Member Profile

Friends Program

The Friends Program recruits volunteers to meet community needs and restore hope in the human spirit. The organization marshals a corps of about 800 volunteers who mentor at-risk youth, sheler homeless families, and help seniors actively contribute to the community. Started in 1975 as a youth mentorig organization, the Friends Program has evolved over the past four decades to support a growing number of our most vulnerable neighbors. Our Four Programs include:

  • Friends Youth Mentoring (1975): a small professional staff matches volunteers with Concord-area youth who are referred to us through a network of over 30 schools, human service nonprofits, and public agencies. About 150 youth participate in the program annually. Volunteer mentors devote approximately 13,000 hours to support their "Junior Friends" each year.
  • Friends Emergency Housing (1980): The Friends Program operates the only shelter exclusively for families in Merrimack County. Occupancy at this 8-unit facility is functionally at 100%. On any given night, between 20 to 32 clients are sheltered here. In addition to having a safe and secure place where homeless families can remain together as a unit, adult clients meet regularly with a case manager, who connects them with resources that can help them find and keep affordable housig of their own.
  • Friends Foster Grandparent (1984): N.H. seniors volunteering with this program are matched with local schools were they provide individualized academic support to schoolchildren needing extra help. Foster Grandparent is a federal program that is overseen by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Friends Program is its statewide sponsor for N.H. Through a grant from CNCS, the Friends Program is able to provide volunteers with a very modest, tax-free stipend that does not affect Social Security or other senior benefits.
  • Friends Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) (2006): The Friends Program manages this CNCS-funded federal program in Merrimack, Rockingham, Belknap, and Strafford counties. RSVP is essentially a volunteer placement service that matches senior volunteers with nonprofits and public agencies. Approximately 600 volunteers serve at over 100 locations, combining to contribute about 60,000 hours of annual service. Friends RSVP also operates a pair of signature programs. The Caregiver Program matches homebound seniors with volunteer drivers, who bring clients to medical appointments and to run other vital errands. Additionally, Friends Bone Builders is an osteoporosis prevention program that is led by certified volunteers who conduct senior exercise sessions at 22 locations throughout our service areas.
  • In recognition of the Friends Program's longstanding leadership role in fighting homelessness, the Mayor of Concord selected the agency to be the project manager of a temporary cold weather shelter in the Capital City. The facility opened in January 2016 and is slated to remain open through late March.
  • In 2015, N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan issued a gubernatorial commendation praising the contributions of the approximately 800 volunteers who devote their time and talent to helping the needy through all of our Four Programs.
  • In Dec. 2014, the New England Patriots selected RSVP volunteer Caren Bonisteel as the team's "Difference Maker of the Week." The Chichester resident, who leads senior exercise sessions and provides transportation to homebound seniors, was the only N.H. volunteer recognized by the team.

Call Development Director Mark Foynes at 603-228-7604 or visit www.friendsprogram.org. 

Posted on: Thursday, March 17, 2016

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