How can a focus on hospitality create the relationships that build and transform communities? In this episode of Add Passion and Stir, host Billy Shore explores the concept of hospitality with Chef-owner Will Gilson (Puritan & Company in Cambridge, MA) and Sarah Rosenkrantz and Sam Greenberg, social entrepreneurs and co-directors of Y2Y Harvard Square (a youth homeless shelter in Cambridge, MA). Although from different professional backgrounds, the guests share how they are building community by focusing on relationships. “Volunteers and guests work together to prepare meals. Bonding that occurs in the kitchen spills out into the dining area. Meal preparation and sharing meals is creating communities and bridging communities,” says Rosencrantz. Gilson wants his restaurant guests to feel like they’re in someone’s home. “Are we creating relationships or is it just a transaction?,” he asks regarding every aspect of his business.
Y2Y Harvard Square has more than doubled the number of easily accessible beds for young adults ages 18-24 in the Greater Boston area. It serves as an entry point to critical resources for young adults by providing referrals to partner service providers. Student volunteers advised by faculty and professionals offer programming in legal aid, career readiness, and creative expression. “We fundamentally believe as students that our peers should be housed and have the chance to succeed,” says Greenberg. Gilson feels that his employees should also have the chance to succeed. Any business venture that he considers must first pass the test of whether his employees can afford to live in the communities where they work. “When we turn down a project, it may not be that we don’t have the ability to raise the funds to open it up, we might not have the person capital to do it. We might not be able to find staffing because there’s nowhere for them to live affordably,” he says.
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