When Joliet resident Todd Baker and his family left their home for four days beginning July 6, he knew Team Make a Difference intended to make home improvements. But what he didn’t know is the complete extent of the transformation the local nonprofit and volunteers would reveal.
“It was an unbelievable transformation,” Baker said. “It was unexpected. Clearly, a lot of people put in a lot of hours.”
From July 6 to July 9, the Baker family stayed at Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort in North Utica, while Team Make a Difference and many volunteers were at the home at the 800 block of Cassie Drive.
The day of the reveal, the family went from room to room as a family, and with each door, it was a new experience, Baker said.
“My wife was excited and my children were excited,” he said.
Team Make a Difference typically chooses a hero, or a person in need, to help with renovating a dream room for them.
This time around, the remodel was for Todd’s wife, Kim. She was diagnosed with Stage Four stomach cancer shortly after the family, formerly of Channahon, moved to Joliet toward the end of February. The improvements were also meant to help support Todd’s daughter, Brianna. She has a brain disease combined with a mitochondrial disorder.
When the Bakers initially moved into their home, they intended to make upgrades until Kim’s health complications put their plans on hold.
Team Make a Difference usually focuses on one bedroom followed by other improvements needed to help the hero in healing.
“We have to buy all the materials,” said Adrianne Toke, vice president of Team Make a Difference. “We did all new doors in the house—trim wood. We do get our paint donated from Narvick Bros.”
Other costs associated with the home makeover rack up as the work crews seek to make improvements.
Toke said it is difficult to give a rough estimate to detail how much the home makeover costs.
“It’s hard to tell,” she said. “As we’re here, it’s here go run and get this. We need this supply. So, our receipts kind of add up. We’re not sure on this one.”
Team Make a Difference holds one fundraiser each year, and they look to complete two home makeovers each year.
Toke said the work of Team Make a Difference could not be possible without the many volunteers.
From landscaping and painting to replacing tiles, a stable of volunteers were on hand to help.
When families are granted the opportunity to have a home makeover, the response Team Make a Difference receives is typically positive, Toke said.
“They’ve all been really happy,” she said. “It’s been really great.”
The end goal, according to Toke, is simple.
“We hope that we give Kim a place where she can rest,” she said. “We give her a little bit of comfort and then that’s all. [Our work is hoped to] take a little of the stress off their lives.”