Helping From Home: Miss Pink Organization Asks For Cards

It’s the reason why places like Hallmark make so much money: a simple card is a quick and easy way to say everything from I love you, to happy birthday, or even just a ‘Hey, I’m thinking of you.’ The thing we forget from time to time as we rush between soccer practices and parties or back and forth to the grocery store for toilet paper is that ultimately, it’s the thought that counts. Which is why I’m encouraging you to grab whatever you have on hand regardless of if that is a stack of blank cards, construction paper and markers, the whole family or a friend over FaceTime to get started on making someone’s day just a little bit brighter.

In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, we all know that people around the world are struggling in many different ways. At the Miss Pink Organization, they understand the everyday struggle of those who have had or are currently battling cancer to both avoid the virus at all costs to protect their weakened immune systems while still receiving chemotherapy treatments. “Right now, anybody going to a hospital to have chemotherapy or anything relating to fighting cancer- you’re going in by yourself. Most of the time that’s a 5, 6, 7, 8 hour day hooked up to a machine. At this point, I don’t even know if they’re letting them walk around in the hospital. They’re just there with nobody to hold their hand, nobody to talk to,” says Fabianna Marie, Director of Pink Warrior Relations & Miss Pink 2017 who is a survivor herself. What originally started as an idea to set up a team to FaceTime the warriors blossomed into a major mission: collecting handwritten cards from as many people as possible to help bring a smile to those going through treatment. Fabianna told me about one of the warriors she recently spoke to, and why she believes these cards will make such a big impact. “She’s 28 years old with a one year old child. When she was going for her infusion she was all alone. For her, me FaceTiming helped- it just made the difference between sitting there and feeling so bad for yourself hooked up to a machine where you know you’re going to be sick afterwards and then let’s put the pandemic on top of it all.”

The pandemic has added a never-before-seen level of stress for many of the warriors Fabianna has gotten to know through the Miss Pink organization, including herself. “When someone is immunocompromised, it changes everything,” she explains. “You don’t look immunocompromised on the outside, so nobody understands that I’m still going through it if I go outside the house. It’s a huge deal to stay home and be proactive with your own health when lot of people aren’t worried that .” Her own family has had some very difficult decisions to make in recent weeks. “My husband has been a Boston foreman on a construction site, and was the only one going outside the house. His major concern was, nobody else could bring (the virus) into our home other than him. So for him, it was the push and pull of: Do I go to my job and make money for my family, or do I stay home and take that worry off our plate? Until the government put that ban into place, he had planned to tell his boss that he would prefer to be laid off. He was scared,” she admits. Yet through this struggle, Fabianna is well aware that she is far from alone. “Anybody that’s going through that, we’re all scared. There is no other way to put it because we don’t know about tomorrow. We don’t know where this is going at this point.”

HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS: There IS something you can do about it! Just making a card with sweet notes of encouragement can bring a moment of peace to those who need it most. It’s a simple action that can not only help you pass the time during your quarantine (BIG SHOUT OUT TO YOU if you are staying home to protect others!!!!) but also serve as a fun activity to do with the kids, your significant other, or your best friends over video chat. If you have a bit extra to spare, you can even go the extra mile of chipping in a gas or grocery card for your warriors to help them make it through this time financially as well.

To see mine, check out the video I made below! (Please be kind as I test out a new editing tool this week working solely from my smartphone.):

More about The Miss Pink Organization: Our mission is to relieve stress of the financial burden that can occur during cancer treatment. This can be due to leave of absence from work, lost income or fixed income. We offer support through meals, childcare, cleaning services, gas and grocery cards, and other special circumstances that can interrupt the effectiveness of treatment on a case by case basis. 

#FreshLookFriday: Entryway Upgrade

#FreshLookFriday: Entryway Upgrade

There are two reasons for decorating: making a happy home, and a good impression on your guests. For each of these reasons, the first thing one sees when they walk in makes a bold statement about your home life. Is it family in the kitchen filling the home with delicious smells, ready for a warm embrace? Is it a cozy living room that invites all who enter to take a load off and relax? Maybe it’s an impressive staircase that makes for a bold, beautiful statement!

For our new home, it was a unique combination of a convenient coat closet and right-there stairs that lead to a beautiful landing. The landing, boasting a french door and a window that offers a sneak-peak into our beautiful sunroom, had SO. MUCH. ROOM! It certainly wasn’t what we expected for an entryway, but I instantly saw its potential to be transformed into a charming, welcoming entryway with plenty of room for us to kick our shoes off and a deep breath at the end of the day. There was just one problem-the COLOR! To me, it felt…vanilla. This room had SO much more potential than vanilla! So, hubby and I got to work painting in the beautiful shade of “Gray Owl” by Behr.

Have you ever painted with your significant other? Let me tell you…unless you like to paint, it can be a CHALLENGE! I learned very, very quickly that my husband is NOT a fan of painting. This, for me, was kind of a letdown as I was super excited about the project, but lucky for me he’s a good sport and seeing how happy it made me he stuck it through. We’re both so glad he did-now, the room looks ten times better! On first application, if you’ve never used this particular shade before, it can appear almost white in its first coat. Trust me, keep going..it’s not! Since we had such a light base to begin with, we wound up only needing that one coat to bring out the light grey I fell for in that hardware store.

Once the walls were ready and the paint had dried came my favorite part: decorating! We chose a Boston theme since we’re close to the city, and centered the room around one of my favorite canvases of the Boston waterfront. Underneath it, I placed a cozy chair with an accent pillow and a light grey & white small quatrefoil rug that matched the walls so well. For the window, I chose to go with curtains that were a darker grey but had a light white overlay to them, and silver rods that complimented the grey, white and hints-of-black color scheme. On the wall, I also placed a black whiteboard calendar so that as my husband and I are coming and going we can take a quick peek to make sure we’re keeping up with each other’s schedules and important family birthdays, holiday weekends, all that jazz. Underneath it, we do plan to add a shoe rack/side table that will make for a nice accent…I just haven’t found “the one” yet!

Unpacking that statement, not quite finding the one yet, it’s something that I personally feel is SO important. I know, when you’re redoing a room, you want it all done NOW, right?! Just like last week’s “rule of three” color scheme tip, I’m offering you a new one today: BE. PATIENT. I know, it’s hard and quite honestly one of my least favorite things to do. Especially when I’m blogging about this room, I want it to be fully completed, but here’s the thing: you can’t rush perfection. Sure, I could have settled for the first rack I saw on Amazon (which by the way, DOES have an amazing selection!), but I have a vision. I’m not letting my vision for this room, which will also include a chandelier as soon as we can safely bring in an electrician to hang it’s safe to do so and the virus has passed, be compromised by ANYTHING. Besides, my goal for today was to teach you two things:

  1. A coat of paint can work WONDERS
  2. Using patience is KEY to following the rule of three colors until you feel like it’s exactly what you want.

We all by now have heard Marie Kondo’s rule, if it doesn’t make you happy, don’t bring it in. This echoes a theory by William Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” It’s one of the quotes that first got me interested in interior decorating & design, and was a huge inspiration for me while I worked for a corporate home decor company in Boston. Yes, this means you’re going to have to look in many different places until you find all the right accents. The rug, chair and pillows were from Wayfair, but the picture the room was centered around came from T.J. Maxx, my beautiful whiteboard calendar from Homegoods, and the frame the bottom photo is on from Christmas Tree. It’s taken me YEARS of sourcing for these all to fit together in this way, in the right room, now- and I had many other old things I considered using but didn’t, as well as adding new things. The point is, it takes time and searching for a room to really look like a magazine. “I couldn’t find what I wanted so I just bought this even though it doesn’t match” is a frame of mind that can distract from the entire atmosphere of the room, without even meaning to. Instead, think outside the box: can you paint/spray paint something the right color to match? Can you ask your friends for stores or websites you maybe haven’t tried yet? If you REALLY love something that doesn’t fit, are you willing to change the room around to fit that specific piece? These are all questions that it’s okay to ask, and are common ones you should be asking in every room of your home you touch.

Of course, there are certain things you can’t change sometimes. We weren’t able to change the floors & trim since we’re just renting and were only approved for paint. Ideally, I’d like new white trim, new white doors, the works! Sometimes, you won’t be able to change certain aspects of a home especially while renting like appliances, countertops, floors, and most times even the walls. It’s your ability to work within your limits and stick to your goal that matters, and if you ever need some advice on how to do that in a challenge room, don’t hesitate to email me and I’ll be glad to give you the best guidance I can: emmalyn@emmalynreid.com 🙂

Their Turn To Give: Assabet Valley Technical High School Donates Unused Supplies To Healthcare Professionals

A table of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) at Assabet Valley is ready to be donated to local healthcare facilities.

MARLBOROUGH- With schools officially closed until at the earilest April 7th, Assabet Valley Technical High School Principal Mark Hollick found something while he was walking the empty halls of his school: an abundance of unused, brand new personal protective resources in a time where his community-like many others- is in need. “Everybody is calling for gloves, face shields, N-95 masks, so we just did a basic inventory of what we have. We’re out of school for at least three weeks, and have a number of programs including Health Technology and a Licensed Practical Nursing programs. In that, obviously, they have lessons and do all kinds of practical applications and scenarios where they have to wear this protective equipment. So we knew that we had some equipment in the building, and even in other areas that I didn’t even think about but made sense: Auto Collision, Auto Technology, and in Culinary Arts for rubber gloves.”   

​​Jumping into action, Hollick sent a message to his staff to see how they could help get their resources out to the local community. “I put out a message to all our staff members-we’ve had staff working from home and as our maintenance team has been cleaning the building room by room- so under their direction, I’ve been going in with a cart and collecting all of the supplies we can donate.” Thanks to their help, Hollick was able to locate enough resources to make sizable donations to both Coleman House in Northborough and Marlborough Hospital. “At the end of this, we anticipate that we will have donated 12,000 protective gloves, 95 of the N-95 masks, 120 pairs of eye protection, 200 medical gowns, and 200 other face masks,” says Hollick. “We know these facilities have been asking for them so it’s really just getting to the needs of all the different local partnerships we have in our local community.” 

Boxes of supplies en route from Assabet Valley Tech to Coleman House in Northborough.


Assabet Valley’s 20-year relationship with The Coleman House, an elder care facility in Northborough where students have been doing clinical hours, was the first to receive a major donation. “When Kathy Reagan (of Assabet Valley) made that donation, what she described to me was Patrick (of Coleman House) was almost in tears because of the generosity,” says Hollick. “They’ve done so much for us, and this is a time where we can give back a little bit.”

On Wednesday morning, the high school plans to donate a second round of supplies to Marlborough Hospital. “It’s the overall Assabet spirit to rise to the occasion when the community calls out for something. We always try to the best of our ability to  be a good neighbor, and a good partner in the community.”

#FreshLookFriday: Pet Parent's Dream Corner

#FreshLookFriday: Pet Parent's Dream Corner

If you’re a pet parent, you probably say the following things all the time:

“Where’s the leash?”

“Did you give her the heart worm prevention?”

“I can’t find the poop bags!”

“Where did your treat box go?”

**Trips over squeaky ball and wakes up entire household.**

I’ve wanted to be a dog mom for YEARS, and finally having my very own fur-baby has been a true dream come true! My shepherd-collie-beagle rescue is seriously a girl’s best friend and I love every big stretch and yawn, and the way she stomps her paw with attitude or grabs my arm with her paw for pets. Let’s be honest though: in order to keep the cuteness in check and not in chaos, we need to be ORGANIZED as pet parents. If you could save those five minutes every day chasing down the treats for the treat ball or the water additive to keep that bad breath at bay, you would want to, right? That was my EXACT motivation behind her new puppy corner!

It all started when I noticed an old kitchen rack in the back of my husband’s car that he intended to get rid of before I noticed (God bless him- he knew it didn’t match our kitchen “theme”!). To his surprise, I yelled out, “NO! Don’t get rid of it. Can you pick up some white paint on your way home?” He looked at me as if I was crazy and he had NO idea where my little blonde head was going with this, but I saw the potential in that kitchen rack to come back to life.

The first step was to bust out an old shirt & sweatpants, a paintbrush & can of white paint, lie down an old blanket, and get to work painting every inch of that cart being careful not to miss a spot. Once it had dried, I dragged it into my kitchen and screwed in four hook screws: three placed about an inch and a half apart on one side, and one solo screw on the opposite side. This was for her leash, collar, harness, and on the opposite side her puppy towel for the days when she comes prancing in with those adorable but muddy paws.

Next, it was time to start stocking! In the drawer went all of her poop bags, heart worm & flea prevention medication, bandanas, adoption paperwork etc. ANYTHING having to do with Shandy goes in the drawer or on the rack of this cart. Above the table, I hung a calendar with pictures of Shandy (you can order these for your on pet on Shutterfly) so we can keep track of when she needs her heart worm prevention, flea prevention, etc. On top of the table, I placed her spare set of pink food bowls, her pink treat canister, and grey food bin with a little pink & grey scooper inside that measured out each cup. On the shelves, all of her treats (she loves Bocce’s Bakery), paw balm, toothbrush, and her pink go-bag for when she travels with us holds all of her sleepover essentials. Yep, all things Shandy are in this corner!

Next to her table, I put her food bowls with a mat underneath (she’s a water drooler) and a larger food bin that can fit a backup bag of food so we don’t run low. I was able to find all of these things between TJ Maxx & Homegoods. Bowls were $6.99 each, mat was $5.99 and her food bin was $16.99. In the corner, I placed a grey & white bin that I also found at Homegoods for $12 to hold all of her toys.

Let’s talk about why I specifically mentioned the pink & grey accent colors here: During my time working with interior designers at my former position at a homewares company, they instilled in me the best rule of thumb in decorating I’ve ever heard: pick two to three colors in every design. Since I LOVE pink- most of Shandy’s leashes and bowls are pink- and our kitchen is mostly white, I knew I was working with those two colors for sure. Grey has been a good neutral (and crazy popular) color lately, so I decided to pop that in as well so my hubby wasn’t completely overwhelmed with my feminine taste. This is a tip I highly recommend that all of you use in any room you want to decorate moving forward, and it’s one that you’ll see repeated in my theme in my future posts to come, as well 🙂

Have questions about creating your own pet parent’s corner? Email me at emmalyn@emmalynreid.com and I’ll answer them!

Caring Amidst The Chaos: Daddy Jones’ Bar Delivers Meals To Those In Need

SOMERVILLE-On Friday afternoon as concerns of the Coronavirus outbreak plunged the nation into a global pandemic, Dimitra Tsourianis of Daddy Jones’ Bar in Somerville knew she had to make an incredibly difficult decision. “I looked at my staff and I said, ‘Guys, I don’t see how we should be open when we’re supposed to be practicing social distancing.’ I just don’t feel right asking anybody to work,” Dimitra explained. While the formal closing of all bars and restaurants had yet to happen, she truly knew it was the right thing to do-and began encouraging her staff to seek unemployment as she was able to keep on only two workers on to help run a takeout window.

Dimitra Tsourianis

As Dimitra encouraged her employees to stay home and closed her own restaurant to protect others, the mother to two young children and daughter to elderly parents noticed not only an immediate need in her local community. “If someone loses their job for three weeks-or even longer-there will be a trickle down effect and we don’t know how long that will last,” she explained, taking notice as cafeterias closed to students and concerns rose for the elderly in leaving their homes to get to the grocery store. That’s when she knew it was time to put her remaining staff to work in a different way. “People are going to need food, and we can provide food. Let’s connect the two and bring food to those otherwise wouldn’t have it.”

Meals prepared at Daddy Jones Bar. Photo courtesy Dimitra Tsourianis

Dimitra immediately started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to purchase cover the labor, food and containers for dinners to be donated to families in need via a unique delivery system that operates without any immediate contact. “The hard part was, how can I help others but not be near them? It’s a new way of thinking,” she explains, which is a struggle all too real to many. The best way she found was through an app many of us use every day: Instagram. “If someone sends us a message on our Instagram DM’s, we add them to a list. We prepare all the meals for the household, the driver will drop the bag off with an alcohol wipe outside their door and we message them back on Instagram when it’s outside,” she explains of the system that has helped make over 45 meals for others. From graduate students to parents of young children, donations of just over $10,000 have poured in to help Dimitra and her staff. On top of that, many other healthy people have stepped up to offering to help deliver food should they receive more orders than they can both make and deliver with such a short staff.

Photo courtesy Dimitra Tsourianis

While it’s certainly a new era that Dimitra believes has changed many in the restaurant industry for life, she is committed to doing everything she can to help others during this time of crisis, offering 50% off all takeout orders for anyone in the restaurant industry or free delivered meals if they are quarantined. “As a parent, I think, what do people need? How can we be stronger through this? It all comes back to needing a sense of community,” she says. “I’ve been open for 8 years in November, and I’ve had that love for all of these years. All I can do now is give it back.”

If you or someone you love is in need of food, they can sign up for the meal list by reaching out to @daddyjonesbar on Instagram:

If you are able to help, please consider donating to Dimitra’s cause on GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/feed-students-through-somerville-restaurants

Making A Splash: Special Olympics MA Hosts Polar Plunge Challenge At Exhibit A Brewery

FRAMINGHAM- “Ladies first,” my oh-so-gentlemanly husband said with a smile as we stepped up to the edge of the pool at Exhibit A Brewery in Framingham. A frigid 46 degrees outside, there are very few reasons why I might be about to jump into a pool filled with cold water. Yet watching so many others go before me and knowing the reason why we were all there, I had put on my (pink) big girl leggings prepared to make a splash…literally!

Raising one hand and holding my nose, I jumped in knowing the funds that each team raised at the day’s Polar Plunge Challenge were going to benefit the Special Olympics of Massachusetts. It’s a cause that is close to the heart for Kelsey Roth, General Manager of Exhibit A Brewing in Framingham, who explained how he began volunteering with the organization just last year at their summer games and was inspired to bring the Polar Plunge Challenge to his own backyard. “I was just blown away by what they do to help people with intellectual disabilities and create such a great environment for them. So often, people who have intellectual disabilities are always focused on the things they CAN’T do. But for the time that they’re out there doing these activities, it’s really focused on what they CAN do that day and for those people, it’s a life changing moment.”

Thanks to the combined efforts Kelsey, Exhibit A’s Head Brewer Matt Steinberg and just over 50 fellow plungers, Fundraising and Events Coordinator for the Special Olympics Meghan O’Neil reported $8,500 was raised. “This goes towards the venues, athletes’ uniforms, equipment, lift tickets for skiers, things like that,” she explained. “This helps them focus on competing and having fun and meeting new people, so we’re really excited for the support that comes from the community.”

Also contributing to the plunge in a more unique way was a company called The Spa Wagon, a mobile sauna with an inside temperature of 190 degrees. As someone who is notoriously known for always being cold (I will always be #teamsummer), this caught my attention INSTANTLY and I just had to learn more about the fact that yes, you can actually have your own personal sauna brought virtually anywhere a truck & trailer could fit. “Originally, we’re from the Ukraine and it’s part of our culture since we were kids to go to saunas and try to get some quality heat. That’s one of the things that we were missing here, so we try to bring that culture here and give it to the public,” says Klim Gotovkin, who donated part of the day’s proceeds directly to Special Olympics MA. Of course, I had to go inside myself and check it out-and it did not disappoint! With steam billowing out each time you opened the door, it was a perfect way for those dressed for summer to get some much-needed warmth after the chilly dip.

Outside, the beer garden featured Exhibit A crowd favorites like the Cat’s Meow, Demo Tapes, and Goody Two Shoes. Inside, more craft options were on tap to pair with food from local restaurants to keep plungers warm (like the delicious Shepherd’s Pie made by Red Heat Tavern that I may or may not have had several mini-cups of. You know, because they’re mini, so no calories, right?!). The brewery’s presentation didn’t disappoint: those who participated in the challenge were invited to dine under perfectly hung string lights at a buffet set up alongside the giant tanks and canning line to make for a unique dining experience. Bummed you missed out? Not to worry-Exhibit A is known for hosting several shindigs throughout the year in the same setting, so just keep an eye on their website for the next upcoming event.

Want to see for yourself how much fun you can have giving back at their next event? Check out my vlog post below-don’t forget to hit SUBSCRIBE while you’re there! 🙂 To join in the next plunge, sign up for the next Special Olympics MA Polar Plunge on their website at: https://www.specialolympicsma.org/events/fundraising-events/polar-plunge/

Life’s A Beach

FALMOUTH- Growing up on Cape Cod, I’ve certainly been no stranger to Dino’s Sports Bar in Mashpee. Known for their delicious pizza, great music and lively atmosphere (including an AWESOME patio in the summertime), it came to me as no surprise when Mary Ann Singersen, President of the ALS Family Charitable Foundation, told me how Dino himself made sure they had the perfect location for their “Life’s A Beach” fundraiser.

“I came up with this years ago, I actually wanted to do a winter beach fundraiser ON the beach,” she explained of how her Caribbean-themed vision came to be. “But the expense of that was too much.” With the weather being 38 degrees the night of the annual bash, that would have certainly been while beautiful, a bit chilly. Yet inside Dino’s Sports Bar that Saturday night in Mashpee, nothing could have felt more like summer. Tropical drinks, leis nearly everywhere, straw “cabana” style tables, and a summer bbq-style buffet line inspired nearly every guest in the room to dress appropriately. The dance floor was truly a sea of Hawaiian shirts, sunglasses, and Lilly Pulitzer dresses as partygoers danced the night away to the sound of The Baha Brothers. It’s events like these that help the ALS Family Foundation continue their work of supporting local families as they fight their battle with ALS. “We’ve been doing this for 19 years, and helping families all along the way,” says Mary Ann. “We do things like we have a vacation fund, so we send families what often times is their last vacation together,” she explains, including how for one patient, the fund was flexible enough with each individual family’s needs to be used for a daughter to fly to visit her father who is currently battling with ALS since he is not able to travel to see her.

Focusing on the specific needs of the entire family is something that holds the utmost importance to Mary Ann. “We have a scholarship fund so we help kids of ALS families go off to college, we have a children’s program where we send out gift cards for Christmas time and for back to school shopping.” Why focus on the children, you might ask? “This is a very, very expensive disease. So the kids, many times, their needs tend to fall through the cracks a bit. We pay for summer camps, we pay for dance camps..we even have a respite program that gives the caregivers a chance to breathe,” explaining that at times the strain of ALS can be similarly hard on the caregiver as it can be for the patient. With the “Getaway For A Day” program, the foundation brings in a respite worker for a day so a caregiver can go to the spa for the day-all expenses paid.

I spoke with one local family, the Lawrences, who now attend every event they can to give back to the very foundation that once helped them in their great time of need. “The money doesn’t just go to research. It goes back to the families,” says Zach Lawrence. “They have hospital furniture lease programs if you need a wheelchair or a shower chair,” he explains. As a child, Zach Lawrence and his brothers were the recipients of several donations from the foundation including Celtics tickets, gift cards, and other experiences their mother Ann says helped them to have a sense of normalcy through what otherwise was a challenging time for the family. “When my husband was first diagnosed with ALS, friends of us found this little gem for us,” she explains.

Sadly, Ann’s husband passed away three years into his battle. Yet throughout the fight, the family was grateful for opportunities provided to them through the ALS Family Foundation that helped them through.”When they were younger they got to go to the Celtics game, they got to be regular children. When there wasn’t a normalcy in the family, that was a day for them to be normal children. So it was very beneficial for them to be around other children going through the same thing,” says Ann, as her family now continues on to help others.

Nights out like these are proof that giving back to others doesn’t have to be tiring or expensive. In fact, it can just plain be fun! For just $30 at the door (at a place where let’s face it, you would TOTALLY spend $30 on pizza and your beverage of choice anyways), you not only had access to their buffet, but also a conga line, limbo contest, and the chance to win raffle prizes like Stephen Gilmore & James White shirts or a Samsung Galaxy tablet, or a YellowTail cooler & beach umbrella.

Want to get involved in their next event? See what it’s like inside ALS Family Foundation Fundraisers in my vlog below, and check out their website https://alsfamily.org/ to get into their next event early!