The Jacob Tabora family returned home on Friday from nearly two weeks at an Airbnb in town. But while the address on the home was the same, what the Taboras found waiting for them inside was vastly different.
“It was a brand new house, I didn’t even recognize it,” Tabora said. “It was amazing. The before and after is so insane.”
The “after” is what happened to the Tabora residence when the family was selected to be recipients of “Military Makeover With Montel,” a home remodeling and renovation television show. It enlists designers, contractors, landscapers, and other home improvement professionals to transform the homes and lives of deserving military families across the country.
“Montel” is Montel Williams, a television personality who hosted “The Montel Williams Show” from 1991-2008 and is a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Navy.
The Taboras were selected as the 24th family to receive a home makeover, which was being filmed during the progress of the past two weeks, and during Friday’s “home reveal.”
The family was whisked away on Sept. 21 from their home in the Miramar subdivision of Converse to a San Antonio resort, allowing Williams’ TV show co-hosts and design team leaders to begin the dramatic transformation.
“Military Makeover” enlisted local carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and “general help” volunteers to help make “Military Makeover” design team leader Jennifer Bertrand’s visions come true.
“I get to be Mary Poppins. You take a house that feels heavy and that is full of real-life issues, as all homes are, and you get to breathe joy and happiness into the house,” Bertrand said. “The biggest design trend is wellness so it’s making it feel lighter and brighter.
“And really and truly, it’s about making this house function for the family. It’s a kitchen remodel. It’s a master bath remodel. Walls are coming out,” she said. “And here’s the best part: It’s with volunteers from every walk of life, with different beliefs, all coming together to do one moment of good.”
Tabora suffered second- and third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body in a training accident at a Marine base in San Diego. There was no guarantee he’d survive that first fateful night. He was put into a medically induced coma in San Diego, where he would remain for three weeks. He was then transferred to the San Antonio Military Medical Center, undergoing a total of 50 surgeries.
Tabora pulled through, started a new life after his honorable discharge, and met and married the love of his life, Ceanne. They are the proud parents of Solomon, 5, Naomi, 4, and Jacob. 2.
Jacob Tabora said words can’t describe his and his family’s reactions to their “new home.”
“These designers, they’re the ones with the artistic minds and whatnot,” Tabora said. “How they just go in there and make something out of nothing, it’s truly amazing. It’s mind-blowing.”
“Military Makeover” has a “No Photo/No Film Policy” for the homes they renovate and remodel, so that no photographs or videos emerge prior to the show’s first airing. The Tabora family episode is set for a late November airing on Lifetime and the Armed Forces Network.
“In the living room, we’ve got this accent wall they added. It’s so cool,” he said. “I never would have thought to put something like that there, and yet it looks like it belonged there in the first place. It all came together so perfectly.”
Ceanne home-schools Solomon and Naomi, and plans to do the same with young Jacob. At the top of the stairs, where most homes built in the early 2000s incorporated a game room, Bertrand and crew constructed an ideal homeschool haven.
“The classroom setting upstairs is amazing. One whole wall is a chalkboard, so the kids can play around on there or practice their letters,” Tabora said. “There’s a little desk area set up for their tablets, and there’s a corner for my wife for her labels and her work, and things like that.”
Outdoors, where Tabora said “we had nothing but grass,” is a luscious raised-stone patio, overlooking two play structures and a sandbox — play elements designed for each of the kids’ age groups.
Ceanne operates Ce Cooks, a meal prep company she runs out of the Tabora home.
“That was her biggest thing, the kitchen,” he said. “I was interested to see what they were going to make out of it. And man, they did not disappoint.”
Jacob Tabora said the “Military Makeover” people told him this was one of the biggest kitchen remakes they’d ever tackled.
“She’s got an extra oven; she has two ovens in there now,” he said. “There’s just so much counter space, so much more storage space, it’s definitely going to help her business grow.”
Tabora awoke Saturday morning in his new master bedroom, having “slept like a baby.” But something was different.
“I didn’t even get a ‘Good morning’ this morning — it was ‘Dad! Can we go play outside?’ And off they went,” he said. “I was like ‘Alright, that’s nice.’”
Tabora said they are anxious to watch the show when it airs.
“I can’t wait to watch it. It was all a blur, really, getting out of the SUV, seeing all those people on the yard,” he said. “All those people, we’re just so grateful for everyone’s help. It’s just amazing.”