When Willie Harvey was diagnosed with epilepsy, his work as a mechanic and heavy equipment operator—as well as the repairs he’d been making to the family’s 1930s Army barracks home—came to an abrupt halt. Employers wouldn’t hire him for fear of possible seizures, and as a result Willie was forced into unemployment. His wife, Alecia, was working two full-time jobs and putting herself through nursing school to better provide for the family of six. Still, they were barely able to make ends meet. Meanwhile, their home was falling down on them! Built in the 1930s as part of an Army barracks, the Harveys’ two-bedroom house was also home to several thousand troops of termites.
The family are very much loved in their community—Willie fixes people’s cars in the neighborhood for free because he loves to help people out. They’re also very involved with a local non-profit organization, Neighborhood Partners, which assists struggling area families; whenever help is needed, the Harveys are the first to volunteer. But now it’s their turn for a little help and kindness.
In addition to the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition design team and hundreds of workers and volunteers that transformed the Harveys’ house into a dream home with enough space for everyone in a remarkable seven days, help was also provided by the Northeast Florida Builders Association community outreach program, Builders Care—a non-profit organization that rebuilds and repairs homes for low-income, disabled or elderly citizens of the Jacksonville area. What’s more, when the design team learned that Willie, Jr. dreams of being an astronaut, they got some help from the Kennedy Space Center to create a special theme room for him.
During the reconstruction, Willie and Alecia and their children—Derrick, 21, Arlayceea, 15, Willie, Jr., 9, Jasmine, 7—and Alecia’s aunt, Mary McCloud, went on vacation to Niagara Falls.