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Jaffrey/Peterborough

Violence prevention organization scales back

Jaffrey office closes; River Center venue continues

  • The MCVP violence prevention program will continue to offer services from an office at the River Center in Peterborough, but its Jaffrey office was closed recently due to financial issues.

    The MCVP violence prevention program will continue to offer services from an office at the River Center in Peterborough, but its Jaffrey office was closed recently due to financial issues. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The MCVP violence prevention program will continue to offer services from an office at the River Center in Peterborough, but its Jaffrey office was closed recently due to financial issues.

    The MCVP violence prevention program will continue to offer services from an office at the River Center in Peterborough, but its Jaffrey office was closed recently due to financial issues. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The MCVP violence prevention program will continue to offer services from an office at the River Center in Peterborough, but its Jaffrey office was closed recently due to financial issues.
  • The MCVP violence prevention program will continue to offer services from an office at the River Center in Peterborough, but its Jaffrey office was closed recently due to financial issues.

In response to declining funding, a trend that has been going on for several years, the Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention has closed its office at 22 North St. in Jaffrey, which had been open one and a half days each week. MCVP will continue to provide services one day a week at the River Center in Peterborough, as well as at its office in Keene.

MCVP serves people in Cheshire County and western Hillsborough County who are dealing with issues of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. The organization offers crisis assistance, including a 24-hour crisis hotline, advocacy assistance for those dealing with matters relating to courts, police, hospitals and social service providers and a variety of prevention programs for children and teens related to issues of violence and sexual assault.

Over the last four years, state and federal funding for MCVP has declined by more than $77,000. Foundation grants have dropped by nearly $53,000 in the past three years.

According to MCVP Executive Director Robin Christopherson, the cuts were difficult, but necessary due to the funding shortfall.

“One of the last things I wanted to do was close the Jaffrey office,” Christopherson said on Monday. “People feel that you aren’t serving them. It’s sort of a last resort. Right now it’s not sustainable for us to continue to operate as we have been.”

In addition to closing the Jaffrey office, MCVP has reduced hours for a roving advocate position from 40 hours a week to 35 hours, reduced a part-time advocate positions from 20 hours to 15 hours per week, and reduced its contributions to employee retirement accounts.

Christopherson said an agreement has been reached with officials at the 8th Circuit Court, Jaffrey, which will provide a confidential meeting place where an MCVP advocate can meet with clients regarding legal issues.

An advocate will also be available in the Peterborough office at the River Center one day a week. Christopherson said rent for the River Center location was less than at the Jaffrey office and the River Center has staff on duty every day who are often able to refer people to the MCVP program.

In 2013, MCVP, which was founded in 1978 at Women’s Crisis Services of the Monadnock Region, served 837 victims of domestic or sexual violence, according to its 2014 annual report. Of those clients, 782 were women and 55 were men. The majority of the clients, 647 people, were victims of domestic violence, while 133 were dealing with sexual violence and 48 had been victims of stalking.

A few years ago, Christopherson said, the organization was serving more than 1,000 people annually. The drop, she said, is due to lack of funding, not less need.

“If you go by statistics, about one in three women are affected at some point by domestic or sexual violence,” Christopherson said. “We haven’t turned the corner where the need for service is decreasing. We just haven’t gotten to all the people we need to.”

Federal, state and county grants of nearly $236,000 account for about half of the agency’s annual income, according to the annual report. Most of the rest comes through grants from the Monadnock United Way, private foundations and individual support.

The United Way contribution for 2014 will be $12,150 less than requested.

The organization also came up short on two of its fundraising projects. The 2014 Walk a Mile in Her Shoes effort, which had a $25,000 goal, raised $20,525. The annual Spring Appeal brought in $3,828, well below its $10,000 goal.

Christopherson said the funding decline started about three years ago.

“We’re lucky that we weren’t living hand-to-mouth back when the cuts first started coming,” she said.

In 2008, MCVP eliminated a full-time educator position and a full-time development director job. Two years later, the hours for a business and grants manager were reduced, and the organization began to require employee contributions toward health insurance and started reducing the amount of health care coverage.

“Direct service cuts are the last thing we consider,” Christopherson said.

The organization’s challenge is to find new sources of income.

“It’s a snowball effect that finds us where we are, ” Christopherson said. “I don’t see a big increase in state or federal funding and grants are continuing to dwindle. We need to increase the number of donors. I believe it’s doable.”

Christopherson is encouraged by a recent agreement with Keene Housing, an affordable housing agency that will be providing funding through subsidies to those who use the MCVP domestic violence shelter in Keene.

Other grant funding for 2014 is still pending, Christopherson said, and it’s possible that some of the recent cuts could be restored.

“We’re looking at this as a temporary fix, from August until the first of 2015. Then we’ll reassess,” she said.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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