Extremely kind makeover

Photos by Brigitte Bouvier

Nine out of 10 saints will tell you that your second miracle is a lot easier than your first.

Interior designer Sonya Kinkade may not be a saint — mothers of three rarely are — but she says her second annual contribution to the United Way’s Kindness Week sure was easier than her first time around.

With her gal-pal team of seven other designers, she took on the Foster Farm Family House’s Homework Club. New walls, floors, lighting, countertops, furniture, window coverings, paint and original artwork were included in the project. And while this task was smaller than the Good Companions seniors’ centre foyer her team redid in 2011, the need here was perhaps greater.

Just ask Bay Ward Councillor Mark Taylor. “Foster Farm is a community made up of mostly families and new Canadians, who work very hard, often just to make it day to day. Our homework club provides the ability for local kids to get the support they need to excel in school and the makeover of the club will go a long way to making it a brighter, more fun & a more vibrant place to learn and grow. The kids will love it, the parents will love it, and the community will be a better, brighter place because of it.”

Which is perhaps why Kinkade said yes when United Way uber-volunteer Candace Derickx asked for help again this year. Kinkade said many of the 30 to 40 children who attend the homework club were forced to sit on the floor to work with the three teachers. Or maybe Kinkade signed on because the extreme makeover design process is a blast for her and her team.

“We share lots of wine,” she said of the design team meetings. Her friends — who chip $100 each for finishing touches — know that she’s the lead and they happily do legwork for her. “The day of the reveal is big fun and we have a big dinner the night of.”

One thing that made this year’s effort easier was that the job is smaller, even though the design team immediately made it bigger upon inspection. Kinkade’s team was asked just to makeover just the homework room, but one can see the computer room from it, so it was put on the list, too. And there was a washroom off the computer room that screamed facelift and accessorize. So one room turned into three. Oh, and along the way, she’s scored central air conditioning for the entire building, which also houses a food bank.

Jobs like this normally run in the thousands, but Kinkade’s team had a budget of, ahem, nothing to work with. It was perhaps the most challenging part of her job to put the hand on businesses and colleagues for freebies. Her first call was to her contractor husband Daryl. Last year his was the only business signed up until a week before the reveal. And that was when Kincade finally succeeded in getting the other donated items, including a big red couch that forced a last minute change to the colour scheme. She says her solicitation success is due to persistence and “begging, lots of begging.”

This year, it was much easier to find donations for the project, partly because it’s for kids, and partly because people know about it through the media appearances Kinkade does to help the effort. Her youngest child now think his daddy is famous because Sonya mentioned his name on CTV. Her middle daughter was more complimentary to her.

“Mom, you did a great job,” Kinkade recounts. “But your eyes looked a little puffy.”

Two solid weeks of good samartitanizing can do that to you.

To see a list of the 2011 contributors and team, check out Sonya Kinkade’s blog here.

If you’d like to know more about Kindness Week, click here.

Connect with Mick Gzowski |mick_gzowski@hotmail.com