College students have plenty to balance: classes, homework, part-time jobs,
friends…and the list goes on. But for two Maple Grove High School (MGHS) grads,
making time to give back to others is a priority. Becca Scott and Erin
Monasterio graduated from MGHS in 2011 and will soon begin their senior years at
the University of Minnesota—Scott studying psychology and leadership and
Monasterio, communications. Along with a close group of friends, these young
women are sharing their talents, and a lot of joy, with kids in need.
Scott and Monasterio help lead Designing Dreams, a student-run organization
that donates interior design makeovers to critically ill children. “Some people
just dream about [giving back], but we should make it happen,” Scott recalls
saying during the late-night study session where Designing Dreams was born.
So, why choose interior design as an avenue for helping kids in need?
“[Design] was something that made us all happy,” Scott says. “We turned our
passion into something we thought could help these kids. They seem like they
could use a little extra something to let them know that they’re not alone.”
A child’s bedroom, where she wakes up in the morning and spends time relaxing
and playing, “is a great spot to inspire her and remind her that she is loved,”
explains Monasterio. “I always liked decorating my own room, so being able to do
that for someone else has been really fun.”
Designing Dreams is still working on its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, which
will help them connect with other organizations and funders. In the meantime,
they’ve received several grants and have had support from a variety of
professors and mentors at the university. “And it wouldn’t be possible to be
where we are without the donations of people from Maple Grove,” Scott says of
her beloved hometown. “We are eternally grateful for that.”
Donations from neighbors and friends helped the “Dream Team” fund their first
project: a bedroom makeover for 13-year-old Jessica Helmbreck of Beaver Dam,
Wisconsin. Jessica has been fighting cancer off and on for the past ten years
and was very excited about her new digs.
The Dream Team connected with the Helmbreck family through a mutual friend,
and met with Jessica to find out what she’d like her new room to look like. “She
said, ‘Pink or purple,’” says Jessica’s mom, Jackie Helmbreck with a chuckle.
“She likes Paris and music and butterflies.”
Jessica also requested that her name be painted on one wall, along with her
favorite quote from William Shakespeare: Though she be but little, she is
fierce. Scott and Monasterio say it describes Jessica perfectly.
“Of all the beautiful, wondrous things in that room, it was that quote and
her name [painted on the wall] that just totally had her heart,” Helmbreck says.
The Dream Team repainted Jessica’s room bright pink, bringing in updated
furniture and accents. “We gave Jessie a new flat-screen TV, and got a new
comforter and blankets. It was really fun to see how it turned out a few days
later,” Monasterio says.
Of course, the connections forged during Designing Dreams’ first project mean
more to those involved than a new coat of paint. “When we started this, we
really were just a group of kids wanting to pay it forward,” Scott says. “We
were hoping to help in the recovery process, and inspire some hope…None of us
really expected how much it would impact us, too.”
“They are just a wonderful group of girls,” Helmbreck says.
To learn more about Designing Dreams, visit facebook.com/UMNDesigningDreams