Grab some paint, a paint brush, a wrench and a drill, then roll up your sleeves and get to work! That’s exactly what Kimberly Resnick, the Director of Special Spaces Delaware/Newark/Philly, and her family have been doing for the last year! They started the Delaware/Newark/ Philly Chapter of Special Spaces, a non-profit organization, this year and have already completed THREE bedroom make-overs and have FIVE more kids waiting!
They do everything from designing the space to putting the furniture together and they do it as a family…with a little help from some friends and local businesses! Heck, one little girl~Claire~ was taken by surprise when she came home to a Circus in her bedroom, complete with the Ring Master and all! Now, that’s not something that happens every day.
Healing Through Helping
Kim reached out to us about her upcoming Dream Big Event to benefit Special Spaces and shared her story on why she and her family started the chapter. They have been healing through helping for the last nine years and we are thrilled to have her share their story with us. You may want to grab a tissue for this straight from the heart story…
To begin, my husband, Steve and I were born and raised in Philadelphia but moved to Delaware in 1995. We married in 1996 and had our first daughter, Ashley, in October 1999. She was precious and beautiful and perfect to us. Sadly, after noticing some weakness in her feet and missed milestones around 17 months old, Ashley had an .MRI of her brain and was diagnosed with a rare degenerative genetic disorder called Leukodystrophy. After the initial shock and pain subsided from such devastating news, we became warrior parents and provided Ashley with every therapy that could help keep her the happiest child she had always been. She was progressing beautifully, living her life to the fullest and enjoying everything life had to offer. In January 2004, she was scheduled to have surgery at AI DuPont Hospital. This was for routine orthopedic surgery on her legs. Tragically, we lost Ashley 2 days after surgery from post-surgical complications. Our hearts were beyond devastated and our world was turned upside down.
I’ve always had a very close-knit family. The kind of family who would drop anything to be at my side at any time, day or night. And no one proved that more so than my identical twin sister, Jen. She and her husband had just completed building their dream home in New Jersey and were raising my niece, Mia, who was 6 months old when we lost Ashley. I was in desperate need of her emotional support. Once Steve went back to work, I was left in an empty home. Ashley was our only child and she was my life, my world, my everything. My twin would come visit with her infant daughter and stay with me from Thursday through Monday. But after a few months of traveling, she and her husband sacrificed everything and moved into our home. The home they had designed, built and lived in for merely a few years was placed on the market and sold within a week. Her husband who was an engineer and worked at a prominent firm near his home for more than 10 years gave 2 weeks notice and found a new job in Delaware. They literally packed their lives and moved to Delaware, to our home, so they could support us and help us grieve the horrific loss of our child.
Though they initially lived in our finished basement where Mia had her own nursery and they had a large living area, we eventually built a two story addition onto our home, creating enough living space where everyone had their own master bedroom, living area and combined family space. Mia is now 10 years old and we were blessed with another daughter in June 2006. Alexa turned 8 this past June and she has been our guiding light and has brought such joy and love to our lives. We have been living under one roof for over 10 years. Two families and lots of love and respect. We are so blessed to have the amazing living situation that we have. When we share our story of tragedy and how our families were brought together, it amazes people. Two identical twin sisters who are inseparable, two brother-in-laws who have respected each other for over 24 years since they met in 1990, and two children who are cousins but are being raised more like sisters.
Since loosing Ashley, I have volunteered over 8 years at AI duPont Hospital for Children on multiple committees and have been involved in many children’s charities, such as being a wish granter for the Make A Wish foundation for over 9 years. Every year on Ashley’s birthday, we select a different charity to donate in her memory. Our family and friends contribute as well and look forward to hearing about the charity we select and why. This past October, when Ashley would have turned 14, we came across a charity called Special Spaces, where they create dream bedrooms for children fighting life-threatening illnesses. When we searched for a local chapter in our area, there was none. That’s when I decided to jump into action and volunteer as the director of the Special Spaces Delaware/Philadelphia chapter, helping children treated at both AI and CHOP. To date we have done 3 amazing bedroom makeovers. Two children, Claire and Antonio, are fighting Ewing Sarcoma (bone cancer) and one precious little girl, Ana, is losing her battle with brain cancer. Our initial fundraising was depleted doing these 3 bedrooms as each cost approximately $2500 per bedroom. We now have 5 children who are on our waiting list, patiently waiting for the bedroom of their dreams so they can find peace while fighting such horrific illnesses.
I am honored to share our story and what we’re doing with Special Spaces Delaware/Philadelphia.