Longtime agency changes its name — Through These Doors

THE NEW SIGN ON THE DOOR reflects a name change. Through These Doors is now the new permanent name for the agency Family Crisis. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

One name can be more welcoming than another.

Through These Doors is the new, permanent name for the agency known for decades as Family Crisis.

“We are updating all of our signs, all of our print materials like posters and rack cards, all of our social media accounts, the website,” according to Executive Director Rebecca Hobbs.

“We know that our old stuff is going to be out there for years. And that some people are going to continue to call us ‘Family Crisis,’” Hobbs said.

“We want people to know that everything we do is just the same as we did as Family Crisis Services,” she said.

Nothing has changed except the name, she said.

The name change was official March 30, with building signs being changed in Bridgton and Portland.

“Our core service is our hotline. Most of the people who use our services we never meet,” Hobbs said.

“Although we do think it is important to have community visibility. Having that space in Bridgton is important for that reason. It’s close to the district courthouse — I like that,” she said.

Before the name change happened, a newly-hired Hobbs determined that a name change was needed by interviewing staff and later conducting surveys.

“When I first started in my role with Family Crisis two years ago, I heard from the staff. A lot of staff identified that our name was limited,” she said.

“Crisis kept some people from calling. Sometimes people felt like they needed to be in a crisis. Very often victims of abuse don’t identify with a crisis. Some people think a crisis is when you call the police.”

“Even after the relationship is over, they need our support. The word crisis didn’t fit with people’s experiences,” she said.

“The words are misleading, ‘Family Crisis’ — we get calls for heating oil assistance,” she said.

After casual conversations about the agency’s name, Hobbs sent out a formal survey to the staff. The results: 96% of the employees want a change.

“If it doesn’t fit with our language, we need to change our language,” she said.

“We embarked on looking at a new name. We asked ourselves, ‘What did we hope to achieve with a name change?’ And, there was the challenge of finding a name that was available,” Hobbs said.

“Then, one of the brilliant people who worked here said that the agency had written a book when the agency was 20 years old. The book was called, Through These Doors,” she said.

One client provided a testament to Hobbs’ conclusion that the name Family Crisis sometimes deterred people from reaching out to the agency’s services.

“One person recently told an advocate that she wished that our name had been called Through These Doors when she first contacted us, because she felt like a loser every time she called us,” she said.

“One of my goals is that we want people who reach out to us to have a sense of hope,” she said.

The organization has a fiscal year that runs from September to September. Last year, as of September 2017, the agency “served over 3,400 people. That is what we call unduplicated people. If one person called the hotline, came to a support group, lived in a shelter — it would count as one,” Hobbs said.

The round-the-clock hotline number for Through These Doors is 1-800-537-6066.


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