Let Our Beginnings Inspire You!
In late 2014 a friend mentioned to Charlotta (Lotta) Sjoelin that the local homeless shelter for women and children in Chapel Hill, HomeStart, could use some pillows. Shocked a shelter would not have pillows, she visited with pillows in tow to donate, and was even more shocked to see the bleak condition of the shelter. A homeless shelter is supposed to be a place to transform one’s life, yet the physical environment Lotta saw was depressing, not inspiring. Deeply saddened by the living conditions available for the homeless, she went home and cried… then got to work! Emotion and action combined are powerful tools.
An interior designer by trade, Lotta had a vision of transformed rooms that would create safe, dignified and inspiring living spaces for the residents. Teaming up with the non-profit that ran HomeStart to act as a fiscal agent and accept donations, the Inter-Faith Council, Lotta began asking friends and others to ‘Donate A Room’ by pledging only $500.00 to transform a bedroom. Adding to that monies she raised from explaining the conditions to businesses such as Lowe’s, World Market, IKEA, Sherwin Williams, and other big names, she began redoing one room at a time.
Not surprisingly the enthusiasm and support grew! Lotta tirelessly told anyone who would listen about the needs of the shelter, and like her, people were genuinely surprised by the need and wanted to help. Larger donations for common living rooms and children’s play spaces inside and out, gardens, etc. came in, as did donations of time of people volunteering their time to do the work. In addition to individual involvement, organizations also volunteered money and time such as churches, schools, sororities, and businesses. Clearly a movement was afoot…
What began as ‘Donate a Room’ in 2014 to support HomeStart, the only women and children’s shelter in Chapel Hill, NC, in 2015 the name changed to “A Lotta Love” as the organization grew and people were donating more than a room. A perfect name for the group, A Lotta Love honors the founder, Lotta, as well as describes the motivation driving all those who so generously get involved. Love is a powerful agent of change.