Steinberg Hart’s Holds First Annual Day of Service with Simply the Basics
Steinberg Hart held its first annual Steinberg Hart Day of Service (from home)! An initiative of our JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity) Group, Steinberg Hart teams came together with the help of some creative logistics to support Simply the Basics, a National Hygiene Bank. Their services help sustain the health and well-being of low income communities, people at risk of homelessness, or people experiencing homelessness.
Each team member received bulk supplies, including dental kits, soap, socks, shower supplies, masks, and hand sanitizer. We came to together, masked up, or over Zoom with our families to sort supplies and pack kits, complete with handwritten notes for the recipients. We are proud to have partnered with such a wonderful organization doing such important work to serve our communities, and so thrilled that their national network allowed us to all volunteer together despite being physically apart. The Day of Service was a resounding success, and importantly, it was deeply aligned with values that we hold dear. We shared some insight into our day and our ‘why’ in a Q&A with Simply the Basics founder, Meghan Freebeck, below.
What inspired you to host a hygiene kit activity as a team?
Steinberg Hart’s Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusivity [jedi] group has been focused on ways in which we can support our local communities by combatting the effects of systemic racism and institutional injustice in our company, in our practice as architects and designers, and in our communities. As part of the initiative, Steinberg Hart has launched several actions to increase our impact. We know that income inequality and houselessness disproportionately affects BIPOC individuals, and we were on the lookout for ways in which we could donate our time safely through a coordinated firmwide Day of Service. One of our team members is on Simply the Basics’ Advisory Committee, and when our group discovered the organization and learned more about the mission, we were thrilled to be able to support a cause that our staff believes in. In addition to the ability to contribute to an important cause, Simply the Basics also offered the opportunity to volunteer safely given the current COVID-19 situation. No matter which office our team member worked in, this provided us the unique advantage of being able to participate firmwide, thanks to Simply the Basics’ nationwide partnership network and logistical assistance.
What values does Steinberg Hart share with Simply the Basics?
Creating opportunities for dignity, choice, equity, accessibility, and compassion is absolutely at the heart of what we do. Steinberg Hart has long worked to create spaces that serve people of all walks of life: from community centers and libraries to education both public and private, as well as a wide variety of housing. We believe that architecture and design can be a great equalizer – a well-designed space has the power to change people’s lives – whether it is putting a roof over their head, creating affordability by design, generating opportunities for connection and community, or optimizing spaces for learning and interaction. Importantly, Steinberg Hart has long advocated for housing as a basic human right, and we pride ourselves on the quality of our affordable and permanent supportive housing projects. Through innovation in space utilization, and entitlement considerations, and more, we believe that we can, through design, create opportunities for people to thrive.
What has the Steinberg Hart team learned from the experience?
Our offices are in urban centers, we see people experiencing homelessness each day. Many people on our team are familiar with food and housing insecurity and regularly contribute time, food, and money to organizations in our communities. We know the impact that these organizations can have. But most of us were ill-informed about the lack of a coordinated effort to provide hygiene care.
Meghan’s presentation was incredibly informative, and we learned about the logistical challenges of providing these goods and services to people who need them, and therefore just how much good a national hygiene network can (and will!) do to alleviate stress for our local organizations. Most importantly, many of us did not know just how large an impact these simple items can have on long term health and wellbeing for our most vulnerable neighbors.
How does the work that Steinberg Hart does connect to the importance of service and supporting our neighbors without homes?
Steinberg Hart is privileged to be in the business of creating spaces: spaces that accommodate, serve, educate, inspire, and yes, house. We have had the honor of designing two permanent supportive housing projects to date in Los Angeles as well as a women’s shelter in San Jose, in addition to several affordable housing projects throughout our firm’s history. We have many team members who volunteer, speak, and advocate for our houseless neighbors’ right to housing from a policy perspective. We know that our work is never done; housing take time to build, and policy takes time to shift. This was a great way for us to have a direct and immediate impact on a crisis that is gripping our communities daily. We were honored to participate.