Kate Tinsley knows something about the dark, downward spirals military spouses can find themselves in while their spouse is on deployment. She experienced it herself as an active duty airman while her husband deployed. Pregnant with their second child, Tinsley found herself alone, chasing after their one-year-old, and working in a mental health clinic. It was a lot for anyone to handle. She notes that she “started going down that rabbit hole of invisible illnesses that a lot of spouses do.” Loneliness. Frustration. Homesickness.
When she came home from work every day, she looked around at the blank walls of her undecorated home. After a cycle of PCSing and deployments, Tinsley didn’t see the point: “You’re always at that stage where you think you’re going to get orders and move.” But it was depressing.
One day during the deployment, Tinsley came home and began decorating, thrifting, and upcycling. She says she was “trying to make myself feel better while he wasn’t there.” And the crazy thing? It worked. She found comfort in a home that felt comfortable. And she knew she wanted to share that feeling with other military spouses.
Homefront Room Revival, Tinsley’s newly formed 501(c)(3), is focused on helping military spouses one room at a time. Since 2016, they have “transformed” five full rooms for spouses of deployed service members. From furniture to decor, Tinsley and her team of volunteers work to make the military spouse’s vision a reality. She sees the organization as boosting morale through home decorating “to help [military spouses] feel comfort when their loved one isn’t there.”
And the organization has been working to make the holidays brighter, too. Through Dec’ the Deployment, nominated military spouses are given help on a holiday-related project. And, while some of the projects have been fabulous– one family received a Grinch-themed front porch, for instance– they aren’t always: One spouse just needed help getting her decorations out of the attic and put up. During the beginning of December, Dec’ the Deployment completed four projects for four different military families.
Tinsley stresses that each make-over and redecoration is completely custom so that the recipient feels truly comfortable in their redesigned room. She wants to make sure that spouses know individual attention is taken for them. “When I was active duty, I didn’t have any spouses reaching out to me for help. My husband was gone over Christmas. . . there was just no personal outreach,” she says.
Homefront Room Revival needs help to continue serving and getting larger. Donations are needed– Tinsley was ecstatic that the organization received $1,000 through Giving Tuesday efforts– and volunteers are welcome too. “We’ve been able to do miraculous things with what we’ve been given,” she says. “For every little bit of money we get, we can do more.”
Those interested in volunteering, donating, or nominating a North Carolina-based military spouse can check out Homefront Room Revival’s website for more information.
By J.G. Noll