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    Art Institute of California – Inland Empire Interior Design students working on a remodel of the Forever Wild Animal Sanctuary in Phelan. The students volunteered with the Extreme Makeover television reality series to remodel this sanctuary and build its owners a new home in early February. Photo by Sara Sandoval

    (PHELAN, Calif.) Life has become a whole lot better for Joel and Chemaine Almquist and all their animals.

    Students and faculty from The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire played a part in this, as they joined with ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the Building Industry Association of Southern California and many other volunteers to build the Almquists a new home in one week. The makeover took place at the Almquists’ Buttermere Road home in Phelan, a High Desert community southwest of Victorville and Extreme Makeover presented the new home and shelter to them on Saturday, Feb. 7.

    “It was an incredible atmosphere, a collaborative building experience,” said Sara Sandoval, academic director of the Interior Design program at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire, and one of the project volunteers. “Our students were professional and helpful with any assigned task, no matter how difficult or labor-intensive the work. And because of our team spirit, a lot of people in Phelan were asking about our campus, many of whom now plan to come down to San Bernardino for their own personal tours.”

    The Almquists operate Forever Wild Animal Sanctuary, where they care for nine tigers, three tortoises, three parrots, 10 alligators, four servals, four bearded lizards, two lynx and a Cobra. This shelter, which is licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Fish & Game, accepts these animals when a previous owner is no longer able to care for them.

    Although Forever Wild Animal Sanctuary is a non-profit organization and Chemaine Almquist devotes her days to raising funds for it, the care and feeding of these animals had taken its toll on the Almquists’ personal lives. They lived in a double-wide mobile home with no heating or air-conditioning, leaking pipes and holes patched together by duct tape.

    A team from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition knocked on the Almquists’ door Friday, Jan. 31 to announce their plans to build a new home and animal shelter for them. While the Almquists were away on vacation, the Extreme Makeover team is working with more than 100 volunteers, including The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire students, to build the new home and shelter in a week.

    The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Game Art & Design, Graphic Design, Web Design & Interactive Media, Interior Design, Fashion & Retail Management, and Media Arts & Animation. It offers an Associate degree in Graphic Design, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Fashion Design.

    The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire offers an Associate degree in Culinary Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree in Culinary Management. Each program is offered on a year-round basis, allowing students to work uninterrupted toward their degrees.

    It’s not too late to start the new year at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire. Courses begin April 6 and classes are offered in the day, evening and on weekends for new and reentry students.

    For more information or a free tour of The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire call (909) 915-2100 or go on line to artinstitutes.edu/inlandempire.

    The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire is one of The Art Institutes (www.artinstitutes.edu), with more than 40 educational institutions located throughout North America, providing an important source of design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts professionals.


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