Building Community: Enchanted Makeovers

WRITER | NICOLETTE CHAMBERY
PHOTOS | ENCHANTED MAKEOVERS

At the end of 2006, interior designer Terry Grahl received a call from a shelter volunteer who was familiar with her business, asking if she would come to tour the facility and consider painting a wall for the women who occupied the female quarters.

Despite some hesitation, Grahl went in the next month to tour the shelter and take some photos to help her decide if she wanted to take on the project. The last stop in the shelter tour was the women’s dorm.

What resonated with Grahl during the visit, especially viewing the women’s room, was how deeply an environment can affect people. One’s environs can bring inspiration or discouragement, depending on the décor.

Shortly after her visit, Grahl contacted the shelter’s director and said she wasn’t sure she could help. “I didn’t think I would be able to do much for these women. I couldn’t find the hope in that space.” In hindsight, Grahl says she was afraid to take on the project because she was afraid to flip the mirror and look at herself.

However, as she reviewed the photos from her walk-through, Grahl focused on a picture of a polka dot pillow lying on a stripped bed and knew immediately that it represented what she had been looking for. It wasn’t the décor that was going to transform that room into a safe space for the women.

“I burst into tears and went back a week later to present my ideas to the women at the shelter. I told them it wasn’t about decorating; it was about creating hope. I told them I wasn’t there to save them; I was there to walk with them. To bring beauty and dignity to them.”

Ten years later, Grahl is the founder and executive director of Enchanted Makeovers, an organization that redesigns shelter rooms where women who are recovering from all kinds of abuse reside.

Enchanted Makeovers offers a number of programs to help women heal from whatever circumstances they’re coming from — programs that activate their creative side and provide a platform for expression.

One of the organization’s most prominent and most popular programs is called Sacred Sewing. Sacred Sewing teaches women this important coping skill that also empowers them to provide for themselves and their families. Enchanted Makeovers sets up rooms replete with sewing machines and diverse pattern options.

This program will expand to include an offering for women to continue their study in the business and fashion departments of Centenary College in New Jersey.

While Enchanted Makeovers is under sound leadership and executes its intentional mission, that’s not to say the organization hasn’t overcome challenges, one of which was acquiring a flagship location for Enchanted Makeovers to operate.

“One of the biggest things we needed was a central place where program participants could connect with other women who were overcoming similar traumas. We needed a headquarters,” said Grahl.

The community swiftly responded to this need by donating a 1920s-era home that local agencies and businessmen and women have invested in to restore, thus proving how valued Enchanted Makeovers is in the community.

Another perennial need of most nonprofits – and Enchanted Makeovers, specifically, is to maintain a steady stream of monetary support. While many feel compelled to give in-kind support, there are functions to brick and mortar operations that require just as much financial support.

Regardless, Grahl, who was deemed by Ladies Home Journal the “makeover artist of the year,” is adamant about empowering marginalized women and their families so they have hope for a brighter day. Through her dynamic programming, she’s improving the futures of those who need it the most, and I suspect she will, with increasing efficacy, for decades to come.

Enchanted Makeovers l 12663 Hipp Street, Taylor 48180 l 855-She is Me (743-4163) | EnchantedMakeovers.org