Helpers pull off Whidbey’s version of ‘Extreme Makeover’

Homeowner Lynn Smith gives Hearts & Hammers volunteer Peter Martin a hug for fixing up her home. Hearts & Hammers helps families that are unable to make needed repairs to their homes because of health or financial reasons. The repairs are funded through grants and donations. - David Welton / The Record
Homeowner Lynn Smith gives Hearts & Hammers volunteer Peter Martin a hug for fixing up her home. Hearts & Hammers helps families that are unable to make needed repairs to their homes because of health or financial reasons. The repairs are funded through grants and donations.
— image credit: David Welton / The Record

It was cold. It was rainy. But the dismal weather of this first May weekend did not prevent Delayney McIntyreWhite to take on the role of Ty Pennington, the host of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” — the guy famous for yelling into a megaphone herding along hundreds of helpers transforming a home for a lucky family.

During Saturday’s Hearts & Hammers annual workday, the

13-year-old student-led a team of 19 volunteers, some of them expert gardeners or carpenters, in making repairs and improvements to the Engstrom residence on Deer Lake in Clinton. She was a team captain along with mom, Ginger White.

“The funnest part is to get on the microphone,” Delayney said, channeling her best Ty Pennington.

But the rewards for a hard day of work weren’t shabby, either.

“I really appreciated the smiles of the homeowners,” the young handywoman said. “I really enjoy doing Hearts & Hammers. It’s really fun helping the homeowners.”

Delayney and her team had their hands full, however.

They gave the home a fresh coat of paint, cleaned the gutters and the roof, cleaned and fixed up two workshops, ripped out the old deck and put in a new one, installed a new screen door and did lots of weeding for the

homeowners, a couple in their 80s.

At the tender age of 13, Delayney was a team captain for the second time. Last year, barely old enough to participate, she co-captained for the first time with her mother.

White recalled that her daughter had been wanting to help for several years and she finally got her chance when she turned 12.

“She always wanted to work on Hearts & Hammers,” White said. “As soon as she could, she volunteered and I asked her if she wanted to be a co-captain with me.”

After weeks of planning and preparation, the team was ready to tackle the Engstrom residence.

“We’re not carpenters,” White said. “My daughter and I have general skills, you know, handywomen skills,” she added.

But with the help of the many other skilled volunteers, the work wasn’t a problem. Delayney fulfilled her part as a leader with confidence, her mom said.

“This year, she was in charge of painting the house. She was very clear that that was her territory,” White said.

The team had a huge job to oversee and Mother Nature didn’t cooperate.

“It was cold and rainy. People were so cold and there was no place to warm up,” she said.

A little outside assistance was needed, she added.

“They went on a latté run,” White said. “The gardeners were soaking wet and covered in mud,” she added, but nobody walked off the job. They were hard-working, dedicated volunteers.”

At the end of a very long day, all the work was completed and the homeowners paid the volunteers with hugs and thank-yous.

“They were an older couple and the guy was really happy and smiled a lot,” Delayney said.

“Obviously, he takes a lot of pride in his home,” her mom added.

And another thing happened that made the mother and daughter team especially proud. They won the confidence of the homeowner.

“When I came out for the first time to assess the house, he asked me two or three times when my husband was coming out,” White recalled.

“At the end of the day, he was like ‘Where is Ginger? I need to ask her something,’” she said.

Hearts & Hammers is an annual one-day blitz to repair and rehabilitate the homes of homeowners who are physically or financially unable to do the work on their own.

It began in 1994 as a pilot project under the sponsorship of the Langley United Methodist Church. Now it is an independent, nonprofit program that is supported by the larger community, including churches, schools, service and community organizations, businesses and individuals.

Over the years, Hearts & Hammers has helped hundreds of South End families.

One of them was White’s.

“When my son was born Hearts & Hammers put a roof on our house,” she said.

She joined the volunteer force and has been a team captain for five years.

White said anybody can help. There is enough work to match anybody’s talents.

And there is no charge to the homeowners for labor or materials. Costs are covered by grants and donations from foundations, corporations, service organizations and individuals, by fundraising events and by in-kind donations of labor and materials.

But the organization always needs help. You can lend financial support to Hearts & Hammers by sending a donation to:

Hearts & Hammers, PO Box 694, Langley, WA 98260.

For more information on Hearts & Hammers or to volunteer, call 221-6063 or visit the Web site at

Michaela Marx Wheatley can be reached at 221-5300 or

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