The Children's Home in Catonsville gets made-for-TV renovations

The Children's Home renovations to be featured on TV show

Kenneth had wanted flowers in front of his cottage.

The 18-year-old, who lives at The Children's Home in Catonsville, thought they would make the area look nicer.

And after the nonprofit was selected by a Baltimore television station for an episode of its locally produced renovation show, fresh landscaping throughout the 44-acre campus was part of the remodeling project.

"I really like it," Kenneth said. "I really like walking up there and seeing the flowers. It's bright now." (The Children's Home, following policy, did not disclose Kenneth's last name, as he's still supported by the state.)

This week, WMAR-TV will air an episode of "Built Upon A Dream" featuring the final reveal of work at the foster home, valued at nearly $500,000 in donated time, labor and materials.

The show's creator, Belinda Lee, said she was inspired by portions of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," a network television show in which home renovations were done for families in need at no cost, and wanted to apply it to area nonprofits.

The Children's Home is the fifth project she has undertaken.

"We just knew it was the place to be," said Lee. "We were really honored to have the opportunity to be here and work with them."

Andre Cooper, CEO of The Children's Home, got the call from the television station four months ago asking about his interest in taking part in "Built Upon a Dream." He thought it was a prank call.

Originally known as the German Protestant Orphan Association of the City of Baltimore, the 153-year-old program — renamed The Children's Home in 1985 — moved to Catonsville in 1924.

On Thursday, he was able to thank all who have helped make the project a reality.

Work included building a new pavilion with an outdoor grill and renovations to the gym, kitchen and dining hall. Bathrooms, roofs, decks and awnings were also improved.

Cooper told them because of their generosity, the kids have "a refreshed and renewed environment."

As the state is trying to save money, group home campuses such as The Children's Home, are on the decline, he said. In fiscal 2015, the nonprofit lost more than $1 million.

The campus can provide a home-like living environment for up to 70 residents ages 13 to 21 who are referred by county social services departments in Maryland and Washington, D.C., due to abuse, neglect or abandonment, Cooper said. The home currently has 45 residents.

Maryland and Washington, D.C., pay up to $200 a day for the housing and services, according to Bruce VanDervort, grant writer and publicist for the nonprofit.

"The half a million dollars that has gone into this campus without us having to spend a dime for it means far more to the kids, to the staff and to our financial situation than any of you could ever imagine," he said.

The "Built Upon a Dream" team included MacKenzie Contracting Co., Manekin Construction, Fence & Deck Connection, A. Hoffman Awning, Bath Fitter, Cox Roofing, Bank of America, Ruppert Landscape, Thompson Creek, Penza Bailey Architects as well as several subcontractors, suppliers and volunteers.

As finishing touches were put on the project last week, Catonsville artist Jenna Sterner was painting in the nonprofit's dining hall, writing "Bon Appetit" in script around a clock.

"I'm excited," said the 21-year-old artist. "I like doing local work, especially for something like this where I can give back."

"Built Upon a Dream" is scheduled to air at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4 on WMAR-TV ABC 2, and 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5 on Bounce TV.

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