Women’s center in Mesa getting nursery addition By Coty Dolores Miranda Special for The Republic | azcentral.com Mon Jul 29, 2013 12:38 PM Community Bridges Inc. leaders say they‟re well on their way to meeting their fundraising goal for a 1,100square-foot nursery for the non-profit‟s Center for Hope for Women, Infants and Children in Mesa. The expansion would more than triple the 360 square feet of nursery space currently offered. Mesa provided nearly half the $450,000 projected cost, and the Community Bridges Foundation is paying indirect costs. Since 2005, the Center for Hope has provided long-term support and residential services to women with substance-abuse problems and their children a safe and structured environment to address their health needs. “When we opened Center for Hope in 2005, we realized there was a lack of affordable housing and long-term support for pregnant, homeless women who, when leaving our programs, still needed support services,” said Kimberly Craig, the center‟s vice president of women and children‟s programs. The center has a 20,000-square-foot campus consisting of three cottages where about 24 pregnant women and new moms and their children find a protected environment and a solid support system. The nursery addition will offer more room for the residents‟ 24 infants and eight toddlers, and will include a toddler learning center and an improved playground. “Our current nursery of 360 square feet is very crowded and isn‟t enough space for our women and their children to learn, bond and grow,” Craig said. Two current staff members are testaments to the effectiveness of the center‟s programs, Craig said. “Center for Hope saved my life and changed my life,” said Mia Fischer, 26, a peer-support advocate who “graduated” from the center in 2008. Fischer is unabashed in sharing her story. “I was coming off meth, pregnant and in jail. At Center for Hope, I learned parenting skills, and when I left the program, I was never alone,” said Fischer, a Mesa resident who has a 6-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. Brandy Paceley of Chandler recalls that she was “strung out on meth, pregnant and facing a three-year prison incarceration” when she found the Center for Hope. “It was hopeless; I didn‟t know anything about public-health services and I thought rehab was for rock stars. It was an absolute moment of desperation and need,” said Paceley, now a care coordinator at the center. “I Googled „drugs and pregnant‟ and Community Bridges popped up, and there I found Center for Hope. I actually spoke to Kimberly on the phone, and I thought I was talking to an angel.” Paceley said she is proud of what Center for Hope does for women in need. “I wasn‟t a bad person; I was a sick person. Drugs and alcohol are symptoms, they‟re not the problem. I stayed in the program a year and it healed my heart so I no longer needed drugs or alcohol,” said Paceley, whose son is now 6 years old. Though optimism has always been a driving force for the Center for Hope, the ever-threatening budget cuts and other woes are always on the horizon, Craig said. “I think treatment centers for women need to be increased, not decreased,” said Craig, noting funding cuts have affected the Center for Hope over the past five years. Information: CenterforHopeAz.org.