Build Something Beautiful
In my head, most of the people who are here already know our story. But for those of you who don’t, here’s the short version: eleven years ago, we met two boys in Atlanta. And then we got to know them and their families.
And all we did was stick around long enough to disrupt the narrative we had been fed about “at-risk kids from the projects.” These boys were not “bad kids”, and they had hard-working, amazing families who cared for them deeply and just needed support. Then we became parents ourselves, and discovered parenting is hard and holy work in the best of circumstances. Add in factors like a disinvested community, failing schools, a lack of job opportunities, systems of racism and mass incarceration, and violence outside your front door, and I can scarcely imagine how much harder that role swells.
So we did the only thing we could, we stayed put. We let our roots go down deep and we listened to the families we loved. We moved closer. And then we spoke up, we used our privilege and our connections in the best ways we knew how for the families we encountered. But truthfully, they are the heroes and we are the winners. Because of these families, we found community and discovered the real meaning of resilience.
We finally understood our role would never be to save anyone, but just to hold space for kids and neighbors to become everything they were made to be.
8 years ago we moved into the Adair Park neighborhood and started this nonprofit we called Blueprint 58, because we were basing it on the promises and callings set forth in Isaiah 58.
I suppose I would sum up Blueprint 58 by saying we facilitate relationships.
Between community organizations and schools, between students and mentors, between families and neighbors. Between youth and job opportunities. Between kids and second chances. We engage the neighborhood with programs that build community, from events like a potluck thanksgiving dinner to a flag football league in the park.
We pair students from the local elementary school with caring adults who can walk alongside them in a supportive role to their parents. We have a community support group for young mothers. Basically, we feel honored to stand in the gaps and to amplify the amazing voices of the community around us.
I might have mentioned this already, but a few months ago we bought a building.
I want to take just a minute to share our vision for that space with you. We finally have some finished drawings that the fabulous Lord Aeck Sargent put together for us (Pro Bono!), and shout out to Brian from Third Lens who is also helping us. We also need to say that not one brick of this would be possible without my amazing parents and their vision to leave a legacy that is bigger than themselves.
We bought this building right in the heart of Pittsburgh (less than half a mile from where we live now), because we love this neighborhood. We need this building because it’s time to grow. We have been operating out of small spaces since the very beginning. Whether those spaces were our own homes or small churches, we became increasingly aware that as we expanded, those spaces felt smaller and smaller. Ultimately, we began placing limitations on how many people we could serve, based on the space available.
We believe transformation happens gradually, as it did with Blueprint58, through continuing conversation and relationship. This building will not only provide our staff with a place to continue developing programs, but it will also provide the community with a creative, safe space to incubate transformative relationships that will in turn, impact the community as a whole.
Our vision for this building is to create an innovative, inviting, and beautiful space that remains true to the heart of the Pittsburgh neighborhood and restores the beauty of a building which has been in disrepair for so long.
When we imagine this space, we think about all the things we will be able to include:
A library and tutoring space.
Shared space for community gatherings and for students to spend time after school etc.
Office space for Blueprint 58 to grow in presence and service to the community.
Housing for staff and transient youth.
Outdoor space that will include a basketball court and community garden.
Space for monthly meetings, mentor and other events, enrichment classes.
A physical example of the work we do in the community to donors and potential donors.
When we sat down with the architects to tell them our dreams for the space, I kept saying “I feel like I’m describing our house, but bigger.” We simply desire the ability to invite more neighbors into our space, more youth into our programs, and more support and resources and connections to our community.
We think we will need 1.2 million to complete this new community space, and we already have $700k raised. That leaves $500k that we need to raise. So that means we need people to come alongside us to help us raise everything we need to make this dream a reality.
I wanted to take a minute and invite all of you, my friends across the oceans and around the corner, to be a part of our vision - to build something beautiful alongside us. To build community and relationships. To build hope and grace and a deep belief in second chances. And third chances and forth ones.
Together, let’s build a movement of neighbors and friends who believe the creation of a place more beautiful and hopeful is not only possible, but something we can all play a role in creating.
If you give, don’t do it because you believe in Adam and Becca. This is way bigger than us. If you give, give because you believe in Sincere and Ashton, in Zack and in Samaya, in Damian and Alexess and Kavon and Raymon, and in every single student and mentor and family in our neighborhood.