Aid for struggling family

The old house will be
demolished Tuesday with a new home built by Nov. 30.



CANFIELD — For Rebecca Bailing, the purchase of a house on Shields Road was “a dream come true.”

But the mother of three quickly realized after moving that the house was a nightmare.

Things didn’t start out well. On her first day at the house in September 2004, she found hundreds and hundreds of flying ants inside.

After the ants, it was mice.

It moved on to poorly installed windows, a severely damaged roof, water in the house, septic backup, mold on the walls causing the family to become ill, the housing moving off its foundation and all sorts of other problems.

“The house was a lost hope,” Bailing said. “There were always problems with it. It was just too much. It would have taken forever to have it all fixed.”

Three handymen told Bailing that the problems were so severe that it would be cheaper to demolish her house and build a new one.

Though they were correct, Bailing didn’t have the money for a new house, and said it would have been wrong to sell the “money pit” to someone else.

“I was constantly having to put money into the house,” she said. “It was upsetting. It’s been a constant battle.”

Besides being a single mom raising her two sons — John, 13, and Carter, 7 — and 10-year daughter, Haley, Bailing is a jailer at the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Department, works with the mentally handicapped and is a senior at Youngstown State University majoring in psychology.

Despite her problems, Bailing tried to make her house a home.

About three weeks ago, she had a party for John and Carter’s pee-wee football teammates and their families.

Among those who came was Andrea Murphy of Canfield. She noticed a plastic tarp covering holes in Bailing’s roof.

When Murphy returned home, she spoke with her husband, Don Murphy, general manager of Donnell Ford, and asked if there was a way to pay for a new roof for Bailing.

Don Murphy made a few calls to friends, and they decided that instead of putting a new roof on Bailing’s house, they would build her a new house. “It’s the greatest community to live in the world in terms of generosity,” he said.

Everyone approached to help has volunteered, said Murphy and Sam Pitzulo, owner of Sam Pitzulo Homes in Canfield, who will serve as the general contractor on the new house.

“In the home building industry nationally, builders are just hurting — as are the trades and construction,” Pitzulo said. “Every company is having the worst year, yet everyone said, ‘How can we help?’”

Bailing said she’s overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone involved in the effort.

“It’s not something you expect to see every day,” she said. “It’s so hard to believe. I can’t think of the words to say. Oh, my God, it’s happening. It’s my dream.

“I’ve dreamt of having a new house my whole life,” she continued. “There are people out there who are so generous to strangers. It’s nice to know this could happen. I get so overwhelmed thinking about it. I’m completely shocked.”

Pitzulo typically needs five to six months to build a house like the one being constructed for Bailing and her family — 2,100 square feet with four bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms.

Bailing’s 69-year-old house is 1,236 square feet, about half the size of the new one, with three bedrooms and one bathroom.

Bailing’s house will be demolished at 8 a.m. Tuesday and the new house is slated to be finished Nov. 30 with a final presentation to the family a day later. Bailing and her family will see the house for the first time on a large portable screen television at the lighting of the Green in Canfield.

“We’ll get it done on time with good scheduling and a lot of cooperation from suppliers and the trades,” Pitzulo said. “The construction industry stepped up to the plate. We’ll work at a quicker schedule. It’s amazing that it will happen so quickly.”

The new home and quick turnaround is similar to what is done on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” TV show. “Extreme Makeover” built a new home in October 2005 for Jeff Novak and his three daughters in Boardman.

“This is our first time and hopefully not the last,” Murphy said of his group called Mahoning Valley Extreme Makeover My Home Town.

Bailing will stay with family and friends and at a hotel during construction. The local Pepsi distributor is providing a seven-day vacation to Disney World for Bailing and her kids starting Nov. 10. Goldsteins Furniture & Bedding is donating new furniture to the family, Murphy said.

Everyone involved is eagerly waiting for the Dec. 1 unveiling of the new home.

“When I see the smiles, it will be a great feeling,” Murphy said.

There is still the need for volunteers and money for materials to build the house. Those interested in donating time or resources can contact Murphy at (330) 726-8181 or Pitzulo at (330) 718-7081. Monetary contributions can be made at any Farmers National Bank with checks made to Mahoning Valley Makeover My Home Town.

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