Interview with Kia Davis, founder of The Carsyn Neille Foundation.
With a mission to support and comfort families affected by childhood cancer through the transformation of their interior home spaces, the Carsyn Neille Foundation is providing these families with a sanctuary and catapulting them towards healing and thriving through their Rooms to Heal by Carsyn Neille (giving parents who have lost a child to cancer a space to grieve and heal in) and Rooms to Thrive (giving children facing a cancer related illness a safe space to grow and thrive) programs.
Tell us about the mission of The Carsyn Neille Foundation and why you started the organization.
Our daughter, Carsyn Neille, was diagnosed with brain cancer on June 4, 2013 at just 4 1/2 months old. A diagnostic MRI revealed she had one of the largest atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors (AT/RT) the pediatric neurologist had ever seen in an infant. We were rushed into emergency surgery, and within five hours of her diagnosis she was gone. Cancer had become our family’s tragedy.
After Carsyn passed we tried to give back in many ways. At the time, I owned a high fashion children’s boutique in which we started a clothing line and donated proceeds to Rady Children’s hospital. Looking back the clothing line wasn’t the cutest thing *laugh* and I didn’t feel like I was making an impact. This time last year, I was encouraged to create rooms for childhood cancer families because I had created beautiful spaces for friends and family members. There’s many amazing organizations that focus on research, therapies, and diet for these families, but no one’s creating spaces that are not only gorgeous but minimize toxic loads. After praying about it we decided to move forward with creating the Carsyn Neille Foundation in honor of our sweet Carsyn. Our mission is to support and comfort families affected by childhood cancer through the transformation of their interior home spaces, providing them a sanctuary and catapulting them towards healing and thriving. By creating spaces that are not only beautiful but low impact on human health and the environment, the Carsyn Neille Foundation assists in increasing the quality of life for each family, both in treatment and beyond.
What are your highest hopes for the foundation?
Impact. It’s my hope that the Carsyn Neille Foundation reaches and helps many families within the childhood cancer community – beyond aesthetics. That our story of turning tragedy into triumph gives families hope and comfort. There’s so many awesome organizations fighting for and advocating for childhood cancer families that have mastered their spaces that we hope what we’re doing not only compliments these amazing organizations but contributes to the overall impact of improving the quality of life for these families. As Audra Wilford of MaxLove Project says, “We’re better together.”
How do you balance your work with the foundation and your job as a mom?
Aside from being the founder of the Carsyn Neille Foundation, I am a full-time wife, mother, PTA Board Member and a part of the Rancho Santa Fe Unit of Rady Children’s Hospital Auxiliary. Balancing these things isn’t always easy but I try not to get overwhelmed by doing everything at once. I really love what I do and I feel like I’ve truly found my purpose in life. I try not to be hard on myself, I make sure that I’m present with whatever I’m doing and I recharge at least once a week with some amazing mama friends usually at great farm to fork eateries.
What is your favorite part of the design process?
Honestly all of it. There’s always an element of surprise for the entire family. I love tapping into each child’s desire for their space and then doing above and beyond what they expect. I don’t create kiddie kiddie animated rooms and so it’s always fun to see the parents sigh of relief when they walk into their child’s room to see there’s no large murals or permanent design fixtures that their stuck with after their child passes the stage of characters.
What is your favorite color? Why?
Fun question. Right now, I feel like I’m transitioning from loving a burnt orange color like Colorhouse’s WOOD. 02 to really wanting to use WATER .04 for everything. I just love it. Its calming, it’s subtle but at the same time its color and there’s so many accent pieces I can pair with it. My homes currently farmhouse and I’ve incorporated this color with so much and I’m sure it will be a fun color for one of this summer’s Room to Thrive recipient.
Thank you for the good work you do Kia. Colorhouse is proud partner with the Carsyn Neille Foundation, providing paint for the room transformations. You can help too! Find out how you can get involved or refer a family in need.