About Us

Special Spaces Wisconsin – Our History
Special Spaces is non-profit 501 c(3) organization that creates dream bedrooms for children with life threatening illnesses. Special Spaces evolved on the precedent that children facing this journey need a special space for them to heal, recover and find peace. Special Spaces was founded in July of 2004 in Knoxville, Tennessee and to this day has created over 600 dream bedrooms since its inception. Our organization has been the subject of national attention.

Special Spaces came to Wisconsin in late 2011 when our first Milwaukee chapter was formed. We now have four chapters including Milwaukee, Green Bay, Fox Valley and Dubuque, Iowa.  Since 2011 we have completed over 75 dream bedrooms. Our goal is to recruit and develop three new chapters in our state and complete our 100th makeover by the end of next year.

Our Process

The majority of the children have been referred to Special Spaces by the local children’s hospital. Special Spaces has developed a strong and positive relationship with hospitals and Oncology Departments across the country. Once a child is referred to us by the local children’s hospital, a home interview is scheduled with the child and family.  The child is the main “designer” of a Special Spaces room makeover. Whatever the child can dream or imagine we can create within the limitations of our budget.  Our unique approach utilizes volunteers for 95% of its work force.  There are very few business models that use this approach.  The amount of volunteers used for the makeover allows for many individuals to be touched by a child.  Funding and volunteer support is equally important in the implementation of a Special Spaces room makeover.  Volunteers are needed at every skill level from those who can sew, paint, woodwork or help clean up.

A typical makeover requires $4,000 in monetary donations along with in-kind donations and services. We approach businesses and organizations, and request a monetary donation to cover the cost of the supplies.  We look for matching in-kind donations and services as well. We also ask the sponsor to provide 15–20 volunteers to work with our skeleton crew for one day. This allows the sponsoring company or organization to involve their employees or volunteers directly. We put all the volunteers to work under the guidance of our crew, which consists of a general contractor and other members from our core of volunteers. In just one day, that dream bedroom is created and presented to the child and family. All the funding is raised locally and stays local except for 15% of revenues which go to our National office. These funds come back to us to support makeovers in the form of insurance, legal, marketing and all financial activities. Over 80% of all funds raised go to program (room) expenses.

We seek grants and individual and corporate support to fund our rooms and growth. We also will seek additional financial resources from national and local fund raising events. We have grown from just one local chapter to a national organization with a strong and growing Wisconsin presence. It is our vision and hope that Special Spaces will soon be changing children’s lives one bedroom at a time across the entire state joined by chapters across the country. We hope your organization will join our mission. We appreciate your interest and would welcome your questions.

Ann & Chris Swain
Special Spaces Wisconsin