Friends Program completing shelter renovation for families experiencing homelessness

Glenda Leon, director of emergency housing at the Friends Program, shows the new kitchen on the second floor during a tour of the remodel of the Thompson Street facility for families on Wednesday, May 8. The kitchen will have three refrigerators as they took down a wall to expand the area.

Glenda Leon, director of emergency housing at the Friends Program, shows the new kitchen on the second floor during a tour of the remodel of the Thompson Street facility for families on Wednesday, May 8. The kitchen will have three refrigerators as they took down a wall to expand the area. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Glenda Leon, director of emergency housing at the Friends Program, shows the new kitchen on the second floor during a tour of the remodel of the Thompson Street facility for families on Wednesday.

Glenda Leon, director of emergency housing at the Friends Program, shows the new kitchen on the second floor during a tour of the remodel of the Thompson Street facility for families on Wednesday. GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff

The Friends Program house on Thompson Street in the South End of Concord on Wednesday. The flower bed on the left will have donation pavers among the garden for all the people and organizations that have contributed to the renovation project.

The Friends Program house on Thompson Street in the South End of Concord on Wednesday. The flower bed on the left will have donation pavers among the garden for all the people and organizations that have contributed to the renovation project. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Glenda Leon, director of emergency housing at the Friends Program, poses for a photo in the new kitchen on the second floor during a tour of the remodel of the Thompson Street facility for families on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. The kitchen will have three refrigerators as they took down a wall to expand the area.

Glenda Leon, director of emergency housing at the Friends Program, poses for a photo in the new kitchen on the second floor during a tour of the remodel of the Thompson Street facility for families on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. The kitchen will have three refrigerators as they took down a wall to expand the area. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

The Friends Program house on Thompson Street in the South End of Concord on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. The flower bed on the left will have donation pavers among the garden for all the people and organizations that have donated to the renovation project.

The Friends Program house on Thompson Street in the South End of Concord on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. The flower bed on the left will have donation pavers among the garden for all the people and organizations that have donated to the renovation project. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Glenda Leon, director of emergency housing at the Friends Program, walks up the new staircase during a tour of the remodel of the Thompson Street facility for families on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.

Glenda Leon, director of emergency housing at the Friends Program, walks up the new staircase during a tour of the remodel of the Thompson Street facility for families on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

The Friends Program shelter renovation will feature a new kitchen for families and an expanded intake room.

The Friends Program shelter renovation will feature a new kitchen for families and an expanded intake room. Courtney Elizabeth Photography—Courtesy

The Friends Program shelter renovation will feature a new kitchen for families and an expanded intake room.

The Friends Program shelter renovation will feature a new kitchen for families and an expanded intake room. Courtney Elizabeth Photography—Courtesy

By MICHAELA TOWFIGHI

Monitor staff

Published: 05-08-2024 2:24 PM

Modified: 05-09-2024 11:30 AM


Nancy McKeon hopes that when people think of their time with the Friends Program, where she is the executive director, they’ll remember that they lived in the white house on Thompson Street, rather than a shelter while they were experiencing homelessness.

The nonprofit’s shelter provides apartment-style living for families as they transition out of homelessness and into permanent housing.

With a renovation to the building that’s nearly complete, families will have more privacy to make the space their own, said Glenda Leon, the director of emergency housing for the Friends Program.

The structure was built in 1880, with choppy rooms down long hallways, creaky floors and low ceilings. When families arrived, they were crammed into a small office for an intake process with their belongings out on the porch to disinfect them.

Now, a large intake room provides a closed door and some privacy with a laundry room attached. Upstairs, an old unit has been expanded to include a bigger kitchen that can house three fridges – one for each individual family living in the space. A resource room, with a computer and printer, will also provide an additional private office space for interviews or meetings.

“Families have a safe space to be until they’re ready to be permanently housed,” said Leon. “They have their space, they have their privacy, they have agency. They can be comfortable there and that makes our program really different than a lot of more traditional shelters.”

A final inspection from the city will be required before new clients can move into the space. Walls need to be painted and the nonprofit is looking for furniture donations to populate the bedrooms as well. After a capital campaign, the Friends Program is also looking to raise an additional $27,000 to complete the renovation with the hopes that everything will be finished by June.

For more information and to donate to the project visit: friendsprogram.org/home-stretch-capital-campaign.

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