NELSON Chicago Completes (Re)-Fortify Charity Event

April 30
NELSON Chicago Completes (Re)-Fortify Charity Event

Our Chicago Teammates recently participated in (Re)fortify - Forts + Fabrics for a Cause, a charitable competition for designers to create forts from blankets, sheets, towels, and clothing with local children enrolled in the Art and Science program at Breakthrough. All proceeds from the event were donated to keep those less fortunate warm during the winter.

This year, the NELSON Chicago Team paired with sponsor, Vitra, with the help of donations from Mohawk, Milliken & Company, Pilipuf Grist & Associates and NRI, and two young promising designers from Breakthrough and created a “Frozen” themed fort from 805 articles of clothing! The team also took home two awards - “Best Interpretation of Inspiration” and “Most Donated Items.”

We caught up with one of the Team Leaders, Kristin Cerutti, NCIDQ, LEED® AP ID +C, Senior Designer, to get the Team’s insights on the event.

Question: Can you tell us a little about (Re)-Fortify?

Answer: (Re)fortify has been taking place in Atlanta for a few years now. Last year, a Chicago team brought the event into the Chicago design industry for the first time and it was such a hit that it has come back for another year. The (Re)fortify organization committee chose to pair up with Breakthrough Urban Ministries (a local organization that, in addition to being a homeless shelter, provides so much more to the community in the ways of education, networking, a fresh food market, financial management, mental health care, etc. They are truly an unbelievable organization.) The organization team holds design classes with the kids to teach them about the design process. They learn how to create design concepts, collaborate with others and how to present their designs. In the process, they come up with inspiration boards for their forts. These are then given to the Design firms to use to make the kids’ designs come to life.

Question: How did you get involved with the charity?

Answer: The NELSON Chicago team participated in last year’s event and had so much fun, we just had to do it again. When Rebecca, from Vitra, and I got talking about how great the event was last year, we just knew that our companies would be a great team and she offered to sponsor us.

Question: What was your process for gathering donations like?

Answer: Well we were lucky enough to have the support of our building’s management team (MB Real Estate) this year and they allowed us to not only place collection bins outside of our office entrance and in the building lobby, but they also sent email reminders out to all the tenants in our building to bring in donations. In addition to this, the NELSON team and their families and friends donated a whole lot of stuff! We all got in the spring cleaning mood.

Question: How did you decide on the “Frozen” theme?

Answer: Our two little architects (Precious and Precious) from Breakthrough chose Frozen as their inspiration. Our team didn’t know what our fort’s theme would be until 4 weeks prior to the event. At that time we received the inspiration board and got to work. I do have to say that I think some of the NELSON team were maybe even more excited about the theme than the kids were.

Question: Has “Let It Go” been stuck in your head for weeks?

Answer: I won’t say any names, but I have to admit that some team members did do quite a bit of intense research in the form of movie-watching to prepare and our kids did request that the sound track be played within our fort. Despite that, I actually haven’t had it stuck in my head, but now that you mention the song I probably will for days. Thanks a lot!

Question: What were some challenges your Team faced?

Answer: Our forts were limited to 8’ square by 8’ high and had to be made of 90% donated materials. I’d say the hardest part is coming up with a structure that will not only bring the design to life, but will support the weight of all that clothing! It really adds up quickly. We were lucky enough to have a friend donate a pop-up tent structure that we used in conjunction with cardboard plotter tubes which provided a strong base for our “cool” design.

Question: What were some of the outcomes of this year’s (Re)-Fortify?

Answer: We will be writing a check to Breakthrough for approximately $3000-3500 and we collected close to 4000 items of bedding and clothing- this fully supported Breakthrough's needs and the Salvation Army. All surplus items went to various locations in the city. 


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