Photo Credit: Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners_www.knpnh.org/
Life during the COVID years was difficult for many people, families, and organizations. Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners knows this fact all too well. This nonprofit was founded in February 2020 to serve others in New Hampshire.
During the average month, you can find the 215 “neighbors” helping to drive hundreds of miles to take people to doctor’s appointments. In June 2022, they even provided a car to a local couple.
These volunteers have supplied over 15,000 volunteer hours to their community. Everyone involved says they take a different approach to their charitable actions because they never do something that someone could do for themselves. []
Steve Allenby is the President of Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners. He says their efforts are to create sustainability by encouraging everyone to get involved. “Our mission and our vision is to build connections through our principles, which are really important to us,” he told The Concord Monitor. “One of our key principles is that we don’t do for others what they can do for themselves.”
Allenby says that many nonprofits and charities want to fix things, or that volunteers what to take those actions to help others. Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners wants to take a different approach. “That just keeps folks in the same loop,” said Allenby. “They haven’t figured out ways to get themselves out.”
Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners Comes from a Multi-Church Outreach Group
Long before Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners became a registered 501(c)(3) organization, the founding group behind this effort was already in the community.
The Kearsarge Regional Ecumenical Ministries is a multi-church charitable organization that provides similar services in the area. The volunteers who helped local community members through those efforts found that most of the people were the same when requesting aid or assistance. []
That’s why the founding of Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners was built to solve that problem. “We became concerned that what we needed to do with many of these individuals was not only to help them through a financial crisis, or whatever it might be, but to understand what was going on with these individuals,” said Cindy Johnson. She serves as a VP with Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners and is a retired ordained minister.
“We needed a space to give them a longer-term relationship. Not just to help them survive, but to somehow lift them out of needing help regularly.”
Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners recently began an advocate program in their community, which Johnson co-chairs. This service connects neighbors with volunteers to create more of a mentorship relationship than one strictly focused on providing services.
Johnson says their key to success with this effort is to establish a positive rapport that connects people with the services that can lead them to long-term success. “It is the arm of us that was a huge part of the motivation for Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners to get started,” she said. “We realized there is an important link between struggle and lack of connection, or lack of relationships, and we believe connecting neighbors with committed volunteers empowers them while helping to foster ways that assist with stability and security.”
Additional Aid Is Available Through the Nonprofits Flash Missions
Flash missions provide immediate support to the entire Kearsarge region. The neighbors affiliated with Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners provide substantial assistance with the organization’s mission and vision.
A flash mission might involve cooking a meal, performing yard work, or providing transportation. The goal is to help each neighbor have a better day by making their day go smoothly while delivering services they wouldn’t be able to complete without assistance.
During the winter months, one of the most common flash missions that Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners takes on involves stacking wood. Neighbors complete the work during the warmer months, then deliver supplies as needed when winter visits.
As with the core components of this nonprofit’s mission and vision, the wood-stacking services are an offshoot of a similar church-based program.
Nancy Lindsey coordinates the wood-based programming for Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners, and she was also involved with its previous iteration with First Baptist Church in New London. “It’s very enriching work,” she said. “There are so many people who want to help, and they do it joyfully. It’s pretty remarkable.” []
Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners couldn’t operate like it does without the help of community partnerships. With several organizations working together, the neighbors solve food insecurity problems by connecting resources, grassroots food growing, and skill expansion.
Today, three gardens are overseen by Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners and its partnerships near three food pantries.
If you’d like more information about Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners or live in the area and want to get involved, please visit their website at https://knpnh.org.