On Saturday, April 29, thirty volunteers from YouthBuild Boston (YBB), Caritas Communities, and the Harvard Business School Association of Boston (HBSAB) came together to transform the 2600 square foot outdoor area of the twelve person house, owned by Caritas, on 179 Sydney Street in Dorchester. The project was part of the UBuild: a service initiative for students to use their field and classroom experiences to give back to the community.
It was a sunny, 75 degree day, and the volunteers worked a total of nearly 200 service hours. The goal of the project was to create a community space for residents to relax and socialize. At the beginning of the day, the yard had only a few trees in it; however, by 3:00, the space had become an outdoor sanctuary. What was once been a small patch of grass and dirt in the center of the yard became a beautiful brick patio with a freshly built picnic table on it. A rusty chain link fence was transformed with a new black coat of paint. The bottom of the fence was also adorned with beautiful plants and flowers. The old entrance to the basement was replaced with a brand new pressure treated door. The inside of the basement became brighter with a brand new coat of fresh paint. New side tables and Adirondack chairs were built to provide comfortable seating for residents and their visitors.
Manny, a professional landscaper who works with low-income and homeless individuals, moved into the Sydney Street house a year ago from the Back Bay neighborhood. The main reason he came to the house was because of the yard. He was planning on working on it throughout the summer, but was unsure of how much he would be able to get done: “I didn’t think it was going to happen when they asked what they wanted done. Spaces are so small in the house, but now people don’t have to stay in their rooms. By beautifying the space, people will be more likely to come outside and it will create a stronger community. This project is like a dream come true.”
Since 1985, Caritas Communities has provided affordable housing for low-income individuals in the Boston area. This house is one of their twenty nine properties. Karen Cassell, the Director of Fund Development and Communications for Caritas, responded to the event: “I’m amazed at the collaboration between all of the organizations. I love having HBSAB and YBB landscape and transform the space. Everyone coming together to help those in poverty, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
We had a great time at the event and would like to thank Caritas Communities for providing this wonderful opportunity for service and HBSAB for putting in so much hard work. We would also like to thank The Home Depot for providing all of the materials and tools for the event. We hope all of the residents are enjoying their new outdoor space as the warm weather rolls around! Thank you once again to everybody for providing such a valuable day of service for the community.