Pine Street Inn

by Caitlin Daniels and Jenna Kotarski

CBI has been providing design services for the Pine Street Inn since 1998.  CBI has completed a full array of projects, big and small, for the Pine Street Inn’s block-long site that spans from Albany Street to Harrison Avenue in Boston’s South End.

Projects have included the structural design of the new Men’s Unit Lobby; the design and review of structural steel and masonry repairs to the underside of the first floor in the Women’s Inn; gang-style shower design for the Men’s Unit (grouped single showers into one area to accommodate more users at once); roof replacement for the Women’s Inn; façade repairs to the Men’s Unit that included brick, stone, masonry and lintel replacement of the 3 joined buildings; and façade repair along E. Berkeley Street for the Women’s Inn which included masonry and lintel replacement.

Last April, CBI sent over its first crew to volunteer at the Pine Street Inn and serve dinner at the Men’s Inn.  The Pine Street Inn is not, by any means, pleading for volunteers as CBI waited close to two months for an open evening to help.  Nearly 4,000 volunteers contribute a combined 35,000 hours of service every year according to Pine Street Inn’s website (

This was the first volunteer effort at the Pine Street Inn for all of the CBIparticipants and everyone was equally excited to volunteer their time and effort at a place that CBI has worked so closely with over the years.  CBI was greeted with a tour and some history of the Men’s Inn by Coffie Fields (PSI’s Volunteer Coordinator) before aproning and hairnetting up for the evening. 

As excited as we all were, the dinner service is strictly business and, as friendly as all the chefs and workers were, they made sure we knew that.  The one goal is to get everyone in, fed, and out as quickly as possible.  The line to get into the cafeteria had already started to form when we were on our tour of the building and as soon as those doors opened it was down to business, serving for a non-stop hour and a half.

Each volunteer was assigned to a station: scooping entrees, sides, bread, desserts, and drinks.  The pace was quick and efficient.  Give each person their meal, let them eat, and then they must leave to make room for the people still in line.  No seconds; there were hundreds of mouths to feed in a short period of time. 

Some men gave special requests, if they didn’t want a certain item, and some men gave complaints, if they didn’t receive enough of a certain item, but just about everyone that came through the dinner line was friendly, courteous, and thankful.  As soon as the last person in line entered the cafeteria the doors were promptly shut and locked and the dinner service was over. 

CBI served approximately three hundred individuals in the hour and a halfthat we were there.  The Pine Street Inn must run a tight ship and their system is extremely efficient serving all individuals a satisfying meal in a clean and safe environment.  We thank everyone at the Pine Street Inn for having us and CBI looks forward to volunteering again in the near future.