Four years ago, DC social worker Enid McKitrick assembled a group of like-minded women, including fundraisers, mental-health professionals, and interior designers, to discuss challenges facing the survivors of domestic abuse. Focused on data showing the positive effects environment can have on mood, learning and productivity, they were inspired to form Room to Rebloom, a non-profit that turns low-income abodes into welcoming homes for these women and their children.
So far, the group has created homes for 15 women and 32 children, pairing residents with designers who donate their services and involve them in the process.
The first project was the makeover of a 12-unit apartment building owned by House of Ruth. “First we renovated the public spaces,” recalls board member and designer Kia Weatherspoon of the DC firm Determined by Design. “The women were clearly thinking, ‘Why are you bothering to do this?’ That turned into ‘I can’t believe someone would do this for me.’” She remembers one resident seeing her decorated apartment and saying, “When I walked in, I knew change was possible for me.”
To date, Room to Rebloom has partnered with 12 designers. An annual fundraiser, Room to Rebloom on the Roof, supports their efforts, as do donations from vendors including Stark Carpet, Bernhardt Furniture, Sherwin Williams and IKEA. “Though we are price-conscious, we try to purchase everything new,” Weatherspoon says. “We want to send a message to these women that they have value; they’ve had enough seconds and thirds in life.”
A Northeast DC mother recently settled into a once-dingy one-bedroom apartment that now brims with fresh, bright hues and natural light. Her 18-year-old son, says Weatherspoon, was skeptical when he visited during the process, but changed his mind when he saw the results. “This is how my mom should live,” he commented. “She can’t be in darkness with this much color and light.” roomtorebloom.org