#FreshLookFriday: Creating A Home Office

Ah, the home office: for many right now, it’s our new best friend. Sure, it can be as simple as moving that old desk we’ve never had to use into an open space, but since we’re all jumping on Zoom calls left and right over here, it’s might be time to create an actual office space. So, let’s get started!

Step one of course is to choose your space. Do you have a spare corner in the kitchen, living room, or better yet- an entire room to dedicate to your new office? Regardless of your space restrictions, all you really need is room for a desk and either a blank wall or an open window in front of you. Remember that post I did a few weeks back on creating a ‘cloffice’? As many of you noticed, one thing was missing: the OFFICE space! That was on purpose, because I believe that this space really does deserve its own spotlight. It’s the space where YOU are going to be growing, creating, and building either for your own brand or for your company. It should be a space that not only fits your personality, but is pleasing enough to look at for as many hours a day as you need to sit your butt down and get to work in it.

Starting in my office, I was lucky enough to have two options so I’m going to share them both with you. Option #1 was a big blank wall, which is PERFECT for Zoom backdrops if I set up a stand that could have the desk in the background! I filled the space with one of my favorite pieces from Oliver Gal, a large gold chandelier canvas print (which you can get here). My second option was to center my desk in front of a large window overlooking our backyard where I could watch my dog play outside. While this was my favorite option and offered some great light into the room, it meant that my camera angle for those Zoom meetings could no longer have my desk behind me, as the light from the window would wash me out. So, I’d have to place whatever I was using (tripod to hold my iPhone or laptop) ON my desk so that the window was sending the light to my face rather than from behind me, which would provide GREAT lighting! However, I’d have to consider what would be behind me: my vanity. For me, that’s okay! Ultimately..I went with the window look 🙂

Now, on to the star of the post: the desk! I bought this super cute white and gold desk from Amazon to match the pink, white and gold theme I have going. Here are the three things to think about when picking out your desk:

  1. Know your budget. There’s no way around it: a good desk is an investment. That being said, if you’re looking for a strong piece that will last for the rest of your life, it’s going to be a pretty penny. However, if you’re just looking for something to work for now that you don’t plan to use as a forever investment, it’s likely not a good idea to spend a ton of money. A decent desk that will get the job done will likely run you between $150-200, and while you can go cheaper it will not only be a hassle to assemble (even mine was a challenge!), but it also may barely feel it can hold the weight of what you need it to.
  2. Know your needs. Many may just need desk space to have a solid Zoom backdrop-and that’s TOTALLY fine! I specifically picked a desk that had at least one drawer as I do have some stationary, files, and notes that I don’t necessarily want causing clutter. That’s key to consider: Do you need a lot of storage space? If not, don’t worry if you fall head over heels in love with something without drawer space. If so, make sure you use a filter when searching to include storage space (if the website allows it).
  3. Know your style. Are you someone who likes a modern workspace, or more chic? Are you traditional, or rustic? If you don’t know, now is the time to find out. The best way to learn about your style is to simply use Pinterest or Google to look up “office space”. Pick several that you like, and see what the described style is. Once you see a common theme, you’ll begin to identify your style. You can then search “modern desk”, “glam desk”, or more!

Once I had picked out mine based on those specifications, the setup was…well..an experience (and there may have been a few times I yelled out, ‘THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE!’) but I felt SUCH a sense of accomplishment when I finished finally putting it together myself. Trust me: if I can do it, you can, too!

Once you have your desk picked out, think about what you’ll need. Do you need a filing system? A mousepad so you don’t scratch the desk? A cupholder for pens? Do you need certain accent pieces to accomplish a specific look? Dive into research on what you need, and get after it! While stores like TJ Maxx & Christmas Tree Shop were my go-to for these things, I’ve learned to lean on online shopping more to explore Pier 1, Target, and Etsy. Here is how mine turned out!

Decor links:

CHANEL print link

Yankee Candle

Paris Gold statue

Silk flowers

Glass beads

Gold supplies holder

#StayHomeSeries: Runway For Recovery Honors & Helps Breast Cancer Survivors

When Olivia Achtmeyer Boger was 20 years old, she experienced the heartbreaking loss of her mother to cancer – a battle she didn’t even know the strongest woman in her life was fighting. Her mother had elected to hide the fact that she was in the fight of her life from her children so they wouldn’t worry about her, a selfless decision that Olivia says inspired her to create the very foundation today that helps other families in need. “My mom was an exceptionally wonderful mother, and also a very private person. She fought breast cancer for 10 years without really telling anybody! When she passed away in 2001, I was one of four kids and we didn’t even really know that she had as serious an experience with breast cancer as she did. ”

While Olivia at first didn’t know where to begin in honoring her mother’s legacy, she knew she had to do something. “I wanted to start an organization that celebrated that essence of childhood that she fought so hard for herself,” she explains. At a Red Sox game talking with friends who owned local boutique clothing shop Maggie Taylor several years later, Olivia received her opportunity. “I had become really close friends with some people in Concord who owned their own clothing boutique and offered the clothes to be modeled as a fundraiser. Instead of finding professional models, we asked people who had survived breast cancer or had somebody in their life pass away from it be our models.” Open to all who wish to attend, the event holds a special meaning for anyone who has lost a loved one to or battled breast cancer. “You know, you could be at the end of your breast cancer journey, you could be in the middle of it, you could have just lost your mom, or your mom could have passed away 15 years ago. It kinda gives everybody a night to remember, celebrate and reflect.”

What started as a one-time event, Runway for Recovery is now celebrating its 13th year of raising money for families whose caregiver has passed away from cancer. “While many breast cancer organizations look to find the cure,” the company’s slogan reads, “I am looking to find ways to help those families for whom the cure does not come in time.” From helping families pay for a child’s extracurricular activities to providing tutoring & therapy services or sending a child to camp, Olivia’s mission is centered around wraparound services that “allow kids to be kids”. “We are financially taking the place of what a mother’s paycheck would have been paying for if she was still alive,” she explains, and believes each family the organization is able to help honors her mother’s own mission in life.

To learn more about Runway For Recovery, visit their website at https://runwayforrecovery.org/ or check out this video below!:

#StayHomeSeries: Verma Foundation Gives Confidence Back To Survivors

When Natasha Verma was in the thick of her fight with stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, she began to notice changes in her image. As her eyelashes, eyebrows, and hair began to disappear, she became desperate for a solution to help her feel like her strong, beautiful self through her battle. For Natasha, that started with finding a good wig. Yet the solution wasn’t as easy as she thought. “I couldn’t find a wig that I liked, and they’re expensive. They can be itchy and stuffy, or the hairline doesn’t look right. A real hair, nice wig, costs thousands of dollars.” Natasha turned to a synthetic wig that was a bit more reasonable, but noticed quickly if she applied any heat or got it wet, it was ruined. – which meant no styling or washing, and that definitely did not feel like the sense of normalcy she had been hoping to achieve. What she did find worked was putting a baseball cap on top of her wig. With the hairline hidden, she thought: why don’t we start making these? That’s when the Verma Foundation was born.

The Verma Foundation provides real hair cap wigs to cancer patients at no cost that are soft and comfortable while also manageable enough to be styled and washed. Launched in 2017, the family-lead foundation managed by Natasha’s brother, sister, and parents has provided close to 900 cap wigs to survivors nationwide thanks to donations from sponsors. Working as a family, Natasha says, is critical. “Cancer is a family affair. When one person fights, we all fight and it affected all of us – my family saw the impacts of hair loss and it’s devastating.”

“We’re still operating during the pandemic because a lot of patients don’t have resources to get wigs, and they’re losing their hair. Cancer doesn’t stop because of this pandemic, and women still need a resource.” From the time the pandemic started up until now, between 70-80 cap wigs have been donated by the Foundation.

One of those recipients of a custom-made wine colored velvet cap wig is a woman named Aurora, whose story touched Natasha. “Aurora reached out to me wanting a cap wig. I was on the phone with her talking to her and she was-much like I once was-really scared and just very unsure of what chemo held; what her future held.” These are the Verma Foundation founder remembered all too well. “I said, ‘This cap wig is going to help you on those tough days and then your hair is going to grow back, and it’s just going to be a beautiful reminder of everything you went through and how tough you are.'”

Aurora’s response that came next reminded Natasha of why the Verma Foundation is staying strong through this pandemic. “She said she ‘has arrived’ when she put the wig on,” smiled Natasha as she told the story. “It reminded her of who she was and I think that’s something that a lot of cancer patients like myself struggled with. You feel like sometimes cancer rips away your identity when you lose your hair.”

How can you help give someone that “I have arrived!” feeling? By making a donation to VermaFoundation.org, you are doing exactly that. Now more than ever these donations are critical, two of their largest fundraisers of the year held in Boston & Texas have just announced their cancellations due to the global pandemic. “We need the help now,” says Natasha. “There’s nothing normal about cancer. Your whole life turns upside down and your whole schedule and your life is revolved around fighting for your life. The cap wig brings back that sense of normalcy, and confidence. When you give a woman a cap wig you are giving her hope ,strength, confidence, and the power to lift up her head, and keep fighting.”

#FreshLookFriday: Creating A Cozy Corner

You know that one room in your house where there’s that corner you have NO idea what to put in? Maybe you’ve considered placing a plant, a table with a lamp, or doing some kind of kitty-corner table but none of it just felt right. Ultimately, when you come home at the end of the day, nobody wants to look at their home and see a forced space they don’t feel right about. So, I came up with a solution to help you make that once awkward space feel like one of the coziest corners of your home. All you need is a few things to create a simple reading nook that can make your space not only look effortless, but welcoming!

First, ask yourself this question: Do you actually intend to utilize this corner for guests for comfortable space? If so, be more choosy in the selection of what you pick for a chair. Consider how much space you have in your corner and the dimensions of the chair you choose, as well as how comfortable it will be. If it’s simply decorative and you never intend to use it (unless it’s a holiday and you’re hosting), you can pick any chair in the world that matches your room’s wood or fabric tones. This really is the key: remembering that your corner is not just its own entity! It is an accent of the room that you are working within, and must be styled to match.

Personally, having a grey/white bedroom, I chose to take a grey chair to pair with a chic silver chandelier lamp , my favorite throw pillow and a cozy blanket knit by my sister-in-law. Before you know it, BAM! This simple space is done. While it does take a bit of investment into selecting the right chair/lamp combo, it’s an easy solution to adding extra space for guests while also giving you a comfortable place to relax at the end of a long day.

#StayHomeSeries: Local Wedding Planner Donates Time To Brides Whose Weddings Have Been Cancelled

A couple’s wedding day is one they look forward to from the moment they realize they’ve found “the one”. The months (or for many couples, years) of planning leading up to the big day can be a whirlwind of emotions from excitement at the moment of proposal & celebrating milestones in selecting the perfect vendors, to the more stressful times in juggling family emotions, vendor contracts, finances, and somehow staying on the same page with your significant other. Yet no couple could have possible prepared for the shock of a global pandemic changing every detail they’ve worked so hard to perfect. For those couples going through the heartbreaking decision of cancelling, postponing or drastically changing the happiest day of their lives, it can take a heavy emotional toll. That’s where one wedding planner saw she had an opportunity to help.

When I first met Sandy Brooks of Timeless Event Planning on the steps of the Harborview Hotel in Edgartown, I somehow felt that I had not just hired a wedding planner, but was about to make a good friend. As we casually sipped mimosas overlooking Lighthouse Beach where my husband & my engagement photos were taken, Sandy and I went over every detail of what our dream wedding day would look like. By the end of our conversation, it was impossible to imagine that just an hour before our new wedding planner had been a total stranger and there was no doubt in my mind that she was the person I trusted to guide our wedding planning journey.

While you’d never know it based on the personal attention she gives to each and every client to make your wedding the only one just like mine did, Sandy Brooks had 12 weddings booked for 2020. Yet with the Coronavirus pandemic forcing the cancellation or postponement or all major events, the bi-coastal wedding planner is now down to just four left on the books: and she understands better than anyone how painful her clients’ decisions to cancel or postpone have truly been. Engaged to be married herself June 20th, 2020 on Martha’s Vineyard, Sandy too had that difficult decision to make. “I have a different perspective on what I think is going to happen because I am a bride-to-be myself,” she explains. “I’m living everything as well and so for me, it’s about my business, but it’s also about being fair to my clients.” With her wedding date right around the corner, Sandy knew that not only she but all of her other brides would have to act fast.” The second I moved my wedding, I promised my July brides I’d call them first and explain my decision and why. Even if the ban is lifted, there will most likely be restrictions on events and we just can’t see us having the wedding we have been creating the past two years. My fiance’s family, groomsmen and friends are coming from CA which makes us worried. His parents are 70 years old and my dad has been sick the past ten years, making this decision even harder.”

As she has been navigating the re-booking of her own wedding while continuing to guide her clients, Sandy began to receive message after message with brides-to-be all asking the same question: What do we do? “There’s a lot of brides on the island that were getting married on our same  weekend, and people asked how I made my decision.” While normally consulting a wedding planner is a paid service, Sandy found she couldn’t turn away from the brides’ cries for help. “The first thing I had to ask is: Do you have a wedding planner? I didn’t want to step on any toes!” she explained. “I wanted to be a friend to these girls because if they can’t even afford a wedding planner, who do you come to? Your photographer or florist might have an answer of what they think based on their business, but I’m actually engaged and going through this with all my vendors, too.”

So, what advice did she give? “It’s really important to make a backup plan early and ask vendors to put a soft hold on those dates as couples will not only be competing with 2021 brides for dates, but other 2020 couples that are forced to reschedule,” explains Sandy, who was heartbroken to learn that one of her selected vendors wouldn’t be available for her new date once she rescheduled. Not only can it be stressful emotionally to lose a vendor, but there’s also the task of re-sending the stationary, re-working the guest list to adapt to any changes in who may or may not now be able to attend-all while facing any fees involved with these changes. Fees, Sandy says, can be a touchy subject with couples already spending a fortune on their dream day. Thankfully, Sandy has the unique perspective of both a bride and a vendor to help explain why some charges make sense-and others don’t. “My industry is suffering so much, which is why people are trying to keep their September and fall weddings in place,” she explains of how vendors are losing money as cancellation after cancellation of their summer events roll in. “Some want to keep waiting and waiting, but I think just being really honest on your perspective and having a plan will put their minds at ease.” For one of Sandy’s clients, a vendor had refused to move an already set wedding date. Yet suddenly, a grant became available and all move fees were able to be waived. While it can be frustrating to understand as a couple already experiencing a worst-case wedding scenario of a mandated cancellation, Sandy knows that while some clients can’t afford the extra fees, vendors are scrambling to salvage the little business they can. “I know what it feels like, so it’s really hard for me because I have to explain to my clients why they have to charge. Many vendors will need to pick up side jobs if this doesn’t end soon. Most of us live paycheck to paycheck. we are just coming out of our off-season and were really needing these events to survive.” The good news for brides? Some companies that are in a position to help are being very understanding, such as printing companies offering complimentary postcards to send out to guests with the new dates. “There are vendors out there that don’t just want money. I love talking to people and hearing stories, and telling mine. It’s a really hard time that people are going through.”

Being such a heavy subject, the reactions from those Sandy has talked to have been “extremely understandable,” she says. “The first bride I had to move, I got on the phone and she was like, ‘Wait your texts aren’t bubbly, whats going on?’ We talked it out, and she wanted to move the dates so I came to her with a plan. At first she was fine, but then she started bawling so I just knew we had to say ‘Okay, grab a glass of wine, we are going to do this together!’ ” How has Sandy advised her brides to cope with this stress? “You have to take it week by week. Start making guests lists of 50 people, then 100 people as there could be social gathering restrictions. Ask yourself, would even be the wedding you would want?” Yet moving the dates isn’t for everyone. For some brides, Sandy says, a 2020 wedding is taking on a whole new form. “Know that you can still get legally married this year, and party the following. One of my brides is also a wedding planner, and they decided to do a styled elopement in Palm Springs,” she explains. “Have your day to bawl your eyes out about these changes, make brownies, then the following morning make coffee and make a list of ten positive things happening in your life. You WILL get through this!!”

#StayHomeSeries: Designs For The Front Lines

“How can I say thank you?”

It’s a question many of us have asked ourselves lately as we’ve watched our friends, family members, and so many others step up to save those fighting against the deadly Coronavirus. For each day a healthcare professional walks into their workplace, they do so to care for those who can no longer care for themselves only to leave at the end of their day exhausted mentally and physically, drained from a day of saving lives. For each and every one of them, we are a grateful nation. Yet how do you thank someone for doing a hero’s work? For one local Framingham woman, that answer was to donate her talent to create a special gift to be given by the grateful to those who deserve a reason to smile at the end of their day.

Trisha, the Founder of SDesign Jewelry that is handmade in Framingham, started her journey many years ago after discovering a new passion while running a successful boutique. “I began making jewelry for charities, and that kind of spun itself into something a little bit larger,” she explains. “As that was happening, my daughter was getting bigger and I thought, you know what I think I’m going to for now close the store and I’m going to for now make my jewelry company as big as I can while I was a stay a t home mom taking care of my child.” S Design, named after her daughter, was born.

While her work today has kept her incredibly busy, Trisha couldn’t help but notice as heroes day in and day out left their homes and families to help fight on the front lines of the Coronavirus outbreak-and knew she had to do something to help. So, she did what she does best: she got to work designing the perfect gift to not only give back herself, but encourage others to submit their own heroes to receive a gift. “I released our COVID 19 Strong bracelet program. We have a “Share Your Hero” tab on our website because number one, we want to know who YOU want us to donate to,” Trisha explains. “It’s really a spiritual armor bracelet initiative, and for every bracelet purchase a bracelet is donated to a local hero.”

What does the bracelet look like? A stunning sterling-silver bracelet, hematite was selected as the featured accent detail thanks to its reputation for healing qualities. “Hematite helps to absorb negative energy and be calming in times of stress or anxiety. It is widely coveted as a protective stone known for stabilizing a person’s energy with its grounding force and turning negative energy into positive vibrations to create hope.”

Even the packaging for the bracelet is unique, and has been designed specifically for the hero receiving it with a card thanking them for their service and reminding them that each bead serves as a pillar of strength to support them throughout their day: Community, Resilience, Courage, and Compassion. For those who opt to purchase the piece for themselves, a “COVID-19 STRONG” message is sent thanking the wearer and reminding them that their purchase has supported the donation of another piece to a local hero. From classic black and white boxes with bows to soft drawstring bags and even a glass case, the packaging itself is nearly as impressive as the pieces. Trisha says that’s for a reason: she specifically hand-picks the packaging based on the piece and to whom it is going.

Want to see what her work looks like? Check out my full video below to see an unboxing of S Design’s STUNNING pieces, and visit her website www.sdesignjewelry.com to nominate a local hero (and maybe get one for yourself, too!):

“It’s really a spiritual armor bracelet initiative, and for every bracelet purchase a bracelet is donated to a local hero. When we package it to go to the hero, we package it differently. ecaucse the most important thing tjhey need to know is that their braceltt was given to them by a grateful memeber of their community.

#FreshLookFriday: A Serene Sunroom!

With spring in full swing and all of us daydreaming of summer, if there was ever a year to prioritize your patio or sunroom: trust me, it’s 2020. Traditionally the ideal place to serve guests, sunrooms and outdoor patios now present the opportunity for a sacred oasis to enjoy date nights under twinkling lights and get some fresh air, enjoy morning coffee to prep for working from home all day, and safely enjoy your time outside while keeping your distance from the rest of the world. Personally, mine has become my favorite place to work from home, snuggle up with my pup and people watch, enjoy a romantic dinner with the husband, and have the perfect backdrop for all those Zoom calls. How did I do it?

It all starts with the seating! The first step is to assess your space: what do you have room for? A sweeping sectional, a cozy loveseat for two or maybe one of those IG-worthy personal hanging pods? Whatever you choose, there are SO many different brands and price ranges out there to choose from. From working with designers, here are the three tips I learned about ordering online furniture sets.

  1. Select a stain-proof fabric. The best way to protect your purchase from red wine, greasy food spills or hurricanes that come out of nowhere is to make sure you’re choosing a fabric that has the durability to last throughout all the wear and tear it will get over the season. While it’s a bit mroe expensive, many of my designers would select only pieces that used Sunbrella fabric- or, if their client really loved a specific piece, they would custom order Sunbrella fabric to fit the exact dimensions of the seating group that stole their heart. The Sunbrella love is REAL!
  2. Order in advance & double-check assembly requirements. One thing you must realize is that if you’re thinking about your patio, chances are everyone else out there is, too! I can’t tell you how many times I would receive a desperate call begging me to rush-ship a seating group for someone’s son or daughter’s graduation, a holiday barbecue, or that it *NEEDED* to be there for when the client opened their home for the season. Of course, as a girl who is team summer all the way, I TOTALLY got it! Unfortunately though, I knew on the back end that our suppliers needed much more time to get these things together and that was the hardest thing to explain to someone when they were really looking forward to a specific piece for a specific day. Why does it take so long to get your outdoor furniture? Well, not only do the orders all tend to stack up at once (for this reason, I recommend ordering in February or March for a May delivery), but they are large pieces that many times come from suppliers down South who can sell their product year-round. Suppliers will wait until they have a full truck to head out to wherever you are, and if they know they’ll have more orders coming soon this time of year, it can take some time. Once it does start to head this way, since they are large pieces that will require a delivery team to come and set up or drop it off for you, normally there will be what I like to call a “furniture layover” where the furniture will be dropped off at another carrier. Then, you’re waiting on their team to call you and set up a good time for you to receive the delivery that works with both of your schedules, and they need to stock their truck with deliveries heading your way. As frustrating as that can be when you just want to sit in the sun with your tea or morning coffee and soak up the sunshine, I know firsthand from spending hours trying my best to help my clients that to your supplier, no amount of begging or reasons why your life will be ruined if you don’t get this patio set in time can rush this process. Once it does come in, make sure you’re prepared ahead of time on if there is any assembly required- it will usually say this on the item’s page on the website, so make sure you do some scrolling so you set yourself the right expectations for what you’re going to get.
  3. Be mindful of your color scheme. Yes, here I am again with that rule of three to force it into your brain! When it comes time to pick a furniture set, you want to make sure that not only does your seating group color match your fence (if you have a light pine fence, maybe don’t go with a dark stained patio set, etc.), but make sure the color fabric you select is something you’ll be ready to set your space around. Do you have a really cute sign you absolutely *MUST* hang outside, or a set of string lights that are a specific color? If so, make sure whatever plans to go in that space will match.

Now that you’ve got your perfect seating group all picked out, it’s time to find the right accent pieces! Let’s start with a good outdoor rug. I actually found this adorable rug on Amazon that matched my seating group almost perfectly! On top of the rug I placed the matching wicker & glass table from my seating group. On the table, I placed a matching bin that was a gift from my in-laws to hold the essentials: for me, that includes a candle( I love the Vineyard candle by Yankee Candle!), a speaker, coasters and a cute statement sign.

For the windows in my sunroom, since I have been sticking with a white/gray/light blue theme, I chose to go with silver starfish curtain rods that I bought years ago at Wayfair and light, airy, white curtains. Instead of tie backs, I chose to use decor from around our home to hold them back. For the right side, a giant seashell my husband brought back from a family trip to Jamaica years ago. For the left side, I placed a custom lantern holder decorated for me by my sister-in-law. Using unique items to hold back your curtains is my new favorite trend!

After continuing to decorate by collecting fitting pieces from around the house (we have no shortage of seaside decor around here!), the last thing I needed was a good pair of white string lights. Most of our decor came from gifts from friends, thrift stores, Christmas Tree Shop, or our favorite boutique shops on Martha’s Vineyard to add a personal touch that reminds us of the place that we got married and hold so close to our hearts.

Ta-da! With all of these accents combined, our sunroom was complete. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to host again as soon as we can! If you have any questions on how to make your sunroom or patio look and feel like a relaxing, welcoming space, feel free to email me at emmalyn@emmalynreid.com and I’m always happy to help!

#StayHomeSeries: Lasers Helping Lasers

For students all over the world, college is affectionately known as “the best four years of your life”. Highly anticipated all through high school where many work hard for years to save money, get their grades up anxiously await that coveted acceptance letter, college is a time meant for studying, learning all you can about the career path of your choice, and maybe staying up a bit too late making friendships for life. Just two months short of what would have been for many seniors a celebrated graduation, the entire lifestyle of college has changed.

With many campuses closing their dormitory doors and moving to online courses for all, it is a challenging time for students who have been forced to move away from their friends and entire new, independent life. Yet for some, this drastic change of pace means more than just going home to be with families a bit earlier than they’d planned: for those who rely on resources at their college to get their work done, it can mean a loss of means to continue their studies. For those who work on campus, it can mean a loss of income to pay for their car, phone, or other bills. Far worse, for those who are international students with nowhere to go or come from a low-income family, it can mean homelessness.

“We had alumni and parents, faculty and staff reach out when the COVID-19 started to impact our student and the question they all asked was, ‘What can we do? How can we help?’ So this Lasers Helping Lasers relief fund really is in response to the community asking that question,” explains Chelsea Gwyther, Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations at Lasell University. “We worked with a student who left his residence hall when this pandemic hit, and moved back with his family in a homeless shelter outside of Boston. Unfortunately, that shelter doesn’t have Wifi so this student takes his 18-year-old car and drives a couple of times a day to a Mcdonald’s parking lot so he can participate in his online classes. The determination of that student is just incredibly inspiring to all of us, and we’re committed just like he is to making sure that all students have access to a great education at Lasell.”

So far, alumni and friends of the college have gone above and beyond in their generosity to help support the local students. “The response has been absolutely phenomenal. Over $85,500 has been donated for this fund and that is going to go directly to helping students who are impact by this and helping the institution manage unplanned expenses by the pandemic.”

Interested in donating? Watch my full interview with Chelsea below to learn more, and visit https://www.lasellalumni.org/s/61/16/index.aspx?sid=61&gid=1&pgid=2068 to make your donation!

#StayHomeSeries: Social Distancing Dash!

When I first started this journey of doing a charity blog, I had been overwhelmed with joy to watch my calendar fill up in February with events booked through the month of JUNE! It made my heart so happy to be able to not only tell the stories behind so many charities throughout New England, but to be able to give them something through my work that they could then use to help spread the word of all the good they are doing in our local communities. Yet very quickly, all of that changed as one by one I watched emails pour in with cancellations and postponements of the events that many times serve as an organization’s main source of revenue for the year. I thought to myself, “What are they going to do?”

In these past few weeks, I’ve watched as those responsible for organizing such major events have learned to pivot in this time of crisis. From virtual evenings of giving to online auctions and now, even a social distancing dash, it’s clear that each organization’s dedication to their mission is the driving force behind such innovation. At FMP Productions, the idea for a “Social Distancing Dash” stemmed from a passion for their charities and in an effort to find a way to keep them going when the rest of the world has stopped.

How does the “Dash” work? By signing up on their website, donors were able to contribute any amount they felt comfortable with starting at $25 to pledge to race. Then, from Friday May 1-Sunday, May 3 it was time to mask up or find a remote location in which to run and get out there!

For organizations like the David Ortiz Fund, President Hallie Lorber says this dash is critical to keeping their cause running as their major fundraising events including the Boston Marathon and a golf tournament were cancelled. “For us specifically, we help children who are in need of pediatric cardiac care. A lot of our kids are at high risk during this time-so they can’t get to the hospital to get the services that they need, they can’t have follow up for the surgeries that they have had, so a lot of them don’t have access not only to medical care but to their medication,” Lorber explained as she described the David Ortiz Fund’s mission. “We are very dependent, like other charities on hosting in person events, and we are struggling for a way to raise money to be able to provide the services. The Social Distance Dash is a way for us to supplement some of those events, and gives donors the opportunity to do something good while doing something good for themselves by getting outside, getting some fresh air, exercising, all while adhering to the social distancing policies.”

At the Bourque Family Foundation, this struggle is all too understood. On Wednesday evening, the Foundation was scheduled to have its annual Gala that brings in a large portion of revenue for the year meant to go towards Pete Frates’ mission of supporting ALS care & research. “With what we’re going through right now, we’re just holding tight. Everybody’s in the same boat,” Ray Bourque explains. Yet with this unique opportunity, Ray says he’s been excited to get outside and have the opportunity to bring support back to their foundation- and yes, Ray himself participated! “We’re challenging everybody to get out there and have a bike ride, walk a mile, run a mile-walk 5 miles!” He and his wife, Ray said, had been walking three to five miles a day and are more than ready to get out there of course wearing a custom-made Boston Bruins mask!

Yet while they may have different missions, the overall message that was resonated throughout talks with both Hallie and Ray remained the same in support of all the charities benefitting from the #SocialDistanceDash. “Regardless of who you’re gonna donate to, just be active and get involved. A small donation goes a long way.”

To watch the full video from the #SocialDistanceDash, see below. Don’t forget to Like & Subscribe on Youtube to keep up with my latest content!

#FreshLookFriday: Give Your Old Couch An Upgrade!

We’ve all had that one sofa we can’t possibly part with. Be it a family heirloom or just incredibly comfortable, sometimes you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of something that may no longer fit your updated style. The good news is: you don’t have to! There are inexpensive, easy way you can safely salvage any piece to brighten your room.

The first thing that comes to mind for so many of us when someone says “get a couch cover” are those uncomfortable plastic ones most of our grandparents had. I don’t blame you, we’re all scarred from that! The truth is though, couch covers have come a long way and are relatively inexpensive depending on where you look. My favorite place to get a new couch cover is Christmas Tree Shop!

Today, we’re highlighting a living room revamp I did a few months back with one of my best friends. The entire room was set to be done over navy and white with light pink accents, but there was just one problem: her favorite, most comfortable couch wouldn’t match her dream vision. While she had a larger navy couch on the way for a separate section of the room, she not only wanted to keep the extra seating but the piece had sentimental value for her. So, quickly we got to work in hunting down the perfect couch cover and accent pieces to go from cozy to chic!

We found this navy couch cover at Christmas Tree Shops, but you can also find similar ones online at Amazon. Next, we hit TJ Maxx & Homegoods to hunt down a white blanket and large matching throw pillow that were perfect accents to a navy, white and silver rug. Next, we added an accent table that matched perfectly she happened to have lying around…which leads me to my tip of the day: whenever you’re looking to refinish a room, the first step is to gather everything in your home or storage that matches in its color scheme and put it all together. See how it looks: does it match? Are you forcing it? If you are, then put it back. Yet you might be surprised to find if you start just by looking around your house what you’ll find that could piece a look together seamlessly! Take a look at the details below.