Corporate Responsibility: Union Rescue Mission Kids’ Space Receives the Remodeling It Deserves
MATT donates time to help remodel The Union Rescue Mission Kids' Space in Downtown Los Angeles
Providing children with equal opportunity early on in life is extremely important in setting them up for future success. MATT Construction was eager for the opportunity to work alongside Gensler and others and support our city’s youth. The companies collaborated under Gensler’s corporate responsibility program to revamp the Union Mission Rescue Kids’ Space in order to improve the environment for the kids who stay at URM with their mothers and families. Although URM teaches children they are special, dim lighting, old tables and run-down shelves did not fully reflect that statement. Now, with a colorful floor, bright lights and new desks, TVs, and computers, children who stay at URM feel as loved as possible.
UNION RESCUE MISSION: AN ORGANIZATION THAT FIGHTS HOMELESSNESS
The organization’s mission is to help men, women and children experiencing homelessness get off the streets and find their way home. URM was founded in 1891, making it the oldest rescue mission west of the Mississippi. It is the largest mission in the United States. The level of homelessness is increasing in the US. With 59,000 currently homeless in Southern California, centers like URM are all the more important.
The space they provide is special as it is the only one in Southern California that takes women and children. The family floor can hold around 165 people a night. An additional 250 women can stay in emergency cots on the first and second floor of the building, 70 to 80 people can stay in the day room and 100 can stay in the chapel.
During the day, the Kids’ Space runs as a daycare and provides children between three and six years old with a safe space to play. For kids between seven and seventeen years old, the Kids’ Space is a haven where they can do homework, participate in after-school programs, relax and play.
CHARETTE: MAKING SURE THE KIDS RECEIVE WHAT THEY NEED
To make sure the makeover would make the best improvements possible, Gensler brought twenty-five kids who use the space into their office to brainstorm and give input. The kids were divided into five groups of five and asked about what they like to learn and how they like to learn. The team wanted to see if the kids preferred to learn by reading, being taught, or using computers. Gensler also realized that the space isn’t just for learning and wanted to make sure the children could enjoy themselves during their free time, so they asked the groups what else they liked to do. After some thought, the kids knew they wanted the space to be more open and have a mix of desks to work and play at. They also wanted more color, fun seating and upgraded technology.
BUILDING THE NEW KIDS’ SPACE
Since goal of the project was to provide the best environment possible for the children during their experience of homelessness, MATT, Gensler and the subcontractors worked together with URM to make sure that the residents feel as welcomed as possible. Transforming the space with bright lights, high and low tables for kids to work at, bright bean bags for them to lounge in and read the stories that line the custom book shelves, and TVs and computers donated by Gensler, makes the space more playful for the kids.
The transformation was no easy task. The team coordinated with subcontractors who also donated time and materials to complete the project. Rouse Flooring pulled out the wood flooring and replaced it with vinyl tile honeycomb donated by Shaw Contract to make the space more colorful. Frosted film donated by MDC Wall lines the windows, giving the space a safer feel but also providing good lighting to keep it lively during the day.
Others who contributed were painters Randall McAnany, electricians AJ Kirkwood, Pacific Architectural Millwork, AWAD Home Fashion, Designtex, Dunn-Edwards Paints, Fanimation, Filzfelt, Formica, Hallmark Lighting, Humanscale, Johnsonite, Keilhauer, Knoll Textiles, Maharam, Mateo & Bay, Sonneman, Teknion, Wolf Gordon, and Zandur.
MATT Construction is excited to have helped make a positive impact in the Los Angeles community. We look forward to seeing the smiles on the children’s faces who use the space and hope they enjoy using it as much as we did building it.