Hello Hesperia,

It is my honor to put five wonderful people in my column. They represent the hundreds of people that volunteered their time and money to put a home together for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Back in February, they worked 24 hours a day and in a week the beautiful home for the Almquist family was finished.

I am deeply touched by all of them and how they felt doing this. I hope all of you will realize in a time of our rough economy and so much hardship what people can still do for each other. I hope you saw the two-hour special on Sunday, March 29. It was fantastic! Remember: This was all done by residents of the High Desert. To everyone that helped in any way, a huge thank you.

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Thurston "Smitty" Smith has owned Smitty's Concrete Pumping for over 30 years. It was founded in Long Beach in 1978. Smitty, his wife Margaret, and two sons, Brandon and Frank relocated their family and business to the High Desert in 1998. Smitty planned to have his sons Brandon and Frank take over his family business. Tragically, Brandon died in a motorcycle accident during the 2007 Vegas-to-Reno off road race.

Smitty is not new to volunteering. Over the years he has donated several hours helping with Habitat for Humanity projects in the High Desert. Back in 2002, he donated his services for an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in Phelan. Smitty has also donated several hours of labor, plus materials and supplies to the Hesperia Park and Recreation District, upgrading the Little League fields and dugouts.

Besides all of the above-mentioned volunteer work, Smitty is also Hesperia's mayor. He is proud of his community and feels fortunate to live and work in the High Desert.

Smitty's Pasta Salad Supreme
4 cups cooked pasta
3 1/2 cups fresh vegetables, chopped
1 cup Italian salad dressing
4 tablespoons McCormick's Salad Supreme Seasoning
1 can olives, sliced

Mix cooked pasta, chopped fresh vegetables (such as cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli and shredded carrots), salad dressing and seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Toss before serving. Garnish with sliced olives. Serves 6.

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"He who works with his hands is a laborer; He who works with his hand and his head is an artisan; He who works with his hand and his head and his heart is an artist." - T.V. Smith

Architect Tom Steeno is the owner of Steeno Design Studio in Hesperia. He was honored to be part of the Extreme Makeover Home Edition Phelan Project. He was amazed to see how an entire community of people came together to help the Almquist family.

Dozens of people went out to help, both skilled and unskilled alike, to lend their support. Steeno was amazed to see how a growing community could pull together to help one another in a time of need. Everyone from the local communities, and even as far as Orange County and Los Angeles County, did an extraordinary job. Steeno was thrilled to see his house design turned into a reality in only seven days.

Tom's Delicious Lasagna
1 pound Italian or pork sausage
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, un-drained
1 32-ounce jar Prego tomato sauce (with meat)
1 tablespoon dried Italian season, crushed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
10 dried lasagna noodles
2 eggs, beaten
1 32-ounce ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 bunch fresh parsley, finely cut

Pour Prego tomato sauce into large saucepan. Cook together sausage, onion and garlic until meat is brown. Drain. Stir in diced tomatoes, sauce, seasoning and black pepper. Add fennel seeds if desired. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cook noodles for 10 to 12 minutes until firm but soft enough to chew. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

To make the filling combine eggs with ricotta cheese, parsley and parmesan cheese. Set aside.

In a 9 x 13 inch pan, spread half of sauce on bottom of pan. Layer half of the noodles on bottom. Trim noodles if necessary. Spread with half of filling; top with remaining sauce and half of mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top if desired.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

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"I've learned that if you want to cheer up yourself, you should try cheering up someone else." - Author unknown

Born and raised in the High Desert, Raymond Olvera, Jr. established Olvera Concrete in 1987. The company has been serving the High Desert for 22 years now.

Olvera felt blessed to be part the Extreme Home Makeover Team who helped the Almquist family. He was honored that Murphy Construction asked him to do the concrete. Olvera was awestruck to see the community come together and lend a hand. He wanted to thank the volunteers; he couldn't have done it without them.

The best part of the week for Olvera was when the family saw their new home. The expressions on the family's faces were priceless.

Ray's Chile Relleno Pie
1 pound ground beef
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1 7-ounce can chopped green chilies
Salt
1/2 pound Monterey jack cheese, grated
1/2 pound cheddar cheese, grated
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon flour
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
Pepper

Brown meat and pour out grease. Cook with pepper, onion, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Spread green chilies on bottom of greased square baking dish. Cover with meat and sprinkle with cheese. Add the half-and-half, flour, tomato sauce and pepper, to eggs; mix. Pour over the rest of ingredients. Bake in a 350 degree over for 45 to 50 minutes.

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"A man's perfection is his work." - Thomas Carlyle

Yucca Crane is another family business who volunteered. They have been operating in the High Desert since 1969. Jeff Eden was one of the many responsible, for setting the trusses on the new home. Murphy Construction and the Extreme Makeover Home Edition Team invited Yucca Crane to assist in the construction and organization of the learning center and home. They were honored to help out the Almquist family.

Yucca Crane Chicken Salad
1/3 cups shallots (green onion)
1 teaspoon tarragon
3 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup almonds, sautéed

Mix all ingredients together. This is a very simple but good recipe for chicken salad.

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"Give what you have. To some one, it may be better than you dare to think." - Henry Longfellow

When Murphy Construction was asked how they became involved in the Extreme Makeover Home Edition, the answer was simple. God opened the door, and they listened and acted on it. Murphy Construction feels blessed as a family and a company. When the opportunity arose for them to pass those blessings down the line to the Almquist family, they were happy to do so.

One of the greatest outcomes of the project was seeing God move in the lives of the community, other companies and organizations, as well as those outside the High Desert. They were amazed to see people, the employed, as well as the unemployed, come out and work together. Murphy Construction was honored to work side-by-side with everyone.

Extreme Corn Chowder
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup green peppers, chopped
1/3 cup bacon, chopped
1 1/4 chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper, white ground
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
15 ounces frozen cut corn
2 ounces butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 quart half-and-half

Brown together the onions, celery, green peppers and bacon. Add stock, salt, pepper and thyme to the bacon mixture. Add potatoes. Add corn. Simmer for half an hour. In separate pan melt butter and flour. Add half-and-half to flour mixture and whip smooth. Add mixture to soup, blend and cook for 10 minutes.

"I am glad the eight-hour day had not been invented when I was a young man." - Thomas A. Edison