An Iowa woman working in public relations found a passion for redecorated bedrooms for sick kids. Her first project picked up the broken pieces of a dream for an elementary school teacher who experienced a major car accident that left her 6-year-old daughter in a body cast and herself to deal with months of recovery. Each of the children got a new bedroom and Project Dream Space was born.
The full story from the Des Moines Register is copied below because the story is no longer on the internet. Here it is:
For six years, Nancy Berg of Waukee couldn’t get the idea out of her head.
In 2002, she read about an Ohio-based nonprofit that redecorated bedrooms for sick kids. Since then, the mother of three kept revisiting the concept, believing a similar project was her purpose in life.
A tragic accident finally put her dream into action.
Berg initially contacted the Ohio group after reading about its work, but discovered starting a nonprofit is cumbersome. She needed a business plan and a foundation, and the Ohio nonprofit wanted a share of her proceeds.
Still, she held the idea.
“I’d bring it up every two or three months to somebody,” said Berg, who works in public relations. She wanted to help, not only children with illnesses but also those who had been injured in an accident or who were dealing with disabilities.
“I just have a passion to do something better and do something for the community where I live, and I’m good at organizing and love decorating and painting,” she said.
“Kids are my passion and going over the top for their bedrooms is my little pet project.”
Finally, her friend, Amy Brown, decided to help. She said the words that kicked Berg into action: “Let’s find a project.”
Berg said she thought about a recent e-mail she’d received about a teacher who had been in a car accident. Berg realized she already knew the family who might benefit.
They decided to call their new organization Project Dream Space.
Before April 11, 2007, the Julseth family of Earlham had plans to move to a different house, a home where each of the children could have a bedroom.
A car accident changed that.
Jacy, then 6, was in the hospital for nearly a month afterward, healing in a full-body cast. Robin, his mom, a Waukee elementary school teacher, was in the hospital for more than a month.
“Jacy lacerated his intestines, groin, liver, and broke his back and had multiple fractures,” Robin said. “I had multiple fractures to my hip. I was trapped under the dashboard. … I broke my ankle and heel. … They had trouble getting my foot out. And I have tons of nerve damage.”
Suddenly, the family had new plans to follow: a long schedule of surgeries.
They had a pile of hospital bills and Robin was confined to a wheelchair. A new house was nowhere on the agenda. Instead, she and her son were literally stuck in their old house. He wasn’t allowed to go outside and her injuries kept her in the chair.
“Just getting outside and enjoying the sunlight was not something we could do,” she said.
Berg arranged to meet the Julseths in May.
“Amy and I walked through the door and Jacy said, ‘Are you here to paint my room?’ ” Berg said.
Berg had hopes for an even bigger improvement. She had mentioned the project to a builder, D.J. Schad of Destination Homes. Their sons played on the same soccer team.
“I approached (Schad) and I said, ‘I have three plans. Plan one is to build a bedroom.’ And the builder said, ‘Done,’ ” she said.
Berg’s to-do list grew longer from there.
They repainted the house, resided the exterior, added landscaping, replaced the windows and turned the porch into an entryway and closet.
“Jacy loves science and space, so they gave him his own little laboratory with a sink and a fridge where he can do experiments,” Robin said. Project Dream Space decorated the room with a picture of Einstein and his famous discovery, “E=mc.”
His sister, Addison, received a room makeover, too. The team painted her room with a woodland princess scene.
While the accident disrupted life for months, Robin said the family has been blessed, not only with the makeover but also with support from friends and family who helped keep the household in order while Robin was recovering.
Living in the improved space has eased the stress of adjusting to the accident.
“It’s wonderful,” Robin said. “Because of the accident, it takes a couple of years to settle the insurance.
You have to wait until the surgeries are done until you get a settlement. So there would be no way we could move…. And (paying for) all my equipment, the wheelchair, ramps, bathroom shower chair.
“We were thinking, ‘this is how it will be for two years, and it’ll be tight.'”
Instead, their old home feels almost like a new one.
“It’s wonderful,” Robin said. “It was a load off our heads. It looks like a brand new house on the inside.
“We’re at home now.”
Which is more than Berg had hoped to achieve with her first project. She’s now fundraising and seeking kids to help with Project Dream Space. She is also seeking people to form a board of directors for the organization and leadership team.
She hopes to eventually expand the organization to tackle projects throughout central Iowa.
“I want a stash of funds for the accidents and sudden situations that come up, so we’re able to help a child immediately,” she said. “I also want to have some funds on hand where we can help children that are new to a wheelchair or have a long-term illness.”
EDITOR’S UPDATE (8/2014) This project may be inactive because no further info is available since 2008.
Thanks to Linda P. of Clive, Iowa for submitting the inspiring link!