At the Cornelia Connelly Center, nine teachers all get a bedroom upstairs, plus access to the communal living room and kitchen on the fifth floor. At nearly 800 square feet, this common area—once a dance studio—is larger than most one-bedroom apartments in New York City. But space was the only luxurious thing about it. Furnishings were a pitiful mix of dowdy and decrepit, and the long list of problems included threadbare sofas, unreliable appliances and nail heads sticking out of the floor, ready to snag anyone foolish enough to walk around without shoes. However, renovations cost money, which is one thing the teachers don't have.
In addition to their small allowance for food, bought communally, they earn a meager monthly stipend of $300, before taxes. "In New York, panhandlers make more than that," says interior designer Elaine Griffin, O at Home's Good Works Makeover expert. After Connelly Center director Mary Claire Ryan wrote to O at Home about the sorry situation, Elaine appeared on the scene, overflowing with ideas for transforming the room into a place that, as she saw it, would "nurture team spirit."
The paint has barely dried, but the nine young teachers who spend their free time in the center's big shared living room can't stop talking about the new club-cool vibe!
Tell Us About Your Good Works
O at Home would like to salute the men and women across America who volunteer their time to refurbish, renovate and redecorate offices, conference rooms, play areas and charitable organizations that could not afford to upgrade facilities on their own. Submit your stories and photos!
Good Works Makeover
O at Home
New York, NY 10019
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The Cornelia Connelly Center, O at Home staff and Elaine Griffin are grateful to our contributors: BJ's Wholesale Club, Classic Sofa, The Container Store, Cuisinart, Dell, Dick Blick Art Materials, Dimitri's Garden Center, Dolphin Fitness Clubs, The Furniture Joint, Herman Miller, Home Decorators Collection, Hunter Douglas, Hwang Bishop, Ikea, ILevel, InterfaceFLOR, Knoll, Lamps Plus, Larson-Juhl, Lowe's, Maids of Manhattan, Netflix, New York Blackboard of New Jersey, Pioneer, Raintree Collection, Room & Board, Roost, Storehouse, the Robert Allen Group, Scholastic, Shutter Shack, Textile Arts, Two Worlds Arts and Wilsonart International.
Take a tour of the Cornelia Connelly Center teachers' lounge.
From the Spring 2005 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!