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Sheboygan contractors build home addition for Salchert family

While editing our website, our original post regarding this project came up. A little more digging, and we were able to locate a wonderful writeup from the Sheboygan Press (read on). It's now been a few years since we broke ground, but that doesn't diminish the amount of respect we have for this family. We will forever be humbled by their depth of selflessness and ability to love. This is truly what #relationalarchitecture means.

Phillip Bock | Sheboygan Press
Originally published 11:14 a.m. CT Dec. 28, 2017
Charlie Salchert's new room Cori Salchert, who takes care of children in hospice at her Sheboygan home, recently had an addition put onto her home with the help of area businesses and individuals. Gary C. Klein/USA Today NETWORK - Wisconsin
SHEBOYGAN - A community touched by a family's story of love and faith has come together to build an inspiring space for children in the family's care.

Cori Salchert and her family captured headlines last year after USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin introduced the world to the family. Since then, Salchert and husband Mark have been invited to share their story through countless news outlets, television stations and a two-page spread in People magazine. Their tale has been translated into dozens of languages and run in newspapers abroad.

The Salcherts have fostered six "hospice babies," or infants who had a life-limiting diagnosis and whose parents had given up guardianship because of the situation. In the last several years, the family has fostered two babies in this situation and adopted a son, Charlie, in 2014. The family is currently caring for Charlie and fostering a 14-year-old boy.

“We live with the ever-present reality that at any point in time he could die, but in the meantime he is doing exceptionally well," Cori Salchert said of 3-year-old Charlie. "The neurologist said he’s thriving and it’s obvious that he’s loved. We’ll just keep on doing what we’re doing. We are prepared now, thanks to the generosity of those in the community, to do this for years yet if that’s what we’re asked to do.”

Up until now, Charlie's hospital bed was located in the family's living room, a space that became cramped due to the size of the bed and medical equipment.

Charlie, whose life expectancy doctors initially only measured in months, is now three years old under Salchert's care. Due to hypoxic ischemic brain encephalopathy, Charlie experiences neurological impairments as a result of a lack of oxygen. He is dependent on a ventilator and tube-feeding, among other medical challenges.

Salchert's story caught the attention of Jay Christopher of Christopher Farm and Gardens, who said he was touched and was inspired to help.

"I felt what they were doing was so out of the ordinary of what most people would do,” Christopher said. “After seeing what was going on, with the hospital bed in the middle of the room, Charlie really needed a room of his own with all the medical supplies.”

Christopher, with the help of local contractors and architects, created an addition to the Salchert's home with a space just for Charlie. The cozy new room has multiple windows and skylights to let light in — and to allow Charlie to see the outdoors.

“Charlie spends a lot of time on his back, so they put those in so he could see the sunshine, the clouds, and the snow falling,” Cori said. “It really is a beautiful setup.”

Christopher helped fund the project, while many local contractors volunteered their time. Abacus Architects, Joseph Schmitt & Sons Construction, and Oostburg Concrete all contributed to make the room a reality.

“It’s wonderful what they do," Steve Schmitt, of Joseph Schmitt & Sons Construction, said of the family. "There are infants that families cannot take care of, and there are angels out there like this who are willing to help.”

The addition also included an accessibility ramp and an accessibility shower.

Staff at the local Home Depot also contributed to the project by building a custom bed frame, shaped like a ship, to put around Charlie's hospital bed, which ties into the nautical theme of the room.

“It is still Charlie’s hospital bed. It’s not that we don’t keep track of the fact that he’s terminal, we just choose not have that be our sole focus,” Cori said.

The centerpiece of the room is a piece of stained glass created by Abler Art Glass in Kiel. Cori said the piece, depicting a lighthouse at the seaside, is representative of the family's faith.

“The reason there is a stained glass window was because I had said that our hearts were like stained glass windows, all the more beautiful having been broken,” she said. “Because you absolutely get your heart broken providing hospice care for children, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a good thing to do.”