PART 2 of SERIES Local Businesses Are the Heart of Our Community
For Mimi & Hill Design firm owners, Miriam Verga and Hillary Kaplan, giving back is as essential to their business as design.
A constant in their company has been to find meaningful charitable projects -- or being open to the projects finding them. Verga and Kaplan try to take on at least one charity project every year, in addition to fundraising for breast cancer research. Since Kaplan beat breast cancer five years ago, charities like Play for Pink hold a special place in their hearts.
Often times, their projects are personal, whether they are relating to cancer research or Temple Emanu El. Part of Mimi and Hill’s charitable philosophy comes from the Jewish belief of Tzedakah. “Tzedakah is Hebrew for making the world a better place,” Kaplan said. “That’s a big part of our Jewish culture and that's why we have always believed that our firm does not just exist to design spaces but to beautify the world at large.”
Some recent projects include designing the senior housing center at Temple Emanu El and redoing the teachers' lounge at Wilson. Both women had kids go through Wilson, so that project was close to home.
Verga and Kaplan believe that the projects they are meant to do find them. And that how their journey with Grace’s house began. In November of 2018, they received an email from the Valerie Fund looking for designers to participate in a show house that would be a fundraiser for the organization. The Valerie Fund provides services for children with cancer and blood disorders, and Verga and Kaplan immediately decide they would sign-on.
The eventual show house, called Grace’s House, was located in an old mansion in Plainfield. Named in honor of Grace, a pediatric brain cancer patient who was treated by the Valerie Fund, the house was purchased by her grandfather with the intent of raising money for the organization that saved Grace’s life.
The Grace's House Designer Show House total transformed the mansion and raised over $200,000 for the Valerie Fund. Along with the outcome, Verga and Kaplan loved the process of designing the room and the lovely spirit of camaraderie among the design teams, inspired by Grace and her family.
Similar to Grace’s House, about eight years ago Mimi and Hill redesigned a teenage cancer patient’s room. One of their friend’s daughters was diagnosed with cancer, so to make her feel more comfortable in her space they redesigned the room with comfort and practicality in mind. Like most teenage girls, she asked for her new room to be blue. The goal of the room was to provide the girl with some hope and joy in her life.
Ultimately, both projects were extremely rewarding for Verga and Kaplan. They combined design with charity, which is essentially what Mimi and Hill are trying to do: change the world through design, providing peace and inspiration that can come when clients are comfortable in their spaces.
Mimi & Hill embody the giving spirit of Westfield's local businesses, rising to support those in need within our community. Local businesses spend their limited resources on good deeds like these, often without public recognition.
Local businesses are the heart of our community. During trying times like these it's important to remember to support them back.