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Stars, community come out for Habitat build

Homes are going up in a hurry on narrow Elliott Drive, as dozens of Habitat for Humanity volunteers join professionals and the eventual homeowners for a “build-a-thon” on seven townhomes and an existing house a few blocks from McCambridge Park.

On Saturday, Bavlos Boutros, an after-school supervisor who lives in Burbank, was sweeping the wooden subfloor on the second story of the townhome structure when he pointed toward the far end of the building, where sheets of insulation rested against the skeletal frames of walls yet to be finished.

“That will be my unit,” Boutros said.”By the time it’s done, it will be better than that.”

Boutros is one of eight applicants selected by Habitat for Humanity to move in later this year. The families, chosen on criteria including need, community ties and completion of a homeownership training program, also are required to put in 500 “sweat equity” hours of labor.


The weeklong build-a-thon is sponsored by Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity, which is part of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles. Other backers of the project include the Burbank Redevelopment Agency, Burbank Housing Corp., general contractor Bernards, Lowe’s, Celebration Homes and Walt Disney Co., which had many “voluntears” at the build site.

Site supervisor Bethy Davis, in between checking on a faltering table saw and climbing scaffolding to inspect second-floor exterior work, said 50 volunteers joined the 20 professionals Saturday. The pros trained volunteers on safety measures and basic skills, and then put them to work according to their abilities and the list of chores needing immediate attention.

Sisters Rose and Amanda Trinh, 19 and 16, respectively, spent the morning on a scaffold outside one of the two new buildings, sliding a level along the wall as they searched for studs. They said they had already picked out their rooms in the home they were helping to construct.

“She got the one on the right, the one that happens to have a balcony,” Amanda said.


“You got the bigger room,” countered Rose.

Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity adds a little glamour to the effort, as founder Randall Wallace, a screenwriter (“Braveheart”) and director (“Secretariat”), hosted an “executive build” day on June 9. E! news correspondent Kristina Guerrero will host a “power women, power tools” day June 18.

On Saturday, model and actress Cynthia Kirchner put down the trowel she was using to finish a concrete wall and used her cell phone to order a new pair of pants.

“My $200 jeans are done,” Kirchner said.

The reward for volunteering, she said, comes when she sees the finished building and the families are ready to move in.

“I don’t think we realize how powerful we are and what we can create,” she said.