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Babies on the Brain


Baby N

Babies- They are so cute! They can be so frustrating! They coo- they cry and cry and cry.

Wouldn’t it be nice if every expectant family had all the support and resources they needed to get their new family off to a great start?

When a baby is on the way there are many things to do to prepare and many challenges to face once the baby is born. Some expectant families are surrounded by supportive family and friends and are accessing all the resources they need. Some can benefit from regular home visits from a professional family support home visitor. These in-home visits are a highly effective way to assist and encourage families through all the challenges they face during pregnancy and in the baby’s first years. The home visitor and family will address many issues: Have they set up regular pre-natal medical visits? What are the transportation needs? Do they have health insurance? Stable housing? What about work? Is the father of the baby involved? Are their special needs that need consideration? The home visitor works with each family to ensure that they have what they need for a healthy and positive start to their family.

The River Center Family and Community Resource Center has provided this family support through home visits for close to eighteen years. Over two years ago, Monadnock United Way, through the Impact Monadnock initiative, invited The River Center, The Grapevine Family and Community Resource Center, Healthy Starts at HCS Home Health and Hospice, and Rise for baby and family to be part of a home visiting collaborative as a pilot project. All four of our organizations already supported families through regular in-home visits for parents, infants and young children. Under the guidance of Monadnock United Way staff, we talked about our desire that more families be supported through our incredible in-home family support programs. Together we identified the need for better communication between our programs, marketing, professional development for our staff, and, of course, funding to keep our programs running.

Today, the collaborative is known as the Monadnock Home Visiting Alliance and receives funding from the Monadnock United Way. We have developed specific goals and strategies to expand our reach to more families with high quality intensive home visiting throughout the Monadnock Region. Our home visitors are meeting together regularly for professional development and networking opportunities. Thanks to a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, we have hired an Outreach Coordinator to spread the word about all our in-home family support programs. We have seen many of our goals achieved and are optimistic that more families will benefit from this intensive support.

What are some of the results of families supported through regular in-home visits? A young mom told a friend that everything she has learned about being a mom she learned from her home visitor. Through developmental screenings done in the home, a toddler is identified as needing early intervention with speech therapist. A mom who has lost a child is encouraged through the pregnancy and birth of a second child. A dad who is raising his young children knows he has someone he can call who is there to help him connect with services he needs to be successful.

Taking care of a baby is hard work. It’s stressful at times. If other aspects of life are also stressful and if there is little support for the mom and dad, it can be particularly rough. Family support home visitors partner with the parents to identify needs and make connections with the knowledge, resources, and support they need to create a healthy positive start for their family. The Monadnock Home Visiting Alliance is a way for The River Center, The Grapevine, Heathy Starts at HCS, and Rise for baby and family to reach more families. For more information, please contact me at or 924-6800.

The River Center supports parents and families in a number of ways. Be sure to join us for the free showing of the film Brainious followed by a panel discussion on Tuesday, May 7, 6:30-8:00 at the Peterborough Community Theatre. The film is about the importance of relationships for brain development. We are thankful for Hutter Construction for sponsoring the showing of this film.

Brainious Teaser

Take a sneak peek at Brainious and then RSVP to our special screening of it with panel discussion on May 7, 6:30 pm at the Peterborough Community Theatre. This is a must-see film if you have or work with children!

Posted by The River Center on Monday, April 22, 2019

Saving Makes A Difference


How much money do you have in the bank? Do you have a rainy day fund? Money saved for retirement? A new car fund? A home repair fund? Education fund? Yikes!

I just lost you didn’t I? Did your stomach start to tie up in knots?

An individual who has her taxes done through The River Center’s free tax preparation program told us how saving money helped her. She was able to save the equivalent of several months’ wages due to a surprise gift. She decided that she would treat herself spending 10% of this gift and save the rest. Because now she has a financial buffer, she was able to make some life decisions that felt too risky before. She left her job and found another job she enjoys. She made some relationship decisions. She is happy and feels more in control of her life.
Not having any money in the bank for ‘just in case’ leaves us vulnerable. We don’t have a fall back in case something happens.

I googled ‘Saving Money’. There are 7 Ways, 8 Simple Ways, 35 Realistic Ways, 100 Great Ways, etc. to save money. There is the Secret to Saving Money. Take a look sometime. Everyone is weighing in on how to save money. We understand we should save, but we have difficulty putting it into practice.

Did you know that The River Center offers money coaching? A team of trained volunteers are ready and able to help anyone demystify their finances. Because truly, many times our finances are mysterious. Money comes, money goes. We aren’t exactly sure where it went, but our bank accounts tell us it’s gone.

Why do people come for money coaching at The River Center? They come because they have maxed out their credit card debt and need help figuring out how to pay them down. They come because they would like to buy a house and want a plan to make it happen. They come because they are graduating from high school and want to avoid excessive education debt or fund a gap year. A couple with six figure income needs help organizing the chaos of their finances which has resulted in late fees and bill collectors.

A newly single parent is always running out of money before the end of the month. Income is not enough to cover basic expenses for their family. We connect them to assistance programs to supplement their family needs until they can stabilize their life and increase income.
Our money coaches are here to help. Anyone, any income, any need. They are at The River Center for drop-ins every Wednesday from 12:30-2:00 or appointments can be made anytime by calling 924-6800 or

Our free tax preparation program for low and moderate income households is in full swing until April 13. Appointments can be made by calling 924-6800 If you or someone you know might qualify for this program, have them give a call. Our IRS certified volunteer preparers are trained to make sure that tax payers take full benefit of earned income, child, and educational tax credits. Every tax payer is encouraged to split their refund to save a portion for those rainy days.

Questions? Interested in meeting with a money coach? Give us a call at 924-6800.

Margaret Nelson
Executive Director
The River Center Family and Community Resource Center

EITC Awareness Day 2019


The EITC or Earned Income Tax Credit is a benefit designed for working people to get ahead. It reduces the tax you owe and may even give you a refund.

One out of every 5 workers in the US who is eligible to claim the EITC, does not. While the EITC amount is dependent on a number of factors, in NH the average for **EITC claimants in 2018 was $1,986, but 21.6% of eligible taxpayers did not claim this credit so $24,485,061 went unclaimed! This is money that could be used to make home improvements, pay down bills or other expenses or used to kickstart savings. The IRS encourages anyone with earnings of $54,884 or less to see if they qualify using the EITC Assistant or you can visit or call us at the contact information below.

We at The River Center's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program have a crew of dedicated IRS-CERTIFIED volunteers who are passionate about helping people with incomes of up to about $60,000 in our community keep more of their hard-earned money and access those credits such as the EITC for which they are eligible. For the families and individuals who qualify for the program, this tax preparation service and e-filing is completely FREE. We can also help you split your refund into up to 3 different ways - paper check, checking, savings if you bring your banking info to your appointment. Discuss your options with us.

Call us at (603) 924-6800 or email your phone number to to make an appointment with us. Let us help you.


**Also, The law requires the IRS to hold the tax refund in order to review the claims before releasing the funds. The IRS expects the first of these refunds to be available starting Feb. 27. See

Are You Well Connected?


Being connected is an important human element for all of us. We need to be connected – to our families, friends, and our community.

Did you know that an infant needs connection for healthy development? Think about how babies copy your facial expressions and noises. Try making fish faces at a fifteen month old. Or showing them how to make raspberries with their tongue. They will eagerly do what you do. That is a key way of how they learn. They need this back and forth connection with their adult. It is heartbreaking to see an infant laughing and giggling at an adult only to be totally ignored. Soon, they will learn to not respond.

All of us need this back and forth interaction. Dave’s workday is spent alone in his studio. My workday is spent at The River Center or out and about. At the end of the day we connect with each other by talking about how the day went. Dave may have had big thoughts about the creative process, I may have had trouble writing a column for the Ledger Transcript (for example). We ask questions and respectfully listen, empathizing with the frustrations and successes of each other. We seek to understand and support. We are connecting.

I have found that technology can be helpful or harmful to essential human connections. When cell phones were just starting to be used we went to the New England Aquarium in Boston with our daughters. We were outside watching the seals swimming in their tank. Sitting on a bench was a dad and his six year old son. The son was watching the seals while the dad was totally absorbed in his phone. I felt badly for that little boy, out on a fun outing with his dad, and yet his dad was not present. I didn’t realize that in a few years we would see this all the time both from children ignoring their parents as well as parents ignoring their children, all due to the compelling draw of handheld technology. Connecting with others means being present, mentally and emotionally as well as physically.

On the positive side, our adult daughters and families have a lively connection through WhatsApp. Since we are spread out from Kigali, Rwanda to Durham, North Carolina to Dublin, NH, this connection through an app on our phones is fabulous. A thread of photos and comments keeps us connected to each other on an almost daily basis.

The Strengthening Families Framework has identified social connections as one of the key protective factors for strong families. Social connections are defined as “positive relationships that provide emotional, informational, instrumental and spiritual support”.

So, when was the last time you got together with a friend for coffee and a good chat? Have you looked your child in the eye and had a good laugh together over something silly? Do you have someone you can call when you need a help?

Connections. It is part of what we do at The River Center Family and Community Resource Center through parenting groups, play groups, and volunteer opportunities. We connect you with services and programs that you need to keep your family strong.

Give us call at 924-6800 or visit us at 9 Vose Farm Rd. Suite 115, Peterborough or

Green Giving


We are very happy and filled with gratitude for this wonderful donation from Nature's Green Grocer. Their Green Giving program gives customers a wooden quarter to deposit in the "bank" of one of 3 non-profits each quarter for every $50 they spend and each month during that quarter one of those non-profits is the recipient of the monies collected by rounding-up purchases.

Many thanks to Joel, Cassie, the rest of the crew at Nature's Green Grocer and the customers who show their commitment to their community and make the world a better place.