2018 Project – CRISIS CENTER OF CENTRAL NEW HAMPSHIRE
Building on Hope volunteers work with our partners to completely renovate their working space. Throughout the prior year, planning meetings are held with architects, general contractors, project managers, designers, hospitality specialists and marketers to bring the vision of the organization to life during the Build Week. The current project for Building on Hope will be renovating the Crisis Center of Central New Hampshire (CCCNH) to create a safe, handicap accessible, emergency shelter with the ability to operate at maximum capacity to help CCCNH pursue its mission.
Originally established in 1978 as The Rape and Domestic Violence Crisis Center, CCCNH opened its Concord emergency shelter in 1985. The organization, which is the only agency exclusively dedicated to working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Merrimack County, provides services to victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, stalking and child abuse. CCCNH’s mission is to empower individuals to make positive changes in their lives and become independent members of their community through services including a 24-hour hotline, emergency shelter, court advocacy, hospital advocacy, forensic interview support, community education, legal referrals and support groups. In the first three months of 2017, CCCNH served 292 people through any number of their services, and continue to welcome women and their children into the emergency shelter as capacity allows. Once individuals become residents of the emergency shelter, they typically remain anywhere from four to six months. During that time, staff assist with all aspects of finding independence, both from the survivor’s abuser, and as a self-supporting member of the community including housing, financial stability and skills necessary for maintaining independence, as many of CCCNH’s survivors have not been in a situation to make their own decisions and provide for themselves and their children.
Sadly, the demand for shelter is high, and CCCNH was forced to turn away more than 180 women and 159 children in 2016 due to capacity limitations. Already unable to house the maximum number of residents due to administrative offices consuming bed space, the three-story, four-bedroom, 13-bed building has had few improvements since CCCNH purchased it, and is not designed in a way that allows for maximum use of the space. First floor renovations will provide an open-concept area between the kitchen and living room, which will increase eating space for residents, create a food pantry with family storage units and allow mothers to keep an eye on their children while preparing meals in the kitchen. Currently, the common areas are used for survivors to meet with lawyers, police officers, and other services, which means children either attend the meetings or sit alone in their rooms. Part of a second floor renovation will include an area dedicated exclusively for children to play, be creative, and have their own space while mom participates in meetings. One of the largest improvements will be handicap accessibility, with the installation of exterior and interior lifts.
Once the renovation is complete, there will be 20-24 beds available, making CCCNH the largest domestic violence shelter in New Hampshire. In addition, BOH’s renovations will allow CCCNH to consider accepting small pets that are a valued part of a survivors support system, as nearly 85% of women stay in their homes for fear that their small pets will be harmed.