KANE’S KORNER ~ Alternative House: Empowering All Survivors to Self-Sufficiency



Kane learned the following information from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

• Nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.

• 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experienced some form of physical violence by a partner.

• 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence in their lifetime.

It was Kane’s privilege to meet with Maria Crooker-Capon, Executive Director of Alternative House. Maria has worked at Alternative House for 17 years total and has a contagious vibrant personality.

She is passionate about her work and prides herself on creating a strong network of services in the local community by partnering with the police department, City Manager’s Office, and many social services agencies.

Maria’s professional degrees are in Business and Non-Profit Management instead of social work like many nonprofit agencies. Kane thought this was a genius idea since Maria has a lot of energy for networking, social media presence, grant writing, and program management.

Alternative House located in Lowell MA is committed to empowering all survivors of intimate partner violence and other forms of domestic violence to achieve self-sufficiency so they may live in the safe environment deserved by all beings. Founded in 1978, Alternative house has served thousands of survivors of domestic violence in the Greater Lowell area. Kane calculated this as 45 years of working to end domestic violence. Kane said, “this is very impressive and important work.”

Founded in 1978, a group of women who took part in the Battered Woman’s movement, paved the way for the agency to provide services to thousands of survivors. This original movement was developed to bring awareness and an end to violence against woman. Alternative House is one of three funding agencies of the greater Lowell Evaluation and Advocacy network (GLEAN) which is a high-risk assessment /rapid response team as well as the founder of the city manager’s task force against domestic violence. Alternative house is a member of the Jane Joe Incorporated/ Massachusetts coalition.

Maria stated “Our trained domestic violence advocates are available 24 hours a day/7 days a week /365 days a year. Kane learned that to date in 2023, Alternative House has assisted more than 2,000 clients. Maria told Kane that they receive 10 to 15 calls a day needing assistance and often space.

Maria explained that the work is very high risk, and they value their partnership with the local police departments as they observe high risk protocols to keep staff and survivors safe. Maria explained to Kane that the model is very “grass roots” as her employees hit the pavement each day. Maria said, “the quicker you get involved with survivors, the sooner they accept services.” Kane learned from Maria that the need for safe housing is much greater than the spaces that are available.

Although there are 7,000 emergency beds available in the state only 167 are set aside for domestic violence. Kane learned that Alternative House has 8 funded beds and one that is not funded. It is common that Maria has to pay for emergency safe houses in hotels since the need is so high. For immediate assistance call the hotline at 1-888-291-6228.”

To achieve safety and self- sufficiency, Alternative House not only provides emergency shelter and a 24-hour hotline, but access to safe temporary housing, transitional / permanent housing, legal advocacy, supervised visitation services, housing advocacy, support groups, youth and teen programming, as well as daily access to case management, safety planning, goal setting, financial empowerment, and career planning and placement.

These services are available for all survivors of domestic violence and their children who seek help. Kane was impressed by the space.

Maria created a beautiful inviting environment for survivors to meet and children to participate in groups and after-school activities.
Maria explained to Kane that Alternative House is funded by contracts with the office on Violence Against Woman (OVW), the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, (DPH), the Massachusetts Office of Grants and Research through the Violence Against Woman, USA Department of Justice, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development for Violence Against Woman Funding.

To donate to Alternative House please visit their website at http://alternative-house.org

In a society that is so busy making a living and trying to get by please don’t turn a blind eye when you can help a person in need. Kane reminds you if you see something say something, you could save a life. There is no excuse for abuse.

Kane Peaslee◊