COOKFOX and AIA NY Honored With the Ali Forney Center’s Bea Arthur Award
We are pleased to announce that we at COOKFOX, alongside Kavitha Mathew, the Director of Leadership and Engagement at AIA New York, were honored with the Ali Forney Center’s (AFC) Bea Arthur Award for our volunteer efforts. Partnering with AFC, we helped organize construction and source material donations for the AIA’s annual Day of Service at one of the Center’s emergency housing sites in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. We completed a gut kitchen renovation and the refurbishment of the dining and administration areas, creating a crucial family space for the 20 LGBTQ youth residents.
AFC is the largest LGBTQ community center for homeless youth in the United States. Their mission is to “protect LGBTQ youths from the harms of homelessness and empower them with the tools needed to live independently.” The Center provides crucial services including housing, counseling, meals and medical care for thousands of youths in New York. Each AFC site provides homes to small groups of clients, with the idea of creating a family-like community.
At their Sunset Park site, the kitchen, previously falling into disrepair, serves as a community hub of activity, in constant use with three meals for staff and 20 residents each day. The renovation and refurbishment allow the space to fully serve its purpose as the heart of the home.
The new kitchen is representative of the heart of AFC’s mission to provide not only shelter, but most critically family, to LGBTQ youth who have been abandoned and ostracized by their kin and, increasingly, ICE who have actively terrorized queer youth seeking asylum and shelter. Through AFC’s powerful mission, these young people have a new open, accepting home environment from which to build family and trust.
The AIA Day of Service, launched in 2018, organizes architecture firms, volunteers, donors and sponsors to lead improvement projects at non-profit organizations around NYC. The teams have done crucial work for community organizations that are otherwise unable to afford improvements. It is a wonderful mechanism through which to organize and give back to the community. While we have built a relationship with AFC through our firm’s volunteer activities, our accomplishments were far greater through a partnership with this program, as their connections and resources amplified our ability to make an impact with our architectural skillsets.
Kavitha Mathew has been an enthusiastic advocate for architectural work creating positive social change. She accepted the award on behalf of the team, noting “the young people who call this residence home deserve to know that they are loved, and that they are worthy of love.”
We are proud to have been part of this team and honored to receive the Bea Arthur Award. It’s history of recipients, including Maxine Waters in 2018, humbles and reminds us of the power of design to express love and hope.
Read AIA New York’s announcement here: AIA New York Honored by Ali Forney Center for Day of Service Initiative