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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
Emily Henderson Living Room Staged To Sell Boho Mid Century Eclectic Blue White Styled Couch Sectional Staged1

“Are you still working on your resolutions post?” Brian asked. Yes. It was never-ending. Over 2 weeks, 12 drafts, and around 2672 words each. It’s typically one of my favorite posts to write all year. I REALLY like resolutions, not because I achieve them, but because it’s like a mental co-pilot who you hire for a couple months and then you feel really good about how you are flying…until you push them out of the plane because by April their January-enthusiasm has become unbearable.

But still, I love them. It might be a Mormon thing. Who knows.

So why was it so hard this year? The first few drafts felt very ‘over-achiever-y’ with a cloying super-mom bent that was unintended. Even I was annoyed with my future 2018 self. I scrapped those and made it broader with more macro goals, but it felt really serious and heavy, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t lighten it up. My New Year’s resolutions centered around reducing my stress (in every aspect) so I can be a better designer, writer, boss, person, wife, and mother. But, ironically, the act of writing and publishing the post became this incredible source of stress. It was a therapeutic journaling experience and I really did come up with some great mantras and methods for how I’m going to shift things to meet that goal (hire high-level managers, say no to even more, spend more time at the cabin, see some people more and others less, etc.). But the truth is that I don’t want to start the new year talking about stress so I’m not going to post it. I ended last year talking about it. Then, I had an incredible week doing nothing with my family, and I feel really good and ready to talk about something else – improvement-wise.

In mid-November I remember thinking, Yay, I already know my new year’s resolution. One particular subject had dominated my thoughts and no, it wasn’t my stress level. I wrote about it on Thanksgiving and I could talk about it for hours, and hours, and hours, but the gist of it is this:

The newest (and most uncomfortable) nomenclature for my job is ‘influencer’ and while I’m not sure I’ll ever be a fan of that word, let’s just say that if that’s true, I need to ask myself what exactly is my influence? I know that if I recommend a lamp that I love, some of you will buy it. So it seems socially irresponsible to not make giving back even more of a priority, publicly. Besides, I have two small kids being raised in this tricky city and they need us to show them how human beings should treat each other.

I’ve gone round and round on how to do this and over the next year I’ll be trying out some new ideas and exploring how I can use the power of this platform for good. The first project will be a huge rummage sale – a MASSIVE garage sale – with all proceeds going to a charity (TBD). I’m pretty much pairing my first love (thrifting/garage sale-ing) with my job. BOOM. Oh hell yes, this is going to be fun.

What we do here produces a lot of perfectly good waste, which we typically donate but in my attempt to create more of a community of service I thought it would be so fun to involve any of you in LA (and your kids) who want to also come donate your January purges and volunteer to work the sale. Also, as I was purging in November I was again shocked at how many perfectly good clothes, toys, and books our kids out-grow. And I know I’m not alone. Somehow just dropping off at Goodwill feels like a missed opportunity. I was going to do a big gift drive before the holidays but couldn’t pull it together in time, and instead volunteered to decorate the shelter which felt more manageable.

The details are still being worked out and I’m hoping through this post a venue will be donated and the perfect charity will pop-up. As much as I love donating money to national non-profits, I’d love an LA program that has a more direct route to helping local families, kids, or under-privileged neighborhoods/schools. I also want to spread it around and not just give consistently to the same programs (Miry’s list and The SFV Rescue mission are amazing programs, and Baby 2 Baby and Alliance Of Moms are also doing incredible things).

Any suggestions of venue and charity would be great. If there is anybody out there that has organized such events before that wants to volunteer to manage or keep things organized, that would be AMAZING. And if you guys have stuff that you want to get rid of before February (when the sale will likely be) let us know and we can arrange pickup or a way for you to drop-off. It could be anything that is gently used or in decent shape. Furniture, accessories, clothes, toys, books, electronics – anything that someone would actually buy (avoiding broken things or stained stuff).

More to come on that obviously, but I’m very excited to both purge, help, and shop 🙂

Happy New Year, friends. I woke up feeling GREAT. I’m excited and ready to make 2018 the best year it can be. xx

***For any suggestions, help or donations please email hello@emilyhendersondesign.com

  1. What a beautiful and fun idea! Maybe you could help out those displaced by the fires?

    1. That’s such a GREAT idea Elizabeth!!

  2. I’m in West Hollywood and love this idea. I had wanted to volunteer that day at the shelter but had a previous commitment. I don’t think I’m the best person to take the reigns organizing, but I’ll be there to work the day of! Clearing clutter + philanthropy = 2018 goals!

  3. This concept makes me happy. Thank you for using your “influencer” status for good.

    I also love that you offered a round-up of socially-responsible gifts this year. I sent gorgeous Citizenry throw blankets to my clients as a result of that post. Thanks for helping to push the needle toward a brighter, better world. Happy New Year!

  4. Have you heard of A Sense of Home? They help to furnish new spaces (the whole home – from towels to sofa) for youth who aged out of the foster care system. http://asenseofhome.org/about/

    1. I love this idea. Kids who grew up with nothing don’t have the luxury of hand-me-downs from parents, relatives, friends of the family to furnish their first apartments. What a great way to help them feel like they belong and have a bright life ahead.

      1. Wow, this is great. Will be donating there!

    2. Love this. I know it’s a tough transition for them. What a great idea.

    3. Love this idea! I’m going to see if there is a similar organization near me. I’d much rather donate all my gently used home goods to something like this rather than Goodwill (which I know is questionable, but oh so convenient).

    4. This looks like a wonderful organization! Thanks for the link, I will definitely be donating to them. xo

    5. This is such a great idea. I vote for this one!!!

  5. My favorite part (outside of the giving to charity idea) was, “…had an incredible week doing nothing with my family.” Jackpot👍 I’ve often thought my headstone might possibly read, “Here lies Marci. She did nothing well.” Ha! Its not always easy stepping away from the productive, busy life that inspires us AND be ok with doing “nothing,” to just be mindful and present of all that surrounds us. Good for you Emily. We all need days (or weeks!) like that.
    Happy New Year

  6. Hillsides and Mother’s Club in Pasadena

  7. Wonderful idea!
    What about Shriners Hospital for Children – Pasadena?
    They are a blessing to so many families. Including our family having first hand experience with them here in Portland Oregon. There work spreads across the country. You would be helping your local community and beyond. Happy to share with you; my experience with them and would love to volunteer at the sale. What about setting up the sale kind of like the Long Beach Antique show?

    1. Shriners in Portland also helped my child and I am so grateful to them! The last thing we needed to worry about was the cost of his treatment. They are angels.

  8. I love that you’re starting your year with a growth focused mindset. I know for me, when I focus my resolutions on working out more, eating better, etc I feel inspired but can easily disappoint myself. I’m trying this year to just do more things that bring me joy and be a generally more civically minded citizen. Cheers to an outlook of optimism and service in 2018.

  9. Great post, Emily!! I love following bloggers and “influencers” but sometimes the constant product promotion makes me exhausted, so I can’t imagine how it feels for you. I’m excited to see how you can use your network to encourage volunteer work and support those in need. I also love the idea of less “things” and more “experiences.” Thanks for sharing!

  10. Best way to start out the new year, and I love the way you’re using your platform to promote a culture of help 🙂 Annnnnnnnnnd that’s why I’ve been following for years!

  11. Happy New Year! I personally give to my local and hometown animal shelters and public radio, however I think a population that is often overlooked is the foster care system.

  12. You might also look into refugee resettlement agencies in LA. I work with an agency in my city and it’s been so fulfilling. Though Trump dramatically limited the number of refugees we let in, there are still families arriving (plus all the families who got in under the wire before the ban) and they have new homes to decorate and furnish. The government finds them an apartment and provides them with only 3 months of rent, and then they are on their own. All of their money will go toward basic necessities, so being able to create a home that makes them feel more comfortable in strange surroundings would be a really nice thing to do. <3

  13. I love this! United Friends of the Children is a wonderful organization that supports current and former foster youth in Los Angeles (only LA County focused, so supporting the org helps our local community directly). http://www.unitedfriends.org – I know they would be grateful for any support. Happy 2018!

  14. Love this! Please consider Together We Rise for your donations. It’s a wonderful charity that helps children who enter foster care, often with little to no belongings. The few things they do have usually travel with them in a trash bag. I especially love their “Sweet Cases” initiative for this reason.


  15. Really cool idea and resolution, Emily!

  16. We love Humble Design (www.humbledesign.org) — an organization that helps homeless families transition from shelters to a fully furnished, nicely designed and decorated home/apartment. Nonstop makeovers for those truly in need. This home design service makes such a difference for those leaving a precarious situation, allowing families a fresh start in a happy, welcoming place.

  17. This is a wonderful resolution.

  18. I’m a big fan of these local groups: 😊

    1. MEND (Meet Each Need with Dignity) in SFV (tons of community programs)
    2. Good Shepherd Shelter for Homeless Women and Children
    3. Art of Elysium (brings art programs and professional artists to children’s hospitals and outpatient programs)

  19. Emily, I know you were looking for local charities for donations, but the Chrysalis House in Lexington, Kentucky is an amazing charity always in need of children’s items. See http://www.chrysalishouse.org/. From the website:

    More than 39 years and counting—that’s how long Chrysalis House has been saving families. We could not do it without the generous support of the community. Chrysalis House specializes in treating substance dependent expecting mothers, allowing them to keep their newborns and toddlers with them while in treatment.
    Chrysalis House is making a difference in so many ways. Graduates are staying sober, working in jobs that support their families, earning their GEDs, living in their own homes, and giving back to their community as their lives come full circle.

  20. I would love to help and donate. I had the pleasure of helping you and your team decorate the SFV Rescue and enjoyed it very much. I also have a lot of nice stuff to donate. ( part of my New Years resolution is to live more simply and lighter ). Please keep us posted as to what and where all of this is going to be. I can also help along the way ( sorting etc ). Thank you for initiating this, it lights a fire under some of us that want to do good things, but never quite get it going

  21. I would love to see you decorate more rooms for deserving people, like you did for your nanny. It was a great story, great design, and great content for the blog!

  22. A great way to start 2018, Emily! I just sent some tips to help make the sale a success. I am too far away to donate, shop, or volunteer, but I know I will be inspired!

  23. Thank you for highlighting the act of doing for others as a resolution.

    Many comments have mentioned organizations and the needs of young adults aging out of foster care, or children and families in the foster care system. What a great way to directly impact people in your own community. I was recently talking to a good friend of mine who is the president of a foster care charity in my area. He told me the most urgent supplies his organization is being asked to provide are emergency clothing and diaper supplies for children that are suddenly entering the foster care system due to a parent or parents overdosing on opioids. This is a newer issue that they are having to deal with as the opioid crisis grows. He explained that there is a lack of storage space for keeping suitcases or bags, clothing, diapers, etc. on hand for immediate use. (BTW, they hate giving kids things in plastic or trash bags, but it’s just really difficult to keep a supply of real bags stored and available.) The best solution they have come up with is to provide gift cards for big box stores to the families offering the emergency foster care. The foster care providers can then go immediately to buy the appropriate supplies for the child(ren) in their care.

    If you have a huge sale and donate the proceeds, any organization with similar needs would be thrilled with the financial support that event would provide. I’m sure needs vary by region and organization, however, I’m confident that you will find the right place and way to give, or they will find you!

  24. Love this post and your happy and contagious attitude. You’ve “influenced” me onve again. 😘

  25. Not only are you so inspiring when it comes to design, you are an incredible human being. Love that you are using your influence to help others.

  26. Maybe a group that doesn’t receive as much as baby 2 baby would be neat. Homeboy (and homegirl) Industries has done the neatest work I know of! Some of these smaller groups need so much to help people furnish their homes. Some who have never had a place of their own.

  27. Yes to all of this Emily — your compassion, your openness, your creativity. This is why I love this blog.

  28. Wonderful idea! I hope it goes smoothly and gives you some good blog material too 😉

  29. Jovenes, Inc. (in Boyle Heights – East L.A.) is a wonderful organization that provides emergency and transitional housing for homeless youth. As part of their program these homeless kids actually do community service to help the (even) less fortunate. I worked with one of their clients years ago – really put all of my “problems” in perspective!

  30. DADGUMMIT!!! If only I wasn’t in Texas…….I would be there in a heartbeat to help out!! Love this New Year’s post!! Super Inspiring, indeed!! YOU GO GIRL!!

  31. Thanks to all the articles that you serve. I must recommend your website to friends. Good Luck
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  32. I was surprised to see the comment questioning the “goodness” of Goodwill. In our area, I have known them to provide education for those who didn’t fit in the regular mold of traditional schools. In addition, my husband who works as a prison chaplain recommends them as an employer who is willing to give those with felony records a second chance.
    I just visited their website to look at their mission statement. It states, “Goodwill works to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.
    I admire your desire to help others Emily. I am sure you didn’t mean to dismiss or discourage donating to Goodwill. They truly have an ongoing presence in our city as they provide programs for youth, seniors, and those with disabilities as well.
    I too have totally felt the stress of this past year. In looking toward the new year, I will join in your resolution to be more others focused. I am thankful that organizations like Goodwill and Salvation Army allow me to contribute to the betterment of my community, simply by cleaning out my closet and donating!
    Best to you in your endeavors!

  33. The view from the window in this photo looks so much like your daughter’s nursery wallpaper!!!! How strange!

  34. I’m in Portland OR. I volunteer with a women’s and children’s domestic violence shelter – we are in the process of redecorating all the rooms (raised $$, etc). There’s always a need to update rooms in shelters, they get a lot of wear and tear as mom/kids come and go (into stable housing). Once they leave the shelter into their new home (usually an apartment) they struggle to finance all the basic furnishings. This can range from furniture, bedding, kitchen, bath… basic necessities really. I gather as many items I can from friends and neighbors but it’s never enough. So if you are looking to help out in Portland 😊😊 that would be great!

  35. Fantastic project!!
    For the greater good. I think helping the victims of the fires is the best idea.
    Share the good stuff, Emily!

  36. Very good brief and this post helped me a lot. Say thank you I searching for your facts. Continuous it..
    Amal for Married Soon with our love

  37. I know this is a bit late and I’m not sure you will see this recommendation. I don’t live in California so I have no local recommendations, but I’ve had a great experience with robinhood.org as well as ourrescue.org for when I opt for monetary donations rather than time and donating things. They are responsible with how the money is spent and I feel comfortable donating since I know my money is well spent rather than squandered. Happy new year!

  38. I work in the fundraising profession and when looking for a charity you can see if LA has any community foundations. They probably make grants and have connections to many local non profits so they could have some good recommendations.

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