Women Making a Mark: Holly Ranney

She transforms the homes—and lives—of kids with special needs and their families

Photo by Martha Williams

It all started as an ordinary Sunday in church for Holly Ranney and her husband, Peter. At the time, they didn’t know the church service would change their lives. The sermon on that pivotal day in 2012 was about how people should use their networks and resources as a calling to help others. She worked in the furniture and design industry and Peter was in construction—together, they knew they could combine their skills to make an impact, and Sunshine on a Ranney Day (SOARD) was born.

The charity renovates homes for children with special needs. Ranney’s team guts and transforms bathrooms to make them wheelchair accessible; creates dream bedroom makeovers for children with long-term illnesses; and designs in-home therapy rooms suited for each child’s particular needs, whether those are physical, sensory, or educational. “Sometimes we’ll have to knock out walls, sometimes we just work with what we have,” she says. “But we do all of this at no cost
 to the family.” Currently, they’ve completed around 140 renovations since the organization’s inception. Each one is a deeply moving and emotional experience.

One way the nonprofit raises funds is through its new home furnishings and decor store, Sunny & Ranney, which opened in November 2020. Retailers, wholesalers, and designers donate high-end furniture, decor, and other merchandise to the store; SOARD then uses the money from those purchases to finance the renovation side of the nonprofit.

“We have so many amazing Atlanta-based companies that help us,” she says. “And with our events and fundraisers, we’ve been able to gain a lot of local support. It’s been amazing to see the amount of people who want to help.” This support means a lot to her, but ultimately, the kids she’s able to help inspire her the most.

“It’s so much more of a need than I think people realize,” Ranney says. “Once you see a child able to roll up to a vanity and brush their teeth on their own, or roll into their shower without having help—that’s stuff a lot of people take for granted, but when you see the impact, there’s just no stopping that work.”