Woman selling home built for 'Makeover' show
HAMBURG — They were talking about daddies.
Little Cora Urban and her grandmother were in the car on their way to preschool last year.
“God took my daddy and took him to heaven,” Cora, then 3, announced out of the blue. “But he gave me another one.”
At the kitchen table of her Tilden Township home this week, Cora's mother, Trisha Urban, recalled with tears the day her mother, Sandra Baney, told her of the conversation.
“After losing my husband and losing that opportunity to have a family, I have that second chance,” Trisha said. “I have something that was taken away from me.”
Four years after her husband's death, Trisha, 36, and Cora, 4, are on their way to a new chapter in their lives.
One that will mean giving up their fairy-tale English cottage that was built in 2010 by local volunteers as part of the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” television show.
The Urbans and Trisha's boyfriend, Jason Oplinger, will move from Berks County to a new home outside Philadelphia.
Trisha, who worked multiple jobs to support her young daughter, has found a good job, but it takes her to Philadelphia and its surrounding communities for most of the week, requiring an average daily commute of up to four hours.
“It weighed on my heart,” Trisha said of the decision to sell her house. “I'm so grateful for what everybody has done, and I don't want to seem ungrateful. I feel that I've paid it forward with the volunteer work that I've done, and I feel it's time to move forward.”
Trisha became a widow and a first-time mother on the same day, Feb. 5, 2009.
Cora missed her father, the late Andrew Urban, by just hours.
The couple had been preparing to leave for the hospital to deliver Cora when Andrew, who had a congenital heart defect, stepped outside to feed the family's goats, horses and other animals at their home along Hex Highway.
Trisha found him lying near the front gate — the victim of a fatal heart attack at age 30.
The Berks County community rallied in support of the mother and infant daughter.
Andrew Urban had bought their property near Hamburg in March 2003 for $102,000. As executor of her husband's estate, Trisha bought it in June 2009 for $110,000.
Inside the dilapidated log home, Trisha couldn't wash bottles or bathe Cora because of the contaminated water.
Employees from Advanced Water Resources Inc. in Temple installed a purification system for free.
And when they learned the Urbans' 18th-century home had exposed electrical outlets and holes plugged with foam insulation, a group of contractors committed to repairing the home for free.
And then the TV crews came knocking.
Led by ABC's “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” family members, neighbors and strangers spent a week in late July and early August 2010 building a new, safe place.
Today, the home has been put on the market through ReMax for $539,000.
Trisha met Jason over a year ago, anonymously on Match.com.
“We started corresponding,” Trisha recalled. “He said that he had a donkey named Detour, and I said I have a donkey named Pablo. We should meet.”
Trisha's still paying the mortgage on the “Extreme Makeover” home, and every now and then, a medical bill from hers or Andrew's past will resurface.
“People don't realize that,” Jason said. “They see the house and think that she was given this and has no bills. The taxes here tripled, and there are a lot of bills associated with this. It's not just winning the lottery or something.”
Trisha will miss the house. She'll miss her neighbors. And she'll miss living so close to her parents.
“I love the house,” she said. “But I love my family more. And being with my family means a heck of a lot more to me than being in a house.”
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