It was November 2, 2022. The high temperature reached 70 degrees, sunny with an occasional breeze. It was a beautiful day spent with people doing beautiful work in our community. We started at The Boys and Girls Club., 1 Positive Place, which set the tone for the entire day. Mike LaChance hosted us, as he graduated from LGN in 1995 and is now the CEO of our local YMCA. He offered some key takeaways about Boards of Directors. Chiefly, the importance of having a BOD assess themselves, then having the larger organization reassess to uncover and address gaps as opportunities for development. We had a grand tour of BGC’s impressive facilities with Ashley Fudala (Dir. Special Projects and Strategic Initiatives) and Craig Fitzgerald (CEO). Our sense of how important their pool is for our community was as strong as the scent of chlorine. BGC doesn’t only have lifeguards, they are lifeguards. We saw students in a safe place, being mentored in nurturing ways. The power of BCG’s mission is evidenced in their own CEO, Craig who once walked the same halls as a child. We had a panel discussion on Youth Services with Craig, joined by our own Casey Caster, ED of The Youth Council, Sharron McCarthy, CEO of Girls Inc, and Shaun Nelson (LGN 2013), ED of Nashua PAL. Here we learned about the countless ways these organizations collaborate to improve the lives of vulnerable and at-risk children with a safe and fun environment.
We departed for the Front Door Agency’s Norwell House to tour with Nicole Ennis (LGN 2009), Chief Development Officer, and Becky Gagne (LGN 2017), Director of Transformational Housing. The panel discussion on family supportive housing comprised of Becky, Hannah Stohler, Executive Director, Marguerite’s Place, and Amy Wilson, Housing Coordinator, Bridges. While not all organizations own their own housing units, they place people actively fleeing domestic violence, for sometimes up to 2 years. All in all, the agencies remain nimble to quickly intervene and help people set off on a path to rebuilding their lives in phases, over a significant period of time. These phases include working full time and paying rent.
It was no mistake that lunch was served at The Nashua Soup Kitchen over a poignant discussion on food insecurity (no judgement, I got a second helping, and it’s ok!) with Shane Sullivan (Director of Food Services, Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter), Jenn Morton (Program Coordinator, End 68 Hours of Hunger), and Jon Eriquezzo (President, Meals on Wheels of Hillsborough County). We toured with Shane, getting to meet some of the Kitchen’s awesome staff! One of the highlights is the assembly line of freezer meals for kids where over 65,000 meals are served annually!
Later, we learned about the important work of Family Promise of Southern NH on the former Holy Infant Jesus Catholic Church campus. Pam Wellman, Executive Director gave us a tour, while letting us know 32% of the families served qualify for mortgages through their “soup to nuts” financial literacy program. She later sat on the panel discussing “serving on a nonprofit board” with Maryse Wirbal (LGN 1998, CEO, The Front Door Agency), and Doreen Manetta (SVP, Senior Regional Manager, Enterprise Bank). We were encouraged to do our homework when joining a board, and make sure the board aligns with our passion(s) as well as our mission and values.
We finished off the day with Harborcare, providing a wide variety of services for the greater Nashua area including Primary care, Mental health care, HIV testing and intervention, home health and dental services. Host, Mike Apfelberg (LGN 2010 CEO, United Way of Greater Nashua) facilitated the discussion, which focused on integrated care and service-based non-profits providing care and services that are typically covered by separate organizations all under one umbrella. Also on the panel, Harbor Care staff: CEO Henry Och, who gave us an overview of Harborcare’s evolution, CFO Ana Pancine (Chief Philanthropy Officer), Brian Tagliaferro (Health & Wellness), Jonathan Brown (Clinic Director Veterans Care), and David Tille (Director of Veteran’s Services). The discussion continued with a focus on Mental Health & Substance Abuse with Christina Loder (Director of Clinical Services-Keystone Hall), and Homelessness with Heather Nelson (Intake Director of Housing), Jessica Lorento (Homeless Outreach Program Manager), and Kathryn Byrne (Program Manager). The respect with which they think about and treat their clients is abundant. When they are entering a person’s camp, they announce themselves from a distance and ask permission. Housing comes with case management, making sure everything that can be done for an individual wanting help, is done.
Robert F. Kennedy said something that is alive in the mission of every non-profit we visited today: “It is not more bigness that should be our goal. We must attempt, rather, to bring people back to the warmth of community, to the worth of individual effort and responsibility, and of individuals working together as a community, to better their lives and their children’s future.”
Forward, Upward, Onward, Always, Together,
Libby Masek (LGN Class of 2023)