Spaces gaining support

Sue Guinn Legg • Feb 2, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Community support for Special Spaces Tri-Cities, a new nonprofit organization providing dream bedroom makeovers for local children with life-threatening illnesses, is gaining momentum.

Krista Wharton, who cofounded the local Special Spaces chapter with her friend Tamara Marshall, said the response they’ve received since their organization was featured in Good Neighbor on Jan. 12 has been so generous their next project, a monster-truck-themed room for 5-year-old Gabriel Worley of Bristol previously planned for May, has been moved ahead to March 31.

Wharton and Marshall interviewed Gabe earlier this week and happily report his cancer is in remission and he’s scheduled to undergo the final treatment in his three-year battle with the disease on March 15. He’s feeling good. He’s full of energy. His prognosis is excellent. And he and his folks are looking forward to the complimentary trip to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies they’ll be taking on the day of his room’s makeover.

On Wednesday, Wharton ran down a checklist of items still needed for Gabe’s room that includes carpet, a replacement window, light fixtures, kid-friendly closet organizers, a vanity, sink and linoleum for the bathroom that adjoins his bedroom, a desk and a computer printer to get him ready for school and, just for fun, a flat screen TV/DVD combo that can be mounted to his wall.

Donations already received or pledged include paint, painting supplies and tools, and a monster-truck bed to be constructed by a Special Spaces volunteer with special bed-building expertise. The primary sponsor for the project will be a couple of young birthday party hosts with a guest list of 55 children and “an in lieu of gifts” request for Special Spaces donations.

The estimated cost of the project is $3,000 and additional donations will be needed as well as breakfast and lunch sponsors for the makeover volunteers. Also needed are volunteers skilled in plumbing, electricity, carpentry and other home-improvement specialties. General volunteers for the project are already in such good supply that Wharton and Marshall are inviting others who wish to lend a hand to contact them for information on how to join in upcoming projects.

Gabe’s will be the third bedroom makeover Special Spaces has provided since beginning work in December and Wharton and Marshall hope it will be one of at least six to be completed in the year ahead.

Because of the “great momentum building in support” and because “there are so many children” Special Spaces could help, Wharton said, “We want to do as many as we can in our first year.”

For those who wish to help, more information is available online at www.specialspaces.org and at the Special Spaces Tri-Cities Facebook page, or additional information may be obtained by calling Krista Wharton at 865-748-3445 or emailing krista@specialspaces.org, or calling Tamara Marshall at 483-8344 or emailing tamara@specialspaces.org.

Head to Toe, a formal wear recycling project that has helped local teenagers meet the financial challenge of attending their high school prom, will host its ninth annual prom shopping event late this month and seeking donations of gently used gowns, shoes and accessories to make the special night more affordable.

A project of the Women’s Resource Center at East Tennessee State University, Head 2 Toe has dressed hundreds of girls from the Tri-Cities region and communities in three surrounding states over the past eight years by providing prom dresses priced for $25 or less in a retail-like setting with personalized service provided by its volunteers.

The project was launched with the recognition that prom is a very special night in the life of teenager but one that is sometimes out of reach due to the financial difficulties that families face.

This year, Head to Toe’s prom shopping event will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 25 at the Johnson City Holiday Inn at 101 W. Springbrook Drive.

Donations including formal dresses and shoes of all sizes may be dropped off at Ashley Furniture. 155 Marketplace Blvd., or at the Women’s Resource Center located on the lower level of the D.P. Culp Center on the ETSU campus. Gowns sizes 0 to 4 and 18 and up are especially needed. All proceeds from the event will go to Girls Inc. of Johnson City and to the campus ministry First Priority Blue Ridge.

For more information, call the Women’s Resource Center at 439-5772.

If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.

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