Megan, Tony & Lukas
In what could only be described as an extreme act of kindness, 12 Naperville area businesses came together to completely make over the apartment inhabited by Bridge Communities graduate Megan DeAngelis and her two sons. Megan and her boys were previously homeless, successfully completed Bridge’s Transitional Housing Program and are now renting an apartment through Bridge Communities’ Pathways Program, which offers affordable housing at a below-fair-market price.
The makeover, coordinated by Vicky Joseph, Bridge Communities’ Naperville Outreach Coordinator, brought together 12 incredibly generous business leaders interested in giving back in their own community, which has been so supportive of them. The team includes: Those generous contributors are: Ken Limong, Applied Construction Concepts; Dave Martin, Russell Martin Carpet and Rugs; Debra and Doug Lellbach, Lellbach Builders; Bob Jung, Bob Jung Painting and Decorating; Jeannie Triezenberg, Hire Order; Troy Marcum, Sherwin-Williams; Art Balducci, Ashley Furniture HomeStore Naperville; Chris Cash, Paul and Mary Ann Junkroski, Roseland Draperies and Interiors; Mark Brown, M Brown and Associates; Tony DiSandro, HomeGoods; Matt Stout, Sikich; Neil Gates, Photographer; Cara Phillips, Studio 41; Patrick McCliney, Pro Source; and Chuck Cozette and Lauren Dixon, West Suburban Living Magazine.
“Naperville’s so good to us, and we want to give back in a meaningful, tangible, powerful way,” said Dave Martin, owner of Russell Martin Carpet & Rugs and originator of the Bridge Communities makeover concept. “From our initial conversation with Vicky, I knew this was a project we wanted to do.”
“Not one single person turned us down as we looked for resources,” Vicky noted. “Everyone was so generous. It was hard work! It’s only a three room apartment, so they had to move everything around and back again. Not one grumble! They could not have been more lovely to work with. They were excited about what they were doing and excited that this was going to change this family’s life. It was heartwarming.”
From conception to completion, the makeover project took five months, with the “reveal” taking place Monday, April 9 after Megan and her boys returned from a vacation visiting family. The makeover included carpeting installed throughout the three room apartment, all walls painted, kitchen and bathroom tile flooring, kitchen cabinets and countertops, appliances, light fixtures, furniture, window treatments, décor, and a major organizing overhaul of every room. The entire process was documented by Neil Gates Photography and Sikich Marketing and Design Services and is being produced into a video documentary.
“Everyone involved worked so hard to make this dream a reality,” commented Jennie Gates, event manager for Bridge Communities and one of the Bridge staff members dedicated to the project. “But nobody worked harder than Megan,” she said.
Vicky Joseph concurred, adding, “Megan is such a hard worker with the most amazing attitude. I’ve seen her go from the very lowest point in her life to such a positive, constructive place in her life. She’s an amazing mom with great kids. She’s the kind of woman you want to see only good things in her life. Having a lovely home, even though it’s tiny, is really important to her.”
Megan’s reaction upon seeing her completely made-over apartment was one of pure delight. “I can have guests over now!” she exclaimed. “I’ve never felt comfortable inviting people over before. Although it was full of love, I was always embarrassed at the way my house looked.”
Megan has embraced this process of change as more than just a home makeover; she is working diligently on improving several aspects of her life.
“What I see in Megan is the determination to keep on keeping on,” Joseph shared. “She told us she’s lost 40 pounds since this [home makeover] started. So there’s been a physical change. She’s going to continue her education; she works all day at Benedictine University and takes graduate classes at night. She’s so motivated and excited. Megan feels that life is good and the world is kind. The gift of this home makeover is giving her the energy to keep on keeping on. It’s not easy being a single mom, especially on her budget. But she’s working hard and making the most of all life has to offer.”
Bridge Communities is extremely grateful to the generous contributors who participated in the makeover project. We are currently exploring the opportunity to continue the makeover project to help more Bridge client graduate families improve their living spaces; if you are interested in learning more or participating, please email Vicky Joseph.
Watch the video compliments of Sikich. Read the story on pages 26-27 West Suburban Living Magazine here.