Well, for those of you who follow my blog you’ve noticed the posts about Remax’s affiliation with Texas Sentinels Foundation and wounded warrior Sgt. Erich Ellis. And, of course, my involvement as the designer on the project. If you’re new to my blog you can click these links to catch up on his story – here, here and here.
Then you can see how exciting it is to be finally be doing a blog post on the day he got the keys to his new home and it officially became his own!
Now, I’m not going to lie…..it actually became his home weeks ago – I just haven’t had time to blog about it and it’s been killing me. I’ve looked forward to this day for literally a year and a half and the fact that I haven’t had time to share the final part of the story has been driving me crazy! So, today, finally – I get to share it with you.
The yard wasn’t in at the presentation where he received the keys, but I wanted you to see the exterior of the house anyway. Built by Michael Cannaday of Precision Builders, who typically builds much bigger, much more expensive homes, it has all the character and appeal of a luxury home – on a much smaller scale.
Michael (in the dark purple shirt on the right) and I met Erich, his girlfriend, his father and his younger brother early to take them on a tour of the home before everyone else arrived and before the grand presentation took place.
To see how happy and touched he and his family were as they walked through the home….well….what can I say? There are no words.
I don’t know who was more overwhelmed….Erich or his girlfriend….
Or maybe it was the dogs????
As we meandered through the house the emotions began to build for the “ever-stoic” marine, but Erich kept them to himself as long as possible. Once we entered the garage through the storm shelter door you see above and he saw his wonderful, unexpected, complete workout system donated free of charge by Scott Egbert of Home Fitness Group (a work out dream Erich had shared with me many, many months ago), he turned to his family and asked them to stay put for a minute. He then lead Michael and I into the house and shut the door behind him. Abruptly, unexpectedly, he grabbed each of us around the neck….pulled us into his chest and let the tears flow. For a brief moment he sobbed as he echoed his appreciation to both of us for helping to make this happen. The enormity of this reality – that this beautiful home and all that it entailed was his – overtook him and he could no longer hold back his feelings. It was a private, precious moment that, as a mom of boys his age, I will always, always cherish and feel forever privileged for having been a part of.
The moment his family opened the door he pulled back, wiped away his tears….and in a flash was back to the “ever-stoic” marine.
Finally the time came for the papers to be signed. And, just like that…..
Erich was the proud owner of his new home!
And, this is the founder of the Texas Sentinels Foundation, Richard Filip, who is the man who made it all possible.
Next, it was time for the official presentation and “turning over of the key’s”. Mark Wolfe, broker/owner of Remax/DFW associates, who kick-started the project, lead the presentation – introducing the various speakers as well as Erich to the crowd who came out to support Erich and the project.
Many of these attendees offered their time, financial donations, and overwhelming support in order to see this momentous occasion take place. And, all were thrilled to see the day finally arrive.
Erich expressed his gratitude for each and everyone and explained that to have so many people donate so much of themselves to help someone like him out – “that it changes a person – that it touches a person in the heart”. And, he said, it’s now his time to stop receiving and start giving back. (Erich, you gave first…..remember? That’s what this is all about.)
Very heartfelt, very moving.
This is Michael, the builder, and myself with Erich sharing joyfully in the day with our young, deserving friend.
And, my hubby….who was a tremendous supporter and help to the project.
Mal Smith, on the right, was instrumental in overseeing all the fundraisers, managing the money and keeping the project moving along. In the process, he and Erich became great friends. To show his appreciation, Erich surprised Mal with his own engraved glock as a token of his appreciation.
Engraved on the glock it said, “To Mal Smith, my great friend and a true American – Erich Ellis.
Another very special moment.
And, now……here is Erich’s new home….
This sign greeted him as he walked through the front door for the first time.
Thank you again to Coaster Furniture for working with us on the furniture budget. Thank you to Stacy Coulter for donating these beautiful custom made drapes. And, thank you to Sherwin Williams, for donating all the paint in the house.
A HUGE shout out and thank you to all my wonderful family and friends for your financial donations. Too many to name, but you know who you are and I want you each to know that I COULD NOT have done this without your financial donations. Seriously. I couldn’t have. Your contributions enabled me to accessorize the house and make it a home. I can’t thank you enough.
Thank you to Lee Lighting for donating all the lighting and the ceiling fans. And, thank you to Artcrete and Concrete Design Center for these beautiful, stained concrete floors.
Thanks to my designer friend, Jody Clarke, for generously donating so many wonderful accessories, like this candleholder on the coffee table, at a time when I was completely out of money. And, thanks to friends and fellow designers, Denise Piaschyk and Barbara Gilbert for your generous donations during that time as well! I so appreciate it!
Another thanks to LDF Silks for the beautiful succulents! This made the table complete.
A special thank you to talented local artist, faux finisher and friend, Billy Austin, for this masterpiece of a painting. He designed and customized it just for Erich. It’s breathtaking and perfect for this space. When time to watch TV Erich will have a drop down TV screen that will drop in front of this artwork – largely due to my client, Griffin Gunter’s, generous donation (thank you so much Griffin!) and the generosity of various vendors in the TV industry. But, when not in use, he has this beautiful painting to look at.
Again, a big thank you to Michael Berberick at The Tile Shop for donating all the tile in the house; to Allied Stone for this beautiful granite and to Trimline for these beautiful cabinets.
The drapery hardware in the master was generously donated by Design Elements, perfect for the master bedroom. And the accessories here were donated by my friend and sales rep at Uttermost, Courtney Komlosi. Great finishing touch!
This rug was donated by my friend and owner of All Pro Floors, Geoff Brown. Also, perfect for the space. Thanks, Geoff!
This amazing granite was donated by KLZ Stone and I must say is absolutely stunning. Thank you to Maggie Addison once again! I love it!
In one of his guest rooms I decided to do a sort of “ode to Erich” by doing this “Home of the Brave” theme.
The second guest room is done in one of Erich’s pastimes…..hunting.
The guest bathroom granite was donated by my friend and sales rep, Michael Mendoza and Active Granite.
Again, because of the generous donations of family, friends and their contacts I was also able to raise enough money to provide Erich with a wonderful outdoor sitting area. Here is a dining table that accommodates six, a loveseat grouping that accommodates four, two seats with an ottoman off to the left (that you can’t really see)….
And, this wonderful fire pit grouping for four donated by Lee Lighting. Now he has plenty of space for family and friends to relax and enjoy the quiet, peaceful countryside.
I’d like to say an extra special thank you to CAM Moving and Storage for storing all of this furniture for months on end at no charge while we waited for the installation date to arrive. They not only stored the furniture, but they delivered it completely free of charge and spent the entire day setting up every stick of furniture and hanging mirrors and artwork at no charge! Their team was magnificent. And, thank you to Shawn James, who spent the day along with them at no charge hanging all the drapes in the house. This type of kindness and eagerness to help our wounded warriors brought me to tears on more than one occasion.
A super special thanks to my longtime friend, Diane Hanson for all her selfless help in installing this project.
She took time off her busy job at a local design center and gave up lucrative income in order to come help me out. She helped place furniture, place accessories, make final decisions on what to put where, make beds, etc, etc, etc. Just like old times when we did model homes together back in the day. Thank you so much, my friend!
And, if we look a little tired and haggard here…well….it’s because we are. It was a very busy, very exhausting, long two days.
And, finally…once again….thank you to my hubby! He helped raise money, work fundraisers, sweep floors, move furniture, bring us lunch during the install, vacuumed for me when it was all done!….Need I say more? Thank you for your constant support and all your help in seeing this project to fruition!
It’s been a long road since we started this adventure. I wish Erich many, many years of happiness in his new home. As I said – I was honored to be a part of it and wish him and his girl nothing but the best!
I just wish we could provide a home for ALL our deserving military men and women.
Wouldn’t it be nice if someday we could?
Oh, what a wonderful day that would be!
**ALL PROFESSIONAL INTERIOR SHOTS WERE PROVIDED BY RYAN STEVENS PHOTOGRAPHY AND MICHAEL HUNTER PHOTOGRAPHY; EXTERIOR SHOT BY RYAN STEVENS PHOTOGRAPHY