An old rectory once owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton has been transformed into a long-term shelter for runaway, abused and neglected teens and young adults who have aged out of the foster system.
Anchor House, the Trenton-based non-profit that serves children and teens in the greater Mercer county area and raised a large portion of its funds through an annual 500-mile charity bike ride called the Anchor House Ride for Runaways, has converted the former Saint Peters and Paul rectory on Centre Street into a transitional living facility serving young people who would otherwise be homeless.
The building has been renovated extensively, and will provide housing for up to a dozen teens and young adults, double the number of people the Anchor House program called “The Anchorage” currently serves.
The renovation project was more than six years in the making, but the Anchor House supporters who toured the house Wednesday night agreed that the wait and effort were all worth it. The wooden floors, window frames and moldings in the building have been beautifully restored and the house is full of light. The downstairs features a large living room and dining room area and a kitchen with marble countertops and stainless steel appliances. A study room will include several computer work stations, with computers purchased from donations in memory of Anchor House Ride for Runaways cyclist Doug McCune. The spacious basement is finished and includes a tv room area and private offices for counseling sessions. The second floor includes an office and six large bedrooms.
Former Anchor House Foundation President Bill Hogan urged the nonprofit to purchase the building when the Diocese of Trenton put it up for sale. The building is located next to Anchor House’s main shelter, an emergency shelter for children and teens. Anchor House has dedicated the building to Hogan, whose picture hangs in the foyer with a small plaque.
“He kept encouraging us to buy the building and saw that it would be a good thing for us,” Anchor House Executive Director Kim McNear said.
The project was delayed because of red tape with the city and other agencies. The original contractor grew impatient with the delays, quit, and was replaced. At times Hogan, now 90, wondered whether he was still going to be around to see the new Anchorage open. He was a little teary-eyed when he toured the building Wednesday night. A former CEO of St. Francis Medical Center, he dedicated more than 20 years to volunteering for Anchor House, and has been an important part of the organization’s growth and success serving young people and families in need.
The Anchorage was formerly located on Greenwood Avenue. The Greenwood Avenue home will be used for the expansion of another Anchor House program. The Anchorage teaches teens and young adults how to live independently. Residents must attend school, work or actively be searching for a job. Life skills taught to residents include how to apply for a job, how to manage a budget, how to shop for groceries and how to cook. Residents take turns preparing meals, and have contests to see who can save more money at the grocery store using coupons.
McNear said the greatest reward has been seeing the reaction of the teens when they moved into the new Anchorage. One of them snapped photos with his cell phone and posted them on Instagram.
“My new home!” he wrote.
For more information about Anchor House or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit the the Anchor House website.