20210820-LOC-MPS

Monadnock Peer Support recently

moved into this building, which

formerly housed one of

Monadnock Family

Services’

sites, on Washington Street

in Keene.

Monadnock Peer Support has settled into its new location on Washington Street in Keene, with a grand reopening for the renovated space slated for September.

Executive Director Christine Allen said the organization — previously on Beaver Street — moved to 32 Washington St. in June, which used to house one of Monadnock Family Services’ sites.

“It’s nice here because we are getting a whole new group of individuals that need our support, and I think a lot of that has to do with just our location being in the heart of downtown Keene,” she said Thursday. “It’s been really helpful for members who don’t have the ability to drive.”

Monadnock Peer Support is a member-run nonprofit that offers free peer-support groups, one-on-one peer support, a youth peer-support program and a 24/7 peer-crisis respite program for people with conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or trauma-related disorders.

The agency is open Monday through Friday and helps more than 450 Granite Staters annually, according to Allen.

It had outgrown its Beaver Street facility and had been on the hunt for a larger building to offer more programming.

Last fall, Monadnock Peer Support hoped to move into the former Woodward assisted-living home at 194-202 Court St. The Woodward merged with Prospect Place in 2016, and the new entity opened Hillside Village on Wyman Road in 2019.

However, Monadnock Peer Support needed approval from the city’s zoning board because group homes are allowed in a medium-density district, like that part of Court Street, only by special exemption.

The zoning board denied this request on the grounds that it failed to meet one of the criteria for an exemption — that it wouldn’t lower nearby property values.

Shortly after this, Monadnock Family Services — a community mental health center with locations in Keene and Peterborough — offered the Washington Street site to Monadnock Peer Support, Executive Director Phil Wyzik said previously.

The building was previously occupied by Monadnock Family Services’ case management team for adults, Wyzik had said, and those employees moved to one of its two other facilities in Keene.

The space on Washington Street did not require zoning board approval for Monadnock Peer Support’s use, and has allowed the agency to add more programming as it had initially hoped.

“We are now able to provide [the] services to our community that we’ve been wanting to do for so long in our downtown Keene,” Allen said.

New offerings include nutritional classes, programming for veterans and first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder, computer classes and meditation.

Starting in September, the agency will also offer yoga and will have a fully operational gym, stocked with equipment donated from the Keene Family YMCA, according to Allen.

The building also has a cafeteria and kitchen, which Allen said has been used for various reasons such as the nutritional classes and to offer community meals Tuesdays and Fridays.

Monadnock Peer Support is also continuing its two peer-respite programs in the new space.

One of the programs — which is free and voluntary — offers an alternative to going to a psychiatric hospital for people 18 and older in the midst of a mental health crisis.

New Hampshire residents leaving a psychiatric hospital are also eligible for this program to help ease their transition back into the community.

Program participants have 24/7 access to a peer-support worker, and can stay in the facility for up to a week. They are able to come and go as they please, whether it be to report to work or see friends.

Monadnock Peer Support’s other peer-respite program, Step Up, Step Down — which allows people to stay for up to 90 days — offers more structure, support and accountability, Allen has said.

Between the two, five rooms are available, according to Allen.

Monadnock Peer Support will host a grand reopening ceremony Sept. 21 at 5 p.m. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP by emailing kcarrien@monadnockpsa.org or calling the agency’s main line at 352-5093.

The ceremony will have a ribbon cutting, and Allen said hors d’oeuvres and non-alcoholic beverages will be available.

Even if not attending the ceremony, Allen said people are encouraged to stop by anytime to check out the new facility.

Olivia Belanger can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1439, or obelanger@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @OBelangerKS.