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Project Home continues to decorate and furnish apartments for the families of National Center for Children and Families.  I haven’t blogged about it in quite some time, but we have helped several families since my last blog months ago.  I’ve just been too busy !

Karen Murley and I were able to decorate an apartment in March BEFORE the family moved in.  The mother and two daughters (ages 10 and 12) were moving in from the shelter with nothing.  They were homeless and couldn’t pay the rent on their storage unit so they lost everything in it.

Fortunately, this apartment already had some furniture in it that we had put in for the previous family this past summer.  We added to what was there, fully stocking the kitchen with dishes, pots and pans, we painted bookcases, put up shower curtains, put pictures on the walls, curtains on the windows and turned the apartment into a comfortable home.  I wish I could have been there when they moved in to see the girls pick out which room they wanted.  We did one in pink and one in purple.  The mother’s bedroom was especially nice  because a fellow decorator, Denise Standon,  had just given us custom made curtains and a matching headboard from a room that she was redecorating.  Everything fell into place quickly on this project, with the help of designer, Karen Snyder of Cherry  and my good friend, Kathy Rozansky.  Another dear friend, Anne, donated a basket full of food, to stock their shelves.

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We are always gathering items  and looking for help with the projects, so if you would like to participate in the future projects, just let me know!

Best to all of you for your continued support of Project Home.greentree-3-23-11-0181greentree-3-23-11-0192

Future Bound is another entity of National Center for Children and families.  The program provides housing and counseling in Rockville for young adults 17-21.  I was asked to spruce up some of their apartments to create a happier environment for these kids.  I must admit that initially the apartments didn’t look too bad to me, compared with what I have seen in the Family Stabilization Program.   The furniture is already there, and while it has seen better days, it is still functional.  What is lacking most is personality and warmth.

This  latest project I just completed a few days ago  for a 17 year old boy, was a last minute~~ pull together what I can~~ kind of thing …Living Room Before

  • Living Room Before
  • Living Room After
  • Living Room After
  • I dug through our storage unit, scoured the thrift store, raided my son’s room and received a last minute donation of a desk chair and a poster.

    I think any young adult would be happy to walk into this ready made home and hopefully it will help to make his future a little bit brighter!

    If you’d like to help with the next project, let me know!  Best,  Kathy

    Bedroom before

    Bedroom before

    Bedroom After

    Bedroom After

    Dining Room Before

    Dining Room Before

    Dining Room After

    Dining Room After

    Kitchen

    Kitchen

    Bathroom

    Bathroom

    A Safe Place to Call Home

    October 5th, 2010

    024-2Happiness is knowing that you have helped to create a safe, warm, inviting home for four families that have been the victim of domestic abuse.  NCCF has now opened “Betty’s House”, a beautifully renovated home in Rockville that officially saw it’s first families move in this July.  Local redesigner/home stager, Karen Murley and I came in at the end of the renovation and furnished the 4 bedroom 4.5 bath house with donated furnishings and $3,000 from the county.  Special thanks to designer, Rita Carlson  for volunteering to decorate one of the bedrooms for a young mother and her infant, son.   Each bedroom accommodates a  family (2 or 3 people) and has a private bathroom.   The common areas were designed to bring the families together in a living area, a quiet room, a large kitchen with a huge table to seat all 10-12 people living there and a lower level consisting of a playroom, TV area for the children and a study area.  The children range in age from 4 months to 14 year old, so we tried to accommodate the wide age range with many stimulating toys and study tools (all donated).

    Betty’s house is a wonderful example of what can be done to help others by putting together furnishings from many donations, combining them with a few new things and hard work.  Many of my friends will recognize their furnishings in these pictures and they can take pride in knowing that other families are enjoying them now.  Gently used furnishings can be re-purposed with excellent results when grouped together in a pleasing way!  Saves our Planet too!

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    Moving Van Full of Donated furniture !

    Moving Van Full of Donated furniture !

    Furniture placed into the Apartment

    Furniture placed into the apartment

    A wonderful, generous family contacted me to donate the furniture from their six bedroom house that would not fit into their new two bedroom condo!  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect!  NCCF (National Center for Children and Families)a.k.a “Greentree Shelter” has aquired several more apartments to house more families in need.  We were very fortunate to have been the recipients of a household full of furniture in great condition and multiple sets of of dishes,  glasses and other useful items.  We boxed it up, put it into a moving van and placed in right into the apartments of 4 families that just moved from the shelter into empty apartments. It’s a wonderful sight to bring a sofa and chair, a couple lamps, a dresser and a kitchen table to a family that has just be placed into an empty apartment and see their eyes light up!  That makes all the hard work worth it! I was so busy I wasn’t able to take many pictures to share with you.  I will be going back to deliver more items soon, so more to come soon…

    More items are needed !!!!

    Currently we are in need of:

    Sofa’s (on the smaller side is better)

    End tables and coffeetables

    Kitchen tables w/chairs

    Lamps

    Pots and Pans

    Dishes

    Other kitchen items

    Shower curtains/hooks

    Small Microwave

    CALL ME OR E-MAIL ME AND I WILL ARRANGE FOR PICK UP!!!

    We created an uplifting environment for the staff and families of the Family Stabilization Program. The offices that were once drab and disorganized are now bright, fun and motivating.  Again, thanks to the many volunteers on this project !  Many man hours were spent and  all the donated money was used and then some. It was all worth it…we  accomplished a wonderful thing.   Special thanks to Karen Murley for staying up all night sewing window treatments and pillows,  Amy Hartman for being my go to gal extraordinaire, and Jennifer Parker for lovingly creating a fantastic piece of artwork  that energizes the whole space!  The word from the director is that the staff is more motivated and energized and they all LOVE IT!  The clients love it too!  It is hard to fully capture the transformation  in these pictures…but you get the idea!

    The main "meeting area" BEFORE

    The Main Meeting room “BEFORE”

    "meeting room" AFTER -Notice Jen's wonderful painting!

    Meeting room " AFTER" -Notice Jen's wonderful painting!

    Meeting room "BEFORE"

    Meeting room "BEFORE"

    Meeting room "After"

    Meeting room "After"

    Information Boards Area "BEFORE"

    Information Boards Area "BEFORE"

    Information Boards Area "AFTER"

    Information Boards Area "AFTER"

    Children's area "BEFORE"

    Children's area "BEFORE"

    Children's Corner "AFTER"

    Children's Corner "AFTER"

    Directors Office "BEFORE"

    Directors Office "BEFORE"

    Director's office "AFTER"

    Director's office "AFTER"

    Kitchen "BEFORE"

    Kitchen "BEFORE"

    Kitchen "AFTER"

    Kitchen "AFTER"

    Kitchen "AFTER"

    Kitchen "AFTER"

    The Staff Office "Before"

    The Staff Office "Before"

    Staff Office "AFTER"

    Staff Office "AFTER"

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    Bathroom "BEFORE"

    Bathroom "AFTER"

    Bathroom "AFTER"

    Bathroom "Before"

    Bathroom "Before"

    Bathroom 2 "AFTER"

    Bathroom 2 "AFTER"

    10-3-1-fsp-office-in-progress-012We are underway in our quest to create a more inviting space for the folks at the Family Stabilization Center.  “Operation Home” has transformed the apartments of 5 families so far.  The director of the program, asked me if this time I would work some magic on their tired offices.  Having  seen the transformations of the homes that we have done for the families in their program, they realized that they could really use some help in the center.  If they are to expect the families to take care of their homes, then they need to present a better example themselves.   The center is located in an apartment in the complex where the families live.  It has been furnished with left over donations from Greentree, some homemade paintings, and a whole loft of bulletin boards.  It was not the cheery, inspirational environment that is needed to inspire these young people to want to do more in their lives.   Nor was it a pleasant work environment for the  case workers that spend many exhausting hours counseling and nurturing, supporting and teaching their clients and hopefully successfully transitioning them into a productive, healthy lifestyle.

    I had one condition…I had to paint to really make an impact.  Paint is the best way to spark some new life into a space.  Over the last 7 days a small herd of volunteers painted and moved furniture, put together new furniture, cleaned and organized.  I am completely exhausted, but no time to rest.  We still have pillows and window coverings to make, things to frame, pictures to hang and lighting to buy.  This is truly an example of “It Takes A Village”  because I couldn’t do this without the help of many people.  I have called in favors from just about everyone I know.  It is heart warming to me that so many people are willing to help (and it has taken a lot of help).    This project has required more money and energy than all the apartments combined.  And it’s not done yet.  If you would like to make a donation to our “Project Home” Project, you may make your donation to the National Center for Children and Families, earmarked for “Project Home”-Kathy Connelly.  Mail it to:  NCCF 6301 Greentree Rd. Bethesda, MD 20817.  You will know that 100% of your donation will go to help to create a better environment for the families in this program.  I mean 100% !

    The before and afters will be coming next in the next blog…

    Thanks volunteers!  You’re the best!

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    I just received a touching letter from the Executive Director at The National Center for Children and Families, Sheryl Brissett Chapman.  It appears that I have been nominated as their 2009 Maryland Volunteer of the Year.  Needless to say I am very touched and appreciate the honor of this award.

    I wanted to share with you a few excerpts from her letter…

    …you have given the families in the Family Stabilization Program a fresh start…

    Your patience and kind-heartedness have brought several families to tears of joy.  Through your artistic and personal efforts, you have created a sense of optimism in the lives of each family.

    You don’t just decorate each home; you scrub, clean, paint, hang pictures and move furniture.  You take the time to learn the personal tastes and character of each client, incorporating their likes into your designs…

    I have had a lot of help, and want to thank all of you who have donated to this wonderful project, now named, “Project Home”.  Special thanks to Amy Hartman, volunteer extraordinaire, my expert shopping buddy and goods gatherer not to mention the painter of personal name signs for our kids rooms, (among her may talents).  Also Karen Murley, a fellow redesigner, who has sewn curtains, pillows and chair covers on site.  Karen has a gift of gathering “stuff” and has put together an impressive inventory for our future projects.  Both of these talented women have taken this project to heart and helped me immensely.  Their continued enthusiasm for this project keeps me going.  Many thanks also go to Deb Werner, Tricia Weidenmayer, Jill Kaufman, Denise Standen , Susan Perman, Ally Connelly, Tom Connelly and Richard Zdanis who have helped me haul, paint, scrub toilets, organize closets, whatever! I thank you all for your willingness to do anything needed and for allowing me to do whatever I wanted!

    While reading the Mission statement of NCCF, I realized that what we are doing with “Project Home” is completely in line with their statement:

    To create total, healthy living environments for vulnerable children, youth, and families, and the quality of life which empowers their ability to thrive and demonstrate responsibility.

    We hope to  continue to support these families in the coming years and are now able to accept cash donations in the name of this project to help us with the costs involved in setting up these homes. Donations would be made to National Center for Children and Families, earmarked for “Project Home”.

    Thanks again for your support and well wishes for “Project Home”.

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    It was a challenging holiday season to be sure.  My husband fell on the ice two days before Christmas and broke three ribs.  I’ve never heard a man scream so loud in my life!  We learned after a few excruciating days of trying to get him in and out of our bed that what we needed was a hospital bed. Thank goodness our bedroom is large enough to accommodate the ugly,  noisy,  monster!  Lovely isn’t it?

    hospital-bed-001

    Anyway, 3.5 weeks later and he is back in our bed, thank goodness, and it’s time for that thing to go!

    So while taking care of my husband, keeping our business going, dealing with Christmas,  saying goodbye to my older children as they flew home to California, my college age daughter needed me to drive a van full of furniture to North Carolina.  She was moving into her first house (off campus) with two girlfriends and they were starting with next to nothing.  I left my poor husband with a strap to pull himself out of bed and told all the neighbors to look in on him!  I had a house to decorate, for goodness sake!

    The added challenge in the move was that my daughter and her roommates were of little to NO help.  As juniors in a sorority, they were busy with RUSH  responsibilities for about 18 hours a day.  They had been there for 3 days and still had NO refrigerator (apparently rental houses don’t have to provide a fridge in North Carolina!) hence NO food, which probably didn’t matter since they had no time to eat anyway.  So first things first. I blew up an air mattress to sleep on (she had no bed yet) and unpacked the van.  Her housemates had brought couches from home, rugs, lamps and lots of kitchen stuff so some of the basics were there.  They were certainly starting  off a lot better than the families I help with Greentree!  After a freezing night on that air mattress, (I didn’t know that the room air temperature became the temperature of the mattress and it felt like I slept on an ice cube all night), the next day I bought her a mattress and frame.   Turns out that buying an inexpensive mattress that she will use for 1.5 years is still expensive!  But after hearing stories of bed bugs from used mattresses, Craigs list was not considered.  I had that sucker delivered the same day–no more air mattress for me!

    I spent the next two days going to Homegoods (accessories to the tune of $150), World Market (curtains for the living room-on sale, $80), Best Buy (for the fridge–$600–our share-$100), Steinmart (bedding and pillows $100), Target (curtains for bedroom/shower curtain and other misc household items ($200), The Goodwill Superstore (Desk and bookends ($40), furniture consignment shops (brand new dresser $250),Bed, Bath & Beyond (more bedding-another $100), Home Dept (adapter for the TV $2), and drove with my daughter (0n an unauthorized break from RUSH) to another town about 20 minutes away to buy a table and chairs from a family off of Craigs list ($140).  Don’t even try to add it up…it’s too depressing!

    In between all the shopping, I had the bed delivered, set it up, ironed curtains and hung pictures, rolled out rugs and threw away boxes.  I drew the line at putting her clothes in the dresser…that was up to her!

    the-bed

    chair1

    livingroom-2

    fireplace

    Once the refrigerator was delivered–of course we were the last delivery of the day–I ran to the local Whole Foods and stocked them up with all the healthy basics that they could eat and then I bolted out as fast as I could, to spend some needed R & R with my good friends that live about an hour away in Durham.

    This is what I know for sure, it takes A LOT of money to set up a household!  There is NO way that our families at NCCF could afford to do it.  That is why what we are doing is so IMPORTANT.  Just the basics cost a fortune.  When I preview the  apartments of these small families to see what they need I am astonished at how little they are living with.  Usually no dishes, one or two towels, sometimes no where to sit or a pillow for their head.  The saddest part for me is that they don’t have family to help them.  Where is their mother to fill up their cabinets with leftover dishes from her own kitchen?  I always wonder about that.

    Our children are very fortunate… my friends and I say that over and over.  I feel blessed to be able to help someone else’s children live in a more comfortable environment.  Thank you for helping  me help other people’s children by donating to “Project Home” !

    Check out these inspiring words about serving from Martin Luther King on his birthday…

    http://bit.ly/74nGWt

    I invite you to comment…

    karen-and-ally-2It was a challenge to pull off the latest Greentree apartment makeover before the holidays. It is such a busy time of year and I didn’t have Nick to deliver the furniture for me because he is  delivering toys to families for Christmas.   I couldn’t have accomplished this project without the amazing energy of a generous and talented friend, Karen, and my worker bee, Deb.  I enlisted my daughter, Ally and her friend ( home from college) to haul everything up to the third floor apartment. Ally ironed, and moved furniture and whatever else I asked of her all day (that was an amazing gift to me!) .  The before and afters don’t really convey how warm and wonderful this apartment turned out.

    The mom and her bundled up 8 month old boy returned home from her new job this past Wednesday  and jumped for joy!  In her words, she “LOVED IT, LOVED IT, LOVED IT” !  She told me her favorite color was purple, so we gave her a PURPLE bedroom, that she was thrilled with!  We gave her real pillows, to replace the bundled up blankets inside of pillowcases that she was using.  We created an inviting nursery for her son, with stimulating toys and his name proudly displayed on the wall (thanks to Amy).  “My baby won’t bump his head on the side of the crib anymore”, “I can have friends over, now”, “I wish I could take pictures and show my Mom, I have a real home”.  Hearing the joy in her voice is what makes these projects so much fun for me. Knowing that we have given someone a home they can be proud of and enjoy living in is priceless.  Hopefully they will build on this and never be homeless again.

    Living Room Before:

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    greentree-020

    Living Room After:

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    living-room-bookcase

    living-room-chair

    Mom’s  Bedroom Before:

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    Mom’s Bedroom After:

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    Baby’s room Before:

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    Baby Boy’s room After:

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    baby-boys-room-e

    Dining Room Before:

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    Dining Room After:

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    Bathroom Before:

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    Bathroom After:

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    Her cupboards were bare:

    greentree-028

    and thanks to all my friends–who donated to this project in lieu of giving each other gifts at our annual Christmas parties– we filled her cabinets with dishes and glasses, pots and pans, silverware and even a new toaster!

    THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU FOR MAKING THIS A SPECIAL CHRISTMAS FOR THIS STRUGGLING FAMILY.  THEY ARE TRULY GRATEFUL.

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL OF YOU !!!

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    Just a quick thought before we all share our Thanksgiving feast with our loved ones…

    “It is better to give than to receive” is such a remarkable truth.

    I feel truly blessed for the opportunity to give.  Decorating the apartments of the  NCCF families has been a gift to me in many ways.  I have experienced remarkable generosity from so many people that want to give to this project.  I have made new friends and strengthened my relationship with others.  I have received so many kinds words of encouragement and praise. Needless to say, it warms my heart knowing that the families are living more comfortably and that we may have made a difference that changes their life and breaks the cycle.  The best gift of all.

    By giving these families an opportunity to thrive in their new home, I have unexpectedly received, and I hope you have too. Knowing that what you have contributed has gone directly to helping others is a wonderful gift.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!  Thank you for all your donations and efforts to this project.  We will be helping many more families in the future!  So keep checking the blog!

    LOVE TO ALL OF YOU !

    Kathy