Do you remember how a few months ago I was hoping to go on a hard hat tour of a cool new project? Well, today I got my chance! Covenant House opened the doors to their new home (obviously still under construction as shown in the above photo) for downtown-ers and I got to poke around and ooo and ahh* to my heart’s content!
According to the Anchorage Police Department and the Anchorage School District, there are more than 5,000 homeless kids in our community. Pretty horrifying to think about. Fortunately, there are organizations like Covenant House to help out.
Lauren Rice, Covenant House’s Director of Public Affairs walked me around the new building, and was full of fascinating bits of information. Here are some of the high points of the tour:
- Covenant House helps teens prepare to join the workforce, so the new facility has a “boutique” of donated clothing to help with professional dress, and there’s even a corner dedicated to hair cuts (to be provided by Great Clips).
- The previous facility outgrew their capacity; the new facility has 60 beds in rooms designed for privacy and safety. It also has a small central gathering space and kitchen for kids to use when they can’t sleep, which, I learned today, happens fairly often because many of the residents have been through tumultuous experiences that lead to sleepless nights.
- The new gym/play area (featured above) will be home to basketball hoops, a donated rock climbing wall, and will also be used for large events. I love the windows and all the natural light! Not bad for mid afternoon in February. Although a lot of the new amenities are really fun and might seem non-essential, they’re there for a reason: residents who are engaged are more likely to stay longer, and will have a better chance of success once they venture out on their own.
- The new building combines programs and people from two separate buildings, and was designed to accommodate future expansion. The whole building functionality will be much more efficient.
- Kaladi Bros donated a coffee cart which will be manned by kids – I’m VERY excited about another awesome downtown coffee purchasing option!
- A large fireplace is in the center of the common area – I can just imagine staff and residents gathering around it on cold winter days.
I’ve been watching this building go up all year, so it was a great feeling to walk inside and see the lovely new home designed just for residents of Covenant House! RIM Architects and Davis Construction have done a great job, and I’m so thankful for all the generous supporters out there who helped raise the money to make this project happen.
Cheers to Allison Kear and her great staff at Covenant House! Welcome to the neighborhood.
*You can see said ooo-ing and ahh-ing on Your Alaska Link!