Domestic & sexual violence support shelter and support center New Directions recently opened a new office on 212 N. Main Street, Mount Vernon. (Photo credit Grant Ritchey/Knox Pages)

MOUNT VERNON — Former New Directions director Lori Jones-Perkins sees the new office at 212 N. Main Street as a game changer for the agency.

Located just off state Route 13, New Directions’ new building was formerly a funeral home. It allows for increased accessibility and visibility for clients and passersby.

With over 4,000 square feet, it’s bigger than the previous location at 110 E. Gambier Street. New Directions can now accomplish more than ever before, Jones-Perkins said.

“We’ll be able to offer community training and meetings that we previously had to hold at other locations,” Jones-Perkins said. “This provides us with a solid foundation to offer support groups and ensure survivors always have a safe place to receive services or be part of a group.”

The building was purchased in March 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Renovations and moving plans were put on hold as the shelter had to adapt its operations during the lockdown.

Once renovations commenced, the building had to be stripped down to the studs, explained Jones-Perkins.

“During COVID-19, we sat in lawn chairs six feet apart and planned all the things we wanted to implement once the building was ready,” she said.

“It’s been a long time coming, but we’ve been able to put all our ideas into action, both during and after the pandemic. Now, everything is ready in this space.”

New office spaces were installed, providing prevention advocates with private areas to meet clients, whereas previously, rooms were scarce.

“Previously, there was an office in the shelter, which wasn’t an ideal situation,” Jones-Perkins explained. “We knew we needed separate office space, respecting the privacy and anonymity of survivors living in the shelter — after all, it’s their home.

“It was crucial, during the planning process with the board and staff, to find a location that offered adequate space for survivor advocacy while also providing community areas like the large conference room and training space.”

The space was designed to prioritize the safety of survivors, ensuring the provision of high-quality services and meaningful advocacy.

“We’re doing the same work we’ve always done, but hopefully we’re gonna continue to grow in this new space and together,” Prevention educator Olivia Crichlow said. 

Jones-Perkins pointed out that the office space deliberately features calming colors for survivors, with light neutral coloring seen across the building. 

“When you’ve experienced a traumatic event like domestic violence or sexual violence, the last thing you want is to enter a space that feels cold,” she said. “We’ve made a conscious effort to create an environment that feels welcoming.”

I am a Report For America corps member at Knox Pages. I report on public education in the county as well as workforce development. I first landed at Knox Pages in June 2022.

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