April 25, 2016

When it comes to DPR community initiatives undertaken in markets across the country, the immediate benefits are often apparent. Whether it’s a low income family moving into a new home that DPR helped build through Habitat for Humanity, or underprivileged kids getting their first bikes via DPR-supported Turning Wheels for Kids, DPR’s diverse community outreach projects meet many vital community needs.

But what about the longer-term effect of these service projects? For an example of the lasting impact that DPR initiatives can have, look no further than a youth center improvement project completed for the Milagro Center in Delray Beach, FL last fall.

The DPR-led initiative entailed supplying and installing about 100 feet of computer countertops at Milagro Center’s Teen Center, working in concert with local trade partners. The goal: to create a more spacious, organized and appealing space for students to do their homework utilizing new computers that were also donated around the same time.

Anthony Bacchus, Milagro Center’s Teen Leadership Program Director, said the improvement project set in motion a series of positive outcomes for both the teens and the Center.

“Now that we have the new workstations the center looks more studious and the presentation is more attractive to the teens, teachers, parents and our sponsors,” Bacchus said. “It’s a better work environment, and they take more pride in it. When you have a good work station you stay more organized. We’ve had teens whose grades went from ‘F’ to ‘A’ over the last school semester.”

Bacchus added that the new countertops, along with new computers donated by The Batchelor Foundation, make the Center more appealing for future investment by community donors. “Every little change makes a difference,” he said. “It’s also helped with our focus on trying to get parents involved. They can look at our environment here and see it looks good. We have teens come from as far as Boynton Beach High School to do their homework and get tutoring here.”

The renovated homework space has resulted in improved grades among teen center members. Photo courtesy Luke Stocking.

Luke Stocking, DPR liaison to Milagro Center, spearheaded the project. He noted that while the countertop installation project only took a few hours to put in place one morning last September, the measurable benefits – both tangible and intangible – continue on.

“I think it’s been a confidence boost for the kids themselves that the center is becoming more professional looking,” Stocking said. “It not so piecemealed with left over tables and chairs. They take their time here more seriously than maybe they had been doing before.”

The teens themselves say that the project has made an impact in how they feel about spending time at the center after school each day. “By (DPR) putting some nice counter tops, now I can do my work without interruption and I finally have my own work station to do my homework and research in peace,” commented Milagro Center teen Ferrari Bernadotte.

Teen Marc Charles, who also uses the Center after school each day, said, “My first time coming to the Milagro Center I already had the feeling I was it was going to benefit me. The counter tops were clean and I saw lots of kids on computers doing homework. It (gave) the benefits I need like space, concentration and my own little working environment without having to be distracted by others.”