Raleigh builder named Ultimate Volunteer

October 14, 2009 6:20:10 PM PDT
A Wake County custom home builder is gearing up for an appearance on ABC's "The View." Tom Gipson is the winner of the show's Ultimate Volunteer Contest.

Monday Gipson will make his national television appearance.

"I think Joy and Whoopi are really fun, and it will be really fun being with them," Gipson said. "My hope really is as a result of the publicity of this show it will further promote the program."

Gipson plans to use his air time to promote Habitat for Humanity's Homebuilder Blitz.

It's a project in which local homebuilders build dozens of homes within days. In the few years it's been around, the national blitzes have built 1,000 homes.

Gipson started the program in Raleigh in 2002.

"We built 12 homes in a week," he explained. "We did it the first year and Habitat said, 'What are you gonna do next year?' And I said, 'Well I think we can do twice as many.'"

In 2003, Gipson said the group built 24 homes.

The blitzes in Raleigh proved to be such a success for helping Habitat for Humanity build homes, so Gipson decided to take it to a national scale.

"So I went to Habitat International and suggested it as a national program [and] fortunately they said yes," Gipson said. "We've built homes in something like 150 communities throughout the country and that's just a small sample of the potential."

The potential to change lives is what moved Gipson to grow the program.

"The first year I built a home in the blitz in 2002," he recalled. "It was Thursday evening. We had just gotten our certificate of occupancy from the City. Progress Energy was there to turn the power on, it was dark outside, it was dusk and three little kids and the mom were there -- the Banks family. The power came on these three kids started running around the house jumping with glee and the look in their eyes made it all worthwhile."

And even through the recent housing crisis, the building continued.

"We built 260 some homes in a week in 2008 when homebuilders were desperate for work, so it's a testament to the generosity of these homebuilders," Gipson said.

Tune into ABC 11 at 11 a.m. Monday, October 19 to see Gipson on "The View."

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