New Hope for Women, a domestic violence resource center serving the Midcoast, announced Nov. 15 that it has changed its name to New Hope Midcoast.
The nonprofit’s goal was to develop a new name that is inclusive and makes it clear that they serve and support people of any gender, age, race or economic circumstance, it said in a news release.
The announcement was made at a virtual live event broadcast via Zoom and shared on the organization’s Facebook page. Following a message from Governor Janet Mills, Executive Director Rebekah Paredes explained the reasons for the change.
“New Hope for Women has been a critical resource for people impacted by domestic abuse for 40 years,” said Paredes. “Our door has always been open to all, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or age. But our old name, with its focus on women, didn’t tell the whole story.”
Paredes cited the national focus on diversity, equity and inclusion over the last 18 months as further motivation for the project. Through that lens, the need for social services that are equitable and inclusive has become better understood and more urgent.
Another important factor in the decision- making process was the pandemic which brought widespread isolation, unemployment and uncertainty, placed more stress on families, and amplified issues of domestic abuse.
“Against this backdrop, New Hope Midcoast’s board and staff members began a process to develop a new name, logo and message that conveys our understanding that domestic abuse affects people of every gender, sexual orientation, race or age,” continued Paredes. “We needed a name that was inclusive and representative of the work already being done every day through our helpline and individual support services. Now, more than ever, it is critical that people in Midcoast Maine know where to go for help when faced with issues of domestic abuse.”
Started in 1981, New Hope Midcoast has been serving communities in Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties for 40 years, continually learning and evolving its service approach to best meet the needs of people impacted by domestic abuse. Today, the organization staffs a 24/7 helpline, provides legal and residential advocacy, and offers education and training to students, businesses, community organizations, law enforcement partners and medical providers.
“We help clients understand and navigate the legal system and assist with protection from abuse orders, divorce, and custody matters,” said Susanna Norwood-Burns, Legal Advocacy Director. “We accompany clients to court and provide emotional support and information about the court process. We partner with attorneys to ensure that our clients have legal representation when needed. We also collaborate with our law enforcement partners to work out safety plans and make sure that survivors know how to access our services.”
Hannah Harter-Ives, Residential Services Director, said: “Currently, our program can accommodate up to 12 families in longer-term housing units, with plans to add another 5 units in the near future. While in the program, families can receive case management support and rental assistance for 1 to 2 years. Our staff helps survivors identify what their goals are and supports them as they work toward achieving those goals. New Hope Midcoast also provides both emergency and long-term shelter to people who are fleeing domestic violence.”
System Advocacy and Education Director Rebekah Herrick said: “The education program collaborates with local businesses, organizations and schools to provide expert information and training. Education about domestic abuse is imperative to help people understand how to support survivors, interrupt abuse and, ultimately, prevent it from happening in the future. Not only do we want the information we share to be inclusive, but we want to create a safe space for people taking training as well. We strive for inclusivity throughout all of our spaces, something that can now be supported by our new name.”
The presentation also included several of New Hope Midcoast’s community partners, including the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Pine Tree Legal Assistance and Waldoboro EMS, who discussed the important role collaboration plays in providing comprehensive support and education to all of the communities in the four-county area.