When you picture a shelter, you likely do not imagine a modern space with an open concept, a view of Chicago's skyline, a spacious kitchen, and plenty of natural light. But, after several months of renovations, The Night Ministry's Parenting with Purpose program, which provides up to 21 months of housing for pregnant and parenting young mothers and their children, has all these features and more.
The renovated space, located on the fourth floor of the Open Door – West Town facility, was designed by Wheeler Kearns Architects, the same firm which renovated the Bucktown building that now houses The Night Ministry's headquarters and The Crib emergency overnight shelter for young people.
Program staff and residents are pleased with the changes.
"Before it had dim lighting and was very sectioned off. It wasn't open and inviting," said La Donna Peppers, Program Supervisor for Parenting with Purpose. "There were two kitchens. Now there's one. Where the other was, we opened it up into a seating area and meeting space."
Prior to the renovations, young people did not spend much time in common areas, but that has changed, explained program resident Lameisha. "Now that it's renovated, we're out here more," she said.
Peppers agreed. "It brings us together, working more collaboratively and spending more time on our floor - all of those good things. It's such a warm happy feeling when you go up there, to see the clients and the staff from the program congregating. They're coming together in that space, sitting, enjoying each other, having conversations, or just hanging out."
The main living space now contains features like mobile furniture, built in shelves for children's books and toys, recessed lights, and seating along the windows so residents can enjoy views of the city.
"This beautiful space, it sets the tone, it sets the atmosphere, the presence," said Peppers. "It doesn't feel like you're in a shelter at all, and that's the biggest thing."
The renovations at the West Town facility also include a new conference room and a visitation room for residents to meet with family and friends, both on the building's first floor.
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