Renovating Y2Y Youth Shelter
While undergraduates at Harvard, Sam Greenberg ’14 and Sarah Rosenkrantz ’14 became concerned with the lack of support for young homeless people in Cambridge, Massachusetts – and they did something about it.
There were, and still are, far too few beds available in Cambridge and Boston for those young adults that need a safe place to stay during the night. But thanks to Sarah and Sam (Sam is also a CRLS graduate), there will soon be more beds in Cambridge.
On Friday, November 6th, Youth 2 Youth (Y2Y) plans to celebrate the opening of our nation’s first student-run shelter for homeless youth. Sam and Sarah started Y2Y as undergraduates and are still working, after graduation, to get the shelter up and running. They expect their first night open to be sometime in late November.
The nighttime shelter is in the basement of First Parish Cambridge Unitarian Universalist on Church Street in Harvard Square. Every night, from 7:00PM-9:00AM, Y2Y will make 22 beds available for youths aged 18 to 24. Additional services will be available during the daytime hours, supplementing Y2Y’s efforts to fill needs including food, medical care, advocacy, and pathways to health and self-reliance.
Y2Y began their 1.25 million-dollar renovation project in August of this year with the help of professionals in the building trades. Skanska USA provided pro bono construction management services, Studio G Architects in Jamaica Plain assisted with design, and construction firm Essex Newbury North Contracting Corp. helped with building. Without the assistance of these and other organizations donating services and materials, the project would have been close to two million dollars.
Volunteers in the basement renovation have included students from Harvard and Boston University, homeless youth, and other Cantabrigians. The volunteer labor helped with low-skill tasks that could easily be removed from the contractor’s scope of work, such as painting and staining.
As a Cambridge Local First business, Longleaf Lumber was happy to contribute reclaimed wood paneling to Y2Y. The pictures below show students from Boston University helping to prepare mixed-species boards for installation on the walls in the shelter’s kitchen. Minwax Natural Oak Wood Finish was applied and an additional coat of polyurethane will be used later.
A big thanks to Sam, Sarah, and everyone who helped make this project a reality. Our community has a lot of ground to cover in tackling homelessness in Cambridge but this is a tremendous step in the right direction.
BOSTON UNIVERSITY STUDENT VOLUNTEERS staining reclaimed wood paneling
Photography courtesy Steve Sang.