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Our First Dec

We Dec’d our first room today at MD Anderson for a young man named Anthony.  We were fortunate enough to decorate his room on his birthday and that we were given a very good description of his likes (Jesus, Church, Denver Broncos, golf, crossword puzzles, cookie cakes) and his caretaker’s (mom) likes (UT Longhorns).
We sorted out our kids (babysitter, preschool) and then drove together in one car to the hospital.  On the way we were sharing our feelings of nervousness, excitement, and just not knowing what to expect.  We all were worried about our emotions.
We arrived and were met by the Child Life coordinator.  She escorted us to Anthony’s floor where we properly washed our hands and put on gloves and masks in preparation of meeting Anthony and decking out his space.  Anthony was super sweet and appreciative and decided he would walk around the hospital with his mom so he could be surprised.  
We immediately got to WORK!  The rules state that you may not hang anything that will peel the paint.  We found cool temporary wallpaper (does not peel paint off), an inspirational saying, and other items that matched his description.
It took us about 45 minutes to decorate the room and will probably take us less the next time we go because we learned lots of things from our first experience.
Overall, it was such a GREAT DAY!!!! We can’t wait to do more rooms!  Anthony and his mother LOVED the room! 
Here are a few things we learned and tips for anyone who wants to Dec hospital rooms for children and young adults who will stay in the hospital for at least 3 months.
– Be very careful about germs (these people are often fighting for their life). Be careful about all of your purchases.
– Latex balloons aren’t allowed (it was his birthday and we didn’t know). Mylar balloons are ok.
– We bought command Velcro strips to hang items because they don’t peel paint.
– You need to provide a container so they can take the items home.  The one we bought was WAY too big!!!! The room is so small that our HUGE container didn’t help any!
– You don’t want to generally buy religious items unless it is explicitly requested (as in our case).
– When in doubt about a purchase, shoot a quick email to the child life coordinator.
– Don’t buy a rug.  We bought one and Anthony will probably have to just pack it away and take it home because it was difficult for his IV to go over.
– You want to spend most of your money on decorations, but still buy smaller “activities”.
– Remember to buy something for the caregiver, they are just as excited and are going through a lot.
– We got our kids involved (they can’t go to the hospital) by making get well cards.  In the future we might have the older kids help shop or create something for the room.
Stores we will always shop at for each DEC:
Target, Hobby Lobby, Amazon, and Five Below
Items/decorations we want to standardize in all of our Dec’s
– comforter
– temporary wall paper
– body pillow with embroidered name. Our nice friend Amy Klafka kindly donated her embroidery services.  She was very gracious and said she wanted to.  We told her we were thankful and would accept the first Dec as a donation, but for all the other dec we want to pay her because we want to do it for every rooom!  Here is a link to her business (she lives in Cypress, but can ship!) Designs All Mine Her work is awesome!
– a pennant banner for above each bed (hung like the happy birthday one)
– an inspirational or fun quote (doesn’t have to be religious)
For those of you who would like more information about getting involved in this WONDERFUL organization, here are a few questions/answers.
1. I don’t live in Houston, how can I get involved?
Many sick kids from all of the country and world travel to Houston for treatment.  You could donate money directly to Dec My Room.   Also, you and your friends could always go to your local children’s hospital, contact the child life coordinator and ask about decking out a room.
2. What did our experience (time, money, planning) look like in case I am interested in decking out a room?
– We attended a 90 minute training and were told volunteers are encouraged to Dec out at least 2 rooms per year. You can work by yourself or with others.  The budget for each room is $300.00 You will be reimbursed for all money spent as long as it doesn’t exceed that amount.
– Christa, Jessica, and I decided we wanted to do the rooms together.
– We were emailed a couple of opportunities and chose Anthony.
– After dropping our kids off at school we met at the Starbucks in Target and strategized. We planned a list of what we definitely wanted to buy and a list of stuff we maybe wanted to buy.
– We shopped (2-3 hrs) at Target, Hobby Lobby, Five Below, Dollar Tree, Barnes and Noble, Kroger, and Amazon
– We met at Jessica’s house a few days before to take things out of packages. You don’t want to spend time cutting hard plastic while in the hospital room.
– We drove to the hospital and decorated (driving time plus decorating times was a few hours).
We are so excited about our experience.  We love that it is fun (shopping, decorating) and is for a good cause. We love that Anthony thanked us a million and one times and said that his hospital room now felt like home! 
If you would like any other information, PLEASE contact any of us or Dec My RoomWe would love to help you get involved!  The three of us are committed to decking rooms and raising money/ awareness for the charity.  We are planning a fundraising event in Towne Lake and will be soliciting businesses for donations next week.
If you are ready to DEC rooms NOW, unfortunately the next training is not until the spring.  However, if you would like to help us Dec rooms before you get trained, we would love it!  We would love for you to help us plan what to buy, go shopping with us, get your kids involved, etc.


So our question is this:  Who is ready to help?

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