“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! I can’t believe this is happening! Everything looks AMAZING! A new crib for the baby, bunk beds for the girls, my very own chest of drawers! Re-New has done SO much for my family. It’s simply overwhelming!”
This is a typical reaction from a Weaver Domestic Violence Center client who has moved out of our emergency shelter and into her “re-newed” home.
For the past 13 years, the volunteer angels of Re-New at the YWCA have provided survivors and their children with a fresh start at a new life. They design, furnish, and decorate the new homes of the women and children who fled their violent situation and sought safety and shelter with the YWCA. Many of the victims come to Weaver with just the clothes on their backs and a few personal items. A sofa, bunk bed for the kids, and a dining room set are the things of dreams. But Re-New makes these dreams come true.
Re-New was founded in 2010 by Nashville interior designer Julie Davis and her good friend Cheryl Hays. Cheryl manages all of the Re-New logistics for the all-volunteer program – from donation pick-ups and warehouse management to Re-New day move-ins. In recent years, Julie has stepped away from the designing duties and passed this responsibility to fellow designer and friend Lynn Grubbs, who began volunteering with Re-New in 2018.
“It’s a wonderful way to use my talents to help other people,” says Lynn, CEO of Red Leaf Interiors and lead designer for Re-New. “It’s wonderful to hear how the families respond to what our volunteers have done. When I learn that they say things like ‘It’s as if you read my mind’ I have to smile, because of course we haven’t. But it’s so gratifying to know they love their new home.”
Lynn’s favorite room to design (and most of the angels’ room to decorate) is the children’s bedroom. From a pretty pink princess theme to marvelous Marvel superheroes, knowing that a little girl or boy has a fresh start at a happy, healthy, violence-free life means the world to all these tireless and creative volunteers.
“There’s a comfort in things feeling complete,” says Lynn. “For the woman leaving shelter, Re-New removes that haphazard feeling. She doesn’t have to search for things or spend money on fixing up her new home. This sets them up to thrive.”
On June 15, 2023, the Re-New angels put the finishing touches on their 247th home. And every home is left with a crockpot of chili. Often, that’s the main item a survivor will notice in the midst of a beautiful, fully furnished and decorated home. Re-New is a labor of love and a mission that provides so much – not only to the survivor and her children – but to the volunteers and donors to this program, many of whom are Lynn’s clients and friends of the angels.
“Re-New is an amazing outlet for so many,” says Lynn. “It is just so rewarding to change someone’s life. Everyone gets something out of this.”
If you would like more information about making a donation (monetary, new or gently used furniture or household items) to Re-New or to inquire about volunteering, please email Cheryl Hays here.