Businesses help furnish, decorate transitional home for homeless mothers

Businesses and organizations have stepped up to furnish and decorate rooms for homeless families trying to get back on their feet.

The nonprofit Lydia Place is finishing a remodel of its transitional home, which houses up to eight single mothers and their children. A $230,040 grant from the City of Bellingham funded the remodel of the 26-year-old facility, taking care of maintenance issues that have long been put off. And now businesses and other organizations are furnishing and decorating the rooms through Lydia Place’s Adopt-A-Room program.

The transitional home’s old furniture, a collection of donated items, was falling apart.

“We couldn’t in good conscious put it back into the newly painted rooms,” said Shultzie Willows, Lydia Place development and outreach director.

For $2,000, the adopting organizations finance beds, mattresses, shelving, a desk and chair, storage lockers and a light fixture for each room. So far, four bedrooms and communal space has been adopted and Lydia Place is looking for sponsors for the remaining four rooms, Willows said.

Businesses aren’t just furnishing the remodeled rooms, they also name and decorate the rooms. The Windermere Foundation adopted a first-floor room and  gave it a dream theme—pillows and artwork with inspirational quotes, a box of dream-related crafts and a journal and pin board for writing dreams and goals.

Becki Taylor, director of the Windermere Foundation, has volunteered with Lydia Place on past projects.

“It’s the most clever idea they’ve had,” she said about the Adopt-A-Room project. “I really believe in what they’re doing. They’re giving these women new hope.”

Taylor seized the opportunity because her theme will inspire dozens of families over the years, she said.

“It means we can touch someone’s life for the future,” Taylor said. “I want them to walk into the room and say, “Wow!'”

Bramble Berry, Pacific Continental Realty, and an international nonprofit called Maher Ashram, have also adopted rooms and Samuel’s Furniture of Ferndale adopted communal space in the home.

Remodel work at the home, which started this spring, is expected to finished in October. Three families stayed in the facility during construction, moving from the second floor to the first as work progressed in stages.

Work included remodeling bathrooms to better comply with Americans With Disabilities Act standards, grading and repaving the parking lot, fixing flooring, removing a fireplace and chimney and installing new cabinets and countertops in the kitchen.

In the past 26 years, hundreds of families have lived in the facility while overcoming financial difficulties, addiction, domestic violence and other issues, Willows said. Typically, a family stays in the facility for six months until they can move into their own place.

The transitional home was Lydia Place’s first service when it started in 1989. In the past 10 years, the nonprofit’s services have “grown in leaps and bounds,” Willows said.

At any given time, the organization is providing housing, case management and other services to 200 families or 400 to 500 individuals. Other Lydia Place programs include a partnership with Bellingham Housing Authority to provide in-home support for formerly homeless families in 79 apartment units, and temporary housing for larger families in a single-family house.

(Left to right) Jim Washburn, owner of Windermere Real Estate Whatcom County; Emily O'Connor, executive director of Lydia Place; and Becki Taylor, Windermere Foundation director. [Oliver Lazenby photo | The BBJ]
(Left to right) Dan Washburn, owner of Windermere Real Estate Whatcom County; Emily O’Connor, executive director of Lydia Place; and Becki Taylor, Windermere Foundation director. [Oliver Lazenby photo | The BBJ]

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