Liberty House acquisition by Catholic Charities: ‘This is all about helping more veterans in new ways’

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Liberty House, currently located on Baker Street, soon to be under the Catholic Charities umbrella. Whether Liberty House will continue to operate from this location is yet to be decided. Photo/Carol Robidoux

MANCHESTER, NH — Liberty House Inc., a non-profit organization that has provided support and services to 300 formerly homeless veterans over the past 15 years, is becoming a program of Catholic Charities New Hampshire.

The two non-profits announced Tuesday that Catholic Charities is acquiring the program and assets of Liberty House, Inc., a sober house serving veterans at 75 West Baker St.  

Catholic Charities signed a letter of intent to acquire the program and its assets with a target closing purchase date in September 2019. No money is involved in the acquisition.

For the past 15 years, Liberty House, a Manchester-based non-profit which relies exclusively on private donations, has provided veterans with transitional housing, as well as recovery, job placement and mental and physical wellness programs.

It also serves vulnerable veterans who require food, clothing, community referrals and various advocacy programs.

“This letter of intent begins the next phase for Liberty House,” said Jeff Nelson, executive director of Liberty House.  “The veterans we serve are an incredibly vulnerable population.  They are individuals facing immense challenges such as trauma, PTSD, addiction and a lack of secure housing — issues that require intense support, accountability and the strong sense of brotherhood that our program provides.  Joining Catholic Charities NH will enable us to offer a more diverse set of services and make a lasting, positive impact on the lives of many more veterans.”

Liberty House opened in 2004 in memory of Private Harold Paczosa, one of 600 sailors killed in 1943 when the USAT Dorchester was struck by a torpedo fired from a German U-boat.  Paczosa’s sister, Annette Nelson, gifted the family home in his memory to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  Her only request was that the house is used for military veterans and that a memorial stone honoring her brother be maintained at the house. 

Nelson and Tom Blonski, president and CEO of Catholic Charities NH, both said discussions are underway concerning whether the program will be moved to another location.

Last November, the Eddy B Foundation donated $40,000 to Liberty House to kick off a campaign to add a drug and alcohol-free recreation and meeting space for veterans.

Nelson said the funds are “still being held as a restricted fund, waiting for an opportunity to make the recreation center.  We certainly can’t do it in this building because it is too small.”

Were they to relocate, Nelson said the will and trust to the VFW have specific language that the building would revert to the beneficiaries which he believes numbers about 10 to 12.

He said Liberty House, under Catholic Charities, will operate the same as it has with no change in staff.  It has 10 beds available for veterans, although sometimes a bed or two is left vacant, awaiting the return of a veteran who has relapsed and is receiving treatment.  

Nelson said the two non-profits have similar missions.  Any donations made to Liberty House will be restricted for its use and since Catholic Charities accepts no federal funding for their social programs, the house can continue to operate as a sober house.

Blonski said Liberty House will be known as Liberty House, a program of Catholic Charities New Hampshire.

“It’s really just an acquisition of a program,” Blonski said.  He said Liberty House has had a wonderful impact on a vulnerable population,  helping those who have fallen through the cracks.

Catholic Charities, he said, saw an opportunity to complement their services and augment the needs of homeless veterans.

“Liberty House has been a staple in our community for the past 15 years, helping more than 300 veterans, oftentimes with nowhere else to turn, move forward from despair and hopelessness to self-sufficiency and independence,” he said.  “Its mission of supporting lives with honor, dignity and respect is well-aligned with our focus of serving people from the backgrounds and walks of life.  We’re excited to welcome this incredible program, and Liberty House’s dedicated and passionate staff, into our family of programs.”

Nelson said there is no money involved.  He said Liberty House is entering into the agreement for very positive reasons and because Catholic Charities, one of the largest non-profit social series agencies in the state, has more resources that will enable Liberty House to serve more veterans.

“This is all about helping more veterans in new ways,” Nelson said.

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Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.