The best new charity in New York City comes straight out of Astoria and you have never even heard of them before. Blissful Bedrooms is a 2 year old charity whose mission is to give disabled children a new room, a new community of friends and a network for them to succeed despite their many obstacles. Blissful Bedrooms made their first dream come true in 2009, Martha the owner has been a physical therapist for a public school in the Bronx for 8 years helping low income children with disabilities. Martha has been an Astoria resident for 15 years and started Blissful Bedrooms with a simple ad on Craigslist asking for volunteers and getting artists to donate their time and energy. Martha was generous enough to talk with me one night this month and answer some questions about her process when choosing a candidate and designing their room.
What is your mission?
Our mission is to transform the personal spaces of young individuals who have limited resources, and various physical disabilities that make them wheelchair dependent & highly reliant on others for activities of daily living. Because of their lack of mobility/independence & decreased opportunities in society, these young individuals with physical challenges spend a great amount of time I their bedrooms. Our goal for each bedroom makeover is to create a personal sanctuary conceived exclusively for the individual – a safe haven where he/she will feel inspired, protected, stimulated, valued, appreciated and loved.
So who can apply to get a Blissful Bedroom?
Young people under the age of 25 who are wheelchair dependant and live in New York City. The application is on our website at www.blissfulbedrooms.org
What is the process of doing a bedroom?
We meet with the chosen family, take measurements, decide on colors, style, and wishes for their room. Families must be on board for this process so it is important to all be on the same page and getting along. Alex my husband and partner does the initial design and research. We then meet with volunteers and refine the design for the room. We then set a date for the makeover and begin to prepare. The entire makeover is done over one weekend so you really need to plan ahead.
What is your favorite part of building a bedroom?
The Sunday night reveal when the child gets to see their new room for the first time and the home grown feelings that accompany the joy in a family when something good happens to them. We try to give them some sort of technology along with the bedroom such as a facebook page, email address, or ipad. One of our kids was able to operate an ipad with only her head after a student created a special device for her. It means so much for these kids to be just like their peers and to have what they have.
We do not simply provide these kids with a bedroom makeover and leave his/her life forever. Instead, the bedroom makeover represents an entry point into a whole new world of socialization and possibilities for the recipient and his/her family. We welcome each bedroom recipient into our expanding family, which we nurture by organizing regular social events, excursions and travel experiences, so that they can gather with their peers/new friends, meet new people & enjoy time outside of their bedroom as well.
What are your future goals for Blissful Bedrooms?
The goal is to open a center for kids with special needs where they can receive Yoga classes, Art therapy, dance, and various therapies.
When is your next Makeover?
We have a tentative candidate for a new makeover in April 2011. He is an 18 year old with Muscular Dystrophy. At one point Juan could walk and now he is in a wheelchair. He loves motorcycles, and we are going to team up with motorcycle enthusiasts and maybe try to motorize his wheelchair.
Where do you get your supplies and volunteers?
We have several generous local businesses like Brooklyn Bagel, C&C Trucks, Bell Aire Diner and Film Biz Recycling who all regularly donate food for volunteers and supplies for our makeovers. Anyone can volunteer and contact us through our website for more information.
Can kids and families volunteer?
Yes. Families can volunteer as a group. Kids, moms, and dads are welcome at any time.
Blissful Bedrooms is in need of many types of donations to keep their charity going. Check out their wish list here to see if you can help grow this amazing organization.
Blissful Bedrooms has patiently reached out to several large companies who have not responded to her small requests for donations of supplies to Blissful Bedrooms. IKEA, Home Depot, Materials for the Arts, and Staples, shame on you.
By Sarah Bricker