New York Junior League Renovations Breathe New Life into Community Space

Christopher Crawford (second from left) poses with fellow residents in front of the new TV and some of the paintings they created
New furniture and plantings transform the patio into a cozy hangout

The back patio at our West 140th Street residence could pass for a funky café space. Colorful chairs surround sturdy tables, with a large telescoping umbrella to provide shade. Elegant benches are nestled among planters full of flowers. The pavers are neat and even.

But it wasn’t always that way. 

“They fixed the pavement! You don’t trip and fall anymore,” said Christopher Crawford, president of the West 140th tenants union and unofficial “mayor” of the building. He marveled at the new furniture and bike rack. “It’s like a totally different place!” 

Inside, the community room is freshly painted in a warm off-white with accents of cheerful purple. The kitchen area boasts added storage space. In the living area, photos of residents line the piano.  

“The TV is a real TV, not analog,” Crawford pointed out. “We’ve got a nice table and a new couch.” 

All of this is thanks to the New York Junior League, which tackled the renovations as a Community Improvement Project. The effort included approximately $57,000 in supplies and in-kind services along with a trained team of volunteers.  

“For over 120 years, our organization has been committed to improving communities through the excellent leadership of strategic partnerships and the action of skilled volunteers,” said NYJL President Dayna Cassidy at the ribbon-cutting in May. “Our volunteers quite literally rolled up their sleeves to create reimagined spaces for our community partners to ensure residents have an environment that facilitates social engagement, fosters wellness, and promotes the development of independent living skills.” 

The project included an especially personal touch. The volunteers organized an art night where residents created most of the paintings that line the walls of the living area.  

West 140th Street is one of our four supportive housing residences in West Harlem and the Upper West Side, and is part of our commitment to safe and dignified housing for all. It provides affordable, permanent supportive housing for 48 previously homeless adults with a history of mental illness.  

“We’re grateful to the New York Junior League,” said Goddard Riverside Chief Operating Officer and Corporate Compliance Officer Andrea Cain Lawson, who attended the ribbon-cutting. “They really worked hard to create a space that’s not only enjoyable for the residents but reflects who they are.”