Evangel Profile

Julie (Graham) Higgins (’85): Entrepreneur and Joplin ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ volunteer

January 24, 2012

Few of us will ever impact thousands of people, but we can all have a positive impact on one. Julie (Graham) Higgins, a 1985 business graduate of Evangel University, managed to do both last fall.

Higgins is an entrepreneur in Springfield, Missouri. Over the years she has built businesses as varied as cookies (Julies Chewies) to construction (Euro World Design), and through it all, she has been involved in volunteer efforts. Her current passion is the ipourlife foundation, which gives hope and promise to poor and refugees.

It was her ability to work with people that led her to be asked to help with ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which built seven homes in seven days in Joplin, Missouri, after the devastating tornado of May 2011.

What does it take to pull off such a herculean task? Enter Julie.

“I met with the producers in early September, and coordinating the volunteers consumed me for two months,” she says. “We had 13,000 workers who came in from coast to coast.”

Keeping this many volunteers coordinated, motivated and functioning as a team used every skill she had.

But it was the impact on “the one” that tested her faith and showed her heart.

“I noticed a little girl sitting on the steps of a house behind the row that we were building,” says Higgins. “After a couple of days, I went over to visit her and discovered that she had lost her mother in the tornado. She was living with her grandmother and little sister.”

Higgins reached out to her.

Every day during the build, “I would meet with my sweet little Julia after school, and chat about her day.”

She made an impact.

The first time Higgins went back, just before Thanksgiving, the younger sister open the door, then ran shouting, “She came back. She promised she would, and she came back.”

It takes a special heart to look away from the crowd and see “the one.”

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