1105 Project a success one year later

BY BEN MARKS | FEBRUARY 03, 2015 5:00 AM

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The 1105 Project opened one year ago, and since then, the partnership has been very successful at increasing user frequency, saving the organizations’ time and, most importantly, money, its directors say.

“The minute we moved into this building, we were swamped,” said Kristie Fortmann-Doser, the executive director of the Domestic Violence Intervention Program. “It expanded our support groups, and it’s expanded our resources for collaborations in the community.”

The 1105 Project, named after its location at 1105 Gilbert Court, is a collaboration among the Crisis Center of Johnson County, Free Lunch Program, National Alliance on Mental Illness of Johnson County, and DVIP.

The idea behind the project began in 2008, when, after the flood, the Crisis Center’s services began steadily increasing, Executive Director Becci Reedus said.

Soon, the Crisis Center’s parking lot was inadequate, and officials began looking at the building next door, a former Johnson County health building, to fill their needs.

“That’s really how this started; we just needed more parking, we didn’t really need more space at the time,” Reedus said.

But the other human-service agencies did, and so in 2012, the Johnson County Supervisors sold the building to the Crisis Center for $1. The 1105 Project was born.

Sharing the parking lot, the building, and resources, directors of the various organizations are very happy with how the project has gone in the year since they moved into the 1105 facility.

“There’s no way we could have [the office] on our own,” Fortmann-Doser said. “There’s no way we could even have just our portion of it on our own. But the four agencies working together? We all now have a boardroom; we all now have space for staff and volunteer training, and we all have space to do collaborative support groups.”

In the year since 1105 opened, DVIP, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Free Lunch Program have seen increases in user frequency, which they attribute to greater visibility in the community.

“We’re recognized with the other agencies,” mental-illness-alliance Executive Director Mary Issah said. “That’s been a benefit that you can’t attach money to. People know where we are, you say the 1105 Project, ‘Oh yeah, I heard about that.’ ”

For DVIP, the increase has been especially dramatic, Fortmann-Doser said. Because of the clients DVIP deals with, she said, the agency has never had a public face or advertised; all of its services were run out of the shelter. However, with 1105, it is able to have a building that clients, investors, and volunteers can visit freely.

The project has also saved DVIP around $45,000 while at the same time providing the Crisis Center with $24,000 in yearly income.

Because of recent changes in state funding and regulations in regards to domestic violence, DVIP needed to hire and train additional staff to handle its 24-hour crisis line.

However, the Crisis Center’s own line training was so similar, they were able to take over the job for a much lower cost in staff training and payment.

Ronda Lipsius, a codirector of the Free Lunch Program, said moving into 1105 gave it access to a much nicer facility, as well as an industrial kitchen and greater storage space for its food.

In addition, she said, moving allowed the program to become handicapped-accessible, which not only increased the number of people it could serve, the move aided its volunteers as well.

Ultimately, each director said she was extremely pleased with how the project turned out this past year.

“If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change anything,” Fortmann-Doser said.

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