By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — The Community Alliance for Teen Safety is on the move.
The organization known as CATS has found a new home at the Church of the Transfiguration on Hood Road.
The move is part of the group’s hopes to expand its services and have more space to host special events and community programs.
Members of the Derry Village Rotary Club recently helped with renovation work at the church. CATS hopes to be in the new 1,500-square-foot space by next month.
“We were looking to see what space was out there as we grew and expanded,” CATS executive director Sue Centner said. “This provides us with lots of room. We are all thrilled.”
The lower level of the church once housed the local Head Start program. With CATS moving in, the space needed a bit of new paint and other upgrades.
In addition to the Rotarians, local woodworking students from American Pride Woodworking are pitching in to help.
Centner said she also received donations of shelving and other furniture to make the space a new home for CATS.
Being at the Church of the Transfiguration also helps forge another community connection, she said.
The Rev. Ray Bonin said having CATS take over the lower space is a way for the church to continue to serve the greater community.
He said the group would be more than welcome to be part of the church life on Hood road.
Founded in 1996, CATS began its quest to spread messages of safe behaviors following a string of local teen fatalities in the area — 11 fatal crashes involving teen drivers during an 18-month stretch.
The grassroots efforts joined emergency personnel, community members, local law enforcement and many others in this mission to help curb risky behaviors among young people.
In the years since, CATS has spread its work to include drug awareness, bullying prevention, Internet safety and other wellness issues.
Centner said the move is all part of CATS plan to continue the mission it started.
“We are looking to the future,” she said. “And we are very excited to be here.”
An open house will be scheduled to show the community the new space once it’s ready.