“Bright Spaces” Unveiled in Buck/Weinberg Building
What was once considered the common living areas in the Buck/Weinberg residential buildings on Northern Children’s Services beautiful 6-acre campus has now been transformed into “bright spaces,” thanks to the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children.
“Our partnership with Northern began a few years ago, when one of our employees suggested reaching out to help provide gifts at the holidays. Over time, we expanded our efforts to include donation drives for infant care supplies,” Carol Yaroch, the Assistant Director of Bright Horizons at West Point, said. “As we grew to know the mission at Northern, we realized that focusing our efforts on supporting the Generations Programs was an ideal way to further support the young women living here continue to strengthen our partnership. I have truly enjoyed every minute spent working on the campus, and look forward to our continued partnership.”
The evolution of the Generations programs
In 2006, the Caroline Alexander Buck Residence Hall opened, which was the start of the Generations I program, designed to assist young teenage mothers, with one very young child, transition out of the child welfare system. It was the first new construction on the Northern Children’s Services campus in 75 years. A few years later, in 2008, The Weinberg Residence Hall, which is adjacent to Buck, opened and introduced the Generations II program, which was created to help homeless young mothers, with up to two children, get back on their feet.
On July 31, 2014, Merrick Hall re-opened after ten years of being vacant on the Northern Children’s Services campus and is now being used to house the young teenage mothers in the Generations I and Generations II program. In addition to almost doubling the capacity of both of those programs, the organization is now offering for the first time permanent supportive housing, referred to as the New Generations program.
While Merrick Hall offered a beautiful new environment for the young women and children in the Generations programs to learn and grow, a need was recognized to update the common living areas on the 2nd and 3rd floor on the Buck/Weinberg building to create a more inspiring environment for the young women and children. The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children and Bright Horizons at West Point helped make this vision a reality.
“NCS is very appreciative of the support shown by Bright Horizons. I often speak about the environment having a positive impact on the recovery of the children that enroll in our Generations programs. Many of those children arrive from environments and circumstances that do not always demonstrate care and warmth. Consequently, their behavior and/or circumstances mimic that environment,” Tracey Lavallias, President and CEO of Northern Children’s Services said. “At NCS we strive to create an environment that is nurturing and reflective of our mission. Bright Horizons understands this philosophy intrinsically, for that we are most grateful. We hope that this is the start of a long standing relationship, as we strive to positively impact the communities in Philadelphia and surrounding counties.”
The women behind the project
Jennifer Kula, the Center Director of Bright Horizons at West Point and Carol Yaroch, were crucial to the success of this project. Together they completed redesigned and purchased the furniture and materials for the spaces.
“Designing the Bright Space has been a fulfilling service opportunity. I was happy to help create a new space for the moms and babies to enjoy at Northern. The team at Northern was there to pitch in and lend a hand at any moment during our renovation project. I hope these spaces become a safe and relaxing environment where the moms and children can bond, grow, and play together,” Jennifer Kula said.
The final reveal of the “Bright Spaces”
Yesterday, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to officially unveil both of the “Bright Spaces” to the young women and children of the programs, as well as the Northern Children’s Services staff. What started out as a simple redesign project quickly turned into a fulfilling project – one dedicated to empowering the young women and children of our Generations programs. Thanks to Bright Horizons and the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children, a brighter tomorrow was created thanks to two very warm and inviting spaces.
“Working on the Bright Spaces has been more rewarding than I could have ever anticipated. It started out as a small effort to brighten the girls’ lives, and has in turn brightened my days, as we listen to their comments and reactions, and see their excitement grow as the spaces come together. My hope is that these spaces become a haven where these young families can come together to heal from hardship, celebrate achievements, and experience the joys of childhood,” Carol Yaroch stated.