The goal: Create a kitchen at the Franciscan Hospital for Children in Brighton, Massachusetts, where patients and staff could work and eat together in a homelike setting. The facilitator: Donna Venegas of Venegas and Company in the Boston Design Center, who lead the charge to replace the cramped and outdated commercial kitchen in the Community Based Acute Treatment (CBAT) Program Unit with one that is invitingly colorful, easy-to-use, and homey.
"The children spend a lot of time in this space," says Alicia Eddy, the unit's program manager. "They eat three meals a day here and also have three small snacks, so they are in this kitchen at least six times every day."
CBAT is a short-term residential program for children and adolescents experiencing behavioral and emotional problems. The idea behind the new kitchen is to prepare them for their return home, where, the hope is, they will continue to choose healthy foods, cook safely, and enjoy mealtime with their families. It is part of the overall treatment at CBAT, which simulates everyday activities so that patients can easily integrate back into homes and schools.
With a limited budget, the project was propelled forward by generous donations of time, services, and materials from the local design and building community. After a year and a half, the new kitchen opened last month.
Safety was a key factor in the design. For example, the oven is purposely set at the end of a long and relatively narrow space so only one person, a staff member, can get close to it. Cabinetry is no-slam and labels in drawers make it easy for the many children using the space to organize and find things. Dining tables seat four children with a staff member, and are equipped with rolling bases. "When family comes in, the tables can be moved to accommodate everyone in a homey, banquet-style configuration," says Venegas.
Jill Adler of DiscoverTile, also at the Boston Design Center, brainstormed with Venegas and came up with a hand-cut glass mosaic of larger-than-life fruits — a permanent "CBAT poster" about healthy eating. "I wanted the children to walk into the kitchen and have something to smile about," says Adler who worked with Paul Grubb of Paul Grubb Tile Co. on the custom design and installation. The orange, green, and white striped glass artwork between the kitchen's two windows was created and donated by Karole Moe of Karole Moe Art, who also is Mohr & McPherson's Boston Showroom Manager.
Other donors from Massachusetts include Gian Luca and Chelsea Arnold of Marble and Granite Inc. of Westwood who helped obtain Caesarstone countertop, Popular Painting of Boston gave the room freshly painted walls, Ron Bresse of TBR Marble & Granite Inc. of Foxboro did fabrication work, Patrick and Robert Malone installed the cabinets, Christian Jason of Boston Appliance donated the faucet, and Yale Appliance of Boston offered the appliances at a discounted rate. A hospital crew did the demolition, framing, electrical, and plumbing work.
Now, most meals are made and served family style. Says a satisfied Eddy, "It's the only unit in the hospital that doesn't serve food on trays."
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