for this family. We're going to try to make a difference in the neighborhood."
A food drive, a blood bank and a neighborhood cleanup will benefit all of the people who live in the vicinity of the Morris residence, he said.
The day-care area in the new 2,800-square-foot house will have its own kitchen and a pint-size bathroom for the children. Designers also added a play area above the garage.
In 2007, "Extreme Makeover" built a 5,600-square-foot house in Minnetonka for Vikki and Erik Swenson and their eight children. The Swensons had taken in the four children of her sister, Teri Lee, who was murdered in 2006 in Lakeland Township, in Washington County.
By Friday afternoon, hundreds of volunteers were converging on the Morris house to begin the whirlwind teardown and new construction. The Morris family will see their new house in a week.
"It is truly a lot of people helping out," said Don Pendergrast, a TJB employee.
Anyone wanting to volunteer can do so through the TJB website at www.extrememakeovertjbhomes.com/712-volunteer.html.
Kevin Giles • 612-673-4432