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Conversations: Christmas Angels

2018

Tina K., Volunteer and Christmas Angel Coordinator

Tina K., Volunteer and Christmas Angel Coordinator

“The Christmas Angels program is a program that I coordinate that helps volunteers to cover last minute emergency Christmas requests. So these might be people who moved to the area who didn’t get here in time for the regular Christmas programs or who had an emergency happen in November or December that ate up their Christmas budget – could be car repairs or medical. So people call and I have more than 3 dozen volunteers who are willing to shop and help with a family for Christmas.

Last year I remember one mom picking up her gifts and just giving me a huge hug and saying, “I am so grateful for this, because I thought I was going to be okay and then I wasn’t and now I can relax and enjoy the holiday with my kids.”

It’s just realizing that each of these angels is helping meet one small need of one family in this community and I think it’s really wonderful that we’re pulling together like this.”

‘Tis The Season

2018

Knitted slippers with colorful pom-poms, a comforter, a giant floor puzzle, baby socks, children’s books, a science kit, a tea set, and cozy pajamas. These are just some of the items taking up a corner of my office. Yes, it is the season for giving.

The River Center acts as a clearing house for community members who want to help and families who need some help bringing Christmas joy to their children. There are several Christmas giving programs that coordinate gifts with families but these programs have deadlines in early November. Plans for gift giving can be thwarted by many things– including the loss of a job a few weeks before Christmas, a high electric bill, or unexpected car repairs. Tina Kriebel volunteers to coordinate gifts for families that connect with The River Center after those deadlines.

Eversource donated 20 cut Christmas trees, tree stands, and lights. One of our staff and a volunteer spent a day bringing trees and joy to families in our community.  A couple dropped off their annual jar of change to be given to a family- this year more than $500. A couple throws a holiday party every year and asks their guests to bring gifts to support local nonprofits. This year those gifts were given to The River Center and our families- toys and treasures abound. Knitted hats, scarves, and mittens are coming from knitting groups. 

Intermingled with the holiday preparations is great need. A single mom came to pick up a fresh-cut Christmas tree, tree stand and lights. She asked me how she might get some help getting new tires for her car. She told me that the current tires were not safe and she felt like the car was all over the road. I gave her the contact information for the Salvation Army. They will help her get new tires.

A woman came in for her Fuel Assistance appointment. On her way past our front desk she stopped to ask for information. She cares for a veteran in her home and she wondered if he would be eligible for assistance. I assured her that there are many ways veterans can access support and connected her with Southwestern Community Services for more information.

An elderly woman called feeling confused and uneasy in her home. Staff at The River Center has done much to support her and connect her with appropriate services. We have referred her to the Bureau of Elderly Services who are providing support and watchful should she become unsafe living on her own.

We have received a number of calls requesting wood from our wood bank this month. Those calls come from Rindge, Jaffrey, Peterborough and other surrounding towns. Yes, we have cut, split, and dry firewood thanks to the many volunteers who work hard so emergency heating needs can be met.

The needs are great and the generosity of our community is great. Your financial support of The River Center during this season of giving makes a difference. Donations can be sent to our address at 9 Vose Farm Rd. Suite 115, Peterborough, NH 03458 or at www.rivercenter.us. Together we can support our families, our neighbors, and our community.
 
Happy Holidays from all of us at The River Center Family and Community Resource Center.

Conversations: Making Connections

2018

Sheila, can you tell me what happened last Monday?
Well, on Veterans Day, The River Center was open and I came into work, a little earlier than usual. Shortly after I arrived, a man came in, saying that he had been referred to us. He told me that while he was not destitute, he suddenly found himself homeless through no fault of his own. He had just spent the last few nights sleeping in his car. He didn’t want to bother his grown children. I spent over an hour working with him that morning.

Then after I had helped him, a woman walked in saying that she, too, was homeless and was in temporary housing through her church. She was told to come to us for help in finding a more permanent living situation.

Both of them were veterans.

It was a holiday so places were probably closed, right? What did you do to help them?
We worked together to make phone calls to get them connected with services in the area. In the gentleman’s case, his situation was more urgent and because we weren’t able to connect with other places right away with it being a holiday, I asked him to come back. He returned later that day and I was able to give him more information after other services called back. I set him up with Hundred Nights in Keene for that night. The woman came back a few days later and I helped her make the phone calls she needed so she could find more stable housing. I connected both of them with organizations that help veterans specifically.

What was different about this for you?
The fact that it was Veteran’s Day made the whole scenario more poignant. It was so ironic that on the day when we are honoring veterans, they continue to have needs or crises, even if it is a holiday. Some of the places that we called were closed and were not able to give information that would help right away, but we were able to connect with them shortly after. All of this happened before 10 am!

How did you feel about your work with them?
I’m glad we were open. I’m thankful we were here and available to assist anyone who walked in or called. Also, it had to be difficult and humbling to ask for help, though I’m glad they did, and I’m glad we were here to offer the help.

Sheila is our Information & Referral Specialist. She is the first voice you will most often hear when you call The River Center and the friendly face behind the front desk.

A Time to Reflect

2018

We rush about doing the details of daily life. We get out of bed in the morning, grab some breakfast, set off for our day. We come home. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

Sometimes (maybe often) we don’t stop to reflect. Take a deep breath. Really think about what and who we have in our lives. Take a moment to be grateful.

November is a month for reflection. Both Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving are holidays that ask us to pause, consider the good we have been given, and be grateful.

This year on the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I, we think about loved ones who served in the military. ew reflected on the high cost of freedom. And we are grateful.

With Thanksgiving Day a few days away, we have yet another chance to reflect. We are thankful for family members who love us and believe in us. We are thankful for a roof over our heads. We are thankful for food on the table. My mother had a poem hung over the kitchen sink that began like this, “Thank God for dirty dishes, they have a tale to tell. While other folks go hungry, we are eating very well.” It does lend some perspective.

As we consider what we are grateful for, the good things in our lives, let us not forget those right here in our towns that are going without. Ironically, on Veterans’ Day, November 12, we had two veterans drop by the The River Center. Both were homeless and reaching out for help. The man was a Vietnam vet. He had been sleeping in his car for several nights. The woman was sleeping on a couch at a friend’s.

Connecting individuals with the services and resources they need is part of what we do at The River Center. In this case, Sheila on our staff, was able to get both these individuals started on the path toward stable housing. She arranged for the man to have a bed at Hundred Nights Shelter in Keene for that night. The woman will stay at her friend’s for a while longer while a more permanent situation is found for her. They were connected with organizations that specialize in resources for veterans, helping them navigate the process so they will have a place to call home. And the help doesn’t stop there. Once they have a roof over their heads they will be connected with food assistance, job search assistance, medical and dental healthcare and other assistance as needed.

This Thanksgiving I am grateful for many things. Personally, I am grateful for my family and friends. I am grateful to call this corner of New Hampshire my home. I am grateful for the warmth from the wood stove. I am grateful there is food in my cupboards. I am grateful for a car that starts in the morning.

I am grateful for The River Center, for our incredible talented and dedicated staff, for our Board that is engaged and committed to our mission, for our volunteers that help us expand the services and supports we provide, and for all the individuals and families that we touch each year. I am grateful for this community. And I am grateful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone from all of us at The River Center Family and Community Resource Center!

Failure is OK

2018

What?! Failure is Bad. We learn this at an early age and continue to learn this throughout our lives.

We have power failures. Our strength fails us. We fail to pay our taxes. The bank fails. The crop failed. We fail to impress. We fail the math test.
Failure= Bad.

Is it any wonder that we tend to want to avoid failure?

Here’s the deal. If we live so as to avoid failure we never try something new. We don’t take risks. We don’t grow in our skill and comfort levels. We become stagnant. Dull. Predictable.

Fear of failure will keep me from becoming the Best Me.

And…. Wait for it…. Fear of failure will keep my children from becoming the Best Them.
What if we never let our toddler toddle? If I always carried my toddler around because I knew they were unsteady on their feet and would surely bang their head or skin their knee? We all know that we have to let that toddler stumble around so they can learn their own sense of balance. They are actually growing stronger as they pick themselves up and keep on going across the living room floor to the joy of watching family. We make sure the path is safe- we remove the glass do-dads and the sharp cornered coffee tables. But we have to let them go. Falling and getting back up again is a gift we give that toddler.

How about that child that is learning to ride a bicycle? Painful to watch. I remember riding behind my seven year old as we rode the bike path in Franconia Notch. It was downhill and she was weaving all over the place. I was a nervous wreck watching her, but she was having the time of her life. I had to let her learn the feel of the brakes, get her balance, and understand the element of speed. She was wearing a helmet and I had band aids (which weren’t needed, by the way).

Then there is the driver’s license test. I personally failed at my first attempt when I was 16. I thought the world had surely ended. I didn’t go back to school that day as planned. I went home and moped. What could be worse than failing your drivers’ test?! The fact that I went the wrong way on a one way street during the test…. Well, if you put it that way, maybe I should have failed the test. Guess what? I practiced more. I made sure I understood how to watch out for one way street signs. Failure was an opportunity for me to gain more skill and confidence. And I did get my license the second time around. It was hard won but a major accomplishment.

Why am I talking about failure this month? Glad you asked. On October 23, from 6:30-8:00, The River Center is hosting Jessica Lahey, the author of The Gift of Failure, How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. You can register for this free event at www.rivercenter.us/register . She has a wonderful perspective on failure as a valuable element of success.
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I maintain that what she has to say is beneficial to all of us no matter what stage in life. We face failure every day. The failed baking experiment. The failed drivers’ eye exam. The hot water heater failure. The failed sale. How do you deal with it in your own life? Jessica Lahey has wise perspective to share with us.

Don’t fail to show up. Tuesday, October 23, 6:30-8:00 at the Lucy Hurlin Theatre at Conval High School. Register at www.rivercenter.us. Or call The River Center Family and Community Resource Center at 924-6800 to learn more.

Parenting Programs – What’s In It For Me?

2018

Have you ever been so frustrated with your toddler that you locked yourself in the bathroom just to give yourself time to calm down? Have you ever wished you could grab back those mean words directed at your teen? Have you ever thought you were the worst parent ever?
I answered yes to all three questions- how about you? Parenting places us all on common ground. It doesn’t matter how much education you have, what your household income is, or the size of your house. It is a tough job. We love our kids, but darn it all, they can really get us mad. And frustrated. And at our wits’ end! Aren’t we supposed to just slide into this job and innately know what to do?

Well, I have good news for you. At The River Center we have a variety of ways to support parents, grandparents, and caregivers of any age child. If you are raising teens or tweens, you can join our parent group with Bonnie Harris on Tuesdays from noon to 2:00. Bonnie is the founder of the Parent Guidance Center which is now known as The River Center Family and Community Resource Center. She knows the struggles that parents experience and offers solid guidance to navigate the challenges parents face. And, you get the support and collective wisdom of other parents in the group.

Bonnie is also leading a group called, Mastering the Art of Balanced Parenting which addresses questions like, ‘What about me? Do I really need to let my kids walk all over me? How can I get what I want and still raise healthy kids? The balance of needs of both you and your children is essential for living in a family that get along and actually enjoys being together. In this 8 week class, parents will learn what is realistic to expect of both yourself and your kids. Strategies are discussed to help your kids learn problem solving skills that teach consideration, respect and responsibility. This class begins Tuesday, September 18 and runs for eight weeks from 9:30-11:30.

As a mom of young children, I needed regular time with grown-ups. I looked forward to playgroups and story times. My girls got to play with other children their age and I got visit with women who have become my dear friends. I highly recommend joining Playtime with Kelli, a playtime for parents or caregivers and their 0-5 year olds that runs every Wednesday morning beginning the 19th, from 9:30-11:30. Or, join the Farm to Table program with Kelli and UNH Extension nutritionist, Christine Parshal, on Thursday mornings. They are exploring low cost recipes and strategies to feed your family yummy foods. Every Friday Kelli runs a parent group in Jaffrey. Bring your little ones, get to know other parents, be encouraged in your parenting, and join the fun!

Not everyone can come to a group during the day. Join us for our evening programs. October 9, Bonnie Harris will talk about “When Do I Draw the Line? I Am the Parent After All.” Have you ever asked yourself that question? Come and hear what Bonnie has to say, discuss with other parents and walk away with a plan.

On October 23, we are excited to welcome Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure, How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. I have read the book and she makes a ton of sense. We learn so much through failures- large and small. She gently addresses the down side of over protecting our children and robbing them of opportunities to figure it out themselves. I urge you to come- parents, grandparents, caregivers, educators, or anyone who has ever wondered how to redeem their failures!

Sick of feeling like a failure at your parenting job? Join us for one (or more) of our programs this fall. To register, go to rivercenter.us/register; visit us at 9 Vose Farm Rd Suite 115 in Peterborough, email info@rivercenter.us or call 924-6800. You and your kids will be glad you did.