KENT COUNTY, Mich. — Deidre Remtema grew up watching a caregiver in action after her grandmother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
"My grandmother lived with us full time and my mom took care of her," explained Remtema. "My mom was definitely an inspiration. She was an amazing caregiver. And so I just started to think more about her and what she was able to do. And, then also I have a close friend whose daughter had an aneurysm when she was two. And so I kind of watched what they went through and being full time caregivers in their home and the different sacrifices they made."
It inspired the interior designer to develop Room to Renew.
The non-profit selects one caregiver a year, gifting them the opportunity to remodel a space for free.
"I feel like a fresh space, a well designed, beautiful space is rejuvenating and can actually renew the spirit, can ease stress. And so that's kind of where the name came from was this sense of renewal within your own home," Remtema said. "It's difficult for caregivers to take vacation... so we got to thinking, what if we created sort of a vacation in their own home? Someplace to renew that they can go to, that's right there."
With help from vendors that donate their time and materials, Room to Renew has been able to complete two projects so far.
Remtema said the first recipient was a nurse at Saint Mary's.
The second project completed late last year was for Dave Hastings, a caregiver for his wife Lori, and co-founder of the non-profit Lori's Voice, helping kids with special needs.
"I think once it's done, it is pretty emotional, to be honest with you," said Remtema. "Because, you're kind of coming along this journey, you know, with your recipient. You've learned so much about them and what they've gone through, what their journey is and then you get to leave them with just this new space to relax in."
It's a small way to show caregivers how big of an impact they have on their loved ones.
"It can be a lot and I don't think people always realize the toll that it does take just a day to day," Remtema told FOX 17 News. "Unfortunately as things have sort of unfolded, we've all been, you know, been taught that, especially in 2020 that caregivers are just absolutely the heartbeat of our of society and we have so much to learn from them. They won't always accept you know, a thank you, or a card, but whatever we can do to try to reach out and thank them and tell them how much they mean to us, I think can go a long way."
Remtema said board members of Room to Renew will be meeting soon to select a new recipient.
To learn more about Room to Renew, visit the website here.