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Dream Home for Kids Fighting Cancer

$69,759 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 116 people in 10 months
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Tommy's Place
is a vacation home being developed at the former Elm Arch Inn in beautiful Falmouth, MA on Cape Cod for kids fighting cancer and their families!
 
The Mission: We are raising funds to make a dream home-away-from-home for kids fighting cancer and their families, a break from the hospitals, a place of comfort and new experiences and memories, and the gift of time to just be together - for immediate family members, or big enough to include extended family, close family friends and caregivers.  Why?  Because of the 8-year-old boy who the home is being dedicated to, Grifyn Sawyer.  Several years ago I just wanted to help in any way I could, and to do something that I wished to be truly meaningful, for these courageous kids and their families.  So I made my home on Martha's Vineyard available to Grifyn and his family, not entirely knowing just how valuable of an experience it would be...  
Grifyn's amazing Mom, Amy says it best: “Our beautiful son Grifyn Robert Sawyer was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder, Aplastic Anemia, on Sept. 12, 2001, at 2 1/2 years old.  Grifyn fought a courageous battle for 6 years and in the early morning hours of Dec. 26, 2007 he became an angel.  The trip was the most amazing time for our whole family...We didn't know at the time, but that would be the last vacation as a complete family we would have. Seeing the joy and wonder on the kid's faces as we stepped into the amazing house we stayed at was priceless... It was a time of joy and relaxation and a time where Grifyn had somewhat of a reprieve from the hospital and doctor visits. He was able, if just for a short time, to be a normal kid. Everything was taken care of for us, the only thing we had to do was enjoy it all. As the week drew to an end, it was back to reality but with memories that will last a lifetime. Over the years I have thought about that trip and this mysterious person many, many times. Imagine the shock, when a little over 10 years later, I received an email from Tim O'Connell, the amazing man who donated our trip, saying he has never forgotten Grifyn or our family.  He filled us in with his plans to build a place where families like us can go year round for a week at a time and for at least a brief period of time, not worry about doctors, needles, and hospital visits.  Tim is truly an angel sent from above and we can never thank him enough. This project will put smiles on the faces of so many families experiencing the worst of times and I am proud to have my son's name a part of that."
Amy Sawyer

And a note from Grifyn's Grandparents and Amy's Mom and Dad, after their stay…
"My husband and I had to thank you ourselves for the most overwhelming gift you gave to Grifyn and his family.  Just to see our daughter Amy, Grifyn's mom, so happy and relaxed was just wonderful. As for Grifyn, he smiled and talked more than he has in a long time...your generosity was very much appreciated by us all. Our family has certainly been blessed by an angel!!"Bless you and thank you again!
Sincerely, 
Grifyn's Grandma and Papa, Sandy and Bob 

I had found one way to make a difference, and now I am asking you to join me in continuing this mission of making this opportunity available to many more kids and families that are fighting childhood cancer! It's going to be a tall task to make this dream a reality, but together, through the dedicated commitment of volunteers and the generosity of your donations, every little smile coming from these courageous kids faces is going to make it all worthwhile! Funds being raised will go towards the purchase, rebuilding and opening of this dream home that will include multiple bedrooms, chef’s kitchen, movie room, game room, built-in pool and much, much more! All families need to bring are clothes, a toothbrush and a desire to have fun and make memories! We never expect that our healthy, happy child will be diagnosed with childhood cancer. We can’t anticipate that our daily routine will be immediately altered and our new normal will include hospitalizations, doctors appointments, painful treatments, clinic chemotherapy, and employment interruption. The tentacles of cancer are far-reaching. There are interruptions to childhood, school, employment, finances, siblings, and extended family and friends. Days, weeks, months and years are committed to remission and restored “health.” Tommy’s Place will provide accommodations for entire families to come together for a week of connecting without the strain of cancer! 
Thank you very much for your kindness, generosity, and support in helping to make this dream home a reality for these courageous young kids and their families that are fighting this horrendous illness!
Let's Help Make Some Memories!
Sincerely,
Tim O'Connell +Tommy's Place Team!


*Why the name Tommy's Place you ask...? 
Tommy’s Place is named in honor of local Falmouth, MA legend Tommy Leonard, also known as the founder of the world famous Falmouth Road Race. Tommy is also a legend in the Boston Marathon world as a famous bartender at the former Eliot Lounge in Boston! While Tommy is a former runner, U.S. Marine, and bartender, he is most importantly known for his fun-loving spirit, great attitude and for having a huge, kind, loving and generous heart! Bottom line, he is a giver and I am honored to have met him and to be able to call him my friend. Tommy has been an inspiration to me and has helped change my life just by being "Tommy". Orphaned in his youth, this is my way of giving Tommy the “home” that he didn't have when he was growing up - allowing his generosity and legacy to live on forever in Falmouth by "welcoming" these courageous young children and families into his “home”, free of charge, to share in some fun and laughter during some of their most challenging times.
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Hello Everyone!

Several months back I started a GoFundMe campaign to kick off fundraising for the future home of Tommy's Place at the former Elm Arch Inn in historic downtown Falmouth on beautiful Cape Cod. I had no idea if the idea of a vacation home for kids fighting cancer would resonate with and touch people's hearts as much as it did mine. Since day one, I have been completely blown away by the outpouring of support and the generosity of so many people from Falmouth and really, all over Massachusetts and completely across the country! Our community on Facebook has grown from zero to over 1000 committed followers! Our list of volunteers and supporters is now approaching 400!
I'm happy to report that thanks to a very generous donation of $500 from Alyssa Caddle this a.m., (who was inspired by her friends Erin and Josh Levy's incredibly kind $2500 donation in lieu of their wedding favors), "our" GoFundMe donations have just reached over $65,000!!
Our total commitments for Tommy's Place, including our room sponsorship program, are now at an incredibly humbling $400,000 - and counting!!
From $1 to $100,000 every single donation gets us closer. We still have a ways to go, but thanks to ALL OF YOU we are getting much closer to making this dream a reality for these incredible kids that are fighting cancer!!

Thank you for believing. All of you have become the wind beneath my wings and give me the strength I need to continue pushing forward on this incredible journey! I am forever grateful and appreciate all of your kindness, generosity and support!!

Thank You!!!!

Sincerely,

Tim
www.tommysplace.org
www.gofundme.com/tommysplace

(P.S. As I am writing this post another $1000 donation just came in - unbelievable! Thank you!)
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Tommy's Place is excited to announce our newest Tommy's Place Founding Member Room Sponsor.
Falmouth's own Artist-in-Residence Karen Rinaldo is sponsoring the Arts and Crafts Room in memory of her mom!!
Please read more of Karen's life story below and why she chose to become one of a limited number of Founding Members of
Tommy's Place...Another example of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to make the world a better place!!

Karen Rinaldo -

Perhaps no single member of the community has better captured that gift of history throughout our history – and selflessly shared it with us – than legendary local artist Karen Rinaldo. Her ability to artistically exhibit the soul of our community and its landmarks and landscapes on canvas has touched lives for generations since she came to Falmouth as a self-described ‘creative soul’ in the 1970’s. Since then, she has become deeply rooted in – and her artistry has been woven into - the fabric of the community she so loves. Karen’s gift to Falmouth is in her philanthropic pursuits in generously sharing her artistic gift with all of us and in supporting organizations who help to preserve the historic bits of that same local soul.

Karen’s deep love for and respect of history is rooted in her own formative experience living in a pre-Revolutionary homestead in Worcester on the old Post Road that meandered through 18th century Massachusetts. Replete with secret tunnels and stories to match, this house sparked Karen’s profound connection with history and passion to preserve it. It was also the site of her first philanthropic exercise. She would charge a nickel to locals and provide tours of the house and tell the tales of its journey through time. She would then donate the proceeds to a local charity. The house was later razed, taking with it the physical remnants of those memories, but solidifying Karen’s commitment to preservation. In much the same form, her work continues in that fashion today. Through her paintings, Karen takes us on tours of Falmouth’s history and preserves what may have been razed by raising our awareness and appreciation for the Falmouth of yesterday.

Her journey to Falmouth – and to the life of an artist – were not-so-gently nudged by what Karen calls a ‘defining moment’ of her life. After youthful escapades and what she described as ‘prowling around,’ she found herself as a sixteen-year old before a judge. When the magistrate sternly but paternally asked her what she intended to do with her life, she told him she wanted to be a painter. He quizzically responded with another question, asking if she intended to paint with a big brush or a small one, mocking her whimsical but resolute response. She proudly and determinedly (if perhaps a bit timidly) reported to the judge that she wanted to, “be a painter with a small brush who paints fine paintings.” The judge replied, “Kid, you’re gonna need a lot of luck.” Karen knew that hard work begets luck, and set out that day to prove to the judge that she could paint with the small brush – but make a big impact. That day and those prophetic words – from Karen and from the judge - formed the foundation and the portal to a life dedicated to sharing her gift and her gratitude with others through that small brush.

Not too many years later, Karen found herself in Falmouth, pursuing that same goal of painting fine paintings. Her gallery, now a local landmark at the end of Scranton Ave. next to the venerable Clam Shack, was a fish market, replete with lobster tanks and rubber mats on the floor. The location, however, perfectly fit Karen’s love of colorful panoramas and connection with the sea. She displayed paintings there, and began to integrate into what is now her hometown. Through the 80’s she continued her relentless pursuit of living the life of an artist, always seeking local charities to support with her artwork. Her images on the Falmouth Fireworks t-shirts are now the stuff of local legend. People collect these local treasures like baseball cards – I have a few myself and look forward to my annual visit with Arthur Ratsy to buy mine. One of her gallery locales throughout that locally nomadic journey was a spot on Academy Lane, near the Chamber of Commerce. Her gallery didn’t have a phone, so she would give out the number of the pay phone outside the Chamber building, then hurl herself hurriedly down the stairs and outside when it rang, hoping a willing and eager customer was on the other end.

The customers came. In 1989, the Fish Market next to the Clam Shack closed, and Karen had found a permanent home for her paintings and her passion. Still today, she sits in the modestly appointed studio, richly replete with the markings of a true artist’s lair: her inimitable works of art in various stages of completion, a canvas facing the priceless vista of Vineyard Sound, and of course, lots of small brushes. A generation later, Karen continues to capture the essence of our local soul, and continues to build on those tours of her homestead, living a life of purpose with her charitable pursuits.

Karen is now proud to be a supporter of Tommy’s Place. In her own words, “When I learned of Tim O'Connell's back story and dream (intention) a vision for the house the former Elm Arch Inn I was inspired and moved at its opportunity to help families in a "home away from home for children fighting cancer." Falmouth is an engaged and caring town and Tommy's Place, so appropriately named, is the perfect place for such a dream to be launched. The Elm Arch Inn is itself a survivor in the chronicles recorded in our history books and the years withstanding. It is a good analogy to these young lives withstanding and confronting their personal battles.

I learned of rooms within the facility in memory of and a way of sustaining and generating funds to help move the project forward. An artist's greatest gift is that of vision. Art gives us sight…Vision gives us insight. When my Mom lost her vision it made a huge impact on our lives and the way we communicate now with word pictures and an introduction to a different kind of vision.

She taught me a whole new way to see things simply called "inner vision." Inner vision is the place we automatically go to to solve a problem, think things over. In that darkness we reconfigure and have a better understanding of problems and for this artist shapes and forms and yes, even color. Her philosophy I found so profound and I became better at visualization and conceptual ideas.

I thought about the idea of honoring this amazing person who I learned such valuable lessons from and literally learned how to see from with a room in her name but and with that line attached Art gives us sight… vision gives us insight.

Tommy's Place thru Tim O'Connell's great vision will give an awesome opportunity of relief, and relaxation to ease the world of hospital stays and Dr. visits these families experience to a "dream vacation home. Our community can take pride in turning the worst of times into the best of times.”

Indeed it can, Karen, and Tommy’s Place takes pride in having a partner like you.

Thank you so much for your support Karen Rinaldo!! For those that want to support Karen’s vision and amazing work, please visit her at her new “home” which is right around the corner from “Tommy’s Place” at: The Gallery on Main, 317 Main Street in Falmouth, www.thegalleryonmainfalmouth.com

www.tommysplace.org
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On an otherwise ordinary Sunday once again I am blown away by ordinary people doing extraordinary things out of the kindness of their hearts for Tommy's Place! I received a notification on my phone saying that someone had just made a very significant and generous donation of $2500 on www.gofundme.com/tommysplace - I looked at the phone 2-3 times to make sure I was seeing things correctly. Once I determined I was not mistaken I then looked at the names, because surely this had to be someone that I know!? Nope, no one that I ever heard of in my life - that is until I received a note yesterday from this incredibly amazing couple of which I have received permission to share with you.

Good news, by kind, thoughtful, generous and truly selfless individuals is very hard to come by these days...!

Dear Mr. O’Connell,

My fiancé and I would like to take a minute and thank you for the amazing work that you’re doing. We’re getting married in a couple of weeks and after reading about Tommy’s Place and hearing your story, we decided that we wanted to donate to Tommy's Place in lieu of wedding favors. My fiancé, Josh, grew up in Falmouth and his parents still live and work there, it was actually his mom who had first told us about your story. I grew up in Dedham, but spent many summers down in Falmouth at my friend’s parents’ Cape house, so Falmouth has a special place in our hearts. We were also really touched by your story because 5 years ago this month I lost my dad to cancer, and while it wasn’t kids fighting cancer, it was still a family fighting it and 3 children affected by it. I remember Labor Day weekend of 2013, my dad had just been told by his doctors that the cancer was spreading fast and he had two months or less. A family member had offered their home in Maine to us for that weekend, a beautiful home on the lake that they normally would have rented out for the weekend. Instead, they gave it to us to be there together as a family, to try and get away from reality, to not have the worries of paying for that vacation, but most of all, the chance to make some of our very last vacation memories as a family. Knowing how much that meant to our family really gives us an understanding of the work you’re doing and the impact you’re having on these families. We look forward to sharing your story with our wedding guests and pray for continued success for you and your project. If there is anything we can do to help, please let us know!

All the best,

Erin McKenna (soon to be Levy!) and Josh Levy

THANK YOU Erin and Josh!!!
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All I can say is..."WOW!"
Thank you to the following incredible individuals that came to Tommy's Place yesterday for a special yard clean-up project organized by 13 year old Eagle Scout Quintin Duquette!
Jeremiah Remedis, Thad Lincoln, Greg Remedis, Josh Leonard, Peter Duquette, Deb Hobday, Tucker Morton and of course 88 year old Tommy's Place Senior Ambassador and Tommy's Place Movie Room Sponsor Del Sherrill!
The gang is coming back again today and again next week to continue their amazing work.
A special thank you to Brenda Sharp from the Falmouth Enterprise and Sarah Murphy of Wicked Local Falmouth and Tim Leonard from Leonard Lawn and Yard...all of you could have been somewhere else on this beautiful day, but you chose to unselfishly give back to Tommy's Place!!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!!
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$69,759 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 116 people in 10 months
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