I Love a Hometown Parade

By Debby Coughlan, in All Communities

On Tue Dec 6, 2011, a long line of decorated floats, trucks, and even scooters lit up the streets of downtown Rehoboth for the annual Rehoboth Beach Christmas parade.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade may have its high-flying balloons and celebrity dance routines, but nothing can compare with the small town charm and community spirit that characterize the Christmas parades in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.  Held each year in early December, these parades bring the words of a favorite Christmas song to life: “children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile. . .”

For lucky locals who make their home here, December rivals mid-summer as “the most wonderful time of the year”, when quaint streetscapes look like Christmas card scenes and people of all ages gather in the town square.  Proud parents have cameras ready to snap a picture of their kids riding on a float pulled by Grandpa’s tractor and even the family pets get in on the action.  When the parade is over, friends new and old gather for food and festivities.

If you didn’t make it to the parades this year, check out our video and join us in 2012.  You’ll be glad you did.


Send us a photo of your “Extreme” Party and win a gift signed by Ty!

By Debby Coughlan, in Extreme

As soon as it was announced that Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was coming to Delaware this past August, there has been a buzz around town that hasn’t stopped.  It started when we asked for volunteers and sponsors to help with the build and, by the time the actual work started, the energy had reached a level beyond all expectations.

Building Happiness

Building a home in one week would be amazing in and of itself.  But building a home, a barn, a micro-home, a pavilion and a soup kitchen in one week in the midst of a hurricane?  That required an effort that came straight from the heart.  Our community came together, not only to build structures, but to build happiness for a family that has devoted their lives to serving others.

A Labor of Love

This Friday, November 18th from 8pm to 10pm ET, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will air as ABC’s Thanksgiving special about the Dunning family and, from what we’ve heard, a lot of you plan to tune in.  Perhaps you were one of the thousands of volunteers who shared in a labor of love that was more meaningful than any of us ever imagined, or maybe you supported the build through your kind words and donations.

Share Your Stories and Photos

Do you have special plans for watching the show?  If so, we’d love to hear about them.  Take a fun picture of your party and share your “Extreme” story with us and we’ll post all the festivities on our website.  We’ll send a special gift – signed by Ty and the designers – to the person who submits our favorite photo.

Here’s how to do it. Visit our Facebook page and Like us, then share your “Extreme” party photo or story right on our wall. You can also share your photo via Twitter, just follow us and use the hash tag #ExtremePartyDE.

We will announce the winner on Monday Nov 21st at 9am so make sure you share your photos and stories before then.

Thanks to all for helping us build happiness for the Dunning Family.  Enjoy the show!


We have a winner! The judging wasn’t difficult, as only one photo was submitted via Facebook, so we will be sending a signed photo of Ty and the design team to Randy for his photo. Maybe everyone else was too busy enjoying the show to snap any photos of their get together?

Small Wonder. Really Big Heart.

By Debby Coughlan, in Extreme

Wow, what a week and a half it has been!  It started with a charging Braveheart march across a gleaming six-acre field on a gorgeous blue-sky day.  It ended with cheers from a rousing crowd that came to celebrate the masterpiece created for a family that had devoted their lives to serving others.

Judging from the looks on the faces of the Dunning family when the bus moved forward, our community was successful in achieving the goal of building happiness.  As a matter of fact, I saw happiness build each day, as smiling volunteers carried armloads of soda and water to the build site.  With every piece of lumber added, drywall hung, or paint applied, happiness grew.  Never mind the fact that somewhere in the middle of it all, there was an earthquake, hurricane, and even a nearby tornado – none of that could stop the progress of happiness.

Thank you to everyone who volunteered, sponsored, supported, helped, cheered, and encouraged.  Thank you to those who kept in touch and got the word out to others through Twitter, Facebook, phone calls, and word of mouth.  There were approximately 2,000 volunteers and over 250 sponsors involved with the creation of the Jusst Sooup Ranch and we needed every one of you to make this happen.  The best part of all, is that this is not the end of a process, but rather the start of something bigger than we all imagined.  It is the start of a new chapter in life for the Dunnings and those they serve in the area.  The impact is far-reaching, as this means fewer and fewer people in our area will go hungry.  It is also the beginning of new business relationships that were developed over the course of the build and, yes, even new friendships for those involved.  I encourage you to check out the businesses and restaurants on our sponsor list and chat with them about their experience with this project when you stop by for dinner or to purchase a product.  I know they will be excited and proud to tell you about their involvement because each one poured their heart and soul into the effort.  Many of them provided products and services at a moment’s notice – sometimes in the middle of the night.

I was thinking back to about a month ago when our marketing team was brainstorming the theme for the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition project.  We had a lot of ideas but kept coming back to the fact that, while our state is small, the giving spirit is big.  So, we summed it up this way:  Small Wonder.  Big Heart.  Until last week, we never knew just how big that heart really is.  Thank you all.

Workers Fuel Up for Busy Evening

By Debby Coughlan, in Extreme

Late in the afternoon on Day 5, with a hurricane on its way, it was nice to see the build team slow down for a few minutes to share a meal together.

Throughout the day, they had been working at a feverish pace, accomplishing amazing results that made onlookers wonder if their eyes had somehow shifted to fast-forward mode. The short dinner break – complete with crab cakes, shrimp, and more from the good folks at Lazy Susans – was just the fuel they needed to shift into high gear for the remainder of the evening.

They ate in much the same way as they worked, with respect, good humor, and determination. In just a few moments this talented team was back at work, buttoning up the build site in preparation for Irene.

A Fly on the Wall

By Debby Coughlan, in Independence

Last Friday, I just happened to listen in on the Schell Brothers sales peeps casually talking about what gets them up in the morning.  What a great time to be a fly on the wall.  Our whole Schell Brothers team is known for being incredibly motivated and it was pretty cool to catch this group in the act of talking about it.  While their motivations vary all over the place, the common thread is that their passion for what they do runs deep.   There were even a few tears shed when people talked about their families.

I’ll start with Josh, who’s part of our Insight team and very focused on our country’s ability to be more self-sufficient in terms of resources.  He’s proud to work for a company that provides homes that are truly energy efficient, resulting in a world that will be better tomorrow than it is today.  Pretty cool.

Cindy, who sells at the Marina, said quite simply, “I guess to sum it up in the fewest words, I just love what I do.”

The longest story came from Michelle, who now sells at Sunset Harbour after getting her sales start at Independence.  She compared her love of a good exercise workout to the thrill of choreographing every customer experience.  Michelle said that one day she found herself competing with an unknowing teenager who happened to be next to her on the treadmill at the gym.  When the girl revved up her speed, Michelle upped hers as well.  Determined not to give up, she forced herself to stay on the machine longer than her newfound competitor, whom she ultimately outlasted.  That day, the most notable thing for Michelle was that she didn’t even check her miles when she left the treadmill.  She realized it wasn’t so much the end result that mattered to her – it was the thrill of the race, the drive to succeed, and the decision to enjoy the race as long as it lasted.  The lively workout was the best way for Michelle to describe the energy she devotes to creating a fun and exciting interaction with every customer.  She said, “I love sharing time with customers and personalizing the buying experience for them.”

Larry, our selections coordinator, talked about the thrill of watching the excitement build with customers as they make choices that ultimately result a unique dream home.  He added how rewarding it is to hear new buyers speak so highly about other members of the Schell Brothers team on a regular basis.

The other Josh on our sales team who sells at  The Retreat at Love Creek and The Villages at Herring Creek summed up his motivation this way, “Every day when I get up it’s for one purpose – to enjoy life and have fun.  This company has embraced that.  On top of that, I respect everybody I work with so much; the last thing I’d want to do is let any of them down.  And by the way, the happy stories we create with our customers – that’s the best part of the job.”

Wow, who wouldn’t want to buy a home from this crowd?  I’m proud to work with them.