Alice Skiff’s dreams of a tiny house-like “she shed” helped sustain her through her long and difficult treatment for brain cancer. On June 25, Make-A-Wish Maine surprised the Newcastle 14-year-old with a she shed built to her specifications.
A she shed, as Alice had described it to her Make-A-Wish wish granters, would be a place all her own where she could hang out with her friends and escape the rest of the world.
Alice had a very clear image in her head as to how she wanted her she shed to look. She sketched out a plan, now prominently displayed in the finished structure, that included a seaside theme and mermaid decorations.
Next, Make-A-Wish Maine partnered with the Maine Sustainable Forestry Initiative to make Alice’s dream a reality. First, they completed a small model, then, over two weeks, they built the she shed in pieces for transportation and assembly at Alice’s home on North Newcastle Road.
Make-A-Wish Maine aims to “give kids the red carpet treatment,” said Rebekah Roy, marketing manager. Alice’s morning started like any other before she was greeted with a seemingly impromptu limo ride, along with family and friends, to the Camden waterfront and to Laugh Loud, Smile Big Cupcakes in Rockport. When she returned, the she shed was complete and Make-A-Wish staff, Sustainable Forestry Initiative builders, and family and friends were waiting to surprise her.
“This is amazing and perfect and all that I wanted. It matches the image in my head,” Alice said after recovering from the initial shock of seeing her she shed. She had no idea the shed was going to be completed, furnished, and awaiting her at home.
The finished she shed is 12 feet by 16 feet, with a loft bedroom similar to those in the tiny homes featured on one of Alice’s favorite TV shows. The blue, fish scale-like siding is decked out with nautical designs and personal touches to make the building individual and beautiful.
“This process has been very long and it seemed like this day would never come, but the day is finally here. It’s great to see Alice this overjoyed and it’s a great ending to her cancer journey to mark it as over,” said Margaret Skiff, Alice’s older sister, as she watched Alice jump and laugh with friends and explore every detail of her new space.
“Being able to get to know a little girl over a year and a half and seeing the excitement in her eyes is one of the most special things I can experience,” said Marcia Winn-Auriemma.
Winn-Auriemma and Jodie Heal were Alice’s wish granters. Together, they helped Alice through every step of the wish-making process and made sure every aspect of the finished project fit Alice’s strong initial vision.
The she shed has all Alice imagined and more, with a projector screen, two beds, a couch, and a kitchenette and bathroom area able to be outfitted with plumbing and electrical systems to make a complete and livable tiny home.
“I love it. It’s all I ever wanted,” said Alice.
Diagnosed with a medulloblastoma brain tumor under her cerebellum in October 2016, Alice underwent emergency surgery to remove the tumor. After six weeks of radiation and a year of chemotherapy, Alice is cancer-free. She returns for full MRIs every three months.
Alice’s treatment and recovery was difficult and there were times of little hope, but the idea of the tiny house helped Alice to stay positive, according to Alice’s mother, Linda Skiff.
The she shed, family members said, marks a new beginning for the strong “warrior mermaid.”