This week, I want to share a cause with you that is very near to my heart as a mother and a designer: the nonprofit Savvy Giving by Design (SGBD).
In a nutshell, SGBD is a national nonprofit made up of a coalition of professional interior designers. Our mission is to create spaces that comfort, support, and offer healing to families with a child facing a medical crisis.
As a mother of three, I feel strongly about this cause and was inspired to open up our own Rhode Island chapter in 2018. But to be honest, I’ve gained even more insight with everything that has been going on lately. With COVID-19, nearly all of us have experienced tough and unprecedented situations, uncertainty, and even fear. But for most of us, it’s been a few months of inconvenience.
For families with children who suffer from an illness or accident, these hard emotions are constant companions. Their lives are drastically altered, potentially for years and years. Can you imagine? It’s absolutely heartbreaking.
So, the Blakely team (and other designer led SGBD chapters) are doing what we can to help these precious, deserving local children and their families, using our unique skills to give them whimsical, personal, uplifting, inspiring spaces in which to heal. According to long-established studies, access to a comforting space contributes to up to 30% of the healing process (Robert Ulrich, Journal Science, 1984). We might not be doctors or surgeons, but we can certainly make a difference!
Today, I want to introduce you to our latest Savvy Giving by Design Rhode Island project and the incredible family behind it.
Our latest Savvy Giving project is for Kyrie, an active little boy who loves cheetahs, koalas, and Pokémon. His favorite colors are green and blue, and he spends his time playing soccer, drawing and painting.
Kyrie was born with a rare disease called gastroschisis. In gastroschisis, the abdominal wall doesn’t form properly in utero, and internal organs are often found outside of the baby’s body. Kyrie underwent a surgery at 6 days old. The procedure saved his life, but left him with Short Bowel Syndrome.
With a small intestine that is only 12cm (rather than the usual 20 feet), Kyrie can’t get the nutrients he needs. He must be fed by “total parenteral nutrition,” which is an intravenous method that bypasses his gastrointestinal tract, or with a tube directly into his stomach. This method has kept him alive but can be dangerous. It can cause liver failure, and the smallest infection could be fatal.
At birth, doctors estimated that Kyrie wouldn’t make it to 2 years old. Thanks to excellent care and a whole lot of love, this active little boy is now 8!
Now, let’s design him a bedroom. 😉
Kyrie’s Bedroom: Goals & Partners
On the outside, Kyrie appears to be just like any other eight-year-old, but his life comes with some limitations. He needs a space that can hold his medical supplies, that allows quick clean-up for his parents (if he can’t make it to the bathroom), and is sterile enough to protect his compromised immune system.
These are certainly features we can incorporate into the design, but we see no reason for it to look bland! Our goal is to design a space that functions well and inspires Kyrie to live vibrantly.
I also want to mention that this project is a donation-based project, where companies will donate their time and services. Even the community can donate a monetary amount to help with purchasing additional elements for his room.
Distefano Brothers Construction is donating their carpentry services to build a laundry chute so that Kyrie’s parents do not have to bring soiled linens down to the basement laundry room in the middle of the night.
NEAT Method Providence has been instrumental in finding items to keep Kyrie organized while keeping it in-line with our design concept. Stephanie Pasley, Owner at NEAT Method Providence has also donated her time to go through Kyrie’s items on installation day and create a fully organized space for him.
Rome Point Woodworking is building and installing a custom floating nightstand to best accommodate the small space.
Prime Painting Services is donating much-needed painting services to help create a fresh new space.
Jedi Electric is donating their electrical services for Kyrie’s overhead light fixture and sconces.
Lawton’s Moving & Storage is donating receiving, warehousing, delivery, and assembly of Kyrie’s furniture.
McKay’s Furniture is donating a new mattress.
Universal Furniture is providing the trundle bed at a deep discount.
Custom Art by Yusef Syed, Janelle Feigley, and Beth Torino. Yusef is a 14-year old local boy with a love of art. He offered to make a custom piece of artwork for Kyrie using his favorite Pikachu as inspiration! Janelle is a local artist and boutique owner who offered to make a custom piece for Kyrie using his love of art as inspiration. Beth is a local artist that offered to paint a custom saying on Kyrie’s wall above his art station.
A BIG THANK YOU to all of these contributors. We couldn’t do it without you!
Kyrie’s Bedroom: Layout
Kyrie’s bedroom needs to serve a lot of purposes (the medical ones and the fun ones!) so we needed to maximize the space. The best way to do this is Kyrie’s small room is to install vertical shelving and furnish the room with a smaller dresser and a trundle bed for extra storage.
Now, for the colorful part…
Kyrie’s Bedroom: Design Concept
We took Kyrie’s love of blue, green, and koalas to create a design concept that feels fun, comfortable, and has room to grow in!
By choosing a desk and chair with wheels, Kyrie can roll the desk over to his bed to comfortably work on his art, and the chair can be moved around the room, say, for his parents to read him books in bed. He loves koalas, which makes this personalized pillow the perfect addition to his bed.
We’re still working on bringing this space to life for Kyrie and his family, so you’ll have to stay tuned for the finished photos!
If you’d like to donate, it’s not too late to contribute to this project or future recipients. Even just a small donation goes a long way toward making a difference, so we would LOVE any amount you are willing to share.
Additionally, if you are part of an organization that contributes to ongoing charities, we would love Savvy Giving by Design Rhode Island to be considered.
If you’d like to nominate another child in need or learn more about how you can get involved with SGBD (we’re currently looking to add a board member!) you can visit our site.
Be sure to join the Savvy Giving by Design Rhode Island Facebook community to watch the installation unfold this Thursday, July 16th!