by Betsy Natter

Getting sick is never fun for anyone. But an illness that is serious or the diagnosis of a life-threatening medical condition can throw a family into a tailspin. Reaching out to ease the challenges of daily medical issues is Designing 4 Hope, a group of volunteers that provides dream room makeovers for critically ill kids.

Many children who are dealing with a critical illness need to spend time isolated in their rooms. Hours spent in bed are often boring and dull. Some may need special equipment or a modified space to accommodate a wheelchair or special bed. Bringing help and hope, Designing 4 Hope creates dream spaces that facilitate rest, recovery, healing and thinking about the future.

Dreams Come to Life

Founded in 2011, the non-profit does several makeovers each year. Organizations, churches, businesses or private individuals supply the necessary funding for each project.  Once a child becomes part of the program, the Design 4 Hope team meets with the family and discusses room ideas, themes, colors and any special needs. For example, in one room, the team installed a special dog bed for the child’s service dog. Volunteers, as well as a core team of workers, then paint, build, sew and accessorize each space based on the planned theme.

Because critical illnesses affect entire families, the design team bolsters the spirits of everyone by extending their services to siblings as well. Brothers and sisters often receive room spruce ups too.  Each family greatly appreciates the positive impact of the makeovers as expressed by some of the testimonials shared on the organization’s website. “The stress of Michael’s illness and treatment has taken a toll on the whole family. It has been hard to relax and actually enjoy anything. Designing 4 Hope brought some fun and happiness to our home. We loved seeing him smile again!”

How to Help

Designing 4 Hope completes as many makeovers as possible each year, based on the amount of funds and volunteers available.  Direct financial contributions are welcomed as are donations of materials or supplies such as furniture, décor or gift cards to stores that sell decorative items. Volunteers are also welcome to help with painting, carpentry, sewing, decorating or even feeding lunch to the work crew. Applications and online giving can be found here.

Finally, the organization receives referrals from anyone within the southeastern Pennsylvania area for a makeover. If you are interested in submitting a child’s name, contact Design 4 Hope through their contact page at and they will forward an application. The Board of Directors reviews referrals quarterly and notifies recipients.  And be sure to check out the makeovers themselves on the D4H Kids projects page.

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