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This month, I asked Shannon McNamara, Program Director, to share about her River Center experience:

Headshot of ShannonEvery time I try to get out, they pull me right back in!

That is my glorious relationship with The River Center. After growing up in the Monadnock region I went to school in Boston, got married and started having children before moving back home to New Hampshire. It wasn’t long after moving to the Peterborough area before I found The River Center and Bonnie Harris’s connected parenting classes.

Those classes and people were a lifeline to me for the first 7 years of parenting. It was shortly after my third child that Bonnie pulled me aside after a class and asked if I might be interested in working with The River Center as a parent educator. I was both surprised and thrilled with the suggestion, and may have surprised Bonnie with an impromptu hallway hug of excitement. After realizing that I both embarrassed myself (such is life) and perhaps came off a little eager, I met with Margaret Nelson for the first time. That was the very beginning of the most rewarding and fulfilling job of my life.

In the 2 years that I worked as a parent educator with The River Center I was able to run the kinds of programs that I felt passionate about. The groups that I did with young parents were fantastic, but my heart really lay with the kids. I ran family fun nights, adolescent girls groups, book clubs, and adventure group field trips. I had so many more ideas of fun community driven engagement to do with The River Center, but life sometimes takes you in a different direction and my family ended up needing to move out of the area.Mom surrounding by 3 kids at the circus

Fast forward 2 years and one global pandemic and we are back in the area. In the midst of trying to figure out what we were doing with schooling our three kids and where we were going to end up in a year I got a wonderful phone call from Margaret Nelson asking if I might be interested in rejoining the team in the capacity of program director. Once again that giddy feeling of excitement and family belonging rushed back.

I have been energized with ideas on how we can provide fresh and exciting programming and community opportunities for this very unique and unusual year. The River Center will, of course, continue with their established programs on connected parenting and support, however, in this coming year we will also be establishing some new and exciting things for families to take part in, starting with our Parent Advisory Council.

The Parent Advisory Council (PAC) will be established to help The River Center better understand and address all of the things affecting our Monadnock region families. They will be instrumental in helping us develop programming and deliver it to those communities that may not have been part of the conversation in the past. In addition to working with the PAC we hope to continue our Safe Sitter program online to help prep our 11 to 14-year-olds for being home and navigating the community solo. Independence is the name of the game for many of our kids this year and we want to make sure that both parents and kids are comfortable and confident going forward.

These are just a couple of the highlights to what is going to be a year like no other and I am excited to be even a small part of it. Here is to a great year in an amazing community!

For more information on The River Center and our fall programs, check out www.rivercenter.us, follow us on FaceBook, contact info@rivercenter.us or call 924-6800.

Shannon McNamara, Program Director, smcnamara@rivercenter.us

Margaret Nelson, Executive Director, mnelson@rivercenter.us

The River Center Family and Community Resource Center

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