I struggle where to start (and end) with this blog. Do I describe the process we used to paint the room, or how tired I was by the end of my shift, or describe the feeling of being on common ground with hundreds if not thousands of others just helping one another out of the goodness of their hearts? I don’t know. The experience as a whole was amazing! I am so happy that I chose to be a part of it.
Excitement in the Rogue Valley soared as we waited to hear which family would be the recipient of the Extreme Makeover. A website was set up and volunteers were gathered to help with skills, talents and time. Many small businesses in the valley were the major contributors in the build. I was so impressed, our Medford valley area people are so generous, even in a very tough economy.
As time to build (and surprise the family) neared, sightings of the Extreme Makeover bus became frequent. One of my friends (who will remain anonymous) even stalked the bus to try to find out where the build would take place. Many rumors flew as people anticipated this big event for our small valley. On Wednesday morning the family was announced: the McPhail family would be receiving a new home. McPhail? It sounded familiar, but I didn’t really know them. Then it occur too me, I had been following a local blog, “Earth Monkeys” and one of the bloggers was Lindsay McPhail. I had made a few comments on her blog and we have happen to have quite a few facebook friends in common, so I was excited to be helping out even though I really didn’t know her or her family. Along with many others, I wondered, why the McPhail family—why were they picked?
The McPhail family has three children, two with special needs. Despite the daily needs of their own children, Lindsay and CJ McPhail head up the Southern Oregon Sparrow Clubs. They have started many new Sparrow clubs at our local schools. Read more about Sparrow Clubs USA here. They were not chosen just because their home was not safe or because they have kids with special needs. They were chosen because of just HOW much they have done in the community for others with special needs. Watch this video interview with the McPhail Parents.
So I was recruited by a friend to help paint a mural. I like to paint so of course I said “I’m in,” not knowing it would be an all night shift. There was a little confusion with our shift day (probably because our shift spanned to dates) so we arrived a night early and our room was not ready for us yet. It was a blessing to be able to look around and get a feel for what we would be doing the following night. We were on team “Yogi” and would be helping with a mural of a Barn Storming theme, designed by Travis Yogi. The room was for Thatcher, a young boy with Autism.
“Team Yogi” Melody, Holly and Cheryl. We are each small business owners based in Jacksonville, OR. Melody owns a “French BouTEAque” (clothing and accessories), I own Holly Herick Design (graphic design, web/blog and small business consulting), and Cheryl owns Cheryl Von Tres Design (interior design).
Checking out Thatcher’s room for the first time.
So after arrival on the correct night, we ran into some old friends who were hanging the wallpaper part of the mural.
Cheryl, Jerry, Melody, Holly, and Jeff working on Yogi’s Team
Yogi’s design had been turned into a huge digital print that would “wallpaper” everything except the trim and parts of the doors and windowsill—that would be our job, to extend the mural. Sounds fairly easy right? WRONG. Why, you are probably wondering—what is so hard about painting little bit of trim?
Working on Thatcher’s room
Well first of all, we were not supplied with matching paint colors. We are not sure what happened, but the paint in our closet did not match the mural, nor was there enough paint to mix all the colors that we needed. So at
a time I would usually be asleep 2:00am Cheryl ran to Lowe’s and picked up the paint colors that we were unable to match by mixing with what we had. Issue number one tackled.
“Team Yogi” with Travis Yogi our designer
At one point Yogi came by and made us take a break. He was always there checking on us, making sure we had what we needed, encouraging us and telling us what he knew about Thatcher and Autism. We wondered when Yogi
crashed took his breaks.
Issue number two came about because of a combination of things. First of all, it was
roasting quite hot so we kept the windows open for fresh air. Secondly, it was well after 2:00am and we were all brain dead very tired and losing any creative brain power we normally pridefully brag about. Take a look at the photo below. See how the wallpaper covers the window panes also…well with the windows open it is darn near impossible to match up the stripes. I guess we just didn’t think about that. I personally have never covered every square inch of a room with a mural. Apparently kids with Autism like to sort of cocoon themselves in order to feel safe. Thus, our job was to make the doors and windows disappear. (I hope little Thatcher doesn’t get lost in his own room) When we finally shut the windows the image did not match up. Cheryl stayed and sanded down the windowsill and repainted it. Thanks Cheryl—you are amazing!
Working on the window
The smoke trail from Grandpa’s plane.
We heard that Thatcher loves to look down on Medford from his Grandpa’s old plane. So a model of Grandpa’s plane and a structural barn that Thatcher can climb on will be added to the room after we finish. The barn will have a “perch” for Thatcher, another safe haven place that many Autistic children like.
It had been a very long time since I had pulled
my hair out an all-niter. Yes, I was exhausted, sore and laughing at nothing and everything. Stronger than that, I knew I had just been used by the Lord. I could feel it. Everyone there could feel it. There was no way anyone could have been on that site and not felt the Lord’s presence! It was wonderful. So many people gathered in one place in support of another was magical. Yes, I’m sure most people helped because they wanted to meet Ty or another star they wanted to make the world a better place. We did not meet anyone famous, but the people we did met will all be stars in my heart forever.
We wrote some scripture under the paint and prayed for Thatcher the whole night through. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Taking a break to observe the glorious sunrise, a reminder that the Lord’s hand was in this miracle I witnessed.
Time to head home, sun is coming up and moon is going down.
Two-hour Special, air date: Friday, October 28, 2011. Please watch to learn more about Autism and Sparrow Clubs.
P.S. Melody did get to meet Ty Pennington a couple of days after our shift at our local Good Bean coffee shop here in Jacksonville. Lucky girl! Ty in Jacksonville