Paint It Forward keeps memories alive

Above is the Crump family, with Denise on the far left, on a family vacation. The family resides in Waterloo.

Refurbishing a family heirloom of a local in need inspired Paint It Forward, a new Farm Girl Finds initiative that gives room or furniture makeovers to those in need. 

The day she was taking her mother to get a cancer biopsy, Farm Girl Finds owner Lisa Maurer received a call from an unknown number. 

It was a Columbia native named Angela Conrad Carlson, whose cousin Denise Touchette Crump, who also grew up Columbia, was battling cancer. 

“She explained the story and she said ‘I don’t think we have much time, she’s in the final phase of her life, and it was her dream to have this china cabinet painted to give to her daughter with all of her (family’s) china,’” Maurer said. 

Maurer explained given the parallels in their lives – both families were navigating cancer – and Denise’s time constraint, she felt a strong pull to the project. 

“So I dropped everything and went over to their house within a day or two and started working on the china cabinet,” Maurer said. 

Pictured is the refurbished china cabinet with Denise’s mother’s wedding china. Lisa Maurer of Farm Girl Finds completed the project shortly before Denise passed away, allowing the family heirlooms to be passed down to her daughter.

Dana Zimmermann, Crump’s sister, said seeing the cabinet refurbished and complete with her mother’s wedding china lit up what was a dark time for her. 

“She was just crying and so happy,” Zimmermann said. “It was something that Denise wasn’t expecting.” 

Zimmermann said Crump knew Maurer was working on the cabinet, but she had no idea what it looked like until the big reveal. 

For Maurer, the project was bittersweet – she granted one of Denise’s final wishes days before she passed away. 

“It was a neat experience, but it was also very sad,” Maurer said. “I think about how it will impact her daughter, who will benefit from it, but it was sad that she passed away. She wasn’t very old to begin with and she had kids.” 

A few years later, and after Maurer’s mother beat cancer, a familiar face visited Farm Girl Finds. 

“This past year, Angela walked into my store and said, ‘Do you remember me?’ and I was like ‘Absolutely.’ We just kind of reconnected after two years,” Maurer said. “I reached out to her not long after that and I said, ‘You have been weighing on my mind and I feel like we should do some kind of project together. Let’s do some type of makeover for somebody, kind of like we did for Denise and make somebody’s day a little brighter.’” 

From there, Maurer, Carlson and Zimmermann came up with the Paint it Forward concept. 

Through this initiative, Farm Girl Finds will provide furniture and room makeovers to Monroe County residents in need. Zimmermann, Carlson and other members of the family are helping to promote the project, with Zimmermann’s husband making the logo, and will help Maurer with the makeover once a recipient is chosen. 

“We’re just looking for someone maybe who couldn’t afford to do it themselves or gives a lot (to others) but never takes the time to do things for themselves. Maybe it’s a single mom with kids who just can’t get a break, or maybe it’s someone like Denise who had these wishes to pass it on to her daughter,” Maurer said. 

For Zimmermann, the criteria is also broad. 

“I want this to be for somebody who is going through a difficult time,” she said, adding that the gift of a makeover is ultimately from her sister. “I know Denise would be so happy that we’re able to keep her memory alive.”

Those interested can visit Farm Girl Finds on Facebook, email or visit the store at 221 W. Mill Street in Waterloo. 

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Madison Lammert

Madison is a reporter at the Republic-Times. She has over six years of experience in journalistic writing. Madison is a recent graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in mass communications. Before graduating and working at the Republic-Times, Madison worked for SIUE’s student newspaper, The Alestle, for many years. During her time there she filled many roles, including editor-in-chief. When she is not working, she likes to spend time with her dog and try new restaurants across the river.
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