Everyday Heroes: Community renovates girls’ dorm at OSD

Everyday Heroes: Community renovates girls’ dorm at OSD

SALEM, Ore. – It’s an “Extreme Makeover: Community Edition.” That’s what you could call what happened at the Oregon School for the Deaf.

Last Halloween the school was featured on the hit ABC show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Exposure last October from “Extreme Home Makeover” introduced the school to the nation. The show built a brand new dorm and furnishings, but it was all for the boys.

Now the girls have something to be excited about, not because of a national show, but because of a community.

James Jacquard and his design partner, Nelson Santos, from Millenium Design were just part of a local makeover team that donated time, services, money and talent.

“We coordinated the colors (in the rooms) to make sure that they were transitional and worked with whatever age is brought in here,” said Jacquard.

The dorm is now full of vibrant colors and textures, and the girls are overjoyed.

“I love the polka dots,” said student Marisha Martinez through sign language. “It looks like a party. And I really like the bright colors. Every room is very pretty.”

It’s quite a different feel than before.

“It did have a hazardous look to it, if I can use that terminology,” said Santos. “It was not appealing at all.”

The former conditions were old, dusty and drab. It was not a welcome environment for young girls to learn.

“Right off the bat – walking in the front door – my mind started going (about what could be done),” Jacquard said.
 
An original grant from Madrona Ace Hardware for paint started the momentum. Then came the numerous hands that wanted to help.

“I only had to pick up the phone and say, ‘Do you have some time you can give us?’ Judy Hillman of Madrona Ace Hardware said. “I didn’t have anybody turn me down. The community really got behind this.”

Within a week – during the girls’ spring break – the dorm was transformed.

“This is very cool. This is very awesome. This is great,” said Martinez.

“We brought in the furniture and we painted all the rooms and we did some decorative touches on the walls as well to basically make the place look a little younger, a little more updated and more comfortable for all the kids that were involved in the project,” said Santos. “That was our goal and I think we did it.”

Upgrades also included mirrors to help the kids communicate.

“The mirrors are easy to see each other, to communicate,” said student Angela Cousyn through sign language. “Because we don’t hear, we like to see things really clearly and so we can look to see who’s talking to each other through the mirror.”

Also, there are now flashing alarms attached to the doors so the girls know if someone is knocking on their door.

“When we came in, we were like ‘We are not Extreme Makeover, we are Community Makeover,’” said Hillman. “I think when you can come in and bring up the level of a building with paint and some accessories and furniture (you can increase livability).”

It’s a community full of everyday heroes making an extreme difference in the lives of young girls.

“When you give your time and you don’t ask for anything back, that’s an act of heroism in my mind,” Hillman said.

Click here to see all who volunteered in the renovation.