When Hope Must HIde

Building on Hope, a remarkable effort that began in a conference room here at our offices, has a new extreme makeover project — but for this one, the location has to remain a secret.



Editor Rick Broussard

Photo by John Hession

The building looks like so many other old residences situated near Concord’s downtown — too large for today’s shrinking families but still useful. The original builders would be fascinated by the high-tech security measures, sensors and cameras mounted at every entrance. Sadly, they would also probably understand the threats that necessitated them. It’s not a new problem.

In a seemingly unrelated note, there will be a comical sight on the afternoon of October 4 as men line up in downtown Concord to run a mile-long race — in women’s heels. There’s something funny about a man wearing a business suit and stilettos, but there’s nothing funny about the reason behind the scene.

The “reason” and connection between these two scenarios is the Crisis Center of Central NH (CCCNH), which offers a home for women with children who are seeking shelter from an abusive partner.

To be more precise, these are women who are most likely fleeing from their homes — leaving behind friends and personal belongings — because a man, often the father of their children, is a serious danger to them. Frequently the violence has gone on for years and has worsened until the only option is to run and hide. So, imagine these women as refugees fleeing deadly enemies from war zones within their own country and you’ll have an idea of what they face every day.

Building on Hope is not designed to solve problems like that. Providing a therapeutic safe haven for families is more than most volunteers can manage, so we (I’m on the steering committee) leave that to the caring professionals. What we can do is rally the professionals of the construction, design and building materials industries to provide a lavish, improved structure and new equipment to transform the place where an organization such as CCCNH provides residential services. Once Building on Hope is done, they’ll not only have more living space beautifully designed for their mission, they will also have the inspiration and resources needed to dream about new ways to assist clients, to engage problems earlier on and to ultimately improve outcomes.

That’s what’s happened over the last decade at previous Building on Hope projects, including the Briggs Center for the Manchester Police Athletic League, the training hub for Opportunity Networks of Amherst, the Girls Inc. program facility in Manchester and the Easterseals NH Krol House for boys.

That’s what we hope will happen for CCCNH because, among all the contemporary horrors that we face at home and abroad, this one should and can be fixed. The nightmare reality that too many women and children face — being terrorized and attacked within their own homes by the same person who should be guarding and comforting them — is an unacceptable fact.

The men choosing to “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” this month are in the vanguard of the solution simply by openly acknowledging the realities of domestic violence. Far too many of us are friends with either a victim or a perpetrator of such crimes. By doing something bold and, yes, a little silly, these men are drawing attention to, and starting conversations about, a problem that requires secrecy to exist.

And as long as domestic abuse is only spoken about in whispers, that old unmarked house near downtown Concord will require a high level of secrecy just to remain safe.

More edit notes from editor Rick Broussard

Retreat to the Future

Imagine our country split between the haters and admirers of the President while an endless war drags on overseas and a nuclear cloud hovers over our planet on the brink of environmental chaos.

Magical Thinking

My first encounter with a “health food store” was back in the 1960s. They sold a mysterious, chewy cereal called “granola” and made cups of dark yerba mate tea that smelled like a mystical potion.

Viva Manchester

One of my first workplaces in New Hampshire was a third-floor office on the corner of Elm and Amherst Streets in Manchester. It was 1990 and, yes, imaginary tumbleweeds did roll down Elm Street.

Poetry in Motion

The Poetry Society of NH is seeking a new poet laureate for the state. While it’s possible you don’t know the name of the current one, this might be the most important nonpolitical office we have.

Busting Out

Our Best of NH Party happens June 14 and you should attend. If not for yourself, then for the good of the Granite State and, in evolutionary terms, for the good of humanity. Allow me to explain.
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