Today I’m VERY excited to announce a local Portland Pen + Napkin makeover for a family of four (and we need your help). Last year we took Pen + Napkin national and got HUNDREDS of volunteer designers, many of which are located here in Portland. Two such designers, Amy and Katie Newcomb (not sisters, married to twin brothers!) have volunteered their time to help decorate a home for a family of four (two young girls). The photo above is one of their designs! If you are new here (welcome) Pen + Napkin helps families who are transitioning out of homelessness, usually coming from a shelter. They coordinate (or do it themselves) the furnishing and decorating of the homes as it greatly reduces the return to homelessness. After the makeover, they feel proud, welcome, safe, and warm in their house. As a parent, we all know how important that is and how unsettling it can be to not have those feelings in your home. We do this for the moms who usually are coming from traumatic relationships and for the kids, who are desperate for stability and safety. But we need help – aka some funding to get it all executed. I’ll turn it over to Katie and Amy who can tell you about the project, the design, and the needs. If you can spare $10 they’d GREATLY appreciate it as furnishing a home from nothing can certainly add up (as we all know).
Melissa, Braulio, Mariah, and Alanna are a sweet family transitioning out of houselessness. Since 2019 they have been through the turmoil of living in motels and campgrounds and being separated multiple times. Covid brought job loss and school closures, and the lack of routine and childcare sent them into a bit of a tailspin. Since 2021 Melissa and Braulio have fought through all that was stacked against them and have both gained full-time employment and a home. The girls are in a stable and permanent home for the first time in recent years and the whole family is excited to be where they are and making strides toward getting back to the life they envision. Their new home is close to their work and the girls’ school. They don’t have a lot to furnish a home so we’re excited to help them turn their new place into a home that reflects this new start. Mariah is in 3rd grade. She loves participating in the chess club at school, learning about science, especially the solar system, and flowers – she was proud to show us the rose bush in her yard! Alanna is a first grader with lots of spunk! She loves dolls, dancing, and the gardening club at school. The girls show such resiliency and happiness; it is hard not to be excited for them to have this opportunity.
As a small interior design firm in Portland, we are excited for the opportunity to give back to our community. While what we do as interior designers can feel a bit materialistic, it is undeniable that having a home environment that makes you feel safe and happy affects people in such positive ways. We want everyone to have a stable home, and whatever part we can play in this is important to us. Personally, the two of us have children the same ages as this family. These girls are peers to our kids and part of our future generation. We feel an emotional connection to helping set them up for the same success and stability as our own children. We are so excited to be a part of bringing this family a new beginning.
If you are able to contribute (THANK YOU) you can donate directly to Pen + Napkin here, or you can purchase one of the below items from the wishlists:
1. Acrylic Round Desktop Organizer | 2. Set of 2 Paper Drawers Cream | 3. Dean Desk Lamp Black | 4. Higgins Modern Horizontal 6 Drawer Dresser | 5. Color Block Faux Cashmere Throw Blanke | 6. mall Fabric Storage Box with Faux Leather Accent | 7. Crosby Schoolhouse Desk Lamp Black | 8. Small Stackable Storage Wood Bin | 9. Sling Stacking Patio Chair – Gray | 10. Terrazzo Solid Bookend – Threshold™ | 11. Wrentham Beadboard Farmhouse 3 Drawer Nightstand | 12. 12″x20″ Oversize Poly Filled Faux Mongolian Fur Pillow | 13. Set of 2 Paper Trays Yellow | 14. Astrid Mid-Century Dining Bench | 15. 95″ Blackout Tassel Curtain Panel
1. Ivilon Drapery Window Curtain Rod | 2. Heritage Plush Velvet Curtain | 3. Modern Adjustable Swivel Chair | 4. Area Rug | 5. Bathroom Storage Cabinet with 2 Doors | 6. Tealight Candle Holder Set of 3 | 7. Akame Galaxy Purple Teal Turquoise Throw Pillow Cover | 8. Artificial Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree | 9. Ivilon Drapery Window Curtain Rod | 10. Tufted Dining Chair | 11. Ceiling Fan | 12. Pillow Inserts | 13. Jute Plant Basket | 14. 6 Drawer Dresser | 15. Room Divider
Emily here. We appreciate any support you can give whether it’s donating or simply spreading the word. Again, thank you to our friends at Pen + Napkin for all the incredible work they do, and to the designers Amy and Katie for taking the lead on this special project. xx
Opening Image Credits: Design by Kith and Kin Interior Design | Photo by Folk Family Photography
Nice work with Pen & Napkin! Please consider how your use of the word recidivism is perceived. While it can be used for a relapse into a previous condition of any sort, it is most often used to describe the tendency of convicted criminals to reoffend. Homelessness isn’t a crime nor are unhoused people criminals. Please don’t make it sound that way.
Sorry for the weird italics. Not sure how that happened!
Thank you for posting this – I was going to say something similar.
I know it was unintentional but it threw me off, too. Typically recidivism is used when describing repeat undesirable behaviors.
Pen + Napkin calls it “return to homelessness”
I had the same response when I read “recidivism”.
Words matter and there’s definitely a link of ‘re-offending’ associated with the word.
Best wishes for this family!
Just donated. Sending my best wishes to this family.
Please edit this post immediately. People who are houseless are not criminals and using the word “recidivism” to refer to houselessness is grossly offensive and inaccurate.
This is amazing.
Feelin’ all the things and wishing the project wonderful success!💞 There’s no place like home.
Your work looks great.
Update on my mentee, Sienna: she’s doing great!
She’s now in a share house, in stable employment (instead of working 3 piecemeal jobs) and still hugely grateful for Emily’s support! 💗
Still working on getting her into full-time study (Australia has a financial student support scheme).🤞
Asking readers to donate when your company can very clearly afford to fund a project like this feels disingenuous. You’re using this project as content and making money through the blog, why not simply fund it yourself? I like this blog, but think this kind of thing just doesn’t work here unless you’re show-casing a project you already funded. Before and afters are fun, but this felt like a money grab.
Huh? Emily personally funded at least one of the previous Pen&Napkin makeovers. By having others pitch in, they can help more families, simple as that. I seriously don’t see a problem in asking those who can and want to contribute a little.
Respectfully, I disagree. inviting folks to participate in a project like this encourages engagement. Also, think how many more of these projects could be completed by the pros who are donating their time, if the rest of us donated the materials? I think it is a great idea.
I agree these kinds of projects are wonderful, but the fact that its used as content for a blog which makes money on clicks is what bothers me. This isnt an aside for another post mentioning where you can contribute, it was the daily content. Using a charitable organization as daily content and then asking readers to contribute when you are making money by simply posting their project feels a bit under handed.
I don’t understand the negative vibe in the comments section these days. This is such a positive project, with a beautiful mood board and an easy way to contribute to a family’s fresh start. I’m happy to donate.
Thank you, Emily & Team for editing the post – it sounds so much less judgmental now!