“Many of the new families in the neighborhood did not think that North Light served them. Now, they’re coming to use our play space. They see a flyer about one of our programs and get involved.”
On June 28th, over 120 volunteers, supporters, founders, and friends gathered to celebrate our 25th birthday and to hear the story of one of the Collaborative’s many pro bono projects.
Executive Director Beth Miller and Board Co-Chair Paul Sehnert started the celebration with a shout-out to our founders, a toast, and some impressive numbers – 100,000 hours of community service by design professionals, more than 600 Design Grants for local nonprofits, and 6 Infill Philadelphia initiatives to engage an ever-growing circle of people in design.
A double dip of design
Dana Dabek, Director of Institutional Advancement at North Light Community Center, and Nina Dudas, an architectural designer and Collaborative volunteer, shared the story of North Light’s “double dip” into pro bono preliminary design.
North Light first came to the Collaborative in 1999 for a conceptual design to crack open their asphalt play area for a new spray pool and shade trees. The Manayunk-based center returned in 2014 to make further improvements in partnership with Destination Schuylkill River.
Nina said,“ The North Light staff was always so capable and on top of things. Their knowledge about the community and strong volunteer base influenced our design," said Nina. "We knew that North Light’s volunteers could be counted on to make improvements and maintain the space.” Dana provided the perfect example, “I even learned how to use a jackhammer!"
The project took a hiatus when North Light received a Kaboom! grant. “When we received the grant in the middle of our work with the Collaborative, the volunteer team was flexible and able to adapt to what was happening,” recalled Dana. “North Light has been great at leveraging the work of Kaboom! and the Collaborative to have an even bigger impact,” Nina added.
Improvements to the play area are already having an impact on North Light and its community . Dana said,“Many of the new families in the neighborhood did not think that North Light served them. Now, they’re coming to use our play space. They see a flyer about one of our programs and get involved.”
More improvements are on the way. North Light has just received a $37,000 grant from the Schuylkill River Restoration Fund to build a key piece of the conceptual plan, a rain garden and boardwalk. "The Collaborative’s conceptual plan is so user-friendly to implement," said Dana. "we can pull out components to pitch to a particular funder."
See all the photos from our celebration!