The following article by Marcus Green of The Courier-Journal details CHHSM member Brooklawn Child & Family Services' "Help Make it Home For Me" campaign.
When interior designer Barry Wooley first looked inside Cypress Cottage, home to 14 boys on the Brooklawn Child & Family Services campus, he saw nothing cozy about it.
“It was cold and uninspiring and institutional,” Wooley said.
But the building has a new look after Wooley finished a renovation two months ago that involved painting bare white walls shades of light blue, installing new carpeting and adding touches like rugs with starburst designs.
It’s the first of five cottages on the 28-acre campus on Goldsmith Lane, near the Watterson Expressway, scheduled for makeovers. The aim is to brighten the living quarters of the children and teenagers, many of whom have suffered neglect or abuse.
The refurbished Cypress Cottage was the highlight of an open house Sunday, part of Brooklawn’s “Help Make It Home for Me” campaign.
Mary Kate Poling, the agency’s president and CEO, said the goal is to furnish the older cottages with new bedding and sheets, inspirational posters and other personalized touches.
“None of those things are covered by the costs that we get funded through with the state. ... We’re asking folks to help us make it home for all of these kids,” she said.
Brooklawn will rely on private funds to cover the $125,000 cost of each building, and already the Independent Pilots Association has contributed $50,000 toward refurbishing a second cottage, she said. Donors can choose to pay for specific rooms of a building or cover the entire cost.
Poling didn’t give a schedule for finishing the work, but said she hopes it can happen quickly. More than $100,000 has been raised so far, according to Brooklawn.
For Cypress Cottage, Wooley chose a plan that he described as “playful, yet soothing.” A common area now includes a corner bookshelf, bright throw pillows on sofas and automobile memorabilia.
Wooley said he approached the residents the way he would a typical client and gave each a questionnaire on his interests. Each bedroom was outfitted with personal flourishes — a 13-year-old’s room with posters of University of Kentucky basketball, Muhammad Ali and Kobe Bryant, for instance, is across the hall from a 10-year-old’s room featuring University of Louisville gear and a poster of Justin Bieber.
The residents, ranging in age from 10 to 15, shook hands and introduced themselves to visitors Sunday.
Michael McCloud, a Brooklawn direct care specialist who is assigned to the cottage, said the boys like their new surroundings.
“The kids, they reacted a lot better to that. They felt more at home,” he said.
Poling said some members of the Brooklawn staff were initially concerned that the new furnishings might be damaged. So far, she said, only one poster has been taken down.
“We have seen the aggression actually completely going down in that cottage, so we know that if we can do the same thing in some of the other cottages and there’s pride, then you’re going to take care of your belongings,” she said.