Reading Senior Center Renovation Project


Isles Youth Institute

Isles Youth Institute (IYI), the youth development initiative of Isles, was created in 1995 to combat Trenton’s high dropout and low employment rates by preparing at-risk youth for employment and higher education. By providing the tools for self-reliance in a non-traditional educational environment, IYI builds self-reliance and fosters positive change through education. 

IYI offers students various opportunities to engage in life skills training aimed at developing emotionally stable, well-rounded citizens. IYI’s goal is for all students to become valued members of their community. The objective is to increase student engagement with positive role models and in community development activities as measured by student participation in life skills, leadership, and community service training.

The Reading Senior Center

The Reading Senior Center is an historic building, previously an active train station, part of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad line.

 In 1977 it was designated as an historical landmark by the Trenton Landmark Commission for Historic Preservation. It was designed by Francis Kimball, a New York architect who also designed the Philadelphia Reading terminal. It was built in 1888.

Presently it houses an active senior community who use every available inch of the facility. It is however, showing much wear and tear and has not been upgraded since the 1960’s. The last addition to the space was a non structural set of walls that do not function adequately for present needs, including ADA compliance. Bathrooms have deteriorated from use over 50 years! The flooring has areas which are coming apart which present safety concerns.

We can look through the windows from our school on Tucker St and see the seniors sitting out on the back porch. There are weeds, garbage cans, inadequate chairs. The potential to improve this area and create a comfortable relaxing environment is great.

Project Description

Students at IYI learn and work to improve spaces within the community. Since this is the IYI neighborhood, the Senior Center is an appropriate project for student involvement on many levels. Renovations at the Senior Center are being designated as the winter and spring projects for the 2014-2015 school year.

Areas of focus for our students:

  • Removing commercial wallpaper and interior painting.
  • Minor demolition and replacement of studs and sheetrock.
  • Cleaning and organizing activity areas.
  • Developing outdoor patio area and landscaping.
  • Areas of focus for contractors:
  • Replacement of bathrooms for men and women.
  • Replacement of flooring up to the dining hall.
  • Adding closet doors to storage areas.
  • Reconfiguring office areas with walls and doors.
  • Adding moldings to specified foyer areas.

This project will offer students the opportunity to establish community connections, help plan and implement a community-based project, and participate in meaningful community service. It will also afford students the opportunity to interact with older community members who may become role models and mentors.

Volunteer Opportunities

Because this is such a large project, we will need help from volunteers and community leaders. There are many small organizational tasks and hands on projects, such a building bookshelves and setting up storage areas.

For more information and/or a tour, please contact:
Joanne Scofield
Art/Life Skills Teacher at IYI
[email protected]

It will truly “take a village” to provide the seniors with the beautiful, comfortable, and functional space they deserve.

See more pictures of the project here.