Campaign for New Facility Launched
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Wellspring, the organization that provides crisis and support services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Saratoga County, has announced plans to construct a new mission-based facility. The 8,000 square foot building will be located on Route 9 in the Town of Malta, just south of Malta Avenue.
According to Executive Director Maggie Fronk, “for most of our 40-year history, Wellspring has been in the same office location, even as the agency has grown exponentially in programs offered, number of clients assisted, and staff size. We have been working for several years to identify a growth strategy, site and design for a new facility that is of adequate size to provide the crisis and support services that are vital to our clients who are sharing parts of their lives during a difficult, vulnerable and very emotional time.”
The COVID-19 Pandemic became a new factor that increased the need for larger confidential spaces. “Our current counseling ‘cubbies’ have had staff and victims sitting less than 3 feet apart in very small rooms with poor ventilation. Most of our staff sat in an open office environment answering calls throughout the day,” stated Fronk. “While we have always prioritized safety from domestic violence and sexual assault, we now have another kind of safety to consider.” Currently, Wellspring is using additional off-site offices to meet the needs of its staff and clients.
In the new facility, there will be safe spaces for counseling, as well as rooms for programming that will enhance and reinforce client job skills and financial literacy skills to help clients obtain self-sufficiency. The building will have a wing devoted to Prevention Programs. Board Chair Erica Fuller states that “the only way to end abuse in the future is to prevent it from happening, and to do that we must educate our community.” These program spaces will allow Wellspring to be a more visible, accessible, proactive, and community-focused organization in order to provide education and assistance before there is a crisis.
The Case for Need
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that domestic violence incidents increased 42% between 2016 and 2018, and the number of rape/sexual assaults increased 146%. For most of their 40-year history, Wellspring has been in the same office location, even as the agency has grown exponentially in programs offered, number of clients assisted, and staff size. They have been working for several years to identify a growth strategy, site, and design for a new facility as their present location is inadequate for the services they provide, that are essential to provide crisis and support services to victims of domestic violence in Saratoga County. While often hidden from view, the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault remain prevalent throughout our County.
And, a new factor was added to increase that critical need – Wellspring had been working for many years on this plan, and then COVID happened. Their current counseling cubbies have staff and victims sitting less than 3 feet apart in very small rooms with poor ventilation. Most of their staff sit in an open office environment answering calls throughout the day with just 3 feet between them. So, while Wellspring has always prioritized safety—safety from domestic violence and sexual assault – they now have another kind of safety to also consider- health safety. A new space is needed now more than ever (and the design of the new building perfectly addresses both forms of safety).
Clients are coming to Wellspring in crisis, sharing parts of their deepest and most personal aspects of their lives during a difficult, vulnerable, and very emotional time. Wellspring’s clients and staff need a safe and appropriate space for these conversations. The new space will include improved and increased private counseling spaces.
Wellspring is also in need of a space for their Prevention Programs. The only way to end abuse in the future is to prevent it from happening in the first place; to do so, we must all educate our community. Wellspring is our County’s primary Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault agency; the go-to resource. They need a space that allows them to be the most effective resource possible. Their new building will include expanded program space that allows Wellspring to be more visible, accessible, proactive, and community-focused in order to provide assistance before there is a crisis and invite community members to better understand the dynamics of domestic violence, so they recognize it and direct people they know for support.
Lastly, this new building will have space to teach clients job skills for career growth and financial skills to obtain self-sufficiency. Financial abuse occurs in 98% of domestic violence relationships, and many times victims will not leave abuse for fear of not being able to sustain themselves and their children. They need a space where they can teach our clients the tools they need to thrive on their own.
The total cost of the project is $3 million. The sources of funding include Wellspring’s building reserves, a loan from The Adirondack Trust Company, and a fundraising campaign. The fundraising campaign goal is $1.8 million. The Campaign Co-Chairs, Stephanie Collins and Linda Toohey, reported that to date, 63% of the fundraising goal has been reached, leaving $665,000 yet to be raised. Collins and Toohey stated that “over the past year, we have begun to reach out to Saratoga County residents, businesses, and organizations to ask for their philanthropic support. We have been in awe of their generosity and look forward to meeting with more members of the community to help us raise the additional funds needed to make this building a reality.”
The professional team working on this project includes Balzer and Tuck Architecture, The L. A. Group Landscape Architecture & Engineering, and Bonacio Construction, Inc. It is anticipated that the building will be completed in late 2021.
For more information about this Campaign, please visit: www.wellspringcares.org/campaign-information