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HVA senior fulfills ‘makeover’ wishes

Xrista Christopoulos spray paints art on recipient's bedroom wall.- Photo submitted
Meeting eighth-grader Xrista Christopoulos made a lasting impression on Sallee Reynolds, as the Hardin Valley Academy principal recalled four years later.

However, it’s a pair of lasting impressions made upon Christopoulos, now a senior at HVA, that led her on the path toward fulfilling bedroom “makeover” wishes for critically ill area teenagers.

Inspired by volunteer work with a similar cause, “Special Spaces,” and working alongside roughly 60 HVA Student Government Association members, SGA advisor Tim Lee and her father, Christos Christopoulos (owner of Christopoulos & Kennedy Construction), Xrista founded Project Rooms of Hope in early 2010.

With hundreds of hours volunteering in East Tennessee Children’s Hospital Summer Volunteer Program the past “four or five years,” Xrista, 17, said she “spent numerous hours in the oncology and hematology clinic. Many of the families in the clinic were not only dealing with children suffering from cancer and undergoing treatment, but also facing financial hardships as a result of medical expenses.

“I noticed the stress level increased when it came close for the teenagers to come home, I think they kind of lose that comfort level of being under the care of the doctors and nurses and staff right there, that whole comfort level disappears,” she added.

“Having a bedroom for these patients to go to when they return home and their treatment is complete, is something that will give them that sense of security. … a place to escape and do as they wish.”

With assistance from various sponsors, including HVA parents, PRO Hope already has finished four bedroom makeovers, the first finished “in the spring of 2010,” Xrista said.

Xrista recalled one of her bedroom makeover teenagers. “Over the summer, one of the students at our school, he’s a senior, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor,” she said, noting that HVA teachers also assisted in his makeover.

“I wanted to give back to the patients for the impact and the difference they were making in me as a person,” added Xrista, whose PRO Hope work recently earned her the Service to Humanity Award from The Optimist Club of Knoxville.

Within Xrista’s own family, “One of my little sisters was a premature baby,” she said, “and ever since then I knew I wanted to go into medicine.”

Announcing she’ll major in biology in college, Xrista said her next move would be to “either go into medical school or physicians assistance school.”

Working with cancer patients “is my passion … particularly the teenage patients,” she added.

Reynolds recalled meeting Xrista “when she was still in eighth grade … we talked for a little bit, then she just reached out and gave me the biggest hug. She just showed appreciation for me taking some time to talk to her.”

“That has stayed with me. … Xrista is a very, very compassionate young lady,” Reynolds added. “She has a heart the size of Texas, and has always been one that

wants to give to others and is concerned about others’ feelings. She’s goal-driven and very determined.”

To volunteer or assist, visit PRO Hope’s website at


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