AJC Article

https://www.ajc.com/inspire/transplant-patients-families-find-housing/LQZLJIA4MZD4PFA73MB7Z3MN3E/

On Sunday, August 2, 2020, the Atlanta Journal Constitution published a great article about the Foundation..link above.

The best news about this is the exposure that we are getting in the Atlanta area. And this is due to the efforts of Amanda Brown Olmstead and her team, including Mary Elise O’Brien.

The article tells the story well. And I have to admit that I sat down after reading it and experienced a little emotional breakdown. The last 5 years appeared before my eyes and in my mind. All of the countless hours spent on this computer, day and night. All of the shopping done in every antique store, consignment store, junk store and garage sale within 15 miles of home, day after day after day looking for furniture and decor (admittedly the easiest and most fun part of this entire journey!). I will never forget my shopping route! All the hours spent in the three stores that really have owned me: Southern Comforts, The Dollar Store and Tuesday Morning. Moving furniture from one place to another. Sorting and tidying up storage units. Planning and executing fund raisers (whew…it tires me just thinking about that one!). And lastly, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. It’s been an incredible ride and I have loved every minute of it. When you have a passion for what you are doing the work is no longer work.

When I think about having six fully furnished apartments in three short years, having the absolute privilege of serving more than 80 patients and care givers, at times getting way too involved with people that includes the ever present emotional toll, I am simply amazed and blessed more than words can say. Those 80 transplant families have meant more to me, excluding my family of course, than any people ever in my life.

Lord, thank you for assigning me to this job. It’s all been done for your glory, in your timing and in your way. We give you credit for every single person that has stepped up to help in any way. We give you credit for all of the funds that have come our way. You truly have provided every single thing we have ever needed. And we give you all the glory, both for our patients who are well on their way to recovery and for those who are now in your presence in glory. We will continue on knowing this: When the time is right, you the Lord will make it happen!

FURNITURE FUN (Apartment #7, here we come!)

Earlier this week, a group of us including Bob & Mary, Kevin (Architect) & Meredith (Interior Designer) from Richmond Honan, and Amanda and Mary Elise from A. Brown-Olmstead & Associates, met with Mike and Michelle Hall, owners of the Georgia Furniture Mart. Why, you ask? Because the Halls have graciously offered to completely furnish Apartment #7 at no cost to the foundation! We walked the entire show room, which is nothing but spectacular (to the point of overwhelming), so that we could see exactly what they have to offer. Our comments along the way gave Mike and Michelle a feeling for what we like. Now it’s totally up to them as to what they choose to furnish the apartment with. We have total trust in them!

After the show room tour, we sat at a table and discussed the various aspects of the foundation, the layout and feel of the apartment (which will be opened mid-August), and Mike’s and Michelle’s wonderful giving hearts. What we remember Mike saying was this, “we just want to spread a little love!” We are so incredible appreciative! There are truly angels walking this earth. Mike and Michelle just happen to be “furniture angels!”

Board meets Amanda

On Wednesday of this week, we had a special board meeting in order for our board members to meet Amanda Brown Olmstead, our PR person. Because of the times we live in, this meeting had to take place via a ZOOM call, which wouldn’t have been my preference, but it was necessary

We retained the PR services of Amanda at the beginning of May and it has been a whirlwind ever since! She has been in this business for 48 years and her contact list seems to be never ending. But most importantly, she has taken an enormous interest in our foundation. She totally understands the importance of what we are doing and she is sharing that interest with (it seems) everyone she knows! She has educated herself on the world of transplants and readily shares that information in the context of getting our foundation known all over Atlanta.

She began this journey with us by developing a group of media materials that she refers to as 1) a Backgrounder; 2) a Tip Sheet; 3) a Fact Sheet; 4) a Lead Release (this went out to various media and architectural firms); and 5) BOD Bios. All of this information has been shared with many media outlets. She instigated a report on the foundation that was written by David Pendered of the Saporta Report. (It contained such a personal description of what we do that I cried while reading it.)

I could go on and on and on about what she has done for us and what is in the works for the future. I will just say that the names I would mention are part of the Who’s Who of Atlanta.

I will finish this by naming the biggest, most significant efforts to date: 1) she has completed and submitted a grant application to the Carlos & Marguarite Mason Trust; 2) she has obtained an offer from the Georgia Furniture Mart for completely furnishing Apartment #7; and 3) she is diligently working on expanding our Board of Directors.

All I can add to the above is this: EXCITING DAYS ARE AHEAD FOR OUR FOUNDATION We could never have imagined being at this place when be began this journey five short years ago.

Thank you, Amanda, for all you have done. We look forward to all that is to come!

The STAND-ALONE TRANSPLANT HOUSE – Take a look!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/t0agsows5u5n5v9/2020-03-02%20Jeffrey%20Evans%20Transplant%20House.avi?dl=0

From the onset of the Jeffrey Campbell Evans Foundation, we have had a dream to build a stand-alone transplant house that will have at least 20 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom, fully furnished apartments, plus beautiful and useful communal areas. The reality of that dream coming true has begun.

Kevin Glade, an architect with Richmond Honan LLC, has designed the house for us on a pro bono basis. We do not know how to thank him! If you click on the link, above, you will see the beginning stages of our dream.

Then Jared Penny of Pencor Construction, a division of Richmond Honan LLC, has agreed to be our General Contractor for the build.

The estimated total amount to complete this project is $15M! Sounds impossible, we know. But we also know that NOTHING is impossible with our God. In the near future, a capital fund raising campaign will be initiated. And then the project will begin.

I have a “saying” hanging in front of my eyes at my desk. It says, “Someone, somewhere is depending on you to do what God has called you to do.” I live by that statement. God has placed a lot of “someone’s” in my life and the joy of my life is to do what HE has called me to do. This transplant house will surely enlarge our ability to carry out His plans.

Stay tuned. I will be publishing updates on this project as they happen.

HALF-YEARLY UPDATE!

Once again, I have let time go for far too long. So here’s an update on the JCEF.

First BIG news….We have hired Amanda Olmstead of A. Brown-Olmstead Associates, a PR firm in Atlanta. She has been in the business for 48 years. Her contact list is endless and her enthusiasm for our foundation is incredible. She has been working with us since May 1st and it’s hard to put into words what she “has in the works” for us. Some highlights: 1)  she sent out a press release on June 12th  to over 100 media and architectural firms about the architectural plan for the stand-alone house; 2)  she is working on a Mason Trust Grant, shooting for $150,000, which would be to cover costs for the capital fund raising campaign for the house (which will cost $15M); 3) she is working on strengthening our BOD by contacting many business leaders in the community, who are personal friends of hers;  4)  she has had a meeting with the Woodruff Foundation about possibly funding us “to get us going” on fund raising in general; 5)  she is working on a meeting with Emory University regarding building the house on Emory campus – the Candler mansion property; 6)  she has made contact with a friend of hers that owns the biggest discount furniture company in the country.  He will be furnishing the house! and 7)  she is following up on some NFL leads from Brad that go way back to our beginning.

The Apartments… 1)  We have been running at 100% capacity since January.  COVID-19 has definitely been good for us from this standpoint. We are the only option available to transplant patients at the moment. Our apartments are totally private, whereas other “hospitality houses” have a model of individual rooms for patients with everything else being communal. They are currently closed; 2)  we had our first stem cell patient in one of the apartments, which opens us up to cancer patients; 3)  the apartments are being cleaned by Dryden Joss, our nephew.  He is doing a fantastic job.  The only thing he hasn’t figured out is the placement of all the decorator pillows on the beds!! 5)  back to stem cells and bone marrows….these could greatly increase the demand for apartments.  Between the two, they have said they could keep 40 apartments full.  That remains to be seen, of course, but it’s an interesting idea. 

BOD…1)  We have had two board members turn in their resignations. Both feel they are too busy with life at the moment and that they are not contributing enough; 2)  John Hollingsworth, who was on the board and who wrote our Business Plan and then moved to New York for work and resigned from the board is returning.  He has agreed to write the next version of the Business Plan which will include building the stand-alone house.

Bob & ACE…As everyone knows, Mr. E. makes lots of contacts during the course of a work day!  Lately he has been talking to people about the stand-alone house in regards to construction products being donated. He’s getting some great leads.  Most recently it was for bricks for the outside of the building. 

A lot is going on. These are exciting days in the life of the foundation. And all the glory goes to our Heavenly Father. He is blessing us beyond measure!

December 2019

End of year    Where did 2019 go?  I last updated this blog on October 2nd and today is the 27th of December!  So much has happened in the meantime.  The day-to-day stuff for the foundation is always on-going and keeps us on our toes.  We submitted our 990 Tax Return for Non-Profits to the Feds and also to the State of Georgia.  Thank you to Mindy, Liz and a professional tax accountant for getting that done.  Mary got on-going help with cleaning the apartments from a former care giver, Annelouise and her friend, Linda.  What a blessing!  A local florist now provides a fresh flower arrangement for every new family.  A special touch!  We now have two great friends who offer the use of their trucks to pick up and deliver furniture.  A sometimes hard and physical job.  We set up Christmas trees and some other Christmas decor in each apartment.  We signed lease renewals on a couple of apartments.  We had a BOD meeting, which included visiting two of the apartments so some of our board members could see them for the first time.

And, most importantly, during October – December, we had a total of 14 transplant families come and go.  We could never have imagined where we would be at the end of 2019, when we first jumped off that cliff in July of 2017, not knowing where we would land!  Our growth has been phenomenal.  Last week we welcomed our 63rd transplant family to the apartments.

Sadly, we lost one of our patients the first week of December, which is always a sad time for the family and for the foundation.  Mary & Brad attended the funeral, which was a beautiful tribute to the patient by his friends and family.  His 13-year-old daughter was the last to speak about her daddy and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

Finally, as another year begins, please know that we are forever grateful to all the people who support us.  Family members, old friends, new friends, acquaintenances, and strangers, all can take credit for helping us accomplish the mission we set out to do, which is to take care of, and to love on, transplant patients and their care givers.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  We have met the most wonderful people during our journey.  People who are going through, probably, the most traumatic time of their lives.  People who are all too willing to admit that they are depending on God to get them through.  We have shared many tears, much conversation and a lot of laughs with them.  Every day we are reminded of how important good health is.  And we are grateful to the doctors, nurses and social workers for their God-given skills to help in the healing process.  What we are doing truly involves a team of professionals, volunteers, givers, servers, and prayers.  And we are grateful for each and every one of you!   May 2020 be good to all of us.

 

 

ANOTHER APARTMENT – ANOTHER TRANSPLANT FAMILY

Apartment #6 was put together over the weekend of September 27th, and a transplant family moved in on September 29th.  What’s unique about this one….we now rent all four apartments along one walkway, so our patients and care givers can see each other at a place other than the hospital.  It forms a bit of a community.

“It takes a village” best describes the “putting together.”  On Friday, Phil & Julie Graiser arrived to help.  Julie took care of setting up the ENTIRE kitchen, which is a big job that requires washing every single item and putting everything in it’s place.  Phil did what I refer to as the “man jobs”….things like putting together the vacuum cleaner and installing the hand-held shower.  On Saturday, Anne Marie came by and made all the beds.  And for the hardest job of all (at least in Mary’s opinion), our friend, Dennis, showed up to put the bunkbeds together.  And true to the character of Dennis, what I heard all day long was, “what else can I do?”  Both days Brad was there and his main job was to get rid of all of the cardboard boxes, which is a monumental task, requiring trip after trip after trip to the dumpster.  Everything came together perfectly!

A few unique items in this apartment:  1)  the quilt on the couch in the living room.  It was made especially for us in memory of Marge Mitchell by her quilting groups in the Seattle area; 2) the quilt hanging in the bunkbed room, which was made especially for us by Mary’s childhood friend, Moira Leavitt; and 3)  if you look closely, you will see a fresh flower bouquet on the dining room table.  A local florist, “The Flower Post” in Vickery has offered to provide us with fresh flowers for every new apartment. These are the things that bring so much meaning to the foundation.

Now, I must mention the HUGE donation of furniture.  Thanks go to Dave and Debbie Stinebaugh.  Early in the year they moved to Florida from a very large home in Alpharetta to a much smaller one and almost all of the furniture in this apartment was donated to us from them.

And lastly, we thank Garry & Marilyn Ball for their continued financial support to the foundation.  We owe them more gratitude than we can express.

#6 Opens Next Week!

6th We are getting ready to open our 6th transplant apartment on September 27th!  What we have found out along this journey is the incredible need for what we are doing.  Over the last couple of months we have turned away more than 20 transplant families and that is a true heart breaker from our standpoint.  Another amazing statistic is the number of transplant families we have served in just over three years….52!

We could not have imagined in our wildest dreams how our foundation would impact so many people.  We always describe our beginnings as “jumping off a cliff.”  We literally had NO IDEA where we would land, but we have indeed landed in the most wonderful place.  God has been good; he has provided everything we have needed at exactly the time we needed it.

The next week will be a circus around here!  Final preparations are being done.  Things like washing sheets and towels, buying last minute items, staging the move (in order to get it done in the fastest and most economical way possible)….staging works!  Our garage is a mess.  Our storage units are a mess.  But the mess is necessary to get to the final product….THE MOVE!

The movers will arrive around 9:00 a.m. to load things up from our garage, drive over to storage, load up the truck from the two storage units, and deliver everything to the apartment.  There we will be met by members of our board, willing workers who will help unpack and set up.  Exciting times!

Lastly, on top of all of the good news, above, we already have a family waiting to move into #6.  Their daughter is in the hospital recovering from a kidney transplant and the family is staying in a local hotel until the apartment is ready.  They are waiting for the call that says “come on over!”

Then, I guess….it’s on to #7!!

 

INCREDIBLE!

Scott Holliday Warehouse (2)   Last week, Bob and Mary visited a person that Mary had been referred to by a fellow networker.  The referral was given months ago, but there was no follow up until now because there had not been a need up until now.

The person we met was Scott Holliday.  According to Scott’s business card he is “A Liquidator of Mattresses, Furniture and Home Goods to Charities and Charitable Retailers.”  The name of his business is “Heart In Your Hand.”

We drove up in front of an enormous warehouse, walked in, sat down in front of Scott, and told him our story.  He then took us into the warehouse, where we saw more stuff than you can imagine.  Mattress were stacked all over the place.  Boxes were sitting around that were filled with sheets, towels, bedspreads, shower curtains; you name it (he buys up what Macy’s can’t sell).  In additional there was furniture, lamps, etc.

So here’s the best part:  Whatever we need for future transplant apartments that is in the warehouse is ours at NO COST to us!  Can you even begin to imagine what that means for us?  It’s huge!  Scott asked us to send him our apartment inventory list.  When the time comes, he will stage whatever we need that he has in stock and will hunt for what he does not have in stock.  Then he will stage it in order for a mover to easily pick everything up and move it to an apartment.

There is a Christian song that Mary listens to all the time while driving between home and the apartments.  One line says this:  “Eye has not seen and ear has not heard all that is in store for those who pray.”  Our Heavenly Father is, indeed, good to his children!”