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    Monday, October 03, 2022

    Donation jump-starts campaign for The Center for Safe Futures

    Safe Futures, a nonprofit agency that assists victims of domestic violence, has started a capital campaign and hopes to raise more than $7 million for development of The Center for Safe Futures, depicted in this architectural rendering, at 994 Hartford Turnpike in Waterford. (Courtesy of Safe Futures)

    New London — The donation of a Willimantic building has helped to kick-start a new capital campaign to fund construction of a 23,000-square-foot family justice center run by New London-based domestic violence agency Safe Futures.

    Sumner & Sumner insurance agency co-owners Victor Ebersole Jr. and Brendan Quinn earlier this year donated its office building at 757 Main St. in Willimantic. The agency has been operating remotely since May 2020 and no longer had a need for its storefront, which has a market value of $467,460.

    Safe Futures is a client of Sumner & Sumner and Ebersole said he is very familiar with the group’s work and is a friend of the agency. The donation of the building, Ebersole said, seemed like the right thing to do for Safe Futures and the community.

    “We’re community minded. We know the great work they do,” Ebersole said. “We saw an opportunity to help a local cause. We’re excited for them and hope this is one small piece to help further their mission.”

    Years in the making, the family justice center — called The Center for Safe Futures — is set to be constructed on a former tree farm at 994 Hartford Turnpike in Waterford. The nonprofit already has secured approvals for the project.

    Safe Futures, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, serves nearly 10,000 victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and trafficking annually and plans to consolidate its services under one roof.

    Safe Futures Executive Director Katherine Verano said the agency has experienced a marked increase in clients through the years. It should be serving four times as many victims, she said.

    The new Waterford building would house a variety of different agencies and provide legal aid, mental health services and space for everything from offices for counseling and child care to forensic interview and job training areas.

    One of the many advantages to building the facility is easier and quicker access to services for victims.

    Verano said the donation from Sumner and Sumner “is huge financially and also sends a message to the community of a business that believes in our work.”

    Safe Futures has several working committees developing an operations manual in an effort to organize the delivery of services.

    Safe Futures now operates out of a New London headquarters on Jay Street, but Verano said the Waterford location is more centrally located for the 21 towns the agency serves. The New London location has about 5,000 square feet of space spread across three floors with no room for expansion.

    Safe Futures plans to maintain its New London and Norwich sites as satellite locations. Verano envisions walk-in crisis counseling to be moved to an adjacent building owned by Safe Futures. The agency also owns a series of properties it maintains as emergency and supportive housing.

    Safe Futures is looking to raise more than $7 million toward the development of the Waterford location. The fundraising campaign is just beginning and Verano said the nonprofit is seeking financial support from the state legislature.

    Safe Futures also plans to use proceeds from the sale of a building at 368 Broad St. toward its goal. The building was donated to Safe Futures in 2018 from the Keenan family and is the former home of Waltham Chemical.

    Gregory Massad, vice president of Safe Futures and head of the group’s building committee, called Sumner & Sumner’s donation a “fantastic kick-start” to the fundraising effort.

    “Hopefully it will inspire others to assist in this capital campaign for what will be a national model,” he said.

    To donate or for more information on the capital campaign, call Katherine Verano at (860) 447-0366, ext. 211. She said more details on how to donate would be released soon.

    g.smith@theday.com

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