JOLIET – It was the apple design on the dinner dishes that gave Ellen Batorson the idea to stencil 16-foot trees on the kitchen walls of MorningStar Mission’s latest home.
“These are really tall walls,” the Sugar Grove resident said with a laugh.
Batorson is one of eight Joliet Junior College interior design students redecorating space for MorningStar Mission in Joliet for the fourth time, said Gladys Hughes, JJC adjunct instructor.
This particular Joliet four bedroom tri-level – donated anonymously to the mission – will soon become home to three unwed mothers and, possibly, their small children, said Jackie Kinney, MorningStar’s volunteer coordinator.
The home’s name – BETH House – is an acronym for its donors, Kinney said. Its purpose is to offer an alternative to abortion with the goal of saving infants’ lives, Kinney added.
“It gives the mother the opportunity to make the choice of either keeping an infant or possibly giving it up for adoption,” Kinney said.
Hughes stumbled upon MorningStar Mission several years ago in the phone book when she sought a community service project for her students and members of JJC’s Interior Design Club.
She wanted students to practice their skills within the confines of a tight budget and with the goal of blessing others.
“I called and asked if they had a need for us,” Hughes said. “Then we worked out the details.”
During the first project, students redecorated MorningStar’s office and dining room, Hughes said. They selected color schemes and let Mission staff pick its favorite. In the dining room, lighter colors made it look less narrow, Hughes added.
The second project was a small home – House of Hope – which the Mission bought for graduates of its life recovery program to live in for up to two years if they are working. The students had it ready for occupancy within two months, Hughes said.
Two years ago, Hughes said, the students revamped two veterans’ homes.
In November, JJC was invited to redecorate BETH House. Kinney said the students produced quality results in the other homes and she believed she’d be delighted with their work at BETH House.
“They always make it look as if someone is ready to move in or curl up on the couch,” Kinney said.
Since the painting and carpeting was done, the students’ job was to furnish and accessorize on the Mission’s stringent budget.
Most of the shopping was done at MorningStar’s two Treasure Chest resale shops in Joliet and New Lenox, Hughes said, with each of the eight participating students taking charge of an entire room.
“One, who is a proficient quilter, is making a quilt for the supervisor’s bedroom,” Hughes said. “I think that’s very generous of her.”
Batorson’s room of choice was the kitchen. She considered practical items the women would need – mixing bowls, measuring cups, toaster, coffee pots, utensils – selected an expanding kitchen table with matching chairs and added several red rugs for accents.
“The kitchen is the heart of the home,” said Batorson, who worked in a bank for 30 years and saw plenty of loans for kitchens and bathrooms. “If you have a great kitchen and bath, you can pull the rest of the house together.”
Jana Ford, mother of two and president-elect of the Interior Design Club, painted the dresser and lamp white to match the headboard in “her” room – the only one with teal carpeting – and created signs, such as “home” and “pantry” to be displayed at appropriate locations in the house.
It was her first JJC project and Ford was thrilled to be part of it.
“I can’t wait for the house to open and see how it all hangs together,” Ford said.