Expect the Unexpected

That’s the mindset you embody when you join a Design for a Difference team. You know you want to give back to your community. You believe in the cause, and share the vision. You are part of the team. Now it’s time to make it happen. And the most important part of the process is to trust that it WILL happen, and to expect the unexpected when it comes to who wants to help.

Making Kansas City Proud

Just ask Kansas City interior designer and DFAD Ambassador Stephanie Stroud. She’s just reported the exciting news that she and her DFAD Kansas City team, including IDG showroom Madden-McFarland, have received $25,000 from local non-profit KCCan. This generous donation will jump-start the first part of a $300,000 renovation to benefit adolescents and teens needing in-patient care at KVC Health Systems.  

“This is a multi-faceted psychiatric hospital that really cares about giving their patients the treatment they need, and sometimes that includes living on campus for a while. There are three cottages on the grounds that were built in the 1980’s and desperately need updates like turning old and unused kitchens into common areas and creating one-on-one therapy rooms.”

When it comes to getting support, you have to start with who you know. Stephanie was fortunate enough to have a long-standing friendship with the founders of KCCan and took her idea to the board. “They were so moved by our DFAD videos and our design plan, that they had no hesitation in saying ‘yes’ to our project. They even hope to help us with a matching grant from another source, which would be really amazing.” 

New York State of Mind

In Rochester, New York, IDG showroom owner Peter Messner of Messner Carpet and his team are in the final stages of an installation for RAIHN (Rochester Area Inter-Hospitality Network). This non-profit is run by 4 incredible women, 8 congregations from local churches and temples, and over 19,000 volunteers to provide temporary overnight shelter for their homeless population. With overwhelming support from the community, the team has focused their efforts on a 5,500 square foot storefront in a revival part of town that will provide newly added daytime services to the program. 

“This is our 3rd project and these ladies reached out to us. We’re providing floorcovering, furniture, and décor to complete the entire space. And it’s easy to find people to donate time and resources because they’ve experienced it in the past and find the joy in giving back,” says Peter.

Partnering with local businesses plays a key role in the success of every makeover. In Peter’s case, his weekly routine drops him in at Tom Mayer Hardware, the kind of   old-fashioned establishment that makes us think of small towns and friendly service. “I mentioned our latest project to the guys at the paint counter, and they said they’d look into it.  I was very surprised when they responded within a day or two to let me know the owner said they wanted to supply paint for the entire space.”

Turning the Tables

And if anyone knows about trusting the makeover process, it’s designer and veteran DFAD Ambassador Deanna Whetstone in Indianapolis. She and her IDG showroom Blakely’s Flooring just celebrated another final reveal for a charity called Transformations Center For Healing.

Sponsored by a local church, this three bedroom ranch style home provides spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical healing for women recovering from addiction.  Deanna and her team took an unfinished basement with cinderblock walls and transformed it into a much needed family room featuring an inviting art therapy area that feels more like a state-of-the-art design school than a lower level.

When we asked what surprised her most about those who helped make it happen, she gushed over the generosity of local craftsman, Andrew Gibson, who delivered oversized art tables of solid wood. “He is just starting a woodworking business and gave us everything free of charge.” But Andrew had more than talent to share. 

“I specifically selected ash because it’s one of those nasty woods that people throw away. Landscapers say it’s not even worthy of burning. So I wanted to create these work tables as a testimony to my own recovery as a heroin addict and to show these women that anything can be made into something beautiful.” Deanna adds, “Andrew made a point to tell us how much it meant to him to be able to pay it forward with something that has deep meaning and will never go away.” 

Extremem close up of the dollar amount on a check being written by an ink pen.

So you see, you may not know it, but there is an entire army waiting to support DFAD makeovers; and all you have to do is ask. Throughout every stage of the project, as long as you continue to share your enthusiasm and passion for why this project is so important, you will discover that the right people will be there at the right time, every step of the way.