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Community rallies for Gomez family

By Ty McCutcheon and Patrick Holmes

Published: Friday, Sept. 30 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Jessica Gomez receives hugs and congratulations for being selected to receive a brand new home from " Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" on Thursday, June 23, 2011.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

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For a few weeks in June, Rio Tinto and Holmes Homes mobilized a force of employees, volunteers, vendors and contractors to do what normally takes months — build an "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," or EMHE, house in six days.

We were honored to be part of the special moment when Jessica, Jonah and Ellie Gomez saw their new home and were welcomed to the Daybreak community. This emotional moment culminated weeks of planning and thousands of hours of selfless work that demonstrated an entire community's commitment to help a family in need.

Accomplishing such a feat would not have been possible without the support of our community. In the course of the EMHE project, scores of national and local businesses donated money, food and supplies. Almost 3,000 volunteers donated more than 17,000 hours assisting construction workers — painting, sweeping, planting and moving furniture and supplies, among other duties. Additionally, countless hours were contributed by the city of South Jordan in the form of police, fire, emergency medical services and building inspectors.

We were amazed and humbled by the willingness of so many generous and caring individuals to work extended hours throughout long, cool nights and during hot and windy days to make the EMHE effort a success.

The Daybreak community's support is particularly noteworthy. One out of every 10 volunteers (300) was a Daybreak resident with more than 20 residents filling lead volunteer roles. In addition to managing volunteers, this team served 4,150 donated meals. The team worked closely with Real Salt Lake and held a wonderfully successful event to benefit Jonah Gomez, who suffers from two blood diseases and is a huge Real Salt Lake fan.

During the home's build out, the Daybreak team coordinated with Real Salt Lake for a special halftime where fans were asked to be screened to see if they were a bone marrow match for Jonah. To date, more than 1,600 people have been screened because of this project.

Rarely do we get to put ourselves to a test like this, with such complexity and constraints, all in the same project. We hope that each person who volunteered their time or donated money feels proud of what was done for the Gomez family.

We are confident that this EMHE experience has built relationships with our employees and neighbors, characterized by mutual respect, active partnership and long-term commitment. Creating and maintaining good relationships with local governments and our community is as important to our business success as the management of our operations.

We wish to thank everyone who gave their time, talents and means to make a difference in the life of the Gomez family. Our community truly came together and demonstrated the power of our community to each other and to our nation.

We hope that we have given the Gomez family everything we could to create a safe and sustainable lifestyle. Thanks to tireless contractors, subcontractors and volunteers, hopefully now the Gomez family can focus on what's most important — taking care of Jonah.

EMHE airs Oct. 2 on ABC for millions of viewers in more than 185 countries and 58 languages. Then you will see the inside of the home that changed three lives and forged bonds between thousands of employees and members of the community. Rio Tinto and Holmes Homes are so grateful to be part of such a wonderful community and want to thank everyone who made this possible.

Ty McCutcheon is the vice president of community development for Kennecott. Patrick Holmes is the president of Holmes Homes.

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