Alpha House, which oversees the only licensed maternity home in Hillsborough County, recently underwent its own version of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The facility's rooms — a mere 8 by 6 by 13 feet — were cold and austere. Until local designers recently adopted 19 rooms, volunteering to share their vision and artistry in remodeling the living spaces for homeless teens and adults who are pregnant.
The rooms are now warm and inviting in shades of green and yellow, purple and pink. In one room, butterflies on the walls gently flap their wings toward the skies. Woven baskets have replaced plastic tubs for toiletries and baby wipes. Where there were faded window coverings, now teal, pink, brown and mauve dot white drapes to match the room decor.
Organizers hosted an open house this month to show how the facility, at 201 S Tampania Ave., had changed. Some former residents and employees came back to reminisce.
Seventeen years ago, a pregnant Pearl Bowden was brought to Alpha House after being asked to leave her home.
"I would never believe in a million years I would be able to step back in that room that held so much pain for me in those days," Bowden, now 37, said during the open house. "God blessed me with this time to heal that broken little girl."
Back then, Debra Thrower was her counselor. Their relationship was rocky. To Bowden's surprise, Thrower also attended the open house.
In retrospect, she recognizes Thrower's tough love. "She never gave up on me," Bowden said. "She obviously saw something in me that it took me years to see in myself. She was tough but I needed tough at the time."
The goal of the "A Room of Her Own" project was to bring warmth, color and love to the rooms that had not been changed since the building opened in 1988.
As far as Bowden is concerned, they reached that goal.
"Stepping back into the room brought peace to my life," she said.