“I must say thank you 500 times a day,” said Tim O’Connell, founder of Tommy’s Place in Falmouth, Massachusetts. “When you can’t say thank you enough that must mean something good is happening, right?”
A lot of good is happening at Tommy’s Place, which is a free dream vacation home opening this summer for children and their families fighting cancer. With 11 bedrooms spread out over 7,000 square feet, Tommy’s Place features a home theater, a game room, a music room, and an arts and crafts room. And that’s just on the inside.
Outside, families will get to enjoy an inground pool, a big yard with a jungle gym, and, yes, even a real firetruck.
“Tommy’s Place is a home away from home for these families,” Tim said. “It’s a place where kids can just be kids and families can come together without worrying about treatments and hospital bills during such a trying time.”
It’s also a place where an entire community of tradesmen and suppliers are volunteering both time and materials to help bring it to life.
Tommy’s Place Asks. Coastal Electric Answers.
Tommy’s Place needed a lot of work. Before opening the doors to families, they had to do a whole-home renovation that included electrical work, plumbing, HVAC, and a lot more.
“Water was literally pouring through the ceiling,” Tim laughed. “The house was built in the 1800s and it probably had 1,800 additions since then, but I knew it’d be perfect. I just needed to ask for help to fix it up.”
That was the biggest thing Tim ever did. He asked for help through Facebook and waited to see who’d help. Fortunately, he didn’t have to wait long thanks to Branch Manager Peter Russell at CES Weymouth and Pat Daly and Kevin McCurdy at Coastal Electric.
“As soon as Kevin and I found out about Tommy’s Place and heard that Tim needed help, we jumped on it,” said Pat Daly with Coastal Electric. “We reached out to Concord Electric Supply in Weymouth (part of the CES branch network) to donate material, and within the first week it was on-site and ready to go.”
For Coastal Electric, getting CES Weymouth involved was the easy part. All they had to do was ask.
“A lot of people here know about Tommy’s Place, so we were excited to help the kids in any way possible,” said Branch Manager Peter Russell. “Pat asked us if we wanted to donate, and that’s all it took. The next thing we knew, we were sending Coastal Electric all the rough-in stuff they needed — 14×2 Romex, Lotus lights, panels, ground rods, wire, switches, everything.”
And because Tommy’s Place needed all the help they could get, Coastal Electric brought all the electricians they could fit inside the home.
“Within three days, we had 10 electricians volunteering the first weekend and then 15 out there the second,” said Pat with Coastal Electric. “We were more than happy to donate our time for such a great cause.”
“Right away, some people just talk and get something we need,” Tim O’Connell said. “It’s been that way with both Coastal Electric and CES Weymouth; it’s just been amazing. Electricians from Boston to all over South Shore got behind it right away. I won’t forget that anytime soon.”
A Flood of Support
When Tim first started renovating Tommy’s Place, he created a GoFundMe and raised money through a room sponsor program. However, he quickly realized that the 7,000-square-foot home would take a lot of work and a lot more money.
He also realized that asking for help is a lot harder than it looks.
“I just believed that once I started, people would come out to help,” he said. “At first, I was the biggest problem. I wanted to do this all by myself. It took me three weeks to finally make a post asking for help. When I did, the support came flooding in.”
Every time Tim turned around somebody was there to ask him what he needed. Fence? Check. Tile? Check. Fireplace? Check.
An entire HVAC, plumbing, and electrical renovation? Check, check, and check.
“I must have 300 volunteers telling me, ‘I can do this, I know a guy who does that,’” he said. “There’s always something we’re missing, and people are looking out for us. I never wanted to be a burden on people, and that hasn’t happened at all. Everyone has been so quick to give.”
It’s been those relationships in the trades that have made all the difference, especially for CES Weymouth and Coastal Electric.
“CES Weymouth was the first supply house I had an account with,” said Pat Daly with Coastal Electric. “When I had this opportunity, I knew CES Weymouth would be a huge help.”
“The fact that we could be a part of this means a lot to us,” added CES Weymouth Branch Manager Peter Russell. “It feels good to help Tommy’s Place and to even have this opportunity to help. When we were asked to donate the products, there was no way we were going to turn it down.”
“Coastal Electric is still growing, so we couldn’t cover all the materials ourselves,” Pat added. “It feels good to see Concord Electric Supply give back because they’re not just supporting me and my business partner Kevin McCurdy, they’re supporting a vacation home that kids will get to enjoy for years and years.”
For Tim, it’s these types of connections that have made Tommy’s Place possible.
“It’s been this huge local movement in the community and in the trades,” he said. “I’m forever grateful for all the people who’ve helped and continue to help each and every day. All the hard work and donations — it’s not lost on me. It’s been rewarding to see people just keep coming, and it never stops.”
It Starts with Tommy’s Place
Thanks to the volunteers who never stop, Tim is close to the most rewarding part about Tommy’s Place: finally opening the doors
“Tommy’s Place is my life,” he said. “My life is dedicated to this. Right now, getting the doors open is the most important thing to me, and it looks like we might do that by this summer. The thing is, with all the kids and families out there, one house isn’t going to be enough.”
One house might not be enough, but one house is a great start.
To everyone at CES Weymouth, Coastal Electric, and all the volunteers, thank you for making Tommy’s Place a truly special place!
Make a Donation to Tommy’s Place
If this story inspires you to give back to Tommy’s Place, you can make a donation here: https://tommysplace.org/donate!