As a residential architect and mother of three, I know our designs can positively impact families’ everyday lives in ways that are personal and profound. This is especially true for children. As they grow, their home and environment helps shape and influence them for the rest of their lives. A place to feel safe gives them the freedom to learn and grow in a loving environment. As Dorothy so succinctly put it, “There’s no place like home.” Not every child is given the opportunity to learn and grow in a safe environment. Thankfully, there are organizations seeking to help those in need.
Just over a year ago, I wrote about Seamark Ranch and the work they are doing to give children a loving, nurturing place to live and grow. Seamark Ranch has been operating since 2007 and has served over 100 children, providing opportunities that otherwise would not have been available and helping guide them to success in a safe and nurturing environment. In 2016, the ranch welcomed 7 new children. Unfortunately, they also had to turn away others because they were full. New homes were needed, and we happily partnered with MasterCraft Builder Group to deliver just that.
The goal for each new residence is to look and function as any good home should. Warm, welcoming and not at all institutional. Each home provides a place to grow for six to eight children and is headed by house parents (guardian angels, if you ask me) – many of whom have children of their own. So, we design these houses for very large families:
Kitchens that can prepare meals for a small army
Dining spaces that seat up to twelve people
Super-sized laundry rooms
Large family rooms that remain intimate enough for gathering
Personalized bedrooms where every boy or girl has a comforting place to lay their heads.
To keep these large homes from looking institutional, each has its own architectural style with a welcoming front porch and vibrant mix of colors. We opted for an English Country style for the boys’ home and a Florida Farmhouse style for the girls’. These are homes we’re designing, after all!
In addition to housing, the ranch provides a variety of programs including counseling, full K-12 education, and even a full working farm and equestrian program where children learn teamwork, responsibility, and care for animals. I encourage anyone to check out the ranch, whether online or in person.
There are many opportunities to make a difference in a child’s life. I’d like to thank MasterCraft Builder Group for taking on this challenge. Thank you to Ply Gem for their generous support of this effort with their donated and discounted building materials. Thank you to all the other vendors and suppliers (the list is very long) whose generosity has kept these houses under budget.
There really is no place like home. Next year, thanks to all who have contributed Seamark Ranch, the ranch will be called home for even more children. We can't wait to see (and show you) the finished homes!