After a fire in April rendered the Comal County Crisis Center (CCCC) unusable, the nonprofit carefully chose the former Comal County Senior Center for its future permanent location.
Although the organization has yet to complete the sale of the building, the existing structure requires a lot of work and will undergo two phases of major renovations before its estimated opening date of December 2024.
Phase I of the project will add the new administrative offices and thrift store in the center, and Phase II includes the transitional housing complex.
“When (the fire) happened, it was so important,” said CCCC CEO Julie Strentzsch. “We really wanted to sit down and watch what the future of the crisis center is, and what do we want to include in it, so thinking about rising from the ashes, kind of like a phoenix, what can we do?”
Prior to the fire, the center was looking to expand its services and transitional housing and received a grant, but with a transition in leadership plans have been put in place.
The new building, located at 655 Landa St., is four times the size of the old one, and can accommodate the planned improvements. It will transform the building into a state-of-the-art, trauma-informed shelter.
“We’re going to take giant leaps into a new space and I think it’s going to be something that can serve the community of New Braunfels and Comal County for the next three or four decades,” Strentzsch said.
Before the crisis center acquired the property, there were plans to convert it into housing for the homeless, but after heated public debate, it backed out of the sale.
The location is close to several non-profit organizations, such as Hope Hospice, which clients and the center can easily access.
The non-profit organization values transparency throughout the process and plans to include the community in its decisions and address concerns, including the property’s floodplain, by conducting a series of community discussions.
For several months, the crisis center placed clients in temporary accommodation provided by volunteers for blocks of 30 days before moving them to another location.
Last month, the center quietly moved people receiving services to an undisclosed temporary location.
“(Customers and staff) are happy to have something stable,” Strentzsch said. “A member of staff said it was worth all the stress and struggle of the summer to get to this place – they were glad they held on.”
Following the fire, CCCC received an outpouring of community support through grants, donations and fundraisers, such as the annual Americana Music Jam, which raised more than 70,000 $. Approximately $250,000 was added to the center’s construction fund.
“This community has been so supportive of this agency,” Strentzsch said.
The center’s biggest fundraiser of the year, where participants run in heels, has promised to raise more than $150,000 for the nonprofit, but the event scheduled for Tuesday, August 30, has been postponed due to bad weather.
The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser is rescheduled for Tuesday, October 18 at Krause’s Cafe. Visit the association’s website to learn more about the event or to register.
The center plans to use a $1 million insurance payment received for fire damage to help pay for renovations to the old senior center.
Even with its old building put up for sale, the nonprofit still needs all the financial help it can get to cover the cost of renovations while keeping up with the cost of operations.
With plans falling into place, the crisis center is finally ready to put the April incidents behind it and move on.
“We have everything to look forward to,” said Strentzsch. “There are going to be struggles and there are going to be things that don’t go our way, but we’re saying goodbye to what was and hello to what’s to come.”