Get your spook on for Special Spaces

Beth KinnaneOur Town Neighbors

A fun-filled fundraiser for a local non-profit makes its return on Halloween after a five-year hiatus. “Beds, Brews & Boos” to benefit Special Spaces Knoxville will be held Sunday, Oct. 31, at World’s Fair Park from 1-6 p.m. The highlight of the afternoon is a bed race featuring local teams. Think of it as “The Munsters” meet “Bedknobs and Broomsticks.”

Michelle Eimers is the director of finance and operations for the national office here in Knoxville. Eimers said the singular purpose of Special Spaces is to “create dream bedroom makeovers for children with cancer. A good environment is so important to healing.”

Michelle Eimers

Proceeds from the upcoming event will help finance those make-overs, which Eimers said usually run from $4,000 – $6,000. “Beds, Brews & Boos” was put on hold in 2016 as the organization was going through some restructuring. And while the Covid-19 pandemic put its return on hold last year, it provided time for further operational refinement.

“Every dark cloud has a silver lining. We took that time off (March 2020 – June 2021) from doing in-person builds to revamp our systems and protocols. We all also got REALLY good at ZOOM,” Eimers said with a laugh.

The time away from in-person service also led to a creative solution for continuing to help these children in need. Thinking outside the box created “Bedroom in a Box,” where families can have the materials to create the new room space delivered to assemble themselves.

“We did a few pilot tests before fully putting it online,” Eimers said. “For one thing, the projects created nice family bonding time. We received very positive responses from families and our sponsors.”

Though Special Spaces re-turned to in-person builds in June, the “box” program will remain in place.

“It’s great to have both options,” Eimers said. “The reality is, Covid is still lingering out there, and for some patients it’s too much to risk exposure for these children outside their bubble.”

But, she explained, many families still want the “full experience. We start with a ZOOM call for the initial meeting. When we meet in person, we are fully masked at all times, even outside, with these families. We are still following pretty strict safety protocols.”

Eimers explained that there are three key elements that go into a room build. The first is the child’s desires, a Disney or Star Wars themed room, for example. The second is the needs of the family, be it household organization, clothes, food or supplies. The third is making the space medically sound for the child’s treatment and recovery time in the home. For example, carpeting, as a rule, is a goner and replaced with wood laminate flooring. Other examples would be making sure there are no “hard corners” in a room, creating child-proof medicine cabinets or insuring proper air filtration and sanitation.

That last category is the one that can hold the greatest expense, and the things that are the most time-consuming, Eimers said. “Form has to follow function with this.”

While “Beds, Brews & Boos” has plenty of food and beer trucks lined up, Eimers said they use a few more teams in the bed race. There is no entrance fee, but there will be plenty of opportunities for those who can to make a donation while there. Eimers also encouraged all participants to dress up for Halloween.

Special Spaces was the brainchild of retired founder/executive director Jennifer Swain. Her brother, Christopher Swain, is now the executive director. Founded in Knoxville, there are now 14 chapters in 12 states. The organization can always use volunteers, and can take monetary donations on its website. Construction professionals (electricians, dry-wall and floor installation specialists, etc.) can also donate their skills to a build.

To learn more about Special Spaces, volunteer or make a donation go here.

Beth Kinnane is the community news editor for KnoxTNToday.comS

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