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29 Nov 22 86 0 0

Cross Roads House marks 40 years of helping people without shelter

Cool Story - Cross Roads House marks 40 years of helping people without shelter

A key to Cross Roads House is hung from a bell by the entrance. It serves a symbolic function: Residents of the emergency and transitional shelter are invited to take the key and ring the bell once they find a permanent home, symbolizing the progress they achieved to move out.

Robert, who moved into a permanent home in Rochester on November 15 after spending the previous year and a half in Cross Roads House, was one of the most recent to ring the bell.

When his mother was given a cancer diagnosis in 2018, Robert was still residing in Rochester with his mother. He claimed that although she received a second diagnosis of the illness the following year and ultimately succumbed to it, she managed to battle it the first time.

After his mother passed away, he spent about a year living with friends before turning to the Community Action Partnership of Strafford County for assistance.

Soon after, Robert was put in touch with Cross Roads House, which had a bed available in the men's hostel for him.

"They assisted me in obtaining my date of birth and Social Security cards. They gave me food stamps, disability assistance, and an apartment, the man claimed. They assisted me with everything I needed. It has been great to be here.”

How old is Cross Roads House?

The staff at Cross Roads House, which is now in its 40th year of existence, claims that there is a greater than ever-demand for housing and social services. The social services organization, which is run by an executive director who was once homeless himself, is continuously at capacity and has long waitlists. This cycle occurs even though a sizable percentage of Cross Roads House's funding comes from private donations.

Ben St. Jean, president of Cross Roads House's board of directors, wants the general public to understand that the organization offers more than simply "a meal and a bed," a widespread misconception about it that he frequently encounters.

A group of direct care professionals, shelter managers, and case managers at Cross Roads House work closely with clients to improve their physical and mental health, find long-term housing and jobs, and reintegrate them into the neighborhood.

"Cross Roads House helps people overcome obstacles they face in life. From person to person, they differ. They become more able to fit in and contribute to society thanks to (our team)," he claimed. "They can gain employment and find long-term housing after they discover assistance and stability. That is crucial. To get folks where they need to be, our case workers perform miracles.”

What is the history of Cross Roads House?

Cross Roads House got its start thanks to the kindness of a local restaurant named John Hynes and other clergymen in the area.

Before 1981, Hynes provided food for the homeless and hotel housing with the assistance of a local church. As soon as it became clear that the demand was too great, Cross Roads House was established and registered with the state in 1982.

The next year, Joe Sawtelle was approached about the potential of starting a shelter in Portsmouth by the Rev. Gordon Allen of St. John's Episcopal Church. Sawtelle, the owner of the brick structure at 103 Marcy St., which is today occupied by the Players' Ring Theatre, suggested to the clergy using that area as an emergency refuge, which was accepted.

To accommodate shelter clients, Sawtelle purchased the previous Pine Tree Motel on Lafayette Road in 1985.

Three years later, in 1988, Sawtelle requested that Cross Roads House purchase the former Pine Tree Motel site on Lafayette Road. By that time, Cross Roads House had established itself as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and employed its first employee. It was ultimately acquired by Cross Roads House following the organization's receipt of a mortgage and the launch of a capital campaign. In 1994, the four-unit structure underwent a conversion to become a family transitional shelter.

A new facility at 600 Lafayette Road was designed and built by Cross Roads House as part of a $5 million capital campaign in 2007, and it opened on the day before Thanksgiving in 2009. The agency's building for families underwent modifications three years after the construction of the new shelter, boosting the total number of beds for families, men, and women to roughly 100, albeit some are now only available for COVID-19 isolation.

How many people does Cross Roads House serve?

According to the organization's annual report, Cross Roads House residents spent an average of 62 days there during the fiscal year 2022. Over 29,500 meals were served and a total of 26,644 nights of shelter were provided by the charity to 427 people, including 17 families with 35 children.

A person who enters Cross Roads House is greeted by members of the direct care staff who are prepared to help them and provide them with emergency housing for up to three nights straight, according to Alissa Gumprecht, the organization's director of development and communications. After that, the staff adds their name to the Cross Roads House queue and directs them to call the 211 hotlines for health and human services in the state.

The responsibilities of a case manager include everything from assisting residents in locating personal identity documents to giving them access to Families First's health care services.

As Gumprecht put it, "this is a means for them to already establish that kind of relationship in the community and have that in place for when they leave here."

Nine years ago, Michelle Smith began working at Cross Roads House, the last six of those years as a case manager. Her purple-painted first-floor office is brimming with optimism, and it is embellished with several floral-printed signs bearing motivating messages.

The majority of Cross Roads House revenue comes from private donors

The struggle to raise money for Cross Roads House is just as difficult as the need for shelter. Arvelo claims that 70% of Cross Roads House's funding comes from contributions, with the remaining 30% coming from the state and the city of Portsmouth.

According to Arvelo, this ratio is often inverted for nonprofits and community organizations because the majority of them receive the majority of their income from local governments and states, with a smaller amount coming from donations.

Each donor, whether an individual or business, is identified by name in the nonprofit's annual report. In the fiscal year 2022, 320 donors gave to Cross Roads House with a minimum gift of $1,000, with 21 donors giving at least $40,000 each.

The above article is selected by CoolDeeds.org. The information and the assets belong to their respective owners (original link).


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