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Rebuilding is a family affair

January 09, 2012 12:00AM

Deborah and Bruce Dallman and their daughter Rebecca take time for a quick photo between shifts at "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

Bruce and Deborah Dallman can remember when their youngest daughter Rebekah got her first taste of construction as she worked alongside her dad while he built their home in Terra Haute, Ind.

"She would put bricks in her little red wagon and bring them to him, one brick at a time," recalled her mother. "She couldn't have been more than 3 years old. That was her way of helping."

You could say it was her first experience with materials management. Rebekah's come a long way since then: now a senior closing in on her degree in construction engineering technology at Pittsburg State University, she's participating in "the opportunity of a lifetime" as one of PSU's project team leaders at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in Joplin.

The best part? She's getting to share the experience with her dad, PSU's dean of the College of Technology, as well as her mom, who have both been volunteering every day with the build. Dr. Dallman has been working nightside on one of the 14 COBRA teams (essentially the "right hand" men and women assisting professional tradesmen), and Deborah has been working days at the volunteer tent to organize the approximately 13,000 volunteers who have been helping with the event since it began last week.

"This has been the best job experience ever," said Rebekah, who is working on the night shift as a materials staging manager, organizing crews that prepare the materials to be delivered to each of the homes. "It's also the first time I've gotten to work at a project like this with my dad, so it's neat seeing him in this kind of role."

When the family relocated to Pittsburg six years ago in order for Dr. Dallman to take the role as dean, Rebekah was still in high school and unsure what path she wanted to take. Her older siblings David, who lives in Virginia Beach, and Laura, who lives in Bloomington, Ind., had pursued civil engineering and musicology, respectively.

Although she has been involved in music at PSU, she ultimately chose to pursue technology and the opportunities it could provide. Like many CMCET upperclassmen, she's had multiple internships with companies like Kiewit and the Walsh Group to get prepared for the job search.

For Deborah, who laughs and admits she would have signed up for the night shift had she known her husband and daughter would be pulling nights, volunteering with them has been a meaningful way to share the end of her daughter's college experience.

"I don't want to get emotional," she said, smiling at her daughter. "But what a way to end her last semester. This has definitely been a big bang, just amazing."

Dr. Dallman said this unforgettable week has left him proud not only of his daughter's work, but also of the accomplishments of all the students in construction, family and consumer sciences, art and nursing who have helped in the build.

"When I hear people talking about our students and what a tremendous job they've done, it makes me so incredibly proud," he said. "It's so typical of the can-do attitude of PSU.  I've heard so many times how much everyone appreciates the hard work and positive attitudes of our students. We have a responsibility to give back to the community and fulfill a civic duty, and this project has been a pinnacle experience."

©2012 Pittsburg State University