Pay it Forward does whole house renovation

Published 7:02 am Sunday, April 1, 2018

When Daniel Johnson heard he would be the recipient of the fifth Pay It Forward bathroom remodel, he admits he wasn’t sure why he was chosen.

But Gina and Todd Grundmeier – owners of T’NG Plumbing in Dexter and organizers of the annual effort — knew right away who they wanted to help.

The results of those efforts were realized on Friday, when Johnson was able to see his “bathroom” renovation — which, in fact, had turned into a full house remodel.

Notes of support were written on the wall in washable marker, welcoming Daniel Johnson into his renovated home. Eric Johnson/

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“Oh my — I didn’t think it would be anything like this,” said the 47-year-old security guard, stunned when he walked into his home for the first time.

The bathroom had a full bath, shower, fixtures, and flooring – but that was just the beginning. His bedroom, kitchen and living room also had new flooring, paint – and the kitchen had new cabinets, granite counters, dishwasher and new stove.

“I can’t believe it,” he said.

There was still more: The volunteers replaced his furnace and water heater and added air conditioning, which he never had before.

“He’s just a hardworking guy, a guy who pays his bills, but has some plumbing issues he just can’t afford to fix,” Gina said upon his initial selection.

His sister, Mary Lange, who nominated him for the work, could hardly speak on Friday when she saw the results.

Daniel Johnson checks out his new kitchen during the reveal for the Pay It Forward program Friday evening. Eric Johnson/

“I knew they were doing more than the bathroom – but I never thought anything like this,” she said, wiping her tears.

Kevin Haney of Haney’s Handyman Service, one of the donors/contractors, said he always finds the week helping others humbling.

“You take for granted what you have and then you see” someone like Johnson, who only had one source of running water in his home, “but he always kept up a happy outlook,” he said. “It is absolutely my pleasure to help.”

Another donor, Brendan Wagner of Wagner Construction Co., agreed.

“Dan is part of the good, hardworking people who sometimes just need a boost,” he said. “Doing something for a deserving person — it’s fulfilling.”

Gina Grundmeier had her own bout of tears as she watched Johnson survey his new home.

“It’s amazing when a bunch of strangers come together to do something like this,” she said. “It says, ‘You matter,’ it’s that sense of value.”

Johnson was still in awe of what had been done. The work began Monday and during that time, the Pay It Forward organization kept him in a hotel for a free stay and meals.

“It has been such a godsend,” he said, thanking everyone who worked for him. “I was praying on it. It’s been such a great team of people; I give them all my heartfelt thanks.”

The Pay It Forward effort began after the Grundmeiers lost many of their belongings in a fire. They were stunned with the outpouring of support they received and wanted to give something back.

Since the first year, they have helped gather donations of labor, funds and materials to help someone who may have suffered a life-changing event – or, like Johnson, was a hardworking person who supported others, but would never ask for something for himself.

Daniel Johnson smiles after seeing his new home remodel thanks to Pay It Forward Friday night. Eric Johnson/

Contractors who helped with the renovation of Daniel Johnson’s home:

Matyas Electric

CCI Granite

M.J. Flaherty Painting

Holiday Inn

Wagner Construction

Y Waste Removal

Endres Window Cleaning

D & G Austin Ace Hardware


Arens Heating and Cooling

Doors and Floors, Inc.

Weis Landscaping

Tim’s Finish Carpentry

Accentra Credit Union

Sears Hometown, Austin

Haney’s Handyman Service

Goodin Company

Old 218

Muzik’s Muddin’

Johnstone Supply

Mid Town Auto Clinic


FNM Graphics

T’NG Plumbing

Simply Sip Covers, Julie Thomsen

Hanson Construction, Don and Pam Hanson

Jeanne Poppe

Tom Gillard Insurance, Tom and Doreen Gillard

Laury Insurance, Inc., Bob Laury

Home Federal

Joint Venture Projects, Paul Wagner



Piggy Blue’s

Kenny’s Oak Grill