Students, volunteers revamp house for people with mental illnesses

A group of students worked with volunteers to give back to an organization that gives so much to those with mental illnesses.

Students from Phoenix College worked with countless other volunteers, including employees from Southwest Behavioral and Health Center, to make a house a home.

The cozy 1920s craftsman is located on Wiletta Street in Phoenix. It received a long over due facelift this weekend.

"We've torn a lot of things down," said Ken Roberts, with Phoenix College. "We've done a lot of cleaning, we've done a lot of painting."  

Dozens of design students from Phoenix College rolled up their sleeves up, hard at work.

"We're trying to make it just a homey environment for the residents that are here. There's usually 16 people who live here," said Roberts.

"This is a 24/7 treatment facility residential program for people in southwest behavioral health program," said Donna Piscopa, with Bridging AZ, a non-profit organization.

Piscopa approached the college a year to make a collaborative effort to remodel Toby House 1, a place for adults with mental illness.

It was first purchased in 1978 by a local woman named Toby Citron after her relative was discharged from a hospital.

"Services didn't exist so she got with her friends and she said we need a place, so they purchased this place...since the 70s it has been a treatment facility," said Piscopa.

Plans were put in place, drawings rendered and then  it all started to come alive.

"It's great because this is all about giving back to the community and that's part of what we are trying to teach students, just the hands on experience of coming in and getting involved in a real project and seeing it all come together in just a couple of days is really valuable for them," said Roberts.

The students provided the elbow grease and, of course, the designs. Bridging AZ is providing furniture so now this house on wiletta street is really a cozy home, a community effort for a wonderful community facility.

"For Bridging, this is our very first project we have ever done with one of our agencies. We're just excited to be doing it. It has been a real wonderful working relationship we've had with our designers," said Piscopa.
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