The Alma Project – Year Two

By Kate Riley March 4, 2012

Hey everyone, hope you all had a fantastic weekend!  We did a lot of demo in the hall bathroom and reworked the cabinet vanity too, can’t wait to show you!  Now for my exciting announcement… it’s something so important to me and that’s the adoption of a second house for our Alma Project !!

Regular readers may recall how we adopted our first home last year and asI mentioned earlier this year, we really wanted to adopt a second home, in fact we want to adopt a new home every year. So we did!  This one is bigger than our first and has different problems, but we’re very excited to get started.

alma project logo

I can’t think of any better way to bring new readers up to speed on this project than a quote from last year’s initial announcement that we were starting this charitable project, so here it is.

“Whenever someone asks me where I see myself in five years, the first answer that I give is ‘fixing up spaces for those who really need it, not those who can afford it’. I feel in my heart that I want to spend part of my time giving back some of what’s been given to me. The mantra I have heard over and over in my head for months now is ‘there are real people with real needs who need real solutions.’ I talked it over with my hub, and we came to an agreement that we were going to reach out into our own community and find somewhere to help.

We called the Committee on the Shelterless (or COTS) to offer our services, and as with all non-profits, they welcome all the help they can get. We gave them some information, and told them what we had to offer. They ran a background check, and a week later, we adopted a house. The Alma House.

Historically, the act of almsgiving is a material donation to the needy. ‘Alma’ in Spanish means ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’. The name of the street where our first adopted house is located is Alma Drive. We deemed it a sign, and The Alma Project was born.

The Alma Project is the transformation of a fixer upper house into a comfortable functional home for women who desperately need it. Living inside the Alma House are single mothers, previously homeless, who reside for free on the condition that they are learning skills, stabilizing their lives, attending counseling, and remain drug and alcohol free. These mothers are saving their money from their part time jobs and raising their children as best as they can. They have no time or money to fix up this house. They are real women with real needs who need real solutions.”

So friends, I’m excited to share with you the second house and projects we will be taking on this year.  We donate all of our time, but we raise the money to do these projects with help from readers, friends, and donations from home improvement stores.

Allow me to introduce you to our Alma House #2.

alma project house 2

It’s a four bedroom home that houses four families – 4 moms and up to 8 children under one roof.

Here is the entry – I see something much more functional.  First, we will prime and paint the dark paneling and add hooks like we did here.  A tall skinny storage solution would be great on that short wall – a place for kids to put their shoes when they come inside their home.  The front door needs scraped, sanded, and repainted too, and a long colorful runner would be fantastic here as well.

alma 2 entry


This great room needs painted and I’m thinking about a different entertainment unit and a new area rug.  We definitely need new window treatments and perhaps a tongue and groove or paneled ceiling to cover the existing popcorn ceiling.

alma 2 great room


Here’s the biggest project of all, it’s the complete reworking of this kitchen island.  That cabinet is falling apart and the range/stove sticks out too far. The hood is huge and greasy and I want to rip it out, so here’s the plan.  We need new island cabinetry, and new appliances too – a stove built in to the island and a cooktop with a downdraft, and all the proper electrical and gas pipes.  New countertops will be required – perhaps a similar butcher block.  Beyond that, which is hard to see, is a wall with just a table, but I’d like to add more cabinetry with some seating, and more storage up above it too.

Let’s not forget, there are four families sharing this kitchen space so it must function well for all of them. The rest of the kitchen cabinets not shown are newer, so there’s no need for improvement there, just this dysfunctional kitchen island which is in desperate need of a new solution.

alma 2 awkward kitchen



Off the kitchen is this family room space which is dedicated to the kids – I’m collaborating with my friend Cristin from Simplified Bee who’s an expert in this field to pull this space together and create a functional family area that accommodates all the kids needs.  We need a design plan in here that includes new paint, seating, new window treatments, various play and work stations, and lots of storage storage storage!

alma 2 kid space


None of the four bedrooms need extra work, but there is an outdoor space that has a patio but the rest of it is a “lawn of weeds” so budget permitting, we hope to do some improvements to the outdoor area too including some low maintenance landscaping.

outdoor alma 2


Want to see what we accomplished last year? Take a look at these posts from our first Alma House:

Entry Upgrades

entry upgrades

New Media Center

alma media center

New Laundry Center

alma laundry center

plus the Season of Giving !

if you’re inspired to help, you can do so in two ways.  First, we are collecting donations like we did last year, we’d love if you can give to support the project!

Here’s the rough budget breakdown:

Entry: $500; Great Room: $600; Kids Room: $1,200; Kitchen $3,200 – which means we need to raise at least $5,500.  Any funds beyond those raised for the interior will go to outdoor landscaping, paneled ceilings, and new light fixtures.

Can we do it?  With your help, we can!

If you’d like to donate, there’s a button in the sidebar, it looks like this:

Dodonate today

Click on this button in the sidebar, and it will prompt you to our PayPal donation site!  If you wish to donate by check, pleaseclick here for the mailing address.

Here’s another way you can help. If you’re local, we’re organizing a three day event where the families will not be present (COTS will pay for a hotel for them) and a crew will go in to tackle all these projects from Friday April 27th through Sunday April 29th.

april 2012


So if you’re in Northern California and you’d like to volunteer your time, please email me and we’ll put you on the sign up list!  We especially need painters on that Friday, so email me at [email protected]  if you show up on that day as a volunteer I’ll even give you a T shirt too.  :)


alma t shirt

Thank you all in advance for your support, for those who donate what they can, and for the moral support too!  I’ll be blogging about these projects when we complete them throughout the year, so stay tuned for more about how we’re improving the lives of these families, one project at a time !




  1. I love this idea! I’ve been thinking of something similar for several years now but on a smaller scale. One of my passions is to support single moms. So often they work hard and everything goes to taking care of the kids. Some of my single mom friends have shared that often they don’t even feel they deserve beautiful things. Thank you for taking care of today’s widows and orphans :)

  2. What a wonderful way to use your skills and give back!
    I’m in the area and would love to help out. I’ll be sure to get in touch.

  3. How exciting to be taking on this new home!! I love the ideas you guys have to spruce the home up. Especially can’t wait to see what you and Cristin figure out together. Wonderful! :)

  4. What a great way to use all your skills! I am thinking I need to find a way to drive up from the Peninsula to help you out…

  5. Great idea, and very inspiring. Can’t wait to see the progress, and yes, I’ll send a donation.

  6. Kate,
    I was hoping that this was the ‘Big Announcement” you were referring to yesterday. I get teary eyed thinking of the way you think of others and use your talents to help them in their lives. It has got to make them feel special and help them deal/cope with the desperate situations that placed them in these homes. It makes me want to be better. Thank you and God bless you.


  7. Hi Kate, this is my very first time commenting on anyone’s blog and I am very happy I chose your blog to do it.
    What you’re doing is so very thoughtful, considerate and unselfish if only there were more people like yourself, the world will be a better place. I would be happy to make a donation for your cause, anything to help our hard working women. I can’t wait to see what you do to this house; it has a bunch of potential. The women and children are going to love it, I just know it!!

    P.S. I love the floors in the Great Room they’re gorgeous. “I hope they’re staying”

  8. This is an awesome project. I don’t live in Northern CA any more, but I will pass this on to some of my friends that do! Amazing work!

  9. I’ve always wanted to do something like you are doing. It is so wonderful and generous of you to give back. I live in Maine, otherwise I’d be there helping you paint. There must be projects like this in my area, but I’d need someone to tell me what to do until I became confident enough to run a project. I’ve looked at Habitat for Humanity in the past, but it seems it’s more money than time they need. Of course, you need money to complete the project and your ability to raise money thru your website is certainly helpful in that regard. I will continue to be inspired by what you are doing. Great work :) I will be making a donation and pretend I am there in spirit.

  10. What a wonderful way to use your talent! Wish I lived closer – I’d be there with a paint roller in hand for sure!

  11. I have so much love for these projects and all that you do, such a great cause. You are truly an inspiration! I am excited to see you are collaborating with Cristin, I adore her as well!


  12. that is such a awesome, inspiring idea. God bless you and all who contribute.

  13. Yay! This is my favorite part of your blog! Can’t wait to see the results!!!

  14. I think it’s terrific what you do with the Alma Project! I love seeing your reveals. And I love how much I learn from you. Happy to donate to such a worthy cause :)

  15. Oh yay! I was hoping you would do some more Alma Projects. I loved what you did with the first house.

    Could you plant some fruit trees in the backyard? Or put in a couple of raised gardens for some vegetables, or a herb box? It would be so great to provide a way for the families to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

  16. Brilliant idea Emma, I love it!! Yes, fruit trees and planter beds for a garden makes great sense!

  17. I’m so glad you got your server working, so I could see this! I wish I were in your area (Idaho is really far away!) and I would be over to help. Great work!

  18. I saw the title of this project and had to comment. My grandmother’s name was Alma and I named by dog (who is like a child to me) after her. I think what you’re doing is amazing! Keep up the good work.

  19. I love how you are helping people. I remember growing up people helped my family and now I pass that along to other. I think you are doing great work your kindness will have a real impact on someone else life. Great job giving back. Be blessed……..

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