America

From Homeless To White House To 'The Martha Stewart Show'

When NPR's Ari Shapiro earlier this month filed a report on the 2011 holiday decorations at the executive mansion, he focused some of his attention on the diverse group of volunteer decorators who were called on to help dress up 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

One of the decorations in the Red Room of the White House, where David Bondarchuck was among the volunteer decorators. i i

One of the decorations in the Red Room of the White House, where David Bondarchuck was among the volunteer decorators. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
One of the decorations in the Red Room of the White House, where David Bondarchuck was among the volunteer decorators.

One of the decorations in the Red Room of the White House, where David Bondarchuck was among the volunteer decorators.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Among those he spoke with was David Bondarchuck of Denver, who told about how he had been homeless as a teen — but was inspired to stay in school and become a caterer after watching Martha Stewart talk on TV with then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton about holidays at the White House.

"Fifteen years ago I was homeless," he said, but after seeing that TV special, "I decided that [catering and decorating was] something I'd love to do. So I stayed in school and I watched Martha Stewart every single day and started sending pictures of my events and my tablescapes to the White House. And this last August [I] got an acceptance letter" to be a volunteer decorator. He helped decorate the fireplace mantel in the Green Room and the mantel and trees in the Red Room, according to TheDenverChannel.com.

"Now that this dream has come true for you, what's next?" Ari asked.

"Martha Stewart in New York, if you're listening, here I come," Bondarchuck said.

David Bondarchuck, speaking to NPR's Ari Shapiro

Bondarchuck, who runs a company called Scratch Catering Services in Denver, is set to get his wish on Wednesday.

He's scheduled to be among the guests on the Hallmark Channel's Martha Stewart Show. The show's staff heard Ari's report and invited Bondarchuck to come on.

Here's a slide show that ran when Ari's story was on Weekend Edition Saturday:

  • "Shine, Give, Share" is the theme for the Obama family's third Christmas in the White House. This year, a total of 37 Christmas trees and a 400-pound White House made of gingerbread, white chocolate and marzipan decorate the mansion.
    Hide caption
    "Shine, Give, Share" is the theme for the Obama family's third Christmas in the White House. This year, a total of 37 Christmas trees and a 400-pound White House made of gingerbread, white chocolate and marzipan decorate the mansion.
    Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
  • First lady Michelle Obama welcomed military families to the first viewing of the 2011 decorations on Wednesday. White House chefs joined her to decorate cookies with the children.
    Hide caption
    First lady Michelle Obama welcomed military families to the first viewing of the 2011 decorations on Wednesday. White House chefs joined her to decorate cookies with the children.
    Charles Dharapak/AP
  • Some of those cookies were turned into ornaments.
    Hide caption
    Some of those cookies were turned into ornaments.
    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • This year, the official tree is an 18 1/2-foot balsam fir in the Blue Room. Decorated with medals and cards made by military children, it honors Blue Star military families.
    Hide caption
    This year, the official tree is an 18 1/2-foot balsam fir in the Blue Room. Decorated with medals and cards made by military children, it honors Blue Star military families.
    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Several versions of the Obamas' Portuguese water dog, Bo, appear throughout this year's decorations, ranging from a miniature licorice and marshmallow version to a this 4½-foot-tall felt topiary.
    Hide caption
    Several versions of the Obamas' Portuguese water dog, Bo, appear throughout this year's decorations, ranging from a miniature licorice and marshmallow version to a this 4½-foot-tall felt topiary.
    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Ornaments made to honor loved ones decorate the Gold Star Families Tree.
    Hide caption
    Ornaments made to honor loved ones decorate the Gold Star Families Tree.
    Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
  • A "Bo" made from plastic garbage bags sits in front of the fireplace in the library. Mrs. Obama drew a laugh from the crowd when she said Bo, "the most famous member of the Obama family," has been a little confused walking around the house and seeing himself in "gigantic form."
    Hide caption
    A "Bo" made from plastic garbage bags sits in front of the fireplace in the library. Mrs. Obama drew a laugh from the crowd when she said Bo, "the most famous member of the Obama family," has been a little confused walking around the house and seeing himself in "gigantic form."
    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • The Red Room features fruit, foliage and flowers set in berry-covered vases.
    Hide caption
    The Red Room features fruit, foliage and flowers set in berry-covered vases.
    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Some of the handcrafted decorations are made of paper, felt and recycled cans, like these handcrafted tabletop trees in the Green Room.
    Hide caption
    Some of the handcrafted decorations are made of paper, felt and recycled cans, like these handcrafted tabletop trees in the Green Room.
    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • More than 100 holiday volunteers assisted with the decorations, and officials say they're expecting about 85,000 visitors to tour the White House this holiday season.
    Hide caption
    More than 100 holiday volunteers assisted with the decorations, and officials say they're expecting about 85,000 visitors to tour the White House this holiday season.
    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

1 of 10

View slideshow i

Update at 8 a.m ET, Dec. 22. "This Is Officially The Best Christmas Ever!"

Bondarchuck was indeed on the Stewart show Wednesday (there will be "encore" broadcast today on the Hallmark Channel at 1 p.m. ET) and during his appearance there was a video message from a special guest — first lady Michelle Obama.

She told Bondarchuck that "you are proof that if we keep our dreams in our sights, if we work hard enough, if we weather the bumps that are sure to come along the way, then we can achieve anything we set our minds to and that is a beautiful gift for all of us this holiday season."

After which he declared that "this is officially the best Christmas ever!"

Martha Stewart and David Bondarchuck during Wednesday's broadcast of The Martha Stewart Show -- and as a videotape message from first lady Michelle Obama was played. i i

Martha Stewart and David Bondarchuck during Wednesday's broadcast of The Martha Stewart Show -- and as a videotape message from first lady Michelle Obama was played. Rob Tannenbaum/The Martha Stewart Show hide caption

itoggle caption Rob Tannenbaum/The Martha Stewart Show
Martha Stewart and David Bondarchuck during Wednesday's broadcast of The Martha Stewart Show -- and as a videotape message from first lady Michelle Obama was played.

Martha Stewart and David Bondarchuck during Wednesday's broadcast of The Martha Stewart Show -- and as a videotape message from first lady Michelle Obama was played.

Rob Tannenbaum/The Martha Stewart Show

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