St. Ambrose to open new space for homeless teens

By 
Jackie Gentile, Special to the Reporter
May. 17, 2012

Securing a place for homeless teens as a part of the St. Ambrose Family Shelter on Leonard Street, the Teen Bright Space will open its doors on May 22. The space, a program of Bright Horizons Foundation for Children, will offer homeless teens a place to study, relax, and just be.

“St. Ambrose wasn’t my parish but my parents were very active and always donating there,” said Frannie Crockett-Wolfe, Director of The Children’s Center at Milton Academy. Crockett-Wolfe and her husband Scott adopted their son Derek when he was six years old. At that time, Derek had been living with his biological mother in the St. Ambrose Family Shelter, a residential services site of Catholic Charities.

“It kind of came full circle…that ‘what are the chances?’ kind of thing,” Crockett-Wolfe said of the project.

Every year at Christmas and on his birthday, Derek would drop off a gift at the shelter to give back to the place he once knew as home.

Crockett-Wolfe teamed up with her counterpart Monique da Silva, Director of the Reebok Child Care Center in Canton, for the project, taking on fundraising, design, planning and renovating including shopping for and assembling furniture. Included in the space will be a homework area with a computer, air hockey table, bean bag chairs, a Wii, movie area, iPod, snow cone machine and arts area. Crockett-Wolfe’s son Derek, now 13, helped to pick out things to include in the Space, telling his mom what’s cool and what’s not.

“It’s a lot different than just dropping gifts off for a donation or things like that so you really get to know what [the teens] need,” she said.

The fundraiser pumped $7,000 into the effort, with The Reebok Corporate Office in Canton matching donations from employees to help increase funding.

“Monique and I were scared of taking this big project,” Crockett-Wolfe said. “It’s amazing just to look back and know that we did it.”

The Bright Space has also crossed town lines and created more partnerships. Parents and kids from the Children’s Center at Milton Academy are helping out by painting murals on the wall while Milton Academy students and Crockett-Wolfe’s younger son Riley, 5, have stocked the bookshelves.

“That’s their big job.”

Currently a Randolph resident, Crockett-Wolfe grew up on Hecla Street, not far from the St. Ambrose campus.

“So when I had the opportunity through Bright Horizons to fundraise and open a Bright Space somewhere, St. Ambrose was the first place that came to mind,” she said.

After 12 years at Bright Horizons, this is Crockett-Wolfe’s first year as director.

“We’re giving back to a place where he once was and [that] was part of my life, too, as a child. It was nice to have tools through Bright Horizons to be able to do it.”

The Teen Bright Space ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 6 pm on May 22 at 25 Leonard St., Dorchester. Please RSVP to Frannie at 617-898-1681 or milton@brighthorizons.com.