Design For A Difference has designed a multitude of community spaces over the years. One thing all of these spaces have in common is that they work with under-severed communities to make lives better. One of the most recent spaces Design For A Difference made an impact on was Finger Lakes Independence Center located in Ithaca, NY. We followed up with them to find out just how much it meant to be a DFAD winner. We spoke with Jan Lynch, who has been the Executive Director at the Finger Lakes Independence Center (FLIC) since April 2014.
We asked what it meant to their organization to win the DFAD contest, and Jan said that it meant a lot because as a not for profit they seldom get any sort of money to think about things being attractive and functional, and just live with what they have. It was a gift to have their space made over by the DFAD team.
When asked what difference the space made after the makeover, Jan commented that it made a phenomenal difference. One of the walls in the main area where people enter was removed, opening up space and making it more welcoming. Everyone who walks in notices the difference and how easy it is to come in and go to reception to get what they need, it especially made a difference to those with accessibility challenges.
The kitchenette area was updated to be wheelchair friendly, whereas before it was small and tight. And before COVID, more people wanted to use the inviting conference room, even outside groups wanting to borrow it for meetings. Even the smallest things like the tiled bathroom walls made an impact on the overall functionality of their space.
One important thing Jan noted was that the change in the space elevated the staff and made them feel important and that their new space shows respect to the people they work with.
We also asked Jan what the experience of having a team of professional designers redo their space was like. She said that it was great and that everything came out wonderful. It was fun even while work was going on seeing the transformation of the space and the ideas they discussed come to life. What Jan loves about the space is the spaciousness, bright colors, and flooring that make it more inviting and warm. The orange focal wall and tree designs are beautiful and bright while not being overwhelming.
Jan also gave advice on what she thinks makes someone a community hero. To her, people who work with others who are underserved or are forgotten are community heroes. Also, those who take their time to make their services and spaces accessible to everyone. Jan commented that we all should have a newfound appreciation for those in the medical field and all they do and sacrifice to take care of their community.