News

Countertops for charity

Scott Underwood, of

Sequim, helped with a home makeover suitable for TV.

He installed custom concrete countertops for Julie Cruz, a 61-year old grandmother raising five grandchildren on her own in Union Gap, outside Yakima.

Cruz was a candidate for the TV program "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" but was not selected last year, so members of the Central Washington Home Builders Association and Yakima community decided to help her renovate.

She is one of more than 5,000 grandparents in the

Yakima Valley raising grandchildren alone.

As an advocate, Cruz works with other grandparents and her grandsons to take in and distribute clothing, furniture and other items to help others in need.

Cruz's home was in shambles, with holes in the floor, no heat or electricity, but volunteers worked eight months to an unveiling on Feb. 26.

Underwood got to take in the festivity after his monthlong efforts of casting Cruz's kitchen and bathroom countertops at home.

"It was really cool to see a town come together like that," Underwood said.

"I was impressed by how many people gave someone else - who has given so much - a chance. It lifted my heart."



Inspiring involvement

Underwood grew up in Yakima and was contacted by an old friend, Eric Torres of Pacific Contracting, who was involved early on with Cruz's reconstruction project.

After Underwood heard Cruz's story, he said it was easy to become involved.

He received enough donations for supplies and he donated his labor.

He measured the space in early February and worked on the 60 square feet of countertops in his shop at home. The concrete was installed a week before the unveiling.

One grandson in the house uses a wheelchair, so the bathroom counters have different heights for each sink.

"I thought it came out absolutely spectacular for donated materials and time," Underwood said.

After seeing the high turnout for volunteering, Underwood believes this kind of effort could happen in Sequim and other cities.

"I think any community has the capabilities to do this."



Versacrete, Inc.

Underwood began his custom concrete countertops business, versacrete, Inc. as a side project to his Underwood Carpentry. He first experimented with concrete casting eight years ago after building an indoor rock wall in his friends' garage, Underwood said. He later discovered concrete countertops fabrication.

Underwood said the advantage of concrete counters is that they're 100-percent made to the owner's specifications.

Underwood said some people reject concrete countertops because of a misconception that they look cheap.

He feels his finished projects create the opposite effect because each surface fits a homeowner's tastes and desires.

Most of his work is done in Sequim and on the Olympic Peninsula but going to Yakima for a job was no problem, he said.

"I'm not adverse to traveling at all," he said.

"That's the advantage of custom countertops. I work mostly in my shop and can control it there even if it is a far away project. Plus, I really enjoy (custom concrete work)."

More on versacrete and the Cruz family rebuilding project can be found on the Web at www.versacrete.webs.com and www.yakimavalleylivesrebuilt.com.



At a glance

Who: Scott Underwood, owner and builder

What: versacrete, Inc.

Where: Sequim

Contact: www.versacrete.webs.com or 461-5959



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