CMSA’s senior vice president lends his expertise to design a safe, welcoming haven for at-risk youth.
Rick Oswald has the rare ability to visualize a design and transforms it into reality. He puts that ability to work every day as senior vice president and partner of Clifford M. Scholz Architects. Oswald is using that ability to enrich the lives of area children by giving his time and skills to help design state-of-the-art living quarters for at-risk children.
The design is a pro bono project and, as Oswald says, “near and dear to my heart.”
As Oswald describes it, the former YMCA Youth Shelter in Sarasota had served the needs of children at risk for years. But with the recent changes to the YMCA located on Euclid Avenue in Sarasota it was time for a new facility that would stand the test of time — and provide a haven for area youth for years to come. In 2017.
The new Safe Children’s Coalition Youth Shelter will be under the SCC umbrella. A property search yielded an ideal site at the corner of Sawyer Road and Wilkinson Road in Sarasota. SCC purchased the property.
The shelter’s function was clear. The facility would serve children at risk up to the age of 17. The capacity could accommodate 20 children: 10 girls and 10 boys.
Oswald’s first step was to design the building to be as energy-efficient as possible. “We’ll use green building techniques and get as close as possible to a zero-carbon footprint.” He also envisioned a coastal transitional architectural style—with plenty of clean lines, open, airy spaces, and soothing colors.
According to Oswald, the single-story structure will offer 8,700 square feet of interior area. Within that space, the facility will have three main components. The living section will comprise the children’s beds and a common area. The administrative section will be entirely separate. A third section will feature dining and laundry areas.
Most important? The structure will serve as a bright, safe, and welcoming space for children at risk.
“Children in shelters often feel that their lives are on a downward spiral,” he says. “one of the primary goals of this building will be to give them an uplifting sense of pride. The shelter will let them know they’re valued, they’re loved, and they’re safe. It will give them a peaceful space to rest, gain hope, and to know things are going to get better.”
After several years of searching for the right property the new youth shelter is going to become a reality. What inspired Oswald to devote his expertise to making that happen?
“I’m 60 years old,” he says. “As things worked out, I never fathered any children of my own. This project gives me the opportunity to make a difference for children from across the region. To give back to the community. It’s a wonderful way to put my professional skills to work. The good this shelter represents goes far beyond bricks and mortar. It’s something to be proud of.”
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