Designed For Kids: We Furnish A Room At Leg Up Farm

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Leg Up Farm

Leg Up Farm is a non-profit therapy center in York County, Pennsylvania, for children with disabilities and developmental delays.  They offer many services to their clients, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, animal assisted programs and much more.  This year, Leg Up began construction of a new Wellness and Education Center addition to their current facility, which will allow them to expand their services to include aquatic therapy, art therapy, and dance/music therapy.  When we were contacted to see if we were interested  in furnishing their new Daily Living Skills Area, where clients would learn how to care for themselves in a home environment, we jumped at the chance.  We met with Melissa Maley and Tom O’Connor from Leg Up in June to learn what they were looking for and what sort of space we had to work with.

As with most design projects, your plans are usually much grander then the size of the space in which you have to fit them, and this was no exception.  They were hoping to fit a single bed and dresser, love seat, end tables and a dinette in the 16′ x 20′ space… and a third of the area was already designated for a kitchen.  No problem!  We had the rest of the summer to work on the project; completion of the wing wasn’t scheduled until the end of September, at the earliest.

Leg Up
Our inspiration piece.

 

We needed a jumping off place for the design, and found it in a colorful picture of a tree in a field, with blues and oranges.  With lots of emails back and forth from Melissa and Tom, we gradually came up with a design that would be accessible, easy to clean,  sturdy, and- oh yeah!- attractive! We chose a recycled leather sofa in a cool gray, dark toned wood pieces, and accented it all with blues and bright greens.

 

 

In September we got the word that the room was finished enough for us to go and have a first hand look, and off we went to see what we were getting into.  Melissa and Tom gave us a tour of the entire facility and WOW! It’s amazing.

Leg Up Farm is the brainchild of Louie Castriota Jr.  When his young daughter was diagnosed with a disease causing cognitive and motor function delays, he came to realize that there was no one place dedicated to address the multiple issues of children with special needs.  Leg Up offers physical, cognitive, emotional and social support all in one location to help children become better able to function in the community.  A look around the facility quickly makes it clear that Louie takes this mission very seriously… virtually everything is interactive and accessible to children with various disabilities.  Take a look:

 

Leg Up Aerial
Aerial view of the rear gardens/fully accessible play area/koi pond.
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View across koi pond to play area.

 

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Tree house with tiny loft play area inside.

 

 

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Amazing hallway. Children work on their coordination walking on the lily pads across the stream.
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Interactive Rutters facade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aquatic therapy pool.

 

 

These few photos are, quite simply, not enough to give an adequate idea of what they have to offer here… I didn’t even take a picture of the stable and indoor riding ring!  This is a state of the art facility, and operates strictly as a non-profit organization.

Their mission statement:

…to enrich the lives of families with special needs children 
through an effective combination of therapeutic programs and services, education, and advocacy.

In addition:

We believe every child is special and deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

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Daily Living Skills Room… under construction

Getting back to our room…  it was, well, small.  But the windows had a beautiful view of the fields and woods behind the farm.  We went back to work energized and awed at the scope of the facility, and our small part in this remarkable place.  Everything fell into line, and by the end of September the room was ready, and so were we.

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Starting to bring in the furniture.
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Steve and Randy assemble the dinette.
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Randy and Steve assemble the bed.
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Colleen gets the wall art ready to hang.

 

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Panoramic shot of the finished room.

September 26, 2013: one day, 4 people, some nuts and bolts, and voila!  We had a newly furnished Daily Living Skills Area for some very deserving young people.  We were thrilled at how it all came together, and the Leg Up staff seemed to be pleased as well; which, of course, was the more important part.  By the time I write this, children will be getting a chance to use the room, learning all those things they will need to know in order to take care of some of their own needs: cooking, cleaning up, making a bed, doing laundry… those things most of us don’t need to think twice about.

The project was an eye opening one for us.  We were filled with admiration for this organization’s effort to provide these kids with the skills and therapy they need to have the best possible chance of living life to the fullest.  We’re glad we got to play a part.

Leg Up Farm will be holding an Open House on Saturday, October 19th, 11 am – 2 pm.

 For more information go to www.LegUpFarm.org, or call 717-266-9264.

 

 

 

 

We Welcome Habitat For Humanity’s Hanline Family Build to Jacobus

 

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L-R Debbie Krout-Althoff – York Habitat for Humanity; the Hanline Family – grandmother Christine, Allen, Jacob & mom Laurie; Jacobus Borough President, Brian Dell.

Big doings are afoot in little Jacobus PA.  A much talked about story in York County PA of late is that of Laurie Hanline, her family, and Habitat for Humanity’s search for a lot on which to build a handicapped accessible home.  They have finally found the perfect location here in Jacobus, on a lot generously donated by the Smith family of Smith Village.

Laurie is a full time student at York College, and full time mom of sons Jacob and Allen as well.  Thirteen year old Allen, the only surviving child of a set of triplets, is both physically and mentally handicapped.  The doorways in the home they are currently renting are too narrow for Allen’s wheelchair, so Laurie carries him from room to room.  Their new home will be completely handicapped accessible, with space for Laurie’s mom, who often provides childcare.  The Habitat for Humanity Women Build home will be located on a lovely, partially wooded lot on Meadow Street, with a secluded backyard that has plenty of room for kids to play.

 

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Allen and Laurie.

The ground breaking ceremony for the home was on September 7th at 10 am, and in the short space of 3 weeks, excavation was begun and the foundation walls completed.  The walls and roof will be put up during “Blitz Week,” the week of October 8-12, and on October 22nd the seasoned crew of Habitat for Humanity volunteers from here at The Village will be back at work, this time just down the street from our store.

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It’s a heartwarming thought, knowing that by next year this very deserving family will have their own, fully accessible home.  I know that all of us here in Jacobus are proud to be part of such a worthwhile endeavor, and wish all the best to Laurie and her family in their beautiful new home.

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A rendering of the new home on a cake made by Brown’s Orchards in Loganville.

 

Smith Village will be offering a discount in the amount of your sales tax to any customers who make a donation of $5 or more between October 3 and October 20.  You can also contact Habitat for Humanity at 854-6168 to donate or volunteer, or visit their website at http://yorkhabitat.org/

Don’t judge a sofa by its cover, and other useful advice.

WHY

If you’ve ever gone sofa shopping, you’ve probably seen what appear to be two nearly identical sofas, but one costs hundreds of dollars more than the other.  Is the less expensive sofa just a much better deal?  The answer is inside.  Because the majority of a sofa’s construction is hidden, it can be tough to make a call on quality just by appearances.  Here are some things to look for, and questions to ask your salesperson:

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Underside of seat cushion showing use of less expensive fabric.

 

Check the underside of the seat cushions.  One trick manufacturers use to keep the price down is to use a less expensive fabric on one side.  A cushion like this cannot be flipped over to decrease wear on the fabric.  If your sofa will be used heavily, this can make a big difference in the life of the upholstery.

 

 

 

 

The frame inside the sofa is what provides most of the support.  Frames can be made of many materials… make sure you ask your salesperson how the frame is constructed on any upholstered piece you are considering.  The best frames are made of hardwood, and joints are both glued and screwed together for durability.  Plywood also makes a sturdy frame, because the different layers of wood are bonded together with the grain running in opposite directions which reduces warping and cracking.  Particleboard, chipboard or composite wood products are not nearly as strong, as they are made of small pieces of wood pressed together. They break down much more quickly because of this.

substrates
L-R Particle board, plywood, composite.

In the base of the sofa frame is the decking.  This is what the seat cushions rest on.  The gold standard is 8 way, hand tied coil springs.  These make the seat more resilient.  This kind of spring is very labor intensive to make, and many are now machined “tied” with metal.  In a mid price point sofa, sinuous springs are often used.  These are “S” shaped.  A better sofa will have these more closely spaced to provide more support, and the edges will be “double-sprung,” meaning two sinuous springs are placed close together where the decking meets the arm of the sofa. This prevents the cushion from collapsing in towards the arm.  A less expensive sofa may only have webbing to support the seat.  This is not as strong, durable, or resilient as the other 2 methods.

spring styles
Left: 8 way hand tied coil springs. Right: Sinuous springs – notice the left edge is double sprung.

 

Cushion material is the next thing to consider, and a lot depends on the firmness you prefer when sitting.  Those who like to lounge with their feet up often prefer a softer seat, while those who sit upright are more comfortable with a firmer cushion.  Because of this, make sure  that when you are shopping, you sit on the pieces the way you sit at home.  A good cushion starts with a good quality piece of foam.  Foam comes in different densities.  A high density foam will hold up longer, but will make a firmer seat.  Most manufacturers will add a wrap of fiberfill or down on the outside of the foam to provide more cushioning.  Down makes for a cushy seat, but can cause a rumpled appearance in the upholstery fabric.   Some cushions will have springs inside the foam, and this will increase the longevity of the cushion.

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L-R Batting wrapped foam seat cushion, coil in foam seat cushion.

 

The inside back of the sofa supports the back cushions. Springs here are a better choice than webbing for the same reason as in the decking.

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Left:Sofa back with sinuous springs. R: Sofa back with webbing.

Back cushions may be either a piece of batting wrapped foam, like the seat cushions, or loose fill. A foam based back cushion will be firm, and is often used in a tight-back sofa, where the fabric on the inside  back is upholstered directly to the sofa frame.  A loose cushion back (where the cushions are completely removable) or a semi-attached back (where they appear to be removable but are still attached to the frame in some way) can have either a foam cushion, be made completely of loose fiberfill, or a combination of both. These types of back cushion will have much more give than a tight back.

sofa back styles
L-R: Semi-attached back, tight back, loose pillow back.
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Semi-attached back cushion showing zippered access to fiberfill.

None of the 3 types is better as far as quality, it depends on your preference. A tight back has a neater appearance, loose and semi-attached backs have a more casual,  rumpled appearance. Fiberfill backs do occasionally need to be fluffed… look for zippers on the the cushion so you can redistribute the fill, or add more.

 

 

The fabric is the most visible part of the construction.  Upholstery fabric is one area where price does not necessarily indicate quality.  Some designs are very expensive to weave, but may not be very durable.  Others, such as microfibers, are cheap to produce but are very strong and stain resistant.  Upholstery fabric is graded by the manufacturers to indicate durability.  Your salesperson should be able to give you this information.

Now that you know what to look for in a good quality piece of upholstered furniture, here is something else to consider.  Some people think they should spend less on their family room furniture than they do for the less busy areas of their home, since it’s just going to get abused.  In reality, you should spend more for your family room furniture… so it will hold up better to the tough conditions there.  In less heavily used rooms, such as living rooms, you can get away with less expensive furniture, since it won’t be used as hard, and attractive upholstered  furniture is just as likely to be inexpensive as it is expensive, because, as you now know, all the value is on the inside.

 

Thank You…

The other day I was compiling customer comments from our Delivery Quality Surveys, and it really gave me a warm glow. Anyone who has worked in the retail business for any length of time knows that customer complaints are part of the territory. People who are dissatisfied with a product or service for which they have paid can be very vocal about it. Satisfied customers, on the other hand, may tell a few others about a good experience, but they don’t often come back to you to thank you for, essentially, just doing your job. So when people do thank you, it really hits home. Every customer to whom we deliver furniture receives one of these Delivery Quality Surveys. Filling it out and sending it in is optional, though a stamped envelope is provided. We use these surveys to see our business through our customers’ eyes, and make improvements where they are indicated.

Just a few excerpts:

“Smith Village is a ‘jewel’ tucked away. So glad we stopped in to take a look.”

“You have amazing staff from sales to delivery.”

“Set the standard for delivery – great job!”

“It was wonderful to experience such OUTSTANDING customer service in a day and age where customer service is almost nonexistent. I will definitely be a repeat customer.”

“We had done quite a bit of shopping around before we found Smith Village. Yours was the best experience for us. The price and quality of both furniture and service professionals was terrific.”

Obviously, there are clients we could not make happy. As the saying goes, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. But to hear such generous praise from any of our customers is a heartwarming thing.

It’s nice to hear we’re doing our job.

Thanks.

A Good Reason to Get Dirty: We Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity

Maryellen insulating in the attic.
Brian and Bill double team the ceiling drywall.

On December 4, 2012, several of us from Smith Village  teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to help remodel a duplex at 1212 – 1214 W. Poplar St. in York. None of us had much experience with remodeling, but we were willing to learn, and learn we did. The Habitat supervisor taught us on the fly, and by the end of the day we were putting in insulation, hanging drywall and painting like (semi) professionals. When we left, one family was a little closer to having a place they could call home.

Bill crawls out of the attic.

Bill and Maryellen pulled the short straw, and ended up crawling on their hands and knees in the hot and cramped eave space of the attic, putting in insulation…  As we’ve learned to expect from these two, they didn’t complain at all, just climbed right in and got to work. Later that day we found out why they were wearing masks… as  Maryellen walked across the back yard, the sun lit up a shower of insulation particles flying from her hair. It was dirty work, and not for the flexibility challenged, which left most of the rest of us out. (sorry guys!)

Colleen and I got the cushy job of painting. We took down both front doors and sanded them, then put two coats of primer on each, front and back. While they were drying we painted other odds and ends outside. Kent helped put a roof on the garage that was out back. He spent a good part of the day doing that, so I’m sure they won’t need to worry about leaks.  But there was no rest for the weary… when he finished up there, he started hanging drywall. One thing is for sure: there was no idle standing around. Brian seemed to be everywhere at once, cutting lumber, hanging drywall, making a nuisance of himself…  Steve and Mary worked on insulating the kitchen walls… better than the attic, but lots of measuring, cutting and going up and down the ladder.

 

Steve measures insulation for the attic.
Steve measures insulation for the attic.
Mary opens a package of insulation.

 

Dallas does drywall.

Our fearless leader, Dallas, kept us all well supervised, and rumor is he was helping somewhere, though we have no eyewitnesses to back this up. (just kidding, Dallas!) In reality, we all worked hard, and what a fabulous feeling it was when we dusted off to go home. We could see what a difference just 8 people and one day had done. Although the house won’t be done for the family to move in by Christmas as planned, hopefully mid January will see them warm and cozy in a place they can call home. I don’t think any of us are going to quit our day jobs just yet and go into construction, but we’re all a little handier than we were a week ago, and pretty darn proud of what we accomplished.

Colleen flips a door to paint the other side.
Kent works on the garage roof.
Me, scraping old paint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Habitat For Humanity helps provide simple, decent, affordable homes to families in need of shelter. They are a non profit group that relies on volunteers and donations to fund their building projects around the world. To volunteer or make a donation, contact them at http://www.habitat.org/

by Ellen Dougherty-Saylor

Eva Katherine

Eva Katherine is a young singer from Schuylkill County we were happy to have the opportunity to sponsor for Christmas Magic at Rocky Ridge County Park this past holiday season. Since performing in our area she has performed the National Anthem at Madison Square Garden for the Professional Bull Riders in front of a crowd of 20,000 people and on national television.  Her new band also had their first full show in New York City. Eva’s first single, entitled “You’re Not The Only One”, can be found on iTunes. Have a listen to this talented young girl.

Fun Fact About Office Chairs

One of the earliest iterations of the office chair was invented in the 1800s by naturalist Charles Darwin. Yes, the same chap who took the science world by storm with his claim that humankind evolved from primates is partially responsible for our modern day office chairs. Mr. Darwin added wheels (which would later become casters) to his personal lab chair so he could get to his specimens more quickly. Today we use those wheels mainly to roll ourselves over to the copy machine five feet away. And office chair racing. Charles would be proud.

Tips on Repairing Wood Finishes

Water Rings

water ringsWater ring stains on wood finishes can be easily removed by ironing them out.  Just place a thick piece of cloth over the water ring and press it with a warm iron.  Rub the warm iron over the cloth-covered water ring until it disappears.

If the water ring is extremely stubborn, rub it with lemon or orange oil.  Let the oil set on the water ring for several hours or overnight, and wipe off the excess oil.  The water ring should be much less apparent or it may be completely gone.

Another remedy for water rings on furniture is a mixture of white toothpaste and mayonnaise.  Just rub the water ring with an equal mixture of white toothpaste and mayo and wipe off any leftovers.  Rub the area with orange oil or lemon oil, and the water ring should be gone.

Wood finishes that have been damaged by milk-based products can be cleaned and repaired by rubbing it with a soft rag and ammonia or a little silver polish.  Just cover your index finger with a rag and dip it in either straight ammonia or a dab of silver polish.  Rub the area to remove the stain and follow up by polishing with lemon oil or orange oil.

Dents

Wood dent fillers work well to repair small dents, but they rarely match the color of wood furniture.  Before using wood filler, try a trick using your iron.  Begin by removing the finish on the dent using the appropriate wood stripper and a cotton swab.  Be careful not to get solvent anywhere else on the furniture.  Place a clean damp rag over the dent, and lightly press the tip of the iron over the dented area for several seconds.  Dry the wood surface with a clean cloth.  Lightly sand the dented area, and refinish it to match the wood stain and varnish.

Scratches

Very light or minor scratches in the varnish sometimes disappear when rubbed with furniture polish or oil.  Almond oil sticks are also wonderful for repairing light scratches.  They often just disappear.  Deeper scratches that have removed the stain are also sometimes successfully covered using furniture repair sticks or even iodine.  If these methods of scratch repair are unsuccessful, try a couple of methods often used by professionals.

Light scratches or abrasions in the varnish of wood can often be blended in using a drop of lacquer thinner mixed with denatured alcohol.  Before trying this method, test a hidden area on the furniture to see how the solvent affects the varnish.  You only want to soften it, not remove it.  If the test gives satisfactory results, proceed with repairing the scratches or abrasions.  Use a very small, soft fine-tipped paintbrush to carefully apply the solvent and blend in the varnish that surrounds the damaged area.  Move the brush diagonally to achieve the best results.  After the area is smooth, allow it to dry, and apply a coating of lemon or orange oil.

When scratches are deep and can’t be repaired with simple repair methods, use a solvent following the same method above, and make sure the type of solvent you use will not completely remove the finish.  Heat the blade of a pallet knife or another thin flat-edged metal tool.  Place the end of a matching wood fill stick or varnish stick against the hot blade.  As it melts, spread the wood filler into the scratch and level the surface.

Smith Village Teams With York’s Helping Hands For the Homeless

Smith Village is teaming up with York’s Helping Hands for theHomeless. For every new Facebook member that joins our Facebook Page between now and January 31st, Smith Village will make a $1 donation to York’s Helping Hands for the Homeless. Please share this message with your Facebook friends and family.

For many of us, this can be a very busy time of year.  There’s shopping to do, homes to prepare for the arrival of family and friends, holiday parties at work, the seemingly never ending traffic to deal with, and everything else that goes along with the holiday season.It is also a time to remember that not everyone is as fortunate as many of us. These activities that seem to consume our days right now, are a distant concern for many people right here in our own community.

In the hopes of brightening the Holiday Season and New Year for a few people, Smith Village is teaming with York’s Helping Hands for the Homeless.  We will be running a fundraising campaign, and you can help.  Between now and the end of January, for every new Facebook member that joins our Facebook Fanpage, Smith Village will make a $1 donation to York’s Helping Hands for the Homeless.

All we ask is that you visit our Facebook Page, join, and then be sure to tell your Facebook friends and family about our campaign.