Smaller service organizations frequently use residential buildings as their place of business. The buildings are readily available on the periphery of Maine downtown areas. For organizations with a staff of three to six people, a modest, one- or two-story house is just about the right size. Yet, these houses are not without shortcomings in serving as a business location.

Our work for Hospice Volunteers of Hancock County addresses some of the typical shortcomings. The initial work was focused on correcting specific Americans with Disabilities Act deficiencies. Hospice Volunteers has a staff of four, who are all able-bodied. However, the staff frequently meet with members of the public, who often have mobility impairments. The main meeting area was not accessible. and a partially accessible bathroom was not on the same level as the meeting room.

We surveyed staff, board members, and some of the volunteers who work at the office to find out how well the facility served the organization’s mission. We discovered the accessibility issues were one of a set of deficiencies. Other concerns included acoustical privacy, storage, problems with offices being used as passageways, and a lack of space to conduct key activities.

With board and staff support, we are providing a comprehensive renovation of the building. We are addressing the immediate accessibility issues. We are also correcting all the functional deficiencies we had uncovered. A new meeting room addition will enable the organization to conduct programs on site that are currently held off site. A new mechanical system will provide a more comfortable and healthy work environment.