MEET THE HONOREES | Community Partner of the Year


Community Partner of the Year
Houseman Recreation Center for Phases I, II, and III
(in collaboration with ACE/WRT’s Design & Build Team)

The main objective of the program is to guide students through the design and construction of a project with an overall goal to improve a public space. The initiative provides mentees hands-on experience and exposure to the AEC industry through community service, connecting with and advocating for local communities.

A group of mentors from WRT led the first-ever ACE Greater Philadelphia team nearly three years ago to culminate their program with the construction of a built project.

“The impact an individual can have is immense, especially when they’re working with a collective for a collective effort. The simple addition of a little bit of color changed the atmosphere at Houseman and you could see the reactive change it had on the community. It was incredible how the neighbors were so excited to work with us and how much pride they took in making their space more beautiful,” said Breanna Sheeler, WRT designer and ACE Lead Mentor.

In 2021, ACE and WRT worked with the Houseman Recreation Center, collaborating with the centerโ€™s leadership and community members, to focus on the beautification of the entrance plaza. This year we were able to extend that partnership to further impact the community. To support the design vision of the students, we partnered with Walls for Justice to create beautiful and empowering signage and artwork to decorating the exterior of the Houseman building.

“At the end of the day, it’s showing up in your neighborhood and picking up a shovel and digging in the dirt for a couple hours and making an impact,” said Joe Healy, WRT Managing Principal.

We are especially grateful to the many families from the surrounding neighborhood who visited the site and participated in our activities. In particular, members of the youth football and basketball teams at Houseman who previously helped to design the building artwork returned on Saturday to see their work brought to life. Councilwoman Charelle Parker made an appearance to commend the efforts of all volunteers and celebrate the importance of uplifting our community.

“The students and the mentors and this team did and an absolutely amazing job. Watching this building transform throughout the day, watching it go from drab and boring to a beautiful, vibrant, inviting and exciting place. It was thrilling to watch. It’s the direct result of all of the work, time, effort, and energy the students and the mentors put into to this design,” said Melissa Raffel, Affiliate Director at ACE Mentor Program of Greater Philadelphia. “The partnerships we built this year with Walls for Justice and EH Landscaping are something I would like to see us continue in the future. I think there are true people partnerships in the work here, and it’s just stunning. It’s beautiful. It really is.”

Melissa Raffel
Author: Melissa Raffel