A Community Outreach Program with Raymour & Flanigan
‘Tis better to give than to receive… I must admit becoming Raymour & Flanigan’s Community outreach brand ambassador has been a highlight of my career. I am fortunate to bless others in the community and orchestrate irresistible well-deserved spaces 6 times a year to those in need. What better job could anyone ask for? Last year my client Melinda proposed the Spiritus Christi’s Jennifer House as a potential charitable makeover. I was interested but it wasn’t until I met House Director Sarah and toured the Jennifer House that the passion to dive into this astonishing makeover escalated.
About The Jennifer House
The Jennifer House opened in January 2002 and serves homeless women with a criminal history who are entering the community from jail, in-patient facilities, the streets and other homeless situations. This program provides a safe and structured home environment for homeless women age 18 and older. These women are required to live drug-free in a structured environment. They are loved and protected by a sweet rescue dog Milo that you will meet at the end of the post.
Before & After
The dining room at the Jennifer House is more than just a place to eat. It is the heart of this healing home. The women are required to gather each night for dinner, pray, share readings and the day’s events. At any given time there is at least 12 women for daily dinner meetings. Each meal they pull up desk chairs and squeeze in elbow to elbow just to fit in. But that was about to change with the help of Raymour & Flanigan and a few of my dear caring friends.
It Takes A Village
As soon as the existing furniture was moved out I came in with a group of six women to freshen up the walls. The previous night I had posted on my personal Facebook page asking for volunteers to help paint the dining room. I knew it was a busy time of the year so there wasn’t high hopes. The response was overwhelming! In under an hour I had more than enough hands to help and my friend Clarence Cibella from Complete Painting offered to donate ALL the paint and supplies. We freshened up the tired trim with a clean bright white, Benjamin Moore OC- 17 White Dove. Above the moulding we painted BM 682 Warm Spring. We finished by covering the paintable embossed wallpaper with BM 680 Opal Essence. The dining room immediately felt fresh, clean, and inviting. We were on our way!
This is where we bear our souls and the healing begins
The next morning bright and early I arrived to the Jennifer House. Right on time Raymour & Flanigan pulled up in front of the majestic home and started unloading the new furniture! Just three days prior I was shopping in the show room. To think that it was here already was mind blowing. Talk about instant gratification!
And the Winner is…
I was in search for a table that could accommodate at least 12. It was a tie between the Colebrook and the Holden Dining Sets. After sitting at and seeing all the beautiful details that the Holden 5- Piece Dining Set had I discovered it was exactly what I was looking for. I decided to buy 2 sets. End to end these two 60″ tables together with leaves extends to 156 inches! That’s room enough for 16+ people. With it’s arts and crafts clean lines, subtle details, all wood construction, and light painted greige base with warm wood top it was a winner. It fit the Jennifer House’s historical charm to a T.
Here sits no strangers. A bench has no barriers.
I set up the eight chairs on three sides and added two Colebrook Benches allowing us to accommodate six women on one side. Their low profile and ability to tuck in tight to the table allowed a gorgeous view of the Aspen server just behind.
Setting the Table for Christmas Dinner
With a budget of $200 for accessories given to me by Melinda’s charitable group The Giving Circle I headed out in search of turquoise accessories in hopes of creating a serene, almost wondrous Christmas tablescape. A long turquoise and silver speckled table runner runs along the middle of the table. In the center of the runner I placed a large Crackled Glass Lazy Susan from Raymour and Flanigan. How convenient would it be for the women to have all the dining accessories like napkins, extra silverware, salt and pepper shakers, and other dining necessities right on hand?
“Home is where we can laugh and cry, embrace and dance, sleep long and dream quietly. Home is where we can rest and be healed.” ~Nouwen, 1986
Simple Elegant Centerpiece
For my Christmas centerpiece I purchased a gorgeous handblown turquoise Atu Glass Bowl and placed it in the middle of the Lazy Susan. I’ve had my eye on this functional art piece for quite sometime. This was the perfect application! I tucked in fresh pine greens around the base and filled the bowl with dollar store ornaments. Such a simple but yet elegant centerpiece.
The table was set! Each of the 12 place settings received a white charger, turquoise ceramic plate, matching water goblet, striped water colored napkins and a fresh sprig of pine. There were extra bulbs which I then tied to a sprig with twine and placed them in the center of each dinner plate.
Take a seat at the table, break bread and foster bonds of sisterhood
Versatile, Organized and Beautiful Storage
In the far left corner of the dining room I placed the tall Aspen shelving unit and angled it in the corner. Previously the women were using a small TV tray to put all their dinnerware on. Before each meal the women line up around the table for their plates. Now the Aspen shelving unit provides more than enough space for all of their dinnerware. There are two lined drawer for extra utensils, napkins, and spices.
I fell in love with this piece the second I saw it online. It had so much versatility. This could be used in an office, bathroom for extra linens, an entryway for keys and mail, or even in the bedroom. The unlimited uses for this special piece will have you asking “where can I put this in my house?”
Old House Charm
Just to the right of the Aspen server was a beautiful window seat. That’s what I love about the older homes! They just had so much charm and thought when they were built. This space was under utilized and I wanted to make this cozy nook a warm and inviting spot for the women. I added new curtains and loaded up the bench seat with cozy turquoise and silver down filled pillows.
Heaven and Nature Sing
Just above the radiator on the window sill I centered the Luna blue crackle vase with a simple and natural arrangement. Red Osier branches from my home garden accompany mini turquoise bulbs with spruce bows tucked in around the outside. Floral arrangements don’t need to be elaborate. Fresh greens from the garden can brighten the space just like an elaborate arrangement.
From the original chandelier I hung silver glitter snowflakes, silver stars and jingle bell Christmas tree ornaments at varying heights. This served to add eye catching holiday cheer and bright starlight into the center of the room.
Grateful Hearts Gather Here
Most of these women do not have cell phones. They talk to love ones and family members through a landline. Previously, the girls had been sitting on a tired worn-out office chair. I replaced the office chair with a soft velvet like turquoise upholstered chair.
Being on time is important to these girls so just above the chair I hung a large clock ensuring they get to their appointments and important meetings on time.
As I mentioned earlier in the post I purchased two benches so that everyone would be able to see the gorgeous Aspen buffet server. I absolutely fell in love with this piece! What’s not to love? The crisscross doors, the glazed painted finish, weathered wood top, oil rubbed bronze hardware and the amount of storage it provides makes this server an ultimate treasure.
Begin each day as if you had wings
Unfortunately, the position of the molding provided a challenge for placing art. When I came across these four leaf watercolor prints in our color scheme there was no doubt that they would look fabulous in the room. I couldn’t believe that the four framed pieces were just $200 at Raymour & Flanigan’s Outlet Center. I centered two over the Aspen server and split the others between the front and back walls.
Just under the art are 5 frosted turquoise votive candles. I had forgotten to bring in tea lights. One of the residents mentioned to me that real wax candles are not allowed in the Jennifer House according to fire codes. She took it upon herself to walk down the street to buy me five battery operated flameless candles. Is that pride of ownership or what?
The Big Reveal
Shortly after Raymour and Flanigan had delivered the furniture I hung two sheets covering both door openings so that the women could not see what my helper Christine and myself were setting up. The women started arriving back home to the Jennifer House around 4 pm. Once a majority of them were in the living room we were ready for the big reveal. To say that I was excited was an understatement. Just like a broadway show, I pulled back the curtains and the women gasped. Some cried, but all came into the room in complete awe. I had done my job. Most importantly, I had created a warm and inviting space that these women deserved. The comments and praises brought me to tears.
Above all, I had made friendships and helped assured these women that they deserve a warm special and secure space to call HOME.
The Seed With Many Roots
This one week transformation would be virtually impossible without the help of many hands. Looking back I must have been a little crazy to think that an entire room transformation would result in so many forces coming together. Marie, a sales associate at the Henrietta NY showroom volunteered on her day off to help paint and when special order pillows came in earlier than expected she drove them right over. My friends Elizabeth, Skye, Gwyn, and Rachel all carved time out of their busy schedules to help patch, paint and roll. Kevin Nassar donated the large special sized carpet and delivered in under 48 hours. My client Christine spent the whole day helping me hang curtains, clip pine bows, style the room and clean up on reveal day. What a team…. Together miracles do happen.
The Needs Continue
I truly feel blessed to be able to share my talents with others outside of my own circle. A big hug goes out to my client turned friend Melinda for introducing me to the Jennifer House. I was honored to meet Reverand Myra Brown of the Spirtus Christi Church just the other day and show her in person how the room had been transformed. The Jennifer House is run solely on donations. If you’d like to help these women please visit the Jennifer House WISH LIST.
May you all have a blessed Christmas and again this project could not be made possible without my generous giving friends at Raymour & Flanigan.
Love always, Amie
* I have gratefully received products from Raymour & Flanigan in exchange for this post. All expressed opinions are 100% mine.
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