Used Materials Help Complete Y2Y Shelter for Homeless Youth
October 2016—The Y2Y shelter for homeless youth opened last year in a beautiful but challenging location: the basement of the First Church in Harvard Square. The convenience for guests was unbeatable, but the renovation was extensive, and much of the budget was consumed with costs for asbestos removal, installation of sprinklers, new HVAC systems, and other necessities. When it came time to finishing the space, “it became very clear to us that we have to roll up our sleeves and really try to get as many materials as we can donated, salvaged, and other,” said Rashmi Ramaswamy, project architect and BBR board member.
The organizers did not want Y2Y to have an institutional feel, but something much more homelike and welcoming. “We knew that we wanted a big open space, but we didn’t want a fishbowl effect,” said Rashmi. The high ceilings of the space presented a challenge: initial research clearly showed that potential clients wanted areas with lower ceilings where they could gather.
By working with BBR, Y2Y was able to obtain donated ceiling tile to create “clouds,” or suspended ceiling sections that lend a more homelike feel and change the sound quality while also looking hip and trendy. The clouds were assembled and painted by volunteer groups before being installed by contractors, and have become one of the signature elements of the large open space where guests eat, do homework, and socialize.
Also through BBR, Y2Y obtained a large number of wood doors that were used in a variety of applications: traditionally installed as doors for the bathrooms and elsewhere, and used to construct lockers and clothing exchanges, where doors served as the backs and sides of the structure as well. Clothing exchanges are stocked closets where guests can find clothes for colder weather, for a job interview, or for any other need.
Donations of materials came not only from BBR, but also from a wide array of suppliers and contractors.