37 COMMUNITY PARTNERS UNITE FOR KIDS
St. Mary’s Center Launches New Recreation Room
Boston, Mass.— On Thursday, March 21, St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Recreation Room to celebrate the collaboration of funders, non-profit organizations, and more than two dozen building companies, many members of the Associated General Contractors of Massachusetts. The new Recreation Room was created for the more than 200 children who each year call St. Mary’s Center home, so they may have a safe place to run and play. The Recreation Room was made possible thanks to lead project partners and funders AGC MA, Amazon, Berkeley Building Company, Bright Horizons Foundation for Children/Bright Spaces, CrossFit Torque, Cummings Foundation, Dancing for Hope, and KettleBells4kids.
During the winter of 2015, when Boston had record-breaking levels of snow, St. Mary’s Center’s President and CEO, Deirdre Houtmeyers realized the kids living at the Center needed a large indoor space to play during inclement weather as well as after dark. She and her team identified a large space in the basement of the north wing of the campus of the former site of St. Margaret’s Hospital, where today St. Mary’s Center provides shelter, education, employment, and prevention programs to families and children experiencing homelessness, poverty, abuse, and trauma.
“A few years ago, the Recreation Room was just a dream of having a safe place for kids to run and play, and no one deserves joy and fun more than the resilient children we serve,” said Houtmeyers. “We are forever in debt to our extraordinarily generous funders, our community, and construction partners—particularly Berkeley Building Construction and AGC MA who took the ball and ran with it, and now our kids can, too–literally.”
The project was kickstarted in June 2016 when the Cummings Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant toward the $400,000 estimated project. Later in the year, the Dancing for Hope Committee, a long-time partner of St. Mary’s Center, hosted a fundraising event for the Recreation Room, where proceeds were matched by Amazon.
In 2017, Amazon gave St. Mary’s Center a million-dollar match challenge toward the agency’s Center Campaign which includes the Rec. Room and the agency’s next major construction project—a new Community Resource Center. Once the Community Resource Center is built, the agency will work to prevent homelessness before it begins by providing supportive services to individuals experiencing financial hardship, domestic and community violence, behavioral health and substance use disorders and immigration and legal concerns.
The Recreation Room project benefitted from early collaborators, Martin Dermady, founder and principal Dermady Architects, who designed both the Recreation Room and the Community Resource Center pro bono, and Ben Ketschke, principal of Atlantic Coast Dismantling donated extensive demolition—launching construction of the Recreation Room.
In 2018, The St. Mary’s team turned to an ongoing collaborative partner, Emil Frei, founder and CEO of Berkeley Building Company who took on the project as lead general contractor—all pro bono, at the same time the leadership of the AGC MA (Associated General Contractors of Massachusetts) signed on for an astounding fourth service project and collaboration with St. Mary’s Center.
“Since Berkeley’s founding, our vision has been to be builders of our communities in addition to our role as builders and renovators of structures,” said Emil Frei, CEO Berkeley Building Company. “All of us at Berkeley Building Company are honored to give back to our friends and neighbors as part of the St. Mary’s team.”
The AGC MA effort was led by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) chaired by Kelly Gillen of Turner Construction and Dan Connolly of Commodore Builders. This is the fourth year in a row that the AGC MA has participated in a service project on the Dorchester campus of St. Mary’s Center to improve and enhance the lives of hundreds of families experiencing homelessness.
AGC MA and its members have donated more than one million dollars in pro bono services to St. Mary’s Center including construction, painting, plumbing, materials and equipment, enabling more resources to be directed to the agency’s eight programs and to maintain a dignified and safe place for people who live, learn, and work at St. Mary’s Center. In 2016, to recognize the extraordinary dedication of AGC MA and their service to the community, St. Mary’s Center honored the organization at its annual Diamonds of Dorchester event with the John M. Corcoran Award for Excellence.
“We are incredibly proud of the CLC’s dedication to the Recreation Room project,” said Emily Sheedy, director of member services for AGC MA. “The scope of work this year was very different than what we’ve done in the past, but their commitment to St. Mary’s and enthusiasm to serve our community is always something special. We’re very fortunate to have top construction resources and industry leaders as AGC MA members.”
After months of construction, the Recreation Room project was almost complete but in need of toys and equipment to fill it. Community partners Bright Horizons Foundation for Children, Kettlebells4kids, and CrossFit Torque worked for months to design the play space and secure toys, activities, and equipment for the space.
“Bright Spaces bring hope and comfort to families and children during an especially difficult time,” said Gary O’Neil, president and chairman of the board of directors for the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children. Bright Spaces is the Foundation’s flagship program. “This Bright Space will allow families to be together and support each other.”
St. Mary’s Center’s Recreation Room Project Leaders and Funders:
Berkeley Building Company
Bright Horizons for Children Foundation/Bright
Dancing for Hope
St. Mary’s Center’s Recreation Room Project Community Partners:
Atlantic Coast Dismantling
Boston Fire Sprinklers
East Coast Interiors
EM Duggan Plumbing and Heating
Gilbane Building Company
IBEW Local 103
J and M Brown Electrical Co.
Lee Kennedy Company
McDonald Electrical Corp.
Plumbers and Gas Fitters Local 12
Specialty Services of New England
Building and Construction Management Corporation