Evenings With Emmalyn: Episode 2

Featuring a local Cape Cod woman giving back to those who have been isolating for medical reasons with a fun outdoor activity, a Quincy Police Officer who surprised a local family with a very special pizza delivery, and of course your weekly motivation with JT’s Positive 5!

#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.

#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.

#StayHomeSeries MASK. MATCH. CHALLENGE!

Who’s up for a challenge you can do from your couch?! Everyone? Okay, good.

Let’s start by introducing you to David, the Founder of DocPPE that launched an incredible new startup in response to the need of extra masks not only on our front lines, but in our communities. A software developer for 20 years who has founded his own companies and attended law school, David was inspired by his wife who witnessed the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) herself working as a physician at Boston Children’s Hospital. As she continuously shared her concerns, David being an entrepreneur himself felt compelled to do something.

“From start to finish, we’ve been doing this for four weeks. I had the first design done in 4 days, tested within five.” David’s team, which consists of several family members, friends & manufacturers, also includes his wife: she donated her two weeks’ vacation time to devote it instead to getting the necessary supplies out as quickly as possible. “We’re working night and day to get these things out,” he explains. “My wife is a great woman and donated her vacation time to make masks. I don’t know how you get much better than that, to be honest.”

An American-made product with a facility right at home in Boston, David says he’s been taking calls constantly. “It’s crazy because we have a live chat on the site so it comes to me directly. I’m the one who answers, I’m the one who’s there and people are like: Are you real? Ae you in America? Is this a real thing?” The skepticism, he says, is understood. “Because everybody buys this stuff online and they’re not getting it, they want that assurance that they’re actually going to get what they pay for.” To ease concerns, David has taken to giving out his personal cell phone number. “We’re for the people, by the people.”

So, what’s this challenge we’re talking about? If you are able to donate anything from $5-$500 (of course, more is always welcomed!), David will match that donation of masks to go to either front line workers or Navajo Nation, who do not have access to PPE. “If you donate 500, we’ll match it with another 500. When friends start sharing with friends making this a competition to get it to healthcare workers on the front lines.” The response so far, he says, has been overwhelming as they have partnered with Blue Sky Entertainment to get well-known athletes like Andrew Raycroft & Charlie Coyle to show their support. “Everybody’s starting to come out and they want to help. It’s so nice to see the communities, the personalities and different celebrities come out and want to help people.”

So far, DocPPE has been able to donate supplies to Boston hospitals such as South Shore, Beth Israel, and Mass General Hospital. Want to join in and help? Donate here and challenge a friend to do the same!: https://docppe.com/donations/

Mermaids on Cape Cod: How A Cape Cod Artist Is Using Her Talent To Help Feed Fellow Residents

CAPE COD, MA- With all of the heartwarming stories coming to the forefront these days, it’s not rare for me to tear up a time or two at hearing how so many local heroes are stepping up to help their neighbors. It is, however, rare for me to do so several times in just one call. That’s what happened when I spoke with Shari, “Chief Executive Mermaid” behind Mermaids on Cape Cod. Getting to know Shari over the years as we bumped into each other at local festivals, the “Mermaid Truck” gal always had the cutest setup of all the vendors. Her mobile truck, set up so anyone could hop on and shop great local outfits, jewelry and accessories always had me leaving with something!

Mermaids on Cape Cod Founder & Chief Executive Mermaid, Shari.

Yet in talking with her this week, I saw another side of Shari I had never seen before. Instead of being her laughing, contagiously bubbly self, she was heartbroken for her fellow artists and fiercely determined to make waves of change. “In March, I was at the Boston Flower Show and they were closing it and packing up due to the virus. They had said they weren’t going to close, but turnout was so low and things were just starting to happen, so they had to. Everybody was crying and having a tough time, and that’s not usually what the vibe is there. It was very dark and sad, and I couldn’t fathom what this would be like,” she explained. “The woman next to me looked at all her stuff and realized she didn’t have another event to go for four months, and all of her creations that she’d worked so hard on were perishable. We looked at each other and said, ‘What are we going to do?’ and I said, ‘I’m going to figure this out.’

After going home and racking her brain of how she could help those that just lost their entire livelihood all night, Shari said she remembers seeing the sun rise the next morning was suddenly inspired. “I saw sunrise with the trees and just said to myself, ‘I need to rise up.’ I started drawing rough waves, the sun rising up, the waves rising up, and realized in this distressing time we need to create some joy and rise up together.” After watching many of the funds created for such smaller local artists going to larger corporations, Shari knew what she had to do. “I’m going to raise some money. And it’s not going to be for big companies or big organizations.”

Quickly, Shari began reaching out to local organizations to guide her in her mission and fellow artists responded. “Steve at Cape Cod Textile, he came in and said, ‘Let me design something and if you sell them, I’ll just give them to you so all the money can go where it needs to.’ The Cape Cod design was him.” Pointing to a long sleeve shirt and sweatshirt in our Zoom call (which she’d tied together to hold hands and I’m not crying, you’re crying), she explained that the 15 stars on the flag design were placed to represent each of the towns on Cape Cod where in each, local artists reside. How have the sales been?

“I’ve cried a lot in gratitude,” Shari admits. “We’re shipping 500 pieces a week, which is stressful as well as keeping my business afloat working till 10-11pm at night and waking up at 7am. But with every package, I say thank you to the customer and thank you to God.” The humble artists refuses to take most of the credit, however. “This is from our community, your community, not us. The money is just from them,” she explains of how the funds from each purchase go directly towards local food banks in Sandwich & along the South Shore. “$500 keeps the food pantry alive for the community. If you give them $1, they can go to the Boston Food Bank and get 20 cans of corns to stock the shelves here. So far, we donated $1000.”

Want to help be part of the effort and grab some custom-made Rise Up swag yourself? Visit the Mermaids on Cape Cod website at https://www.mermaidsoncapecod.com/ and check out Shari’s full video interview below.

Headbands for Heroes: Local Business Owner Helps Those Who Help Us

BOSTON- When Shop The Cue owner Lindsay Reilly watched a heartbreaking video of a New York nurse taking off her mask to reveal raw and bleeding her ears after wearing protective equipment all day long, she knew she had to do something to help. As Reilly saw the nurse fashion a homemade headband after a long, 12 hour shift, she had one thought. “There was a nurse spending their time when they get home after a 12 hour shift to put buttons on a headband to solve their problems. We should be able to do that, especially since I had a sewing background and a sewing machine,” explains Reilly.

Quickly, Reilly and her team at Shop The Cue got to work on headbands that could be used to protect the ears of those wearing masks by holding them together with buttons. “We had such a powerful network platform, I just asked myself: How can we use that to make a difference in the most impactful way with these headbands?” Once the word of her good work got out, the response grew overwhelmingly as nearly 600 orders flew in within a matter of days. Despite the positive reaction, this meant a bit of a struggle for Reilly. “I’d order fabric or buttons and it wasn’t coming as expected so the need got bigger. We got bombarded with orders,” she explains. It didn’t take long for the shop owner to realize she was going to need an extra hand in getting them together. “There was no way we could keep up.”

As a small business, Lindsay says it’s been a whole new ball game working in a situation where the products are newly developed and an immediate need. “Normally, you develop a product, market it, produce it and we have time to do that. In this case, one of my girls is going through all of the emails of people who are really in crucial need of these.” Watching the order numbers go up as their material stock and the ability to fulfill orders quickly went down, Shop The Cue’s network made a plea for help on social media that brought in an outpouring of support from the community. “Everyone in the community reached out, small businesses or friendly neighbors or Cue supporters to help build kits. We created kits for people to pick up on the curbside to help sew them within a matter of days.” One gentleman named Chris of Custom Sports Sleeves in Worcester approached Lindsay and her team with a generous offer that would help her not only reach her goal to fill current orders, but keep production going strong for the new ones flowing in. “He said ‘Hey, I have the material, we’re local and we can do this for you in a day. What do you think?’ Immediately I just said ‘You are an angel, and yes!'” Other businesses like Christa Hagearty of Dependable Cleaners and a local salon owner in Quincy also stepped up to help out. “It’s really the small businesses that are coming together, and that’s where the impact that’s being made the most.”

Looking closely at every order coming in, she began to notice urgent requests for headbands are now coming from outside the healthcare field as well. “The last few days, I would say we’re noticing that it’s not just the nurses. We’re having people from police stations, a local bakery who needed headbands baking all week for Easter weekend, we have one restaurant that just bought 50 of them because workers for takeout are wearing the masks as well.”

Yet the response from those that have received their headbands reminds her every day that their hard work is worth every minute. “They send us before and afters of their ears of how much it was helping them, how they love seeing the small businesses come together. It’s the little things, and being a small business I can see if there is any sort of problem and fix it that day.” The only problem Lindsay says she’s encountered: trying to get to everyone as quickly as she can, without those in the most dire need paying a dime. “We’ve had to do completed -or not completed-at least 2,000 headbands just after week one,” she explained. “We have a fund that people donated to so nurses don’t spend a dollar, but if you’re reaching out to buy one for a friend or family member you can do that as well.”

Are you or is someone you love in need of a headband? Head on over to Shop The Cue to get yours or request one for a front-line worker here: https://shopthecue.com/collections/giveback

Tackling The Weirdest Place To Decorate: The Bathroom

It’s the one room that many of my friends and family have come to me struggling with: WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS BATHROOM? We all spend time in it every day. We all want it to look nice when we have guests over. Some of us are fortunate to have large, spacious bathrooms and interior designers on hand to tackle them, but for the rest of us that may have a slightly cramped space that you just want to look nice, it can pose a challenge. How do you make those three necessary fixtures of a toilet, sink and shower look welcoming?

The biggest tip I give people is this: it ALL starts with your shower curtain. And if you have sliding doors or another design where you don’t need one, even easier! Think about it: it’s the biggest statement piece in the room unless you have a massive floor-to-ceiling painting (which if you do, should STILL match your shower curtain by the way!). It’s what people see when they first walk in, and those colors should set the tone for the rest of the room. Sticking by the rule of three color tip and one consistent theme, your shower mat and towels should BOTH match your shower curtain and its theme (i.e., beach theme, Parisian theme, etc.). If you’re one of the lucky ones that have a walk-in shower/sliding doors I mentioned before, make sure those two pieces match each other along with every other piece you bring into that room.

Let’s talk about theme for a second: what does it mean to stick to a theme? Well, it means that sometimes even if you’re following that rule of three colors, if you have a navy, blue and white shower curtain with an anchor that screams “we’re nautical in here”, while your Patriots canvas may match the shower curtain perfectly by COLOR rules really isn’t the best place for it because that would fall under a sports theme. Believe me, I know this is hard. At the end of the day, what I always say is it’s all up to you: do you want this room to match, or do you want to throw it off because you can’t move ONE piece to the other room? If your answer is that you really want that one piece in that one room, there’s only one option: change your theme for the whole room to match that one piece. It’s annoying, I know, and trust me when I tell you I’ve been there centering an entire room around a piece of wall art I couldn’t live without. The pink & gold in my closet? Yup, I spent a week re-painting a dresser to match the theme of a gold mirror & pink Marilyn Monroe sign I couldn’t let go of. I feel you! Was it worth it, though? Absolutely! Now every time I walk into that room, my spirits are instantly lifted at the glamorous space I was able to create for myself because I decided not to be lazy and just keep that dresser teal.

Now, let’s talk about what we did in our bathroom to put that into perspective: when I walked into our new bathroom, we had white walls and grey flooring with THANKFULLY a matching grey sink. Immediately, I knew I had two colors to work with: grey, and white. Loving both of those colors, I chose not to add a third (remember, three is the MAX amount of colors, not the required amount to stick by). That being said, it made it super easy to pick the colors for our shower curtain. After showing several to my husband that we couldn’t agree on, I finally found it: one that said “Get Naked” in pretty script writing. It made him laugh, and it looked pretty for me. Done deal, and now every time I come into the bathroom, I get a good chuckle, too!

Getting to work, I was off to TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Homegoods to find the PERFECT plush, white shower mat to match the white lettering on that curtain since the floors already have that grey. While I was there, I also picked up a white and grey patterned soap dispenser and toothbrush holder for all under $15. (These were GREAT investments because you don’t have to worry about the cucumber melon soap looking out of place, and have a holder to match!) Since the walls are white, I opted for a chrome handle bar to match our fixtures and grey towels from Target. Next, it was time to look into my own decor inventory and see what matched. Large white mirror? Yes. Grey & white heart-shaped sign? You bet.

The final touches were what went above the toilet. With little sink space, this meant a neutral, clear accessories holder. Next to that, I chose to take a clear flower vase, some beads from Michael’s Craft Store, and add faux flowers I’d purchased on Wayfair. Before I knew it, voila…our small bathroom was done! All by keeping things consistent, we created a space that was both pleasing to the eyes & functional.

Do you have a space in your home that you’d like a little help with? I’m here to listen! Email me at emmalyn@emmalynreid.com and I’m always happy to help in offering any tips/advice for any space!

Camping With A Cause: The Story of Camp Hale

SANDWICH, NH- Nestled on the peaceful shores of Squam Lake in New Hampshire, the Camp Hale grounds serve as more than just a getaway from the hustle & bustle of Boston. First incorporated in 1900 and now one of the oldest camps in the country, its mission is to offer children from Boston neighborhoods that may not otherwise have the opportunity a “refreshing, enlightening and meaningful camping experience.”

“It’s been a lifesaver for a lot of people and taught them about love, community, diversity and how to deal with it,” says Aaron Dushku, Vice President of the Camp Hale Alumni Association who recalls many years he worked summers at the Camp. “The friendships that you make in those situations.. there’s 8 kids in a cabin together, they don’t know each other when they show up yet they create lifelong bonds because they go back year after year.” Today, the Camp is attended mostly by children from the South End and lower Roxbury neighborhoods of Boston. Though the camp may have brought in children from many different areas of the city and of all ethnicities over the years, some things remain the same. “The camp program has songs and activities, of course time on the lake. You see the way things change like the telephone game over the years, but you also see a lot of traditions that stay the same.”

For Aaron, serving on the Camp Hale Board was a family tradition that he was proud to be a part of. “Our family gains so much from Camp because of what it gave to my dad. He grew up in a rough neighborhood. People who grew up in these neighborhoods came from difficult circumstances.” Aaron’s father, who was an active member of the organization, decided to also his own children to Camp Hale. There was only one problem: since it was a dedicated boys’ camp, his daughter was not able to attend. “My little sister is an actress (Eliza Dushku) and she watched as her three older brothers went to camp every summer and was bummed she couldn’t go. Over the years, she saw how dedicated our family was to the camp.”

This inspired the actress to use her talents to help give back to the organization in a special way that would forever change the future of Camp Hale. In a 2009 celebrity basketball shootout, Eliza was able to raise $60,000 in heels as she dominated a game of Horse that she used to fund the beginning of a girls’ program at the Camp. She didn’t just stop there, however. “She also auctioned off clothes from different television shows she’d been in and got some of her friends to donate in Hollywood,” explains her brother Aaron. Eliza’s efforts transformed Camp Hale from being strictly a boys’ camp to offering a program that would be welcoming young women as well.

Overall, Aaron estimates the Camp Hale Alumni Association has raised several million dollars to sponsor inner-city youth to go to camp, and it’s an organization shows no signs of stopping. “The alumni just keep coming back, and we have a really active situation,” says Aaron.

Unfortunately, the organization’s most anticipated charity event of the year that was slated for this spring had to be put on hold until November due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Yet that doesn’t mean this year’s coveted Casino night will be anything short of spectacular. “This is our big one,” says Aaron, describing the catered event by Chilacates that emanates an old-Boston feel in a setting surrounded by gaming tables provided by Boston Charity Casinos. Given the current circumstances, “Every single one of our vendors have been wonderful,” says Aaron.

With so many events being rescheduled, there’s quite a bit we can fill our calendar up with for the fall. Personally, I’m making sure Camp Hale Alumni Association’s Casino Night is one I don’t miss! If you can’t make it there yourself, no worries. Look forward to a video coming on the big event this fall!