Domestic violence nonprofit has new Sullivan County headquarters

By NORA DOYLE-BURR

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 02-01-2023 6:08 AM

CLAREMONT — Turning Points Network, a nonprofit that provides support to survivors of sexual and domestic violence in Sullivan County, has moved into a new headquarters on Broad Street.

The move, effective Jan. 23, marks the culmination of more than five years of planning due to a space crunch at the organization’s previous School Street location. In 2018, John and Carolyn Pierzchala gave Turning Points the building at 231 Broad Street. In 2020, after raising funds from various government and private sources, the organization went out to bid for what it expected would be a $1.41 million project.

But the bid came back for $2.8 million, Pascale Graham, the organization’s executive director, said in a Tuesday phone interview.

“Materials costs just rose so high in a way that we just did not predict,” she said.

Fearing that it might not get anyone to bid on the project in the future, Turning Points opted to raise the additional funds from other government and private sources rather than reject the bid. The project has given the organization the additional space it needs to provide survivors with a safe and private place to come for support.

Advocates now have private offices, whereas at the School Street location they had to share and schedule appointments with survivors around each other. They also have tables in their offices to allow survivors complete paperwork.

The expansion also gives Turning Points more room to offer support groups, provide children of survivors with space to play and improves accessibility of the services by coming into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“There were so many benefits of moving our facility,” Graham said.

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The project, designed pro bono by White River Junction-based architect Frank Barrett Jr., included removing an ell and attached barn in the back of the existing 1850s-era building to make room for a two-story addition. The building now has three floors of office space — including some in a finished basement — conference and meeting rooms, a handicapped-accessible elevator and restrooms, a kitchen, a reception area, security systems and energy-efficient heating, cooling and electrical systems.

Among the needs of survivors these days are housing, help with utility costs and food, Graham said.

Housing in particular can make a difference in “whether or not survivors make the decision to stay in an unhealthy situation,” Graham said.

While the organization helps with emergency and transitional housing, she said survivors are still concerned about finding a place they can afford.

Those who do have housing have been hit by the spike in utility costs this winter. Some survivors have been getting behind on their oil and propane bills, Graham said.

“That has been the huge need this winter,” she said. The “majority of the people we work with (are) low-income; when these expenses increase, they don’t have increased finances to keep up with it.”

The organization is planning a June open house to allow community members to meet with staff and tour the building. The organization also has a Newport office at 167 Summer St. More information about Turning Points Network is online at turningpointsnetwork.org.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.

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