After 32 years of serving Santa Monica and the surrounding area, including Malibu, Pacific Palisades and Culver City, New Start — a nonprofit organization that helps the indigent and other members of society who need assistance — is about to find itself without a home, according to Anthony Smith, New Start executive director.

New Start received a set amount of money through the Los Angeles County Health Department for its chemical dependency program.

But because of a lack of state funds, final cuts came in October when 75 percent of New Start’s state funding for this program was eliminated.

Unable to match the decreased income with donations, the nonprofit’s financial situation became critical and it could not pay its rent.

Now, New Start is faced with an eviction hearing.

“We will need to resolve our debt and find a place to live,” Smith says. “We need 1,800 to 2,600 square feet of office space with two group rooms holding eight to ten people each.

“We also need office space for the director, administrative manager and our staff of three.”

Smith says some of New Start’s other programs bring revenue into the organization but the programs operate on a sliding fee scale and if a person can’t pay, the services are provided free of charge.

In order to pay salaries and bills, the organization can’t afford grant writers, so the nonprofit has no new grants bringing in money.

Smith and his staff perform multiple tasks and in addition to his counseling work he also does administrative work. Although Smith has done some outreach to obtain financial support for various programs, multitasking has left him with little time to pursue fundraising.

New Start was founded in 1973 by Dr. Marjorie Braude to address the growing problem of substance abuse in Santa Monica and the Westside.

The organization helped the indigent and those with a chemical dependency.

In the last five years, New Start expanded its programs to offer early intervention for youths with chemical dependencies and it assists adolescents with leadership development and conflict resolution and helps them identify and achieve their dreams and goals.

New Start also holds anger management classes and offers family counseling and counseling for domestic violence batterers.

Smith believes New Start’s work makes a significant contribution to the community and says the majority of its clients look forward to attending counseling sessions and they experience joy as a result of the help they receive.

As an example, Smith says one client had a teaching credential but hadn’t taught for eight years because of her involvement with drugs and abusive relationships.

She said New Start helped her with her drug problem and her life. She said the programs gave her the tools that enabled her to make positive choices to improve her life.

Smith says that many domestic violence batterers sent to them feel “victimized by the system.” Within three to six months the New Start counseling Start helps them realize they are responsible for their actions, that they have a role in the family and that the behaviors they learned in the past don’t contribute to a healthy family.

“By helping batterers learn love of self and respect for themselves and others, they begin to know that they are responsible for getting in trouble,” Smith says.

Besides New Start’s goal of getting people back to functioning as healthy members of society, the organization also provides community services for businesses, such as presentations, workshops and seminars, to educate employees on alcoholism and anger management, according to Smith.

New Start has developed comprehensive assistance programs that help many segments of the community and wants to evolve into offering services that meet the needs of a fast-paced world, Smith says.

“We want to continue helping individuals recognize their self-worth, which is key to healthy participation in society.”

Smith would like to see New Start evolve into an employee assistance program funded by businesses, and arrange seminars and classes at businesses to help their staff develop communication and team building skills.

Smith says New Start’s programs are designed to assist people with a new start in life and with finding happiness.

“We help individuals learn that past events in their lives are to learn from, not live in. Our objective is to help those who come to New Start to rethink and relearn ways and develop standards, principles and values for a healthy and a joyful participation in life.

Information on available office space or financial and grant help can be directed to Anthony Smith, (310) 586-0059 ext. 201

Julie Kirst can be reached at jkmailtalk@yahoo.com

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