Building on Hope

NASHUA – Hope abounds at the Nashua Police Athletic League through the work of the nonprofit Building on Hope, which continues to get closer to renovating the 52 Ash St. location.

Officials said the project will help the organization serve the 2,000-plus members far into the future.

As the planning has begun on the renovations for PAL’s Ash Street location, organizers at Building on Hope continue looking for volunteers and donations as they progress toward May’s planned 10-day building renovation.

Building on Hope is a community volunteer and donation based nonprofit that has been working on renovating structures throughout New Hampshire since 2009. Every year, officials choose an organization to work with, and with the help of the local community, they oversee the restoration an renovation of the organization’s buildings.

The PAL facility will be the nonprofit’s sixth project. Plans are that in May, designers and contractors will come together for more than a week to incorporate the new elements into the building, including what organizers hope includes an exterior elevator to help make the facility comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

While the nonprofit has already booked most of the designers needed for the project, officials said they are still looking for volunteers and donations for many aspects of the May building dates, including contractors and sub-contractors.

“We are in good shape in respect to the designers; we have 18 spaces we’re looking at,” coordinator Karen Van Der Beken said. “We’re looking for general contractors to match up with those spaces, and they will work with the designer to plan the rooms and the spaces.”

“We already have over 150 people representing themselves or companies who have signed up and committed to the project,” Van Der Beken added. “I’m estimating we’ll have over 300 people by the time we start in May.”

“I can already see that people in Nashua are invested and committed to the community,” she added.

During the process, the plan is to help Nashua PAL better serve the young members who use the organization as a safe place to study and take part in extracurricular activities, while expanding the scope of services. With the addition of a creative learning center, a game room and a creative play center, the renovations will help with the learning and studying aspects, as well as the recreation side of the organization. PAL officials said children and staff members are is looking forward to what the project will do for the organization, as updates will serve to help modernize the location.

“This is going to take us into the next 50 years. It will help increase programming. We’re in a hundred-year-old building and things are starting to go,” PAL Officer Mike Debisz said.

“The kids are just so excited to do more with what we have. It’s going to open up possibilities for new different types of classes,” he added. “The creative learning center, which will help with afterschool studying because it offer access to the internet so they can do research for homework and projects.”

With big-ticket items, including updating the exterior, and revamping the HVAC system to be more efficient and much quieter, both Van Der Beken and Debisz said the project will help to preserve the building.

The other big plan for the building is to bring the facility into compliance with the ADA by adding an elevator that will make all floors of the location accessible. Officials believe an elevator’s installation would have a massive impact on the reach PAL could make into the community.

“One of the biggest limitations we have is we’re not able to get somebody in a wheelchair or on crutches to the basement or the top floor,” DeBisz said. “The elevator will be a huge addition.”

“We would build an exterior shaft outside the building,” Van Der Beken said. “The whole point is we would like to make the building ADA accessible and to do that, you would need to have an elevator.”

Those in the community looking to participate are invited to attend the project’s meetings, which take place at 8 a.m. on the second Friday at Crossway Christian Church’s Pine Street location.

Members of the community looking to donate or get involved can do so by visiting the nonprofit’s website, http://buildingonhope.com/.

Mathew Plamondon may be reached at 594-1244, or at mplamondon@nashuatelegraph.com, @telegraph_MatP.