NH Facts

1130 children and youth were reported as homeless in 2007. (NHNH) There are 2,248 homeless people on any given day in New Hampshire. (New Horizons) From July 2007 - July 2008 approximately 4,800 jobs were lost in New Hampshire. (Analysis of NH Industry)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Back in November, I read a small article on The Back Page section of the NH Union Leader titled, "Body found in paper bale." It described the discovery of a man's body inside at 1,500-pound bale of paper at a recycling plant in Twin Falls, Idaho. The story made it into the Union Leader through the Associated Press news service.

The details of the death were shocking, of course, which is why it was located on the Union Leader's Back Page section. That's where we read so-called "light" news - celebrity hijinks, entertainment news and other stories too strange to include within the other "hard news" sections of the paper. Sometimes I feel the news on this page is being served with a wink and a smirk. That this article about a body in a paper bale appears on this page is what first made me uncomfortable.

But there is a phrase in the contents of the article that really bothered me: the man was, according to police, "wearing clothing consistent with a homeless person."

Why did this bother me so much?

This article appeared on a day in the middle of our clothing drive in November, Warmth From the Millyard. We had been doing research into the need for such a drive in our community, as well as some of the statistics and reasons behind the need. We had talked with people who help those in need. So I suppose I was sensitive to the mention of homelessness.

But why did this story make me angry, even? I asked myself, "What does homeless clothing look like? How could they tell?" I had been working with my classmates and other volunteers to gather and sort coats and warm clothes, trying to cull the ones that we thought were too dirty, or had an odd odor, or had ripped places or broken zippers. We asked ourselves, "Would we wear this?"

And I realized my reaction to that story had to do with dignity. And with what has been mentioned by my classmates, stereotypes. This story tears down the first and builds up the other. But more than anything, it made me very sad that by saying this person was wearing "clothing consistent with a homeless person," it immediately conjured an image in my mind. I was ready with a stereotype, and that made me very uncomfortable.

Through this drive, I have seen some wonderful things done to help those less fortunate. I have learned a lot about poverty and its causes. But most importantly, I have faced some things within myself that aren't too wonderful.

I have continued to research online this story of the man in the paper bale, maybe hoping I can, in a small way, offer my respect. The police were able to identify him - Terrance Fitzpatrick. He was homeless at the time of his death. Autopsy reports show he had a blood alcohol content of 0.28, according to news reports I've found. And the theory is that, in an effort to stay warm on a cold night, he was sleeping in a recycling bin.

But I also found evidence of caring. His high school classmates eulogize him on one site. Another site has posted online some nice comments after a followup story appeared in an Idaho newspaper. And a memorial service was held for him in which he was remembered as someone who "moved right into people's hearts" and was "getting back on his feet."

There is always more to the stories than the stereotypes.

Part of the mission of Warmth From the Millyard, which you can read at the top, right part of this blog, is to "raise awareness of poverty." When we, as a group, wrote this mission, we probably intended our audience to be all those folks "out there." But I didn't expect that I would have my own awareness so raised, and found so lacking.

I continue to learn.

-Laura Arvin

Sunday, December 28, 2008

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”~Gandhi

The Community Leadership Program is an outstanding program that was first introduced last year at UNH Manchester and has been running for the past 8 years at UNH in Durham. One of the required courses as part of the Community Leadership Program is the “Introduction to Community Leadership,” which I was enrolled in this past semester. Walking into our Community Leadership class on that first day, I really didn’t know what to expect. The course is designed to educated students about: “the process of community building, community service, organizing, and leadership.” It is also designed for students to generate “awareness of community issues to community members” while bringing people of the community together. This course required my class as a whole, to create a community service project that applied all these skills.
Last year’s class put together the Warmth From The Mill Yard drive. Their project was a warm clothing drive, where the students collected warm clothes, gave the collected clothes to different organizations, and raised awareness of homelessness in New Hampshire. They collected 800 items and their project won a National Community Service award, in Minnesota.
This year, as a class we conducted a need base assessment, and saw that once again there was a great need for warm clothing throughout New Hampshire. Our class decided it would be best to meet that need throughout New Hampshire by running and expanding last years “Warmth From The Mill Yard” project. “Our vision is to lead the local community in the Warmth From the Mill Yard project, which is a “winter clothing” drive to raise awareness of poverty & assist local families/individuals within our community.”
Our vision at first was only a fraction of what we had succeeded to bring in. At the beginning of the class when stating our vision there was a lot of hesitation about putting a number to the amount of clothing we could receive by donation. This hesitation came from the current harsh economic time. Because of this unsympathetic time we were unsure if people would be willing or could afford to donate to our clothing drive.
Personally, I see myself as an achiever and “go-getter.” If someone perceives that I can’t do something, I will then reach out and do it ten times better than anyone every expected. Knowing that I am a “go-getter,” I was highly optimistic and motivated that we as a class could raise at least 800 items. With the help and generosity of others within our community we far exceeded our 800-item total, to reach over 2,800 items donated.
Our vision was not owned by anyone of us as individuals in the class, but by our class as a whole. With input and suggestions from all eight of us, our vision developed into a project that was more than just a warm clothing drive, it was a project that served others.
We not only had the chance to serve those who needed warm clothing within our community, we had the chance to serve the Hillside STAY Program children. We served them by making them apart of our project and getting them involved within their own community. We welcomed them with open arms and showed them that they too, could make a difference within their own community.
I have to say this class has made a real difference in my life. I have learned that service is a tool that is far better than “helping” and “fixing” current issues. By serving we gain a new knowledge of self. By serving we acknowledge a need and create a solution for that need. By serving we shape, transform, and collaborate within our own communities. I have always believed that people have a desire to belong, a need for recognition of self-value, and a want to be a part of something truly meaningful. Through this project I have come to understand, with collaboration of ideas, resources, and time, people can truly achieve their self worth.
Through this project, I have to say I have gained a new sense of self. This project has reinforced my self-motivation and compassion for other and made me realize that I can make a difference even if I never meet the individual I am serving. Yes, community service takes a lot of time, work, and commitment, but doing for others creates change within your community. Gandhi once said, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” I believe that with the “Warmth From The Millyard” project the eight of us have been part of the change we all wish to see in the world.

~Sheena Connolly

Friday, December 19, 2008

Magnificent 8

I found myself in a room full of empty
Only to realize it wasn’t meant for me to be here
But important that I came
My road was the one too often traveled
From them hopes that unravel in the streets
Riddled with them who never met potential.
Don’t mistake my strut for confidence
I just wouldn’t survive the consequence
that waits behind the door for them knockin knees
But recently I find myself at ease
Amungst giants I walk softly
And I carry a big heart
In an effort to do my part
See I’m crucial to the sphere my people call conversation
But see I make no claim that we be from anything
More than from where we came
It was the giving that leveled me
I saw eyes cry, smiles curl and hands extend
In my particular direction
Here where I stand now in reflection
Too am a giant
Some of those who choose to stand simple
Questiong the intent, attempting to debate
Thee magnificent 8 would best tip toe lightly.
I’m play those lines over and over

As time goes ooooon
I realiiiiiiize
just what you meeeeeean
to mee and now

My room runneth over
With giants at my shoulder I lead
Being lead by leaders, I was
To become Mercury, I am
Hot like that fire, I will
Teach he, she and anybody
And I do mean anybody like and not like me
Atop the mountain I see tomorrow
My community on my mind, I unwind
With a sublime line that hits on time!
Check it.
Leaders, make leaders,
And ya’all made me!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

When our Community Leadership class first started planning the Warmth from the Millyard winter clothing drive, I was extremely skeptical about the amount of clothing we would get. Last years drive got 800 items of clothing, and I thought that at the most, we’d be able to get 1,000 items. That was just me being optimistic though, I didn’t actually believe that people would donate nearly as much as they did last year because of how bad the economy is doing. As the word spread about the drive, the clothing started POURING in. We had over 800 items before the drive even started! It amazed me that even in this time of economic crisis, people were still willing to help others. Some people even donated brand new clothing!

I had never realized what a huge problem homelessness was in Manchester, or New Hampshire in general. I had always known that it was a problem, but since I had never seen it, I didn’t think twice about it. I hope this drive helps make the public aware that there IS a huge problem, and that this drive was just a short term solution. We need to start thinking about long term solutions. One idea our class came up with is starting a clothing bank. That’s just the beginning though.

This drive made me realize what a huge impact a small group of people can have, so if you have an idea, go for it! By the end of the drive, I had a huge change of heart. I realized that there are still good, caring people in the world, and they make themselves even more known and come together during desperate times. The recent ice storm we had confirmed this even more so. I saw people getting together to help remove trees and clean up debris. People were opening their houses to family, friends, and even strangers. I’ve seen signs up at people’s houses saying “free water”, “we have heat”, etc. I am so devastated to see all the damage this storm has done, but it fills my heart with joy to see how much people are willing to help.

-Maren Bhagat

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What you do for others can light up a room!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

As the roster of corporations and financial institutions on line for government bailouts seems to grow, some public policy advocates in Washington D.C. are calling on policymakers to focus more efforts on the nation's poorest. The ranks of the destitute are growing quietly but alarmingly as much of the world focuses on troubles surrounding Wall Street. "Recent data show poverty is already rising quite substantially," says Robert Greenstein, the executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "There is a strong potential for more hardship and destitution than we have seen in this country in a number of decades." http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20081125/us_time/08599186184300

We should all be aware that although all men/women are created equal there are times we do not live equally. It is my hope that we as a nation, community realize our position and realize that giving affirms our humanity!

If it's wrong to be a socialist, then is it right to be

"One Nation Under A Groove"

CJ perez