Written by Heather Aordkian and Joyce Dvorak
In July of 2020 Dr. Aura Obando, family team medical director at the BHCHP, posted a simple request on the Arlington List Facebook page: donations of artwork to help freshen up the walls of the BHCHP clinic at St. Mary’s in Dorchester. Heather Aordkian was sitting at her home office, wondering what to do now that client projects were on hold due to COVID. As she was perusing Facebook that day, she read the post and was intrigued! Her heart, like many, a little broken with all that was going on, and she reached out to ask more questions. After visiting the space with Dr. Obando, Heather was moved to do more. She shared the story with her long time friend Joyce Dvorak. Heather and Joyce eagerly asked to join the project. The two then crafted a plan to give the clinic more than art,and so, a mini facelift was in the planning.
Heather, Joyce, and Anna (Heather’s daughter, a Sophomore at Simmons University) visited the clinic in August. The trio made note of the tired paint, the chipped desk tops and cluttered bulletin boards and shelves. Excitedly, they measured, photographed, and dreamed. They envisioned a space that better reflected the professionalism of the work done there, while also projecting a cheerful and welcoming atmosphere for the clients and families who visit the space. Their goal was not only to improve the look of the clinic, but to help promote functionality with longer desks, comfortable chairs, more organization, careful placement of items on the walls, and of course, art work.
Their plans included the “must dos” and the “nice to dos” (should the budget allow). Careful shopping allowed them to maximize their funds. Their budget got a boost from the Sherwin Willimas store located in Arlington Heights, who happily offered to donate all of the paint. To meet their goal the friends created a private Facebook fundraiser which raised just under $2,000 with help from family and friends. In addition to the monetary donations, the Arlington community donated toys and books. A Boston University professor, Sheila Cordner, saw Heather’s request for books on the Arlington List FB page and challenged her Children’s Literature students to step up. Through their own book drive, they collected almost 100 new books for the bookshelf planned for the clinic treatment room that the children can take free of charge. The remaining books will be distributed to other BHCHP sites to create free libraries.
The duo chose the weekend of January 23rd for the installation. With the clinic closed on Fridays the duo started there with the prep work of removing items from the walls, spackling, and moving the current furniture to be ready for the big work ahead. Georgia Thomas, BHCHP Family Team Director assisted them all weekend, happily helping carry items into the clinic and was available to help guide the group through any regulatory concerns.
Heather and Joyce, along with Anna, Heather’s Husband, David, and their friend Julie DiPina worked all day Saturday painting the clinic in bright, welcoming colors. On Sunday, Dan Gattineri, a sophomore at Wentworth College (and Anna’s boyfriend) joined the crew, to finish out the painting, construct the new furniture, hang shelves, and add the finishing touches.
By Sunday afternoon, the team was excited to see the project pulling together. When the team learned that most of the staff was unaware of the makeover project, their excitement was enhanced. What a surprise this would be for BHCHP staff come Monday morning!
For Heather and Joyce the desire to partner with the clinic and make this contribution was easy. Friends for almost 40 years, the two have shared both the joys and losses of life. They recognize how fortunate they are and wanted to make a tanagle contribution to other families. Their passion for design and renovations, coupled with their love of their own families, made this project ideal. They are INDEED already looking forward to their next project!