Under sunny skies, dozens of volunteers gathered outside the William D’Abate Elementary School to take part in YouthBuild Providence’s third annual Build-a-Bed event held on Saturday, June 6.
YouthBuild carpentry and construction experts provided 10 to 12 teams of willing builders with a crash course, some power tools and other essentials, pre-cut lumber, and some help in the form of nicely-finished headboards, footboards, and side rails. The teams of about five individuals apiece set about constructing platform twin-sized beds for children under age 12 who lack a bed of their own.
Among the volunteers were a dozen PPSD administrators and some of their family members, along with a substantial group from D’Abate, who also provided children’s activities. D’Abate fifth graders were charged with supervising the younger children in potting seedlings to take home, while art teacher, Melissa Meyers, hosted a perpetual line of children awaiting face painting.
YouthBuild students used their construction skills to prep all of the wood used in the event and used their math skills to determine the size of the materials, how much each team would need, and to map out the location for the event. In addition to mathematics, this cross-curricular project included all areas of the program’s educational experience including English/Language Arts, critical thinking, leadership development, communications, social studies and construction arts. The beds were designed to be easily assembled and disassembled for loading and delivery.
The volunteer event had a vibrant community block-party feel, with a DJ providing the backdrop, volunteers grilling food, neighbors and friends of the school stopping by to observe and help, and some recipients of the beds jumping in to lend a hand with loading the 85 beds and accompanying donated mattresses, pillows, bedding and stuffed animals into the waiting pick-up trucks of more volunteers.
With the completion of each bed, a cheer went up, and builders scurried off to replenish their lumber while others carried the beds away to the ever-growing staging area. The two PPSD teams together finished nine beds in just under two hours, working until the supplies were expended.
Volunteers from PPSD included Dr. Lori McEwen (Instruction, Leadership and Equity), her son and daughter; Jennifer Lepre (Human Resources) and her daughter; Nkoli Onye (Performance Management); Dr. Robin Schutt (Operations); Doris De Los Santos (Partnerships, Development and Community Engagement); Gina Picard (School Transformation); Christina O’Reilly (Communications) and her husband; Donna Casanova (Teaching and Learning); Cheryl McCreight (Operations); Peggy Grullon (Transportation); and Chiara Deltito (Grants). Over the last two years, YouthBuild Providence has provided 115 beds to children throughout the city. A total of 85 beds were built at this year’s event.
“This year has officially put us at the 200 mark for beds we have provided for children throughout Rhode Island,” said Elijah Stephenson of the Providence Plan and coordinator of the event. “We could not have done this without the many sponsors, donors and volunteers who helped. I can’t wait until next year!”
Major sponsors of this year’s Build-A-Bed were host William D’Abate Elementary School, Arnold’s Lumber, Furniture Depot, Job Lot, Coca Cola, Aramark, Enterprise, Lopco, Cox Communications and the College Crusade.
YouthBuild Providence offers an alternative path to high school graduation, where students earn a high school diploma through a partnership with PPSD or Penn Foster and Americorps hours for their community service. They learn skills in the fields of construction, child care, health care or social justice work. Students can also earn college credits while attending YouthBuild by taking courses at CCRI that are designed for YouthBuild students.
YouthBuild Providence is a program of The Providence Plan and is supported by Americorps National.