By Josh Silver
This past Saturday, March 24, 2012, marked the first round of room makeover reveals for Beit T’Shuvah’s Charity Design Project. A small crowd of residents and designers gathered at the entrance to the first door. It was a scene reminiscent of children about to open their holiday gifts. A scene where the only people more excited than the residents are the designers who get to watch their recipients’ faces light up. For the residents, it was the first time they were allowed to see their new rooms, after 3 weeks of displacement. For the designers, it was a chance to see, first hand, how their creative contributions will change the lives of these residents.
Working for a charity like Beit T’Shuvah can be a truly unique experience and people seemed to come out of the woodwork (literally, even carpenters) to help with this project. Silvia Lombardo and Gabriella Toro are two designers who joined creative forces on Room 205 of the male corridor. For these two women, working with Beit T’Shuvah was a wholly new frontier. Silvia and Gabriella are the owners of their own design firm, Cippananda Interior Design, where they specialize in high-end clientele. When they were asked to take on the Charity Design Project, “We just said yes without even thinking,” says Gabriella. “We all have someone that we know with this problem [addiction]…,” says Silvia, “and so it was a rewarding experience.” Their goal for the room was to create a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere; a comfort zone where the residents could have everything they needed in a small space. By all accounts, it was a smashing success. The two men who received this gift ran around the room like kids in a toy store. Trying out the beds, playing with the dimmer switch (something never seen in a primary care room before), and exploring the wondrous space of their new closets. The room’s color scheme, black and neutrals, created a clearly masculine atmosphere. This once dormish-looking room had been transformed into a haven of comfort and style.
Cindy Teitelbaum and Lauren Wolf are another dynamic duo. Their firm, Pastiche Avenue, is more than a business venture—it’s a personal one. As their website reads, “Large or small, our projects deliver on your vision.” They have done just that here. “[The residents] need a place to unwind,” says Cindy. They employed “soothing colors” and “sustainable items” to create a unique and resilient experience for each resident that will pass through these rooms. Pistachio green walls and dark wood furniture are the new rejuvenating yet utilitarian accents. Not to mention a flat-screen television that will surely become the envy of the female hallways.
All of the residents who were recipients of the transformed living spaces reacted with stark amazement. Many of them have never lived in a room with so much care and passion put into it. There was laughter, tears, gasps of shock, and loud exclamations of joy from both the residents and the designers, who were overjoyed that so many of the residents appreciated their hard work. Designers were flanked by family members who came to the Mini Reveal to observe their loved ones’ life-enhancing work. With Heidi Bendetson, Founder of Designed from the Heart, and co-chair Rhonda Snyder working as sort of masters of ceremonies for the reveal, everything went off without a hitch.
It wasn’t just the residents and designers who were elated to see the unveiling of Beit T’Shuvah’s transformation. Beit T’Shuvah staff members popped out of every corner, anxious to see the rooms. Many of the staff members are former residents themselves. “This isn’t the same ol’ Beit T’Shuvah,” says Inga, a Resident Intern at Beit T’Shuvah. As Cantor Rachel Goldman Neubauer walked into a new room, she shed a few quiet tears of bliss and whispered, “I haven’t been in here since I was a resident…it looks amazing.”
Of course, this emotional day was only the beginning. Work has already begun on the second block of bedrooms at Beit T’Shuvah with another Mini Reveal scheduled in just 3 weeks. The work that these designers are doing has already made a lasting impact on all of Beit T’Shuvah. On behalf of the Beit T’Shuvah community, we couldn’t be more grateful.
Stay tuned for more updates, as the heart-thumping, tear-jerking transformation of Beit T’Shuvah continues to take flight.