A 3-year-old girl battling cancer received a special room makeover Saturday, thanks to a team of Clevelanders volunteering with Special Spaces of Chattanooga. When she shyly tip-toed into her …
A 3-year-old girl battling cancer received a special room makeover Saturday, thanks to a team of Clevelanders volunteering with Special Spaces of Chattanooga.
When she shyly tip-toed into her new room to see what the volunteers had done, little Henley Smith entered a room filled with some of her favorite things — pink, princesses and horses.
“I think the room is amazing,” said Areesa Smith, Henley’s mother. “It’s very heartwarming to know that there are so many people who care and are willing to help total strangers.”
Henley is in the middle of outpatient chemotherapy treatment for Ewing sarcoma, a rare type of cancer which affects a person’s bones or surrounding tissues.
Parents Steven and Areesa Smith are raising three other children: Henley’s twin brother Hayden, 6-year-old brother Carter and 2-year-old brother Cooper.
Shortly after the big reveal, all four children could be seen exploring Henley’s new room. Henley nodded and gave a big grin when volunteers asked if she liked her new space.
Special Spaces is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which provides bedroom makeovers to children between the ages of 2 and 18 who are dealing with life-threatening illnesses.
“We do the entire room in one day with our volunteers, while the family is away on a day of fun activities,” said Pam Moore, director of Special Spaces of Chattanooga. “It’s a long day, but it is always worth it when you see their little faces in the end.”
Moore added that the idea behind what Special Spaces does is to give children fun, welcoming bedroom at a time when their illnesses are more often than not keeping them in their rooms.
The Smiths live in Harrison, but part of the team behind Saturday’s project hail from Cleveland. This room makeover was sponsored financially by the Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club, and the project involved volunteers from the Rook Group at First Baptist Church of Cleveland.
The build was also supported by sponsors like Lowe’s Home Improvement, which provided $500 worth of materials, and Murmaid Mattress, which provided the mattress for the bed.
After Special Spaces representatives quizzed Henley on her interests, they came up with a design which included a special wall mural and furnishings “fit for a princess” such as a new bed, a velvety chair and a vanity.
Volunteers worked all day — from about 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. — to paint, install crown and quarter round molding, repaint furniture, decorate and more.
“I think this is a wonderful ministry, to be able to brighten the day of a child with serious illness by providing them with a room they picked out,” said volunteer Mary Jane Hardin. “More people should get involved with this!”
Moore said Special Spaces is always looking for more volunteers and room sponsors. The organization does six or seven room makeovers a year throughout the Chattanooga area. Another room makeover is tentatively being planned for a Cleveland child in June.
For more information, visit www.specialspaces.org or search for Special Spaces of Chattanooga on Facebook.
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