Designing Interiors Volunteer At your Service ( D.I.V.A.S. )
In partnership with Houston Furniture Bank, the DIVAS serve families and individuals who are affected by poverty, physical and mental health concerns, domestic violence, and natural disasters. Many of these families have lost all of their personal belongings and have nothing but a roof over their heads. The families are working with social service agencies to improve their life circumstances. For the families we serve, a DIVAS home makeover is a life-changing step in a transition toward stability.
DIVAS Projects happen every one to two months with the help of many volunteers. Installation Day happens on a Saturday and takes between 4-8 hours to complete, depending on the size of the home.
Project Coordinator- Oversees the completion of the project and manages the project team.
Room Coordinator- Decorates one room of the home, using donated furniture from Houston Furniture Bank.
Room Helper- Assists Room Coordinators complete their rooms on Installation Day.
The clients/families we serve are striving to recover form various life situations. They are all disadvantaged but diligently working with Social Agencies to improve their circumstances. Based on referrals from their Case Managers, we select those we consider most deserving of ‘a hand up not a hand out’. For various reasons many have lost everything in the way of personal belongings. Moving into new housing is a huge step up but sleeping or sitting on the floor is disheartening. Enter the DIVAS, bringing a bed, a sofa, bedding, storage, decor, etc. All the things that make an empty house a home.
In The Beginning
In 2003, Houstonians Ann Cummins and Janet Ely completed a leadership program which issued a challenge to all its graduates: go out into your community and do something to improve the lives of other people. Dream big. Be unreasonable. As volunteers at a local housing project for battered women, they had longed to do more for the residents at the center, but didn’t know what they could offer. Searching for inspiration, they considered their own talents and interests. Their hobby of refurbishing household castoffs from garage and estate sales hardly seemed useful. Yet, the tiny duplexes which provided housing at the center were drab and haphazardly furnished.
Cummins and Ely recruited some friends who shard their enthusiasm for turning trash into treasure and paired them with residents at the shelter. The volunteers vaulted into action, scouting thrift stores and yard sales, sprucing up shabby furnishings and knocking on doors to raise money. When the weekend for makeovers arrived, Cummins, Ely, and friends came early with husbands, boyfriends, relatives, and neighbors to turn their visions into reality. With extraordinary ingenuity and lively team spirit, the volunteers created award worthy makeovers.
The benefits for these families extended beyond that exciting weekend. Many were inspired to paint bedrooms, tidy their small yards, and keep their homes cleaner. One resident left a note of gratitude for the volunteers who decorated her small house. She spoke little English, so her young daughter translated the message and printed it carefully inside a card: “thank you so much for making my house look so beautiful I really do appreciate it.”
It was after that weekend the D.I.V.A.S. were officially born. Several months after that first miracle-making weekend, the divas repeated their efforts, decorating a total of 23 living spaces at the shelter. Then in 2004 the divas branched out and joined forces with the Houston Furniture Bank to provide free decorating services to more than 85 non-profit assistance agencies throughout the city.
Client families may be a family of one or 4-5 members in “homes” ranging from one to 3 bedooms. The DIVAS, also, provide makeover services to group facilities : residential shelters for female veterans and home less young people, substance abuse recovery facilities, shelters for women and children. We complete 8 – 10 projects yearly. The opportunity is there to serve more families in need. Our ability to increase this number depends on recruiting new DIVAS.
We select specific donated items for the DIVAS Boutique. These items will be restored/recycled or used ‘as is’ for the purpose of fund raising sales events. All proceeds from these events are used to supplement our project budgets when donated items are not available. We recently participated in a Junk Hippy event in July. Look for our announcement on Facebook regarding the February event.
We make it simple to be a part of our mission; “Have a big heart, a passion for giving and a bit of decorating craftiness.” We have roles for all types of people and any level of involvement is welcome! Retirees, working professionals, those with an interior design background and those who are simply looking for a fun and creative outlet to give back to the community are welcome to join the DIVAS!
We welcome you to become a part of this unique, caring organization by submitting your contact information on the form below. The DIVAS will follow up with you to get you on board.
Connect with the DIVAS
Please include name, phone number, and your why you are interested in joining the D.I.V.A.S.
Donor Recognition – These donors generously supplement our project needs.
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