A ‘New Start’ [v172]

JUNE 2013

A ‘New Start’

In the past I’ve mentioned that I am involved with a non-profit, called “Life Remodeled”—similar to “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”—that builds a new house in JUST SIX DAYS! But, they recognize that people in need of shelter also need essential “life skills.” So, in addition to building a modest house for a deserving family in a struggling neighborhood, they also counsel the family in personal money management, careers, spiritual, and psychological issues for a period of three years.

In addition to ‘remodeling’ the family, Life Remodeled also ‘remodels’ the surrounding neighborhood. Volunteers do small house repairs, painting, tree trimming, debris removal, landscaping, gardening, and build small items like wheelchair ramps. So, when the Life Remodeled ‘team’ completes the project, the entire neighborhood has been given a ‘NEW START’!

Now, since most everything for the project is donated—land, materials, and labor—after three years, if the family has paid their property taxes and utilities on time, and has kept the house in good repair, they are allowed to purchase the house for JUST ONE DOLLAR!

[ This is not a “homeless” program, the family members have stable jobs, young children, have rented their residence for a while, and are not looking for a “hand out,” but just a “hand up”—a ‘new start’ ].

The previous five ‘projects’ (in the past 2 years) have built one new house, ‘fixed up’ a half-dozen other houses, and ‘beautified’ a half-dozen blocks surrounding the house–and they’ve all been in Detroit ‘suburbs’. Well, this year we are going into the city proper, and planning to do something REALLY BIG!

We will be building the one new house, but will be ‘renovating’ 24 houses, boarding up 250 vacant houses, and ‘beautifying’ 48 BLOCKS surrounding the house!!!

Some of the required building materials have already been donated by local business and large building supply companies, and the land was donated by a local non-profit working the the ‘target’ neighborhood (though we can always use more!).

Life Remodeled is expecting over 5,000 volunteers to help with the project—with about 3,500 already committed to help. These include many local building and construction firms, a number of local businesses, non-profits, and many local churches. This will be the largest volunteer effort in recent Detroit history!

The project will be begin on JULY 29TH, and conclude with a community barbecue for the neighborhood residents and volunteers on Sunday, AUGUST 4TH.

[ If you would like, click this link for the volunteer sign-up (4-hour ‘stints’, 24×7): http://liferemodeled.com/getinvolved/ ].

For those interested in more details about Life Remodeled, a few months ago I did a presentation at “Pecha-Kucha” (Pa-Chok-a-Cha). It’s an international organization that has a special format for it’s presentations: 20 slides, each being shown for 20 seconds each (and they automatically change, so you can’t go back or ‘dawdle’). [ Pecha-Kucha Detroit web page: http://www.pechakucha.org/cities/detroit ].

The following is the ‘script’ for each slide, or you can scroll down and play the video:

[1] “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” 2.0
– “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” was a great concept—and a powerful reminder about how a group of people can come together to help those in need.
– I always was on the ‘edge of my seat’ and got a wonderful feeling when I saw the family’s overwhelming reaction when the bus was moved and they saw the house.

[2] Something ‘Missing’
– But, there seemed to be something ‘missing’ from the concept.
– How can a family be expected to know how to live a ‘lifestyle’ much different than they are used to, and be successful at keeping the house, without any training?
– Also, could the concept be extended to the surrounding neighborhood, and be focused in needy communities?

[3] “Life Remodeled” 1.0
– The 501c3 non-profit “Life Remodeled” was started to provide a more ‘holistic’ approach to helping a struggling family in a hurting, low-income community, to receive a new home.
– They also recognized that people in need of shelter also need essential “life skills.”

[4] A “Hand Up”
– This is not a “homeless” program, per se—Life Remodeled works with deserving families who do not own a home, but have stable jobs and young children…and don’t want a “hand out”…just a “hand up.”
– Life Remodeled transforms families into a hopeful and healthy functional ‘unit’—knowing that they now have the power to change the future of their “family tree.”

[5] “Life Skills” Counseling
– In addition to building a ‘modest’ home, Life Remodeled counsels the family members in “mind, body, and spirit” issues.
– The family receives training in personal money management, careers, diet/health, spiritual guidance, and psychological issues—all provided by licensed professionals at NO COST—to help them succeed long-term.

[6] Transforming Neighborhoods
– In addition to helping the family, the surrounding neighborhood also gets ‘remodeled’.
– Volunteers ‘extend’ the makeover concept by helping the surrounding neighbors with house and property needs—like repairs, painting, wheelchair ramps, tree trimming, landscaping, debris removal, and the like—all to ‘remodel’ the entire neighborhood!

[7] All With Volunteers/Donations
– The house is completed in 6 days, and presented to the family on the seventh.
– Local business, government, schools, and about 400 volunteers come together to help professional contractors build the house.
– Since all the materials and labor are donated, after 3 years, if the family has kept up the house, and paid their taxes, insurance, and utilities—they are allowed to buy the house for just one dollar!

[8] Helping The Entire Community
– Life Remodeled focuses on involving the entire local community, too. They make the applications to select the family available to all residents within the build city.
– A ‘committee’ of people from government, business, and city residents select the final recipient.
– Free medical and dental clinics are also provided to the greater community during the build week.

[9] Involving All The Neighbors
– Months before the build, Life Remodeled conducts neighborhood meetings to make all aware what will be happening, ask if any would like to volunteer, and determine if there are any “needs” Life Remodeled can address during the neighborhood beautification.
– The neighborhood is not ‘taken over’—the neighbors are encouraged to volunteer, and in doing so, get to know their neighbors a bit better.

[10] “Paying It Forward’’
– The family members put some “sweat equity” into the building of their own house—though the interior is kept as a surprise—and they also help with some of the neighborhood ‘beautifications’.
– We also have them “pay it forward” by having them plan to help with another house that will be built in the future in their general area.

– The Life Remodeled team is comprised mostly of volunteers. However, a licensed General Contractor will manage licensed tradespeople to build the house.
– Life Remodeled has completed houses in Westland, Pontiac, Hazel Park, Farmington Hills, and Redford in the past 2 years.

[12] “Reveal”
– Life Remodeled hosts a celebratory picnic for the neighborhood on the day of the “reveal,” to thank the neighbors, and show them how much Life Remodeled appreciated their efforts and patience.
– The house is then presented to the family all ready to move into—fully furnished…even the fridge and pantry are full!

[13] Continuing ‘Support’
– The Life Remodeled “Lead Team” also goes back into the neighborhood after the build is complete. They help the new family adjust to their new neighbors, continue their financial training, and also help the neighbors continue to work on their new neighborhood.

[14] Lower Income Communities
– Life Remodeled focuses on more ‘modest’ and ‘normal’ life circumstances—helping real people going through real issues that most Americans are either going through right now or have gone through in the past.
– One of Life Remodeled’s goals is to ‘build up’ struggling areas of the Detroit Metro area.

[15] ‘Regular’ People Doing Big Things
– Life Remodeled gives ‘regular’ people a chance to be involved with something that’s much bigger than themselves—and experience a sense of amazement that something this substantial can be completed so quickly…especially with people that have no construction experience!
– Many people that have worked on the builds have commented that they were the ones that were ‘blessed’ by the experience.

[16] An Opportunity To ‘Band Together’
– There’s phenomenal power in this ‘process’. Watching this good happen has encouraged many others to pitch in—from every race, creed, and background—and they all have worked together “doing the most good.” They also found out that they substantially helped change the ‘destiny’ of the neighborhood and family for the better!

[17] A ‘Movement’
– To those who are involved, Life Remodeled is more than just another non-profit organization. “It’s a movement,” says Life Remodeled President, Chris Lambert.
– Evidently this is true…since all the major Detroit area media—TV, radio, and newspapers—have taken notice, and did special ‘feature stories’ about the last few builds.

[18] “Reality TV” Show – Pilot Episode
– If you are interested in more detail, there is a 45-minute “Reality TV” show pilot episode that was created to document the first Life Remodeled build in Westland.
– This will give you a better idea of how the ‘holistic’ approach to ‘remodeling’ families and neighborhoods works.
– In addition to this video, there are also ‘snippets’ from the other 4 builds that were completed in the past year.

[19] Future ‘Plans’
– Life Remodeled is looking to ‘remodel’ more Detroit families and neighborhoods in 2013—and are also looking to possibly ‘expand’ nationally.
– They are looking for nationwide building materials supply donors.
– They are also considering creating a “Reality TV” show that could exponentially increase the “good” ultimately unleashed to help America’s needy…and perhaps encourage tens of thousands of viewers to experience the joy of becoming participants.

[20] More Information
– To learn more about Life Remodeled, or see what we’ve done, we are on Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo.
– We also have a web site that will give you a lot more details.
– I appreciate the event organizers for this opportunity to present this to you all.

[ By Mark Besh, November 15, 2012 ]:

All this to say, we are going to need A LOT OF VOLUNTEERS—and you don’t have to have any construction experience! The following is a list of ‘jobs’ that are available, for all kinds of skill levels and ages [ Note: The house is built by licensed professional trades people ]:

– Remove blight/board up houses in the surrounding neighborhood
– Remodel many of the surrounding neighborhood houses
– Landscape properties of surrounding neighbors
– Serve food and drink to the volunteers
– Safety and security (Day and night)
– Hospitality (Meeting neighbors and helping them out)
– Medical assistance (Certified professionals or helpers)


Most people say they value volunteering because it’s “the right thing to do,” among other altruistic reasons. But the strongest drivers of successful volunteers are actually more self-focused, notes Allen Omoto, a professor of psychology at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif. There are five main reasons people volunteer. Three are “self-focused”:
– Understanding: The desire to learn new things and acquire knowledge.
– Esteem enhancement: Feeling better about yourself and finding greater stability in life.
– Personal development: Acquiring new skills, testing your capabilities, and stretching yourself.

Two are “other-focused”:
– Sense of community: Making the world, or your piece of it, better.
– Humanitarian values: Serving and helping others, often with a strong religious component.

As that last one notes, for me, quite simply it’s because Jesus told us to! However, He didn’t just ‘willy-nilly’ command it, He ‘modeled’ it for us:

“During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”

His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”

“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied.

He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children.” [Matthew 15:32-38].

Now, it’s highly likely that we could perform such a ‘miracle’ like this, but Jesus is really just saying to bring everything you have to ‘bear’ on a situation, and more often than not, what is needed has a way of ‘showing up’.

Compassion for the needy was just a part of Jesus’ character—and He wants it to be a part of ours!

One verse that nicely summarizes Jesus’ expected compassion of us is found in the first epistle of John: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children let us not love with words or tongue but with action and in truth” [1 John 3:17-18]. Equally important is a time of judgment Jesus mentioned—it is often referred to as the “judgment of nations.” It’s a time in which those assembled before Jesus will be divided into two groups—the “sheep” on His right side and the “goats” on His left. Those on the left will be sent to the “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” [v. 41], whereas those on the right will receive their eternal inheritance [v.34]. Noteworthy, however, is the language Jesus used in addressing these separated groups. The sheep were basically commended for taking care of the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, and the vulnerable. The goats, on the other hand, were chastised for their lack of concern and action toward them. When the righteous asked Him when they did these things, Jesus responded by telling a parable:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” [Matthew 25:35-40].

Just before Jesus’ death, in the “upper room,” He and His disciples were having the “last supper.” Jesus said: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” [John 13:34-35]. What better way is there to demonstrate love and compassion than by reaching out to the “least of these” among us?

This compassionate ‘spirit’ didn’t just start with Jesus—though He focused on it markedly during His three years of ‘ministry’.

In the Old Testament of the Bible, Moses instructed his people how to treat the poor and needy: “Give generously to [the poor] and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to” [Deuteronomy 15:10]. This sentiment is also perfectly captured in Proverbs: “whoever is kind to the needy honors God” [Proverbs 14:31].

Someone once said that, “Many who profess His name [Jesus] have lost sight of the fact that Christians are to represent Christ. Unless there is practical self-sacrifice for the good of others, in the family circle, in the neighborhood, in the church, and wherever we may be, then whatever our profession we are not Christians.…When we see human beings in distress, whether through affliction or through sin, we shall never say, ‘This does not concern me.’ The most public face God puts before us, the picture of God that greets us everywhere in Scripture, is that of a compassionate and caring God who always exercises a preferential option for the poor, the downtrodden, and the marginalized.”

More people will be persuaded to follow Christ by our kindness, compassion, and commitment to the needs of those who are homeless, hungry, and naked, than by our pronouncements about proper Biblical doctrines—which, most of the time, doesn’t touch people’s lives in ‘practical’ ways.

The Apostle James said, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” [James 2:15-17].

Showing my faith via ‘action’ is why I am involved with Life Remodeled. It shows the love of Jesus in a PRACTICAL and TANGIBLE WAY, and shows that I want to HONOR GOD for what He has done for me (giving me eternal life through Jesus), and continues to develop in me the character of Jesus!

So, why don’t you come out sometime during the build weekJULY 29TH – AUGUST 4TH—to experience the love and compassion of a group of Christians that is trying to live out Jesus’ teachings about the poor—by giving a deserving family and neighborhood a ‘NEW START’!

[ Excerpts from: Life Remodeled; Pecha-Kucha; S. Michael Houdmann; Philip Moeller; ]

[P.S.: If you would like to investigate further God’s compassion towards us, visit the following link:

If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net



PROMOTE US: Send people/company representatives to our web site to find out more (2-minute ‘overview’ video on our home page), so they can determine if they would like to help:

VOLUNTEER: Sign up yourself and/or your family to volunteer (4-hour ‘stints’, 24×7):

FLYER: Download the tri-fold informational flyer and give it away to everyone you think that might be interested in volunteering, donating financially (we are a 501c3 non-profit), or are in the ‘construction’ industry and might be able to donate materials or skilled tradespersons:

– “LIKE US” on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter:

FACEBOOK POST: Put the following on your ‘wall’ to help us promote this opportunity to show the nation that we Detroiters love our city, and will ‘band together’ to help those in real need:


Want to Make a Difference? Help “Life Remodeled” ‘rebuild’ a Detroit neighborhood (just north of Wayne State). They are going to:
– Build a new house in SIX DAYS!
– Renovate 24 houses
– Board up 250 vacant houses
– ‘Beautify’ 48 BLOCKS surrounding the new house

MANY VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED (and no construction experience is necessary!)

JULY 29th – AUGUST 4th (24×7)




The following are videos of some of the VOLUNTEERS talking about their experience(s) on the various builds:

Sharon (Volunteer-Day 1) [Farmington Hills]:

Art (General Contractor-Day 2) [Farmington Hills]:

Jerry (City Mayor-Day 3) [Farmington Hills]:

Mark (Volunteer-Day 4) [Farmington Hills]:

Ken (Pastor-Day 5) [Farmington Hills]:

Becky (Volunteer-Day 6) [Farmington Hills]:

Sharon (Volunteer-Her neighborhood) [Farmington Hills]:

Kevin and Kim (Neighbors) [Hazel Park]:

Mike (General Contractor) [Westland]:

Chris (WMUZ Radio Host) [Westland]:

Joanne (Dir. Of City Housing) [Westland]:

Jeff (Volunteer) [Westland]:

Kevin (Volunteer) [Westland]:

Ken (Show Producer) [Westland]:


WDIV (Channel 4) [Farmington Hills]:

WXYZ (Channel 7) [Farmington Hills]:

WJBK (Channel 2) [Farmington Hills]:

TV20 (Channel 20) [Farmington Hills]:

WXYZ (Channel 7) [Hazel Park]:

WDIV (Channel 4) [Hazel Park]:

“We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.”
[Mahatma Gandhi]

“In the poor, we find Jesus in distressing disguise.”
[Mother Teresa]

Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” [Matthew 25:40].



Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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One Response to “A ‘New Start’ [v172]”

  1. Still ‘Transforming’ | LIFE'S DEEP THOUGHTS Says:

    […] “A ‘New Start’”: https://markbesh.wordpress.com/a-new-start-v172/ […]


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