The Home Depot Foundation has awarded a $24,000 grant to the Taylor Veterans Home Program, paving the way for work to resume on the old Sell House on Northline Road outside of Heritage Park. The house is being totally renovated and will become the new headquarters of Enchanted Makeovers, a unique Taylor-based 501(c)3 organization.
“Rodney Harris, Tom Gibbons and the people at Home Depot have been the key drivers behind this great program, and this grant will be the key element is making our newest project a reality,” said Mayor Rick Sollars. “I know what we’re doing here in Taylor fits perfectly into Home Depot Foundation’s overall vision when it comes to aiding American military veterans.”
This third project was in the works before the second home was even awarded. Enchanted Makeovers is a non-profit organization that transforms long-term stay homeless shelters for women and children into places that inspire behavioral and psychological change. Through unique projects and programs, an environment is created that supports and inspires the most vulnerable members of society while they attempt to rebuild their lives. Enchanted Makeovers becomes the foundation for the shelters by creating an environment that empowers the women and children to believe in their worth and possibilities for the future.
Terry Grahl is the driving force behind the organization. Six years ago, Grahl was an award-winning decorator with her own business in the City. Then she received a call from an event coordinator at a Detroit Shelter, who asked her to visit and paint a wall to improve the deteriorated space. She made that visit and it ultimately changed her life – along with the lives of thousands of women and children.
The issues that she encountered in the shelter went well beyond paint and bedspreads. She saw that a message was lacking, that everyone is worthy of hope, dignity and respect. Grahl was so moved that she ultimately changed course in her own life.
Many of the women that Enchanted Makeovers supports are veterans, struggling single parents. In January 2013, Enchanted Makeovers finished its largest project ever. After months of project planning, it completed the transformation of 21 bedrooms and 53 beds along with hallways and also created “The Sacred Sewing Room” inside of the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries’ Genesis II House.
Over 300 people – including mural artists, crafters, sewers and volunteers from the City of Taylor and around the country helped to create a beautiful, nurturing environment for the women and children who live there.
The U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimate that 62,619 veterans are homeless on any given night and approximately twice that many experience homelessness on any given night of the year. The homeless female veterans who join programs like the ones offered by Genesis II House are usually unemployed and do not have any measurable income other than, in some cases, public assistance. The goal of the shelter programs and Enchanted Makeovers’ model is to provide the coping skills and motivation to successfully complete programs and return to their communities as productive citizens.
While Enchanted Makeovers has been focusing its energy on the shelters supporting homeless women, Terry Grahl and her group have also been one of the Taylor Veterans Home Program’s biggest – and most unique – contributors.
“We do all of the structural work,” said Home Depot’s Tom Gibbons of his company and the countless skills trade unions and others who volunteer their time and effort to rehabilitate houses for military veterans. “But it’s Terry who really turns the house into a home. She has a tremendously unique style when it comes to interior design.”
The Christopher Holcomb family was the most recent recipient in the veterans’ home program. The 25-year-old Taylor native is a former Marine who was deployed in Afghanistan and during the Haiti Relief Effort, along with many other duties, was unanimously selected by the veterans’ home committee and awarded the program’s second home on Polk Street, south of Goddard, earlier this year. Christopher is married to Darcy and has one young child, Veyda.
During a large award ceremony outside the home, Christopher Holcomb and his family received more than just the actual dwelling. The Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights awarded him supplies and training; Barton Malow Company offered him a full-time job; Helmets to Hardhats and the Camp Liberty program offered him transitional support in his return to civilian life; and Schoolcraft Community College even awarded young Veyda a scholarship.
The first home in the program was awarded back in early November 2013. A fully renovated home in the 6300 block of Oldham was handed to the Blaine Hicks family. Hicks is a decorated Vietnam War veteran and a former U.S. Postal Service worker who retired in 1997 due to a heart attack.
The City of Taylor and The Home Depot Foundation are the major sponsors of the Taylor Veterans Home Program, which is accomplished through a cooperative effort with HUD’s Detroit office of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. In the past, the City, NSP and the Foundation have been joined by no less than 32 partner organizations, which have combined to donate tens of thousands of dollars in labor and supplies to the campaign.
The two-story Sell house was built in 1926 and has a ton of potential, with its red brick exterior, old-fashioned front porch, large lot, stone outdoor fireplace and rear stairs and ramp ways. The interior features hardwood floors, large areas that can be converted into conference rooms and work areas and even a brick fireplace in the front room. But it is old, has deteriorated badly and needs a ton of interior work – which is where the skilled tradesmen come into play.
A work schedule is currently being finalized. A fundraiser may be planned for September. The grand opening likely will take place in early December.