Blog Post by Elaine Meyerson, Executive Director Center for Hope and Safety
When I became the Executive Director of Center for Hope and Safety in 1986, I asked the staff what they felt their needs were, without hesitation they all echoed the word "space."
At first I thought they were being selfish. What would more space for the staff do for the women and children we serve? I quickly learned from our concerned and caring counselors that more room meant better services: holding meetings on site at the emergency shelter instead of finding a church hall, providing more children’s group activity rather than less,, and counseling in private offices instead of the living room or bedrooms in the shelter. So Center for Hope and Safety embarked on a 6-year journey to build an addition to the shelter—to give us precious space.
Just 3 years later, as we enhanced fundraising efforts and developed a core of volunteers to support our programs and services, we once again found ourselves in need of more space and moved the Center for Hope and Safety administrative offices into a building in Hackensack, where we have been for 16 years!
In 2002 we were awarded a state grant for specialized children’s services. That enabled us to open more new doors with our Project CHILD program, For the first time, we were able to reach out to families in the community, beyond those in our emergency shelter, and to offer creative arts therapy for children who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence as well as counseling and education programs for non-offending parents.
Throughout my first two decades at the helm of this progressive agency, our dedicated, committed staff worked hard to expand additional services in the areas of work readiness training, transitional housing, and follow-up services.
As they did so, the same word began to be uttered.... "Space. We need more space." Not to enhance the comfort of staff, but again to create bigger and better opportunities for women and children who are building new lives of self-sufficiency and to ensure privacy and confidentiality for the families we serve
And so I have traveled with the board and staff on yet another 6-year journey -- to locate the perfect building in the perfect location to consolidate all of our non-emergency services under one roof. This strategic and necessary move will enable us to improve our community outreach and education and help more women and children in crisis, including many who do not require emergency shelter but do need help.
We have found that location, in Rochelle Park; we have purchased a building; and we have begun the challenging task of transforming what is now an empty shell into a vibrant, thriving hub of activity. Our new Program Center will have the capacity to house all of our community services, including Project CHILD, our newest Outreach & Multicultural Services program, the Follow-up program for former clients, our domestic violence awareness initiatives, and administrative offices.
We recently kicked off the public phase of our $2 million Capital Campaign, Building for the Future: Safety, Strength and Hope. We have raised more than half of the funds needed to purchase and renovate the building, but we have a long way to go.
It’s another 6-year journey until the dream, which became a vision, will finally become a reality.
That’s the way we have made progress throughout the 37-year history of Center for Hope and Safety. To transform each dream into reality, we have been helped every step of the way by caring, supportive people in the community who share our ultimate dream of ending domestic violence.
We need your help once more. Come. Join us.