“We just opened Merrick Hall across the way earlier this year but I think residents will want to stay here a little longer now,” said Northern Childrens’ Services (NCS) President and CEO Tracey Lavallias.
NCS began as “Northern Home for Friendless Children” in 1853, as a refuge for orphaned children and like today, its mission continually evolved. In 2006, the Caroline Alexander Buck Residence Hall opened—it was the first new construction on campus in 75 years. According to Lavallias, it housed childrens in a truancy program. It currently provides transitional living space for eight women between the ages of 16 and 18, each with one very young child. The Generations I program is designed to assist young teenage mothers transitioning out of the child welfare system. 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.
The Generations program was created to help these young mothers secure a brighter, safer and more stable future for themselves and their babies.
“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,” said Lavallias, in a press statement. “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 redesign of Buck/Weinberg Hall comes on the heels of the opening of Merrick Hall which had its ribbon cutting this summer. The renovated three-story Merrick Hall, which is the oldest building on NCS’ six-acre campus, encompasses 15,000 sq.-ft of residential space that includes transitional and permanent housing. There are four apartments that can provide supportive living for four homeless teenage mothers, each with up to two children.
While Merrick Hall offers a beautiful new environment for the young women and children in the Generations programs to learn and grow; there was a need 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.
“Even though it was built in 2006, it had already become outdated,” said NCS’ Jackie Patterson.
Bright Horizons had partnered with NCS a few years ago at the suggestion of a BH employee. It started out with providing gifts and that partnership expanded over time.
“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,” said ,” Carol Yaroch, the Assistant Director of Bright Horizons at West Point in a press statement.
Yaroch and Jennifer Kula, the Center Director of Bright Horizons at West Point were the principals to the success of the new ‘Bright Space’. Together they completed redesigned and purchased the furniture and materials for the spaces. The project cost just over $16,000.
“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 in a press statement. “I am truly honored to partner with Northern Home. We’ll be here to support you.