Kristopher Meaders, right, shares his delight for a new SpongeBob SquarePants-themed bedroom with Rebecca’s Rooms co-founder Reid Carter June 21 in Columbus. Photo by: Mary Alice Weeks/Dispatch Staff
June 28, 2014 10:29:15 PM
Kristopher Meaders loves cartoons. The 13-year-old who attends New Hope Middle School is often happiest sitting on the floor watching his favorite characters on TV. So when volunteers from the nonprofit Rebecca's Rooms organization undertook a bedroom remodel for Kristopher June 20-21, they chose a SpongeBob SquarePants theme. When the young man with a rare disorder called Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum saw his new room for the first time that Saturday afternoon, he was all smiles.
Rebecca's Rooms was established by Reid and Cindy Carter of Columbus in 2012 to honor the memory of their 8-year-old daughter who died two years earlier. As an infant, Rebecca had been diagnosed with the genetic disorder Trisomy 13. Since its founding, Rebecca's Rooms volunteers have completed five bedroom remodels that customize surroundings to the personalities and unique challenges of each special needs child.
"Our mission is to redecorate rooms so that children feel safe and happy" said Mindy Matherne, who works for Mississippi State University's Center for Distance Education and volunteers with Rebecca's Rooms.
"There are so many words to describe how it makes you feel when they see their room for the first time," Matherne has said. "The excitement in their eyes and the smile on their face makes up for all the long hours of working hard for that moment."
At the east Columbus home of Kristopher and his parents, Kenneth and Hope Meaders, volunteers repaired plumbing in the teen's bath, installed a SpongeBob footboard on the bed and added a new DVD player and TV, new window treatments, bed coverings and other enhancements. Kristopher received a new play mat, to make watching cartoons from the floor a little more comfortable. The group also smoothed and bricked a portion of access to Kristopher's exterior wheelchair ramp.
His mother, Hope, said, "He doesn't talk at all, but when he saw his room he was so excited. He clapped for a long while -- that's how he shows his excitement." She continued, "We thank the volunteers so much. They were so awesome. I thank God for what they did for Kristopher."
The need for Rebecca's Rooms volunteers is a priority, especially for a few more volunteers handy at heavy lifting, removing walls and installing sheetrock. To learn more about volunteering or making a donation, go to rebeccasrooms.com or contact Reid Carter, 662-251-0627.
Sponsors for the recent project included BTM Solutions Inc., CJ's Pizza, Columbus Malco Cinema 8, GHS Graphics, Hank's BBQ, River Chase Inn and Southern Belle Stitchery.
Editor's note: This story contains some information from Mississippi State's University Relations.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.