The first things one will see when stepping through the threshold of the deceptively large Colonial House on Elm Arch Way and entering the sunny open space of the living room is the hand painted rainbow on the wall of left, an impressive white brick fireplace to the right and a vivid wall painting of paint drops that begins at the ceiling and sprawls downward, mixing in a pool of a hundred colors on the floor across the room .
At second glance, one can begin to notice the details that form the backbone of the house and serve as the binding that brings all this story together, like the large marquee letters hanging vertically next to the fireplace, spelling out NMO.
It means Not My Own, explained Timothy M. O’Connell, owner and chief organizer of Tommy’s Place. The saying was first mentioned by an Ohio couple who sponsored the show – each room at Tommy’s Place has a different sponsor who funded the room and had a say in the furnishings and decor – and the saying resonated deeply with the culture that Mr. O’Connell was working to instill at Tommy’s Place.
“Individually, they both mentioned it to me, and that’s how they live their lives,” said Mr. O’Connell. “Their pastor mentioned Not My Own in his sermon and it hit them so hard it changed their lives. In essence, this means that nothing is truly ours and everything we have is meant to be shared with others. Ironically, Tommy’s Place follows this same principle: this house is not ours; it’s up to us to share with others.
Housed in what was once the Elm Arch Inn, Tommy’s Place has been transformed into a vacation sanctuary for young people battling cancer. Children, their families, the host team and close friends can book the house for up to a week and stay for free. Comprising more than 10 rooms, an arcade, a tavern, a board games room, a library, an arts and crafts room, a beach volleyball court, a cinema room, a large lawn and a swimming pool soon to be installed, the vacation home has something to offer for every child and the child’s entire support system.
Mr. O’Connell purchased the property from Peter B. Richardson in 2018. When the remodel began in August 2020, rumors spread that Tommy’s Place was looking for sponsors to help fund the project. It didn’t take long for a wave of support to come from hundreds of businesses and stores, local and national, as well as people around the world looking to help in any way they can, Mr. O ‘said. Connell.
Mr O’Connell started posting on Facebook to update his followers and he swears every time it rained he would find a new party looking to sponsor one of the many rooms in the house. When it comes to Tommy’s Place, he said, rain has been the savior.
But it hasn’t always been that easy. At first, Mr. O’Connell almost ran out of money trying to make this dream come true. He had saved up some money to pay off his mortgage and one day decided he was just going to go.
“I just thought it would happen if I decided to do it,” he said.
Almost a year after it began, the home’s renovation is almost complete and Tommy’s Place is almost ready to start housing families. Each room has a sponsor and has been painted, decorated and furnished with their input, with the help of various local artists and businesses. Rooms cost between $ 25,000 and $ 50,000 to sponsor, with some benefactors coming from places as close as Quincy and New York and others as far as Michigan, California and even Dubai. Adding to the undeniable charm of Tommy’s Place, each Godfather has a story to tell and did so through the medium that was their bedroom: some tell stories about lost loved ones, others about survivors.
There’s Gryfin’s Room, a Bruins themed accessible room dedicated to the memory of Gryfin Sawyer, a young boy who received a dream vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, thanks to the generosity of Mr. O’Connell and served as the inspiration behind the idea of creating Tommy’s Place. There’s Flossie’s bedroom, with a ceiling painted to look like the starry sky with telescopes and space suits. The music room is filled with instruments from an entire band. An entire room is inspired by Danny Sheehan, 9, of Marshfield, a Tommy’s Place ambassador who went viral for his enthusiasm after receiving a figure of his favorite superhero, Aquaman.
At the back, there’s Tommy’s Tavern, which like the house itself is named after Falmouth Road Race founder Tommy Leonard, who was a personal friend of Mr. O’Connell’s before his death in 2019. Each room has a theme: a luxury hotel, a Malibu sunset, a sailboat, a retro gas station. Colorful Adirondack chairs dot the expansive backyard. Every inch of the wall is decorated or painted with murals, in line with Mr. O’Connell’s request to make the house feel like the farthest thing from a hospital or doctor’s office.
“I want people to feel like they’ve never been here before,” Mr. O’Connell said.
One of the finishing touches Mr. O’Connell plans to add to the property is a public education park adjacent to the house. It will serve as a space for the public to come and discover Tommy’s Place and the stories, ambassadors, sponsors and volunteers behind it.
“It’s my way of giving back to everyone who has helped us,” said O’Connell. “Everyone has a share of it now. “
When Tommy’s Place is ready, there will be no official opening.
“It’s for people who are suffering; it’s not about any of us, ”he said. “Even I feel like an intrusion at this point because this house has been reassigned to be shared by thousands of different families who are going through a difficult time. It’s their home now and it’s up to them to share it with the world.