ABC Home Makeover "Where Are The Families at Today?"

Posted: September 19, 2010 in Helping Hands Events, Table Of Contents, TRUTH / Occupy

ABC Extreme Makeover “Where Are The Families at Today?”

We emailed ABC months back to request updates on the families who received help from the Extreme Makeover show in hopes of helping them anyway we can. We understand that ABC receives hundreds of messages a day and that many requests go unanswered so our hopes have never been high on getting a reply. After all, our very own video entry to the Extreme Makeover division has gone 5 years without even a letter of reply!

If you don’t get mentioned by some talk show host or local media then the odds are that ABC will not reply. In the mean time, we wait for updates on discussion boards; wikipedia updates; & facebook, mySpace and twitter cold calls to pay off on leads to reach the families for the truth.

If you know of any of the recipients who have been interviewed please share them with us so we can add them to our list.

It has always been my personal assumption that these families would end up taking out a loan against the properties and some would get themselves back in debt. If they are not counseled or experienced in finance they will make decisions leading them to debt. For most of them, the contract requirements limit their options!

What is ABC doing wrong? One can not complain when being given a property valued at an average of $400,000 and additional staging items valued near an average of another $30,000 and usually other perks like college funds averaging near $50,000. Without seeing a balance statement from ABC these values are my best estimate gathered from the episodes.

For some the attention led to strong community support and sustainability. For others they have been given bigger burdens and stress then they could handle. It is hard to imagine the heart ache of these children when they are given such wonderful gifts and then have to watch them taken away. To go from such a high rush of joy and then to be crushed is comparable to the pain they were in before ABC got involved.

To discover what ABC has done wrong, read about the current lives of those who have been helped. When you can make some time, do some research on your own and send us any additional updates you find that we do not list below.

[1] As of 11/09 only 4 of the 150+ families helped by the show no longer reside in the houses given to them. Two of the families, the Hebert and Hassal families, sold their houses voluntarily, while a third family, the Harper family, did lose their house to foreclosure, but not because they could not afford it. The Harper family decided to start a Construction business and in order to secure the loan needed to do so, they placed the house they received up as collateral with their bank. The business failed and the house was auctioned off. A few other families, including the Wofford, Vardon, Byers, Okvath and Marrero families have had some struggles.

Episode List Link

Episode / Air Date

201 / 9/26/04
RECIPIENT: Brian Wofford Family
COMPLAINT: ABC did not pay the mortgage!


Encinitas, CA – The Wofford’s mortgage was NOT paid off and his rate ballooned. The bank gave him no mercy.

207 / 11/07/04
RECIPIENT: Vardon Family

Episode / Airing Date

215 / 2/20/05
RECIPIENT: Harper Family
ISSUE: Took a loan out to start a Construction Company and defaulted to the bank.
DETAILS: Lake City, GA

217 / 3/13/05
RECIPIENT: Bryan Okvath Family
ISSUE: Took a loan out to pay high utilities and taxes while waiting for the home to sell.
DETAILS: Gilbert, AZ – $1.8 million listing dropped to $1.3 million in urgency to sell. 1 acrea property is not gated. Okvath’s have 7 children. One fighting cancer. They will end up renting in the Phoenix area once the property is sold.

218 / 4/3/05
RECIPIENT: Leomiti Family and Charles Higgins and 4 siblings.
COMPLAINT: NO OWNERSHIP of title formed with Higgins’ name it!
The Higgins’ happy ending did not last. After the home was built, the Higgins’ alledge that the Leomiti family pressured them into leaving the home. No comment by the Leomitis’ has been found since we can not find any record of them testifying in court.

The eldest child, Charles Higgins, who is also legal guardian for the minor children, contacted the producers of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, who could not help. Apparently the 24-page single spaced contract did not give the Higgins any right to the home built as a result of their tragedy. It did, however, give ABC the rights to their story and the episode was rebroadcast complete with happy ending after the Higgins children were already evicted.

Why were they mistreated, asked to leave and eventually driven out by Firipeli and Lokilani Leomiti? What happened to the car and computers and such that were given to the Higgins’? What is the status of the lawsuit? WHERE ARE THE HIGGINS children now? Help us provide updates on them! We have requested updates from Mr. Mesisca and will share the answers when we get them.

Update on Higgins’ Court Case – Download the PDF Court Docs. here:
Plaintiffs Lawyers: Mesisca, Riley & Kreitenberg, Patrick A. Mesisca, Jr., Dennis P. Riley and
Mike N. Vo email:

8/05 – Plaintiffs File Suit Against ABC affiliates for damages in L.A. California (Leomitis are not included why?)
MSNBC interview –

12/05 – Case heard and Dismissed on ruling that grants the Defendents the right to compel arbitration pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act. (In short the Higgins’ have no claim to the Leomitis’ property, there was no breach of contract by ABC and there will be a new trial based only on fraud, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.)

6/27/06 – Appeal to L.A. Superior Court Filed (Why was there a 7 month delay? Are there some strings being pulled by ABC’s lawyers here to drag this out as long as possible while the children die?)

3/07 – L.A. Superior Court decision upheld. Trial scheduled for May 14, 2007.

5/07 – 7/07 – Trial results in motion for summary judgment related only to the business entities. Ruling states the Higgins’ fail to prove their case against the business entities and Plaintiffs declare that an appeal will be filed.

?/07 – Appeal may not have been filed. Waiting for status update from Mesisca Law. No records found which appears to mean that the Higgins’ gave up because Mesisca Law most likely refused to sue the Leomitis’ on PRO BONO since the judgement would not be the millions they hoped for from ABC.

Defendents: Firipeli and Lokilani Leomiti (located in Santa Fe Springs Norwalk Assembly Church, Florida)
Defendents Complaint: NO RECORD FOUND


314 / 1/22/06
RECIPIENT: Eric Hebert Family
Sold the home in Sandpoint, ID. Adopted his deceased sister’s 11 year old twins. Took out a large loan on the property expecting a larger salary that did not mature.

RECIPIENT: Hassal Family
COMPLAINT: Medical Bills too high
Listed for sale in 2006 but rumored to still be listed as of 4/10 in Harrison County KY. (Realtor listing url needed)


411 / 1/7/07
RECIPIENT: Fullerton-Machachek Family
Home in Lincoln Nebraska near 60th in Havelock district.

503 / 10/7/07
RECIPIENT: Byers Family
DETAILS: Corvallis, OR – Struggling to keep the home.

506 / 11/11/07
RECIPIENT: Marrero Family
SOURCE: WikiPedia
At risk of losing home in Camden, NJ.

It is a shame that the program’s budget is being scaled back. It is a sign that the program will soon be canceled unless the viewer ratings climb back up. They are currently at an all time low of 10.26 million average viewers. ABC should just redirect the budget to focus more on the long term issues like maintenance, health care, child care and employment just to name a few.

Hypothetically, those who are in a position to work and receive residual community donations AND can keep up with the taxes are the ones who will enjoy ABC’s gifts for many years to come. Our effort is to provide some solutions by maintaining this online support group to connect everyone with resources as they are needed.



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