08/15/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT
Penelope West was desperate. When an electrical fire destroyed the Mt. Pleasant, S.C., house she shared with her mother, nephew and son, the United Methodist Relief Center (UMRC) had an unfinished home moved to her property. The work it required was overwhelming, recalls West, 47, a parks department employee. "Then," she says, "the Good Guys came along."
That would be South Carolina's unlikeliest super-heroes: a merry band of 15 retirees with their own take on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. When alerted by the UMRC, their parent organization, Good Guy members renovate and remodel homes for those in need—50 so far. Roger Nicolini, 65, a former steamship company exec, started the group five years ago. "We're a bunch of guys with no background in building. We just started doing one project after another and learned our skills," he says. "They could be playing poker—instead they get together and rehab houses," says Ashley Smith of the UMRC. "People ask me, 'How do you get into it?' " says Bill Temple, 64, a retired senior VP for ABC News. "I say, 'Just bring a hammer and belt, and show up.' " West is thankful they did. "They're giving precious time to people they don't even know," she says. "The rest of my life, I can't thank them enough."