Did you ever consider what makes a house a home? It’s the little things. That’s what I learned the weekend of June 22nd on my first-ever home makeover. When I walked in, the apartment was nearly empty. It seemed like the only piece of real furniture in the space was one small end table. The beds were air mattresses in each room. The curtains were sheets taped up to the windows. The dressers were cardboard boxes and trash bags. Meanwhile, out in the driveway, the Journey Home truck was completely stuffed with furniture and home goods. Looking up at the truck filled with stuff knowing that it all had to go up to the third floor apartment was daunting. My nerves rose when Alison Scharr, my boss, told me the volunteer group was small. However, when the volunteers arrived, they seemed unfazed by the task before us or by the heat of the summer sun beating down on us; the process of the home makeover seemed like second nature to them.
A home makeover is not just putting couches in living rooms and beds in bedrooms but also cleaning, organizing, and setting up an entire apartment. Although it was new to me, the volunteers were pros. They got right to work sweeping the floors and wiping down counters and organizing the kitchen cabinets, stacking dishes and glasses, and making neat rows out of the piles of shoes the apartment. I joined in helping carry drawers and chairs up the flights of stairs, and soon our small group was working like a well-oiled machine.
When the larger pieces of furniture were in elements were in place, it was time to add the finishing touches of furnishing a home. Artwork, throw pillows and blankets, and mirrors: all seemingly small items made, in my opinion, the biggest difference in the new home. Of course beds, end tables, and dressers are all critical pieces in a house, but what gave the rooms life and personality were the special touches brought in and carefully arranged by Alison and the volunteers.
Contrary to my fear of never being able to move the mountain of furniture in the truck into a complete apartment, we finished ahead of schedule. Aside from my surprise at accomplishing such a feat, I was astonished by just how good the home looked. As my before and after photos show, the space was truly transformed from a few dark, dusty rooms, into a bright, beautiful living space for the family. Unfortunately, I did not get to see the big reveal to the family in person, but I was able to watch the Facebook livestream. Seeing the children jump up and down in excitement and flop onto their new beds while their mother hugged her friend and cried gave me chills. The work of just six volunteers, on a single morning, with a full truck, made a considerable, lasting impact.