GREENVILLE – Through the process of remodeling a 100-year-old house that she hopes will help grieving families, Cami Snyder has found home renovations and grief can be quite similar.
Both grief and renovations can be messy, she said, but the process reveals beauty. And with a little help, the burdens aren’t quite so heavy.
Snyder, the executive director of the nonprofit organization The House that LuLu Built, experienced that this week as Heather Ellis and Tanna Cornett from Sherwin-Williams helped paint the interior of house on North Broadway in Greenville.
“They’re definitely helping to create this into a home,” Snyder said. “There’s no way that we could do this by ourselves, and there’s no way that we’d want to.”
Snyder and her husband, Jason, started The House that LuLu Built last year in remembrance of their daughter, Lulu Grace, who was born on Sept. 23, 2010, and died 62 days later from a condition called Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome. It is caused by an error in cell division that disrupts the normal pattern of development in significant ways.
In the past year the Snyders and their children Dylan, Owen, Simon and Annabelle have begun renovating a three-bedroom house that will serve as a refuge for people experiencing grief.
“It will really just be kind of a respite area for people just in the immediate stages of grief at this point,” Snyder said. “Kind of a place to be able to just focus on what they need to right at the moment whether it be just being together as a family while they get through their services and things like that.”
Immediate goals for The House that LuLu Built include housing families when they come to town for funeral services. The house also could host support grief-support classes or other functions related to grief.
“I want them to know that they’re not alone in their grief,” Snyder said. “Even though I can’t tell somebody how to do it, how to get through it, just so they know we’re here.”
In the past year the Snyders have received lots of community support in their endeavor to open the grief care home.
“I have been not surprised but just floored with the people that are supporting us and that want to be a part of this,” Snyder said. “We really have a giving community.”
As part of National Painting Week, Sherwin-Williams stepped in to help the Snyders by donating paint supplies and allowing employees to help paint the interior of the house.
“I love the fact that our company gives us the time to do it,” Ellis said. “A lot of corporations are stuck with you should be in the store. They’d want you to do this and not be paid. We’re being paid right now as employees of Sherwin-Williams.”
Sherwin-Williams donated $2,500 worth of materials for the interior painting and allowed Ellis and Cornett to help paint during normal business hours. The business also will donate materials to paint the exterior of the house when the Snyders reach that point in the process.
“If we’re donating this toward what they’re doing, they can take that money and put it toward something else necessary that they need and not have to worry so much about putting a paint budget it,” Ellis said.
This is the sixth year that the Greenville Sherwin-Williams has donated to a local organization. In the past it helped Darke County Humane Society, Darke County Parks, Greenville City Parks, Boys & Girls Club of Greenville and Hope House in Ithaca.
Snyder, like past organizations who received help from Sherwin-Williams, was an existing customer prior to the National Painting Week project.
“It’s almost like it’s fate because we’ll get like the paperwork and like that week somebody will come in and say, ‘We’re doing this project, and I was just needing some advice,’” Ellis said. “It’s not like Cami came in and said, ‘Can you come and paint this for free for me?’ It was like, ‘I’m going to do this project, and this is what I’m doing.’ And we’re like, ‘Hey, we need to do this project. This would be a perfect project.’”
The Sherwin-Williams employees helped Snyder pick the paint, which is anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. They chose colors to create an inviting, comforting atmosphere.
“They can almost see what’s in my head, which is a little scary,” Snyder said.
“I’ve really kind of picked just a real neutral background, which that’s what’s been amazing both with Heather and Tanna, being able to go in and say, ‘Hey, this is kind of what I’m envisioning,’ and for them to be able to just like get it right now and be able to help me with the colors. Because, surprisingly enough, there are like 8,000 whites, and I don’t need that many options.”
While Ellis and Cornett immediately saw Snyder’s vision, they’ve become even closer through working on the house together, similar to how Snyder envisions The House that LuLu Built functioning when it opens.
“We all connected, and it was weird because it was kind of in a way that this house was meant to connect people,” Cornett said.
Snyder would like to see The House that LuLu Built open by Sept. 23 – Lulu’s birthday.
“I would love for the house to be open then,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s a huge goal or not, but that’s what we’re working for.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4312. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.