“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
This quote is so fitting for where we are in our project at Catholic Urban Programs’ emergency shelter for women and children experiencing homelessness.
I am humbled to report that our generous supporters and friends have given almost $3,000 in donations to help turn the dining room at the shelter into a comforting, welcoming space that feels like home.
I expected that my kind-hearted clients, friends and family would help us in this endeavor to design the “heart of the home” for these women and children. But what I didn’t expect – and am so overwhelmed by – is the outpouring of support we have received from other local tradesmen and businesses!
Late this summer, my JSB Designs team volunteered to redesign the dining room at the Hubbard House, an 18-bed emergency shelter for women and children experiencing homelessness. Located in East St. Louis, this shelter is operated by Catholic Urban Programs (CUP), a nonprofit organization working to ease the burden of families in need.
After seeing their call for help on social media, I took one look at the “before” and knew that my team and I could transform this dull dining space into something that felt more like “home” for the families seeking comfort at the shelter.
Our initial call for donations has raised $2,920 for the project. My heart swells just typing that. Those funds will be used to purchase supplies, including a table and chairs.
We originally set our fundraising goal pretty high, but then our fellow business owners jumped in.
BJC Home Services has offered to complete the construction work free of charge! We have worked with this team before and know that they do great work and are great contractors. We can’t express how grateful we are for this generous donation!
Then Shannon Duvall, a professional painter with HD Painting & Stain, offered to paint the room for us.
Our colleagues at Eye on Design of Belleville said they would donate window coverings for the room and Trend Manufacturing jumped in to donate a laminate countertop.
Belleville-based restaurant chain Papa Vito’s graciously donated a large table top from one of their restaurants.
One by one, these businesses stepped up with donations and offers to help in ways we never dreamed of! Due to their generous donations, we are able to cut our fundraising goal by 50 percent!
A New Goal for Donations
When I set the original goal of $10,000, I was factoring in costs of labor for painters and contractors and big ticket items like a countertop and window coverings. With all that donations, I can accomplish my full redesign with $5,000!
That means, as of right now, we are just $2,000 shy of our new goal! (One of the biggest ticket items we still need is cabinets!)
You can help by donating straight to the project here: https://www.facebook.com/JsbDesigns/posts/2375593342573315
In my first blog about this project, I promised to share the plans for the dining room and I’m so pumped to reveal all I want to do in the shelter’s dining room!
Looking at the before pictures, the room seems pretty clinical. It reminds me more of a corporate break room than it does a family dining room. I really want to create a space for these families that uplifts them and brings them together.
As you can see, the dining room currently features a hodgepodge of furniture. Mismatched tables and chairs are squeezed into the room wherever they can fit.
The “artwork” that adorns the walls is not really proportional to the room and doesn’t necessarily go together to create a pulled together vibe. I’m looking to create more flow and harmony in the room.
As you can see, this room serves its purpose as far as providing a place for residents to eat, but that’s about all it has to offer. There’s really no warmth, no sense of family, no heart in this home.
After discussing with Jenn Lyke, director of development and community engagement for CUP, my team and I sat down and came up with ways to transform the dining room while simultaneously making it more functional.
First and foremost, at the request of CUP, we’re going to use the color palette of the organization so we’ll be bringing in golds and purples. Look at this fabric I’ve found, isn’t it gorgeous?
The Heart of the Home
Keeping with the updated color palette, a fresh coat of paint will be applied to the walls and drop ceiling. The ceiling will stay a bright white and the walls will be a pretty taupe color with a hint of purple tint
Next, I want to remove the small tables and replace them with one large table that will seat 12 people. The dining room is the heart of the home, a place to gather and connect and those connections aren’t happening with residents scattered about the room.
Along with the table we will add these metal and wood chairs. They are durable with a classic look that will be stylish for years to come.
In the back of the room is a wall of cabinets where the residents store their food. If budget allows, I will replace the existing cabinets with taller ones that reach to the ceiling to provide more space for each family. I’d also like to add a small beverage cooler.
Donations will provide for new laminate countertops and a backsplash of subway tile.
Then come the finishing touches. We’ll replace the light fixtures and get new artwork. I literally dream about this room at night, I cannot wait to see it finished!
With the money we have currently raised, I believe I can do everything I planned except for replacing the cabinets. I would love to see taller cabinets with more storage in that room but unless I can find some at a reduced price, we will have to stick with the existing cabinets and just give them a fresh coat of paint.
The most important aspect of this project for me is to know that these families have a place to come together to dine, to work on homework or to discuss the day over a cup of coffee. It’s the little things in life that bring us the most comfort.
This project means so much to me, I hope my words are able to inspire you to give a donation to turn my vision into a reality for the residents of Hubbard House.
You can make a donation straight to the project through our Facebook fundraiser for Catholic Urban Programs here: https://www.facebook.com/JsbDesigns/posts/2375593342573315
Catholic Urban Programs (CUP) is a 501 (c) 3 organization that is affiliated with the Diocese of Belleville. The mission of CUP is to advance human dignity, remediate the effects of poverty, and empower people to become self-sufficient through crisis intervention, housing security, and out of school time programs. CUP operates programming in seven facilities located in East St. Louis. CUP serves people throughout the Diocese with a concentrated focus on St. Clair County and East St. Louis specifically.