Remodeling and wedding photo saviors

January 21, 2008 8:59:11 PM PST
About a year and a half ago more than a dozen families told us the Philadelphia Home Improvement Outreach Program ripped them off and left their homes in horrible shape. On Monday, thanks to a generous group of students some of those houses are finally getting fixed.

Students and staff from YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School volunteered their time on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., day to fix up Clyde Parson's home.

The Philadelphia Home Improvement Outreach Program was supposed to make the home handicapped accessible more than two years ago, but instead, left the family with one giant mess.

"It was just horrible. We didn't know what to do they were supposed to be professional contractors," said Parson's daughter, Tanya Stewart-Austin.

With the help of an attorney, the Parsons were able to resolve the financial problems the program created but their home was still in disrepair. However, now thanks to YouthBuild's construction program, the Parsons will have a new kitchen floor, a working sink, and a new passageway they do desperately needed.

"To be able to do something for a homeowner that can make a difference in their lives that's very touching for me," said Don Pinkney the YouthBuild construction director.

YouthBuild's service doesn't end with the Parsons or with the Dr. King holiday. The school's construction program is year-round and is a way for its students to blend academics with community service and on-the-job training for their future.

Action News has talked to tearful, angry brides in Montgomery County, Delaware County and Bucks County, Pennsylvania. They all said Celebration Studios shut down before giving them their photos or in some cases before shooting their weddings even though the brides had already paid the company thousands of dollars.

"They offered us a significant discount if we offered to pay them in full up-front so that's what we did," said Jamie Tae of Brookhaven, Delaware County.

But after seeing our story, other wedding photographers contacted Action News wanting to help. Mark Matteo, of Premier Photography and Video, is offering to help couples get their album made at cost. He's also willing to shoot weddings for free if you're one of the people who already paid Celebration Studios in full. Plus, Marc promises to give couples a free disc of their pictures that day.

"It's important that people volunteer their time and services to people who need it," Marc said.

Marc isn't the only generous photographer in the Delaware Valley, Phil Kramer said he's willing to give brides $500 off his basic wedding package of $2500.

But, of course, do your homework before hiring any photographer. Call your county consumer affairs agency and the Better Business Bureau and do an online search of the company's name.

For More Information:

Premier Photo & Video

Phil Kramer Photographers Inc.

Better Business Bureau - Tips on Choosing a Wedding Photographer

PA Attorney General

Bridal - How to Choose a Wedding Photographer

Philadelphia YouthBuild Charter School