August 13, 2017

few weeks ago, the Herald News ran a story about an organization called Team Make A Difference that was doing a house makeover in Joliet.  That was a project that is near and dear to our St. Raymond family.

Just like the TV show, Extreme Home Makeover, Team Make A   Difference assembles a crew of people to swoop into a home and renovate a portion of it while the homeowners are away on a mini-getaway.  Their goal is to help families who are battling illnesses or disabilities so they can have a home in which to heal, rest comfortably and restore hope.

For the summer of 2017, they chose to help the four members of the Baker family—
Todd (Fr. Brad’s younger brother), his wife Kim and their children Bryan and Brianna. 

Late last winter, the family moved into a new house in Joliet.  They were in the process of renovating it to accommodate 11-year-old  Brianna’s special needs when Kim was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer.

From July 6-9, the Team Make a Difference group worked literally around the clock to replace floors, widen doorways and renovate bathrooms.  Every room was painted and decorated in keeping with the Bakers’ needs.  Even the yard got fresh landscaping.

I’ve seen the results, and it is amazing.  The Team did beautiful work with great love and care.  One of the sweetest surprises was that the Bakers sat for family photos under the auspices that the photos were needed to promote Team Make a Difference.  Those sweet and   stunning photos are hung throughout the house.

Of course, the St. Raymond contingent was robust and willing, as was the team from Joliet Catholic Academy where Bryan will be a freshman. Todd’s co-workers came out in force as did many firefighters and tradesmen who took time off to help a family they didn’t know.  At points, there were so many volunteers working on site, you could barely drive down the street.

After four days away with no idea what was going on at their house (other than a few joking texts from Fr. Brad about the new orange shag carpeting), the Bakers returned home.  They were greeted by family and friends—some they knew and some they only just met.

For Brianna, there’s a perfect pink and sparkly bedroom where she can thrive.  For Kim, there’s a new bed, recliner and special spot on the couch where she can rest with her family around her.  Todd gets the peace of mind that he can take care of his family without worrying about construction projects.  And Bryan,gets to do his homework  under the watchful blue eyes of the life-sized Kris Bryant wall decal Uncle Brad got him.

All of this made me think of Fr. Brad’s favorite quote from St. Teresa of Avila:

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Clearly all who participated in this project were Christ’s hands, feet, eyes and body on Earth. 

For more information on Team Make a Difference, go to their website at  It’s clear that this a solid, amazingly-well-run local organization that can always use our support.   For tons of pictures of the Baker project, go to

Eileen Hooks Gutierrez
Director of Development and Project Liaison 815-722-6653



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