Jan 052012


Published by The Wave

When 9-year-old Haley Lynch walked into her house, tears were in her eyes before she got to the main surprise. What started out as a bedroom makeover turned into so much more.

After participating in the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition project in Mardela Springs, Md., the owner and staff of Bethany Resorts Furnishings decided the giving couldn’t stop there.

The design center and home décor store, located on Pennsylvania Avenue in Bethany Beach, wanted to make one deserving child’s dreams come true with a personalized bedroom makeover.

Haley’s grandmother, Cynthia Jester, nominated her because the straight-A student, who also plays the violin, was sleeping on a boxspring while her 2-year-old sister, Senna, slept on the mattress.

“She’s just such a trooper, such a helper,” Jester said. “She’s just a great kid.”

The winner was announced Dec. 9 at the EMHE premier party, and the plan was set in motion. Haley, whose birthday was Dec. 21, would spend Christmas with her grandparents while the design team moved in.

But when Bethany Resort Furnishings’ designers showed up to the terracotta-colored house on Beaverdam Creek Road, they knew Haley’s bedroom wasn’t the only thing in need of a makeover.

Jessica Lynch, 30, works five days a week cleaning three to four houses a day. The rental property she lives in is small and full of clutter made by her three young children, Haley, Senna and 8-month-old Noah.

Bethany Resort Furnishings owner Kim Messick knew she’d probably end up doing more than the child’s room, and said she was grateful for the community’s involvement.

Dawn McGee, owner of Smitty McGee’s on Route 54, donated cable TV until June for the family; the Princess Royale Oceanfront Hotel in Ocean City housed the family for two nights; and 13-year-old Kathryn O’Malley of Berlin, a friend of Messick, used her $100 Target gift card to buy outfits for the girls.

For two full days, the team worked to transform the house into a home.

Cindy Centineo, a certified design consult, said everyone who participated was humbled by the experience. Instead of using the money for a single bedroom, they used the funds to paint and refurnish the entire two-bedroom rental.

“To see somebody like (Lynch), who’s trying to make it on her own, … and these three precious kids, we just said, ‘OK, we’ve gotta jump in here and do this,'” she said. “It’s such a great family. They’re awesome.”

The reveal

With a hand to her mouth and her eyes sparkling with tears, Lynch softly whispered, “Oh my God,” continuously as she walked through her madeover home.

The living room walls were now light blue, two brown couches — something she hadn’t owned in a long time — formed an L-shape, and a white entertainment center held the TV.

Her daughters’ rooms were bright and suited them perfectly. Senna’s featured a monkey hanging from a tree, which seemed fitting since at the site of the new room she began jumping on the bed and squealing with glee.

Haley’s room had a huge peace sign painted on the wall, a sign saying, “I love you to the moon and back,” hung from the door, and her new violin was propped up against a music stand.

“This is just the best blessing ever. This is great,” Lynch said. “I’m at a loss for words … I’m glad the girls have their own space now.”

Jester was just as blown away. She and her husband, Bob, help her daughter the best they can, but there’s only so much they can do, she said. The generosity of everyone was unbelievable, she said.

“I had no idea it would turn into this,” she said. “A bedroom makeover is one thing, but a house makeover is unbelievable.”

Haley’s “best birthday and Christmas ever” got even better when she returned home. She dutifully held her sister’s hand as the room was unveiled, and it was better than anything she could’ve ever imagined.

“It was a humongous surprise,” she said. “I didn’t even know this was gonna happen.”

As some of the design team members wished Lynch and her children good luck and a great new year, her stepfather, Bob Jester, summed up what the project really meant the best.

“Compared to what the place was like when it started out and what it is now, it went from a house to a home,” he said. “It’s just wonderful what they’ve done.”

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