FIDM students transform Compass Family Shelter in SF

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Some students at a trendy design school in San Francisco's Union Square are just blocks from the gritty Tenderloin neighborhood. But in many ways, they're also worlds apart. They decided to brides the gap in a way that's making a difference.

There are many things the students at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising learn in the classroom, but there are also lessons in the real world.

"It's definitely changed my perspective a lot," said FIDM student Jillian Colin.

She is one of 17 students who transformed the Compass Family Shelter in San Francisco's Tenderloin, where 22 families with 32 children live.

"And we thought, first was the paint color, we wanted to really redesign the space differently, again make it warm and welcoming," said FIDM student Rachel McCullough.

Their before pictures show worn, drab community spaces. Then the young designers went to work.

They revamped the kids' room, learned how to tile the kitchen by watching YouTube videos and painted the sitting room.

Ron Byers lives there with his 17-year-old son, and says the makeover has lifted his spirits.

"Now that they've redesigned the kitchen, I mean, it just means more home," he said.

Families can stay for up to six months. The case manager says a classy setting makes a difference.

"Often, people isolate during homelessness," said Bertie Mandelbaum with Compass Family Shelter. "They come down here, they talk, small talk, they share resources. It extends our community."

Everything from the paint to the toys for the children was donated.

"I think it was awesome to come here and be able to help people as a sort of way to restart their journey, too," said Colin.

It took two days over two weeks to make changes that should last for years.
Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.