Today I want to take the time to share with you a project that I am proud to be a part of. It’s the Alpha House of Tampa’s “A Room of Her Own.”
I became involved at Alpha House a few years ago. Alpha House is place of last resort for women and foster-care teens in our community who are pregnant and homeless. They offer a safe place not only to live, but to receive counseling services, parenting classes, educational assistance and job placement assistance. I have seen first hand the work that they do and have witnessed their ability to help turn lives around. I believe strongly in their mission. Their goal is to empower pregnant and parenting women in crisis to realize their ability to break the cycles of poverty and abuse and create promising lives. For me personally, I think all children deserve the best possible start in life. The mothers at Alpha House are doing just that…and I like helping in any way that I can.
Early this year, Alpha House Director Pat Langford assembled a team of community members who all had the same vision: to re-design the maternity home bedrooms to make them feel more home-like. The 20 rooms are each the size of a single dorm room and the look has always been institutional and drab. Even though their room at Alpha House is the first safe space these women have had to themselves in years (maybe their lives), we all believe that they, and their babies, deserve more than that.
And so in January, we began the task of reaching out to local interior designers and community room adopters. Little did we know the huge outpouring of support we would receive. And little did I realize then, how big this project would become in my own life.
The team at Alpha House is top-notch. Pat Langford, Ellen Hochschwender, Lindsay Churton, Duncan Broyd and Barbara McCormick have all been instrumental in guiding this project and making it happen. Pat and Ellen have worked tirelessly to take our vision and organize all the people and details that a project this large entails.
My co-chair, Scott Schershel from Interior Spaces, Inc. has been such a source of inspiration for me. I can’t imagine the time he has put into soliciting donations, recruiting designers and researching logistics. I can’t thank him enough for the work he has done on our behalf.
I think I speak for Scott and myself as well as the staff at Alpha House when I say how humbled we are by the kindness extended by so many who heard about our plan. An anonymous donor stepped forward and donated the money to install laminate hardwood flooring in each and every room. Custom Wholesale Floors, Inc., donated a percentage of the materials and Danny Lopez and his crew gave a partial donation to install. F E Lykes Foundation and Psomas Painting donated hallway paint and painting, and baseboards in the hallways and all 20 bedrooms.
My own friends and fellow decorators have been amazing. The first several months of my involvement with this project were spent in meetings about concept and planning. When the concept began to become a reality, I put out a call to everyone in my life who I thought might be able to help. WOW! What a response I received. Other decorators jumped on board immediately and began to make our vision their own. They’ve adopted rooms and will implement their ideas in the next few weeks.
For “my” room, I assembled a team of friends from different areas in my life. We’ve become the “Alpha B’s” (as in “Busy Bees”) and have had so much fun working together.
Lisa Sierra is a friend I’ve had since middle school. She has a heart of gold and quickly wanted to help in any way possible. I became friends with Sarah Neuman and Karrie Hawkins when our sons became best friends 2 or 3 years ago. They are 2 of the best moms I know and both were eager to join a cause that would help give another mom a fresh start. Kim Campbell has been a neighbor and friend for the past 8 years. She is a sweetheart with a great eye and was instrumental in helping me make my final design decisions. Cindy Gemill joined us late in the game, but matched our enthusiasm ten-fold. The minute she was introduced to Alpha House her mind began racing with ideas to help out. She also enlisted her daughter, Maddie and my daughter, Bri to help with the final stages of decorating. Thanks, girlies!
Over the past few weeks, we organized, shopped, chatted, shopped, laughed, shopped and shopped. Yesterday, we finished 2 days of decorating. We primed, painted, glazed, built, installed, organized and laughed our way from start to finish. Along the way, we got help from Tom at Artisan Cabinets, who provided and installed the crown molding. Muna from The Drapery Company donated our window treatment. And Lisa’s husband, Hi came to install the ceiling fan and full length mirror. We could not have done this without any of them. And I could not have done any of this without my good friends. THANK YOU ALL FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!
My last thanks in this message is reserved for Pearl, a former resident of Alpha House that I was so lucky to have met. She has reaffirmed all that I think is right about Alpha House. Pearl lived through the kind of traumatic childhood I could never imagine and credits Alpha House with planting the seeds that allowed her to grow into the woman, wife and mother that she has become. When Scott and I and the staff at Alpha House had our first meeting with prospective adopters and designers, I spoke to the group and told them of my belief that “Kindness Matters.” Pearl’s kind and positive feedback makes me believe that it really does.
Here’s our after pictures: