“Today, through this new space for Hands to Help, we continue to grow Merrimack College’s mission of enlightening minds, engaging hearts and empowering lives,” said President Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D.
The new location offers 1,900-plus square feet of space on the third floor of a former mill building that more than doubles the 700-square-feet it has had in the Alexander B. Bruce School since April 2017. The Island Street site dwarfs the roughly 400-square-feet Hands to Help had in the St. Mary of the Assumption rectory office when it opened in 2015.
“We want to serve the community in a larger capacity,” said Director Rosana Urbaez. “We really need the space so this is going to be great.”
The location offers the convenience of nearby bus service and proximity to Essex Street which is one of Lawrence’s busiest streets, Urbaez said.
“That was something that was important to me,” she said. “We want to make sure people can access it even if they don’t have vehicles.”
With the increased space, Hands to Help has been able to add programming including English as a Second Language classes and Bridge to College which offers advisement services to high school seniors who want to attend college.
It is continuing with programs offering after-school tutoring for children, summer camp, tax assistance, job preparation and resume building, as well as a general assistance program to help with everything from reading the mail, applying for housing and even calling the IRS on behalf of clients.
The Island Street site has two fully equipped classrooms that include whiteboards and large television/computer monitors, a common area for meeting with clients and a reception area.
Merrimack College professors have already reached out to Urbaez to request the use of the classrooms for courses that would benefit from being closer to immigrant populations.