Forty Years of Friends Finding Friends

Celebrating Four Decades of Community Service, 1975-2015

 

On January 20, 1975 Concord was introduced to an innovative new program to keep at-risk kids out of trouble - and get them into supportive one-to-one mentoring relationships.

 

The Friends Program started as a grassroots community effort that encourages adolescents to build upon their strengths and overcome adversity. This remains true, but the Friends Program has evolved considerably. Today, Friends mentors support kids as young as six with a wide range of needs. Additionally, since 1980, the Friends has operated the Emergency Housing Program that serves homeless families. Subsequently, the agency has taken on Foster Grandparents and RSVP, two senior programs that help older citizens remain active and contribute to the community.

 

Although the scope of our mission has broadened considerably, our core purpose and values remain unchanged. For 40 years, Friends volunteers have strengthened our community by building relationships that empower people, celebrate service, and restore faith in the human spirit.

 

 

Our 40th birthday gives us a chance to reflect upon four decades of community service. Friends Youth Mentoring has given kids opportunities to benefit from one-to-one mentoring relationships and group activities where they build social skills and positive values.

From the beginning, Friends mentors have been real-life champions to local youngsters needing "alternatives to artificial television heroes" - in the words of one our first brochures. Engaging youngsters in meaningful activities remains at the core of Friends Youth Mentoring to this day.

After a year of planning, founder Richard Maxson (right) introduced the Friends Program to the community on January 20, 1975. (Note that the poster above Maxson's head is featured at left here).
Concord High students were part of Friends' outreach and planning efforts in the year before our launch. Students designed promotional posters like this one by Vicki Bonner. 
Another longstanding hallmark of the Friends Program has been the great effort taken to ensure match compatibility so mentors and their Junior Friends can take part in activities they both enjoy.
Gardening is just one of the activities that have cultivated and nurtured the many mentor-Junior Friend relationships the Friends Program has built over the past 40 years.  

 

January is National Youth Mentoring Month

The Friends Program welcomes the opportunity to raise awareness about youth mentoring and the positive effect it has on young lives. While there's been a recent uptick in the number of new volunteers stepping forward, we're always recruiting mentors. If you or someone you know is interested in being a difference maker to a local youngster, visit our Web site or call 228-0108 today. Full Youth Mentoring Program Page  

Patriots Recognize RSVP Volunteer as a Difference Maker, Award Friends with $5k Grant

The  New England Patriots Charitable Foundation named Friends volunteer Caren Bonisteel as its volunteer Difference Maker the last week of December. Patriots CEO Robert Kraft and other members of the Patriots organization recognized Caren during a special ceremony during the December 28 home game in Foxboro. Kraft also announced a $5,000 grant for Friends RSVP

 

The Patriots Charitable Foundation selects outstanding volunteers throughout the season. Caren was selected in recognition of her work in Senior Advocacy through the Friends Caregivers and Bone Builders programs. Both programs are managed by Friends RSVP staff.

 

The Friends truly appreciate the Patriots recognition of Caren's dedication and the hundreds of RSVP volunteers who contributed 136,000 hours of service last year.

Eight-year-old Dylan D. and his mentor, Andrew. Dylan is new to skating and is the recipient of a Concord Youth Hockey skating scholarship. Dylan is hoping to be able to go back to the St. Paul's School rink to show his mentor how much he's learned from the lessons.

Warm Smiles at the Ice Rink

This is eight-year-old Dylan with his mentor, St. Paul's School student Andrew, at the SPS rink last month. 

 

They've been matched since September and have developed a strong bond in the past few months. Dylan's really taken to ice skating - as his smile attests. 

 

And more smiles will be in Dylan's immediate future. Concord Youth Hockey just donated a Learn to Skate scholarship to this lucky youngster.

 

"It's really fun,"Dylan exclaimed. "I only had to use a chair for 10 minutes, then I skated on my own!  The best part so far is learning you can hold onto your stick and then you have your balance."   

 

The Friends Program and the youth we serve are so grateful for these kinds of donations. When you support the Friends Program, you give kids like Dylan a chance to experience things that would otherwise not be possible.

 

Full Youth Mentoring Program Page  

January 19 is the National Day of Service

For the past four years, SeniorCorps and AmeriCorps members from across N.H. have come together on MLK Day to help our local communities through direct service. This year is Friends RSVP's first year participating. As we move into the coldest months of the year, volunteers will turn their focus to assisting and raising awareness for homeless individuals including Friends Emergency Housing Program clients. You can help with a donation of socks, gloves, peanut butter, or toothbrushes. Our office at 202 North State St. in Concord is one of six collection locations. Come by with your donation today and help your homeless neighbors in need. Call RSVP Coordinator Katie Lynch at 228-7608 if you can help.

Happy Anniversary, Doris!

Foster Grandparent Doris Morris volunteers at the Library Street School's Early Learning Center in Hudson. Last month she celebrated her fifth anniversary. As a Foster Grandparent, she is a vital part of her classroom community.She loves her time with the children, and they love her.

 

"Doris provides additional guidance, reminders, prompting, and support to our preschool students who are working on so many skills at once," classroom teacher Kim Whorton. 

 

The Friends Foster Grandparent Program promotes active lifestyles among N.H. seniors by placing them in classrooms where they help teachers inspire their students. For Doris, volunteering is just one aspect of a busy life that includes exercise, travel, and spending time with her seven children, 12 grandchildren, and 13 great grandchildren.

Operation Santa Claus

This is Lillyanne. She's five and lives with her mother at the Friends Emergency Housing shelter. She likes cats and showing off the artwork she makes in kindergarten. And she absolutely loves her brand new bicycle. 

 

The bike was one of nine donated to children at our shelter by state employees through the Operation Santa Claus program. Since 1960, state workers have donated holiday gifts to needy N.H. children. The program is a non-profit organization run by members of the State Employees' Association. Other donated toys included model trains, board games, and LEGO sets.

 

"The families are all so grateful for these gifts," said shelter director Arolyn King. "They really put a smile on the kids' faces." 

 

Full Emergency Housing Page   

Thank You for a Successful Fundraising Campaign
Your recent year-end gift helped the Friends Program raise nearly $40,000 to recruit volunteers who improve peoples lives and strengthen our community.The Friends' Board of Trustees, staff, and our corps of over 800 volunteers sincerely appreciate your generous support.

The Friends Program began 40 years ago as a grassroots effort to recruit volunteers to mentor Concord-area at-risk youth. Four decades later, we're still helping kids - but the scope of our work has expanded to include helping senior citizens and homeless families. Your support makes this good work possible.

If you've considered making a gift but have not done so yet, you can easily and securely make a donation through PayPal. Just click the button below and contribute at a level of your choice. It will take less than a minute and you'll feel good knowing that you support the work of so many volunteers who do so many great things.

                 
Friends Program | 202 North State Street | Concord, NH 03301
  (603) 228-1193 | admin@friendsprogram.org |

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