It takes a village (and a lot of love)
By Sue Baldani
On June 24, a lucky winner will find out that he or she will soon be living in a dream home! Now in its fourth year in Topeka, the 2021 St. Jude Dream Home campaign launched this past April with a goal to raise $750,00 by the time it wraps up this month (and a whopping $2.8 million for all four years.) Along with the home, other fabulous prizes will be given away as well.
The funds raised from this campaign will help St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital continue its almost 60 year mission of finding cures for childhood catastrophic diseases. While doing this, it will also support the families who are battling right alongside their children.
This campaign would never have been possible without the support of the Topeka community. The number of people involved, from the builders to the subcontractors to the designers and retail establishments, is phenomenal, and they’re all passionately committed to the cause.
“One person can’t do it on their own, so if you have enough people get together, you can make it happen,” says Mike Drippé, owner of Drippé Homes, who built the first and fourth homes. Mark Boling Construction built the second and third.
As this latest home was being constructed, Brandi Whisler, lead interior designer for Drippé Homes, was busy planning how to make the inside as worthy of a dream home as the outside. “We definitely wanted to do something a little bit more mid-century modern,” she says. “I thought it would be a fun opportunity for us to bring a new style to Topeka.”
Her favorite part of the house, she adds, is the really amazing fireplace with porcelain tile and a floating hearth. It’s the first thing people see when they walk in the door and gives it that “wow” factor.
Brandi was also daring in her color choices. “I love using black and I think people are sometimes scared to do that. We have some accent walls that are black and some cool geometric trim detail.”
Brandi worked closely with Jennifer Dodge from Furniture Mall of Kansas, a family-owned-and-operated business that has been involved in the campaign all four years. For this home, it’s supplying all the furnishings for the entire first floor.
“Some of the finishes they used in this home have a mid-century modern inspiration to them and that’s what inspired our design as well,” says Jennifer. “We wanted to play along those lines and have those elements in it.” Her mother, Joyce Winter, is also helping with the design.
“First and foremost, our goal at Furniture Mall is to help bring happiness through helping our guests create more beautiful and comfortable homes,” she says. “That’s really our mission and I hope we accomplished that through the design of this house and making it feel like a dream home.”
One of her favorite rooms is the master bedroom. “We are bringing in a beautiful bedroom set which has live-edge detailing as well as black steel elements.”
Everyone involved in the campaign feels it’s an honor to support St. Jude and its mission. “I know some parents who have gone to St. Jude with their children, and they described it as if you’re in this tunnel of darkness and sometimes St. Jude is the only bit of light you feel that you have,” says Brandi.
Adds Mike, “Anything we can do to alleviate that suffering and that stress they’re going through – this is a way to help show love for other people’s kids. I can’t cure their cancer, but I can do this little part to help.”
He stresses that many of his and Mark Boling’s subcontractors have been involved all four years. “They consistently donated over $10,00 every year in labor or materials, so that’s an important part of it. And they are thrilled to do it.”
“Supporting St. Jude in its lifesaving mission of ‘Finding Cures. Saving children’ allows our entire Furniture Mall family to be part of making a real and positive difference,” says owner, Jeff Winter. “I would encourage any business that desires to grow and inspire their team to get involved.”
To learn more about St. Jude and the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway in other cities and states, go to www.DreamHome.org.
Written for Topeka Lifestyle magazine in Topeka, Kansas.