Each year, Payette embarks on a collaborative effort to make our design services accessible to local communities through the MLK Day of Service (DoS). This effort led by Payette employees is unanimously supported by firm leadership. For the past few years, Emily Miyares and Sarah Radding have been our fearless leaders. Today we share their reflections as they step down from their roles as co-chairs, looking back on the past 5 years and sharing thoughts on the future.
What has been the most rewarding part of leading the mlk day of service?
Emily: I love meeting with potential community partners and learning about their missions. It can take time for an organization to identify a need for a DoS project, so we keep in touch and are for them when an opportunity comes up.
Sarah: I have been so struck by how committed and accomplished our partners are, and what they do for their communities with limited resources. Many organizations are very small operations, led by a few dedicated, inventive and multi-talented people. Their enduring commitment motivates me to do the best we can for them.
How have communities been impacted through involvement in the event?
Emily: So many of our projects have a life beyond the DoS! Many community partners have successfully fundraised using their DoS materials, and several projects have been built. One great example is “The Nest” Makerspace at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton, which opened in Spring 2022.
Sarah: In addition to directly enabling partner organizations’ successes, as Emily describes, the DoS affects those we serve in two other ways. First, it literally brings design services to groups who frequently cannot otherwise obtain them; we demonstrate how design can solve problems, do more with less and improve quality of life. Second, when we work with partners focused on youth programming, like Elevated Thought or YouthBuild, we introduce them to the architectural profession and, I hope, invite them to consider it as a possible career path. I like to think of it as feeding more equitable pipeline development.
Tell us about the community partners and relationships that have been formed over the past 5 years.
Emily: We have a few partners who have participated in nearly every DoS since 2019. One that comes to mind is the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, who have brought us a series of interrelated projects over the years aimed at community development in the city of North Adams.
Sarah: We worked with Elevated Thought, in Lawrence, MA, for two consecutive years. First, we tested interior and exterior concepts for a property they hoped to acquire. The following year they secured a deal to stay in their original location, in a new larger space. Our second DoS focused on space planning and interior design for this space. After the DoS, we continued to support ET by connecting them to vendors and providing technical guidance as they sought to source materials and products.
What would you like to see in future MLK Day of Service events?
Emily: I would love to expand our impact by collaborating with other firms!
Sarah: I would like to make more connections with community health organizations, to bring our health care expertise to bear on DoS projects.
This year, for the 6th annual MLK Day of Service, we are excited to be working with the following community partners: East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Grandmother’s Village, Greater Grove Hall Main Streets, North Berkshire County Coalition, and Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services. The projects include a mix of interior planning efforts, exterior façade design, brainstorming alternate uses for brownfields, site design and planning and interior design. These community partners are both new and old friends and we are looking forward to another successful event this upcoming Monday, January 15 (MLK Jr. Day).
Look for a recap on this year’s event in the coming weeks! In the meantime, we are excited to have two new co-chairs, Ellie Thomas and Alejandra Meza who have spearheaded planning efforts for this year’s event.