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'This is Brenda's monument'

November 16, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

SOUTH MOUNTAIN, Pa. -- Photographs taken Saturday show Matthew and Blasia Drumm standing in front of their house with their three sons, but, for the family, another person stood with them.

"She's here with us," Matthew Drumm said.

"She's here," Blasia Drumm echoed.

The couple were referring to Brenda Stottlemyer, their autistic boys' godmother and the woman who nominated the Drumms for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Brenda Stottlemyer of Cascade died unexpectedly nine weeks ago and never learned that the Drumms had been selected for the ABC show that overhauls families' living conditions in just one week.

Brenda's husband, Rob, watched some of the 106 hours of construction in Quincy Township and thought about his outgoing, personable wife's dream.

"Like Blasia told me yesterday, this is Brenda's monument. She was one in a million," Rob Stottlemyer said.

Final filming occurred at the house Saturday morning and early afternoon as 12-year-old Nathan Drumm begged to go inside and find his toys. The family first saw the house at 4 p.m. Friday and spent that night in a hotel.

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"It hasn't sunk in yet. ... It still doesn't feel like it's ours," Matthew Drumm said.

The couple talked briefly about how they struggled financially for years. They said they paid $120 each month to fill a cistern and lived paycheck to paycheck. Franklin County (Pa.) Tax Assessment records show that $1,074 is owed in 2007 back taxes and interest on the property.

Although Matthew and Blasia Drumm acknowledged their property taxes will increase with the bigger house, they said they hope to save money now that they won't be paying for water, and solar panels will greatly lower their electric costs.

"It'll balance out," Blasia Drumm said.

Managers from the Applebee's restaurant in Rouzerville, Pa., presented the Drumms with a check for $2,304. The restaurant hosted several events last week to collect donations for the family.

Only seven companies were represented at a press conference, and the media representative said she did not have a list of all the businesses that contributed to the family. She also restricted reporters in how many questions they could ask and the family in what questions it could answer about the house, production and agreements with the production company.

Businesses give

Holiday Hair in Wayne Heights, Pa., gave a $100 gift card and a basket of hair care products; Buchanan Beverage had a military sign made; Basic Coatings donated $200 in products and cleaning supplies; Totem Pole Playhouse offered season tickets; Innernet Inc. provided gift certificates for the Think reInk service; and Schoenberger's Restaurant gave a gift card.

Matthew Drumm said he at times feels badly for others who had been hoping to be chosen and weren't.

"You can't help but think there are other people with needs who are just as deserving, if not more," he said.

The couple thanked volunteers and the people who brought the effort together, saying they are not taking anything for granted.

"I've worked with special needs kids for over 12 years. I've been asked about foster care and doing respite care, and, of course, the house we had before wouldn't pass any kind of inspection," Blasia Drumm said. "Now I can do it, and it's nice to be able to say 'yes.'"

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