Doing Good NH: Lara Gruner of the Faith, Hope and Love Foundation

This week I spoke with Lara Gruner, Crisis Counselor for Becket Family Services and President of the Faith, Hope and Love Foundation (FHL).

Lara speaking at the Fusion Bowl-A-Thon to benefit the Faith, Hope and Love Foundation.

When Lara isn’t working at Beckett Family Services, or running FHL she will be found on the ski slopes of Gunstock or Waterville Valley Resort, paddleboarding on the local lakes, rock climbing, baking, cheering on friends at various events or traveling the world! Lara loves to travel and see the world yet always looks forward to coming home to loved ones in NH.

Lara enjoying Paddleboarding on the lake!

Lara grew up in Colorado, then towards the end of high school she moved to NH. She went to college at Plymouth State University, and it was there she found her passion for volunteering! Lara said, “not only is volunteering great for the community, it’s a very simple way to spread kindness and meet new people that you wouldn’t normally meet at work or through your daily routines.”

Lara has volunteered with The Special Olympics, has used her amazing baking skills to compete in the Lakes Region Habitat for Humanity Cupcakes for a Cause with proceeds going to its first handicap accessible home, and again this fall she competed in the competition, this time with the Interlakes High School Interact Club raising money for Shelter Box, an organization that is first on the scene when natural disaster strikes. Lara is an active member of the Appalachian Mountain Club, which allows her to enjoy weekend adventures backpacking, skiing, hiking and rock climbing! If that wasn’t enough, she loves to combine her love of the outdoors and volunteering by participating in numerous 5 and 10K races that support NH charities!

Lara getting ready for her display at Cupcakes for a Cause.

Recently, Lara was recognized for her service to others by Plymouth State University being named the 2017 Recent Alumni Award of Excellence. Lara said, “I was greatly honored to receive this recognition. It is my belief that we all are capable of excellence and sometimes excellence is just being there for someone when they need you to be.” Lara truly believes we all can make a difference with a simple smile, hug, hello or hi-five!

Lara being recognized by Plymouth State University Alumni Association for her work as an alumna in the community.

Lara volunteering at the Timberman Triathlon.

Lara joined the Faith, Hope and Love Foundation while in college and was quickly promoted to its volunteer coordinator position. After two years on the board and with her enthusiasm to help others she was voted in as President.

The mission of the Faith, Hope and Love Foundation is to bring relief to children and youth suffering from poverty, hunger or homelessness, and to bring them hope through faith and love. The organization believes in faith in humanity, hope for the future and love for all.

The organization gives out grants for enrichment and survival needs, grants college scholarships, does speaking engagements at local service organizations, volunteers with like-minded organizations such as Feed the Children, Habitat for Humanity, Hands Across the Table, and local youth centers.

The organization gives out an annual college scholarship. This scholarship is unique as it does not base the scholarship off of GPA but off of community service, random acts of kindness, a pay it forward attitude, resiliency, determination and hard work! High school seniors looking to further their education after graduation can apply for a scholarship with FHL; applications can be found on its website. The deadline for all applications is January 20, 2018.

The organization is well known throughout the state for its annual Formal Wear for a Fancy Affair, formerly known as Gowns for Girls and Ties for Guys. The organization recently changed the event title to make a more inclusive title. ALL high school aged youth are welcome to attend the event, free of charge to search for suits for prom or interviews and gowns for prom or semi formals! This year the event is April 7th at Plymouth State University. Prom attire drives will begin in late February. If you have a dress or suit to donate reach out to FHL!

Lara helping a NH teen find a dress for prom!

Here are five facts you should know about FHL:

  1. FHL is an all volunteer run organization and supplies are paid for through fundraising, which means that when you make a donation to FHL 100%, yes you read that correct 100% goes to children and youth in need!
  2. FHL does not just make a donation to students in need, they pay special attention to the process of giving, ensuring that they make meaningful connections with youth. Once you receive a donation or scholarship from FHL you become part of the FHL family, and the board will check in on you regularly to make sure you are alright and pursuing your dreams!
  3. FHL has given out over $35,000 since it began 12 years ago. Every donation they have received is between $5-$100. The foundation is not grant run, but literally run on faith, hope and love!
  4. They just celebrated 12 years yesterday on 1/11/18!
  5. FHL has helped to give out over 1,000 prom dresses and suits to students throughout the state.

FHL board meeting at Evo Rock Wall Gym in Concord.

Want to help out?

FHL is currently accepting new board members. Board members attend quarterly meetings and volunteer at the organization’s events. Board members must be 21 years old and have a passion for helping youth in need. If interested email Lara.

Want to learn more?

FHL is on Facebook and has a website. You can contact the Foundation to come speak to your Altrusa Club, Rotary Club, Church Group, Girl Scout troop etc!

To make a donation:

FHL accepts checks sent to PO BOX 64 Laconia NH 03247. You can also donate dresses and suits for the Formal Attire Event.

Save the Date:

FHL College Scholarship Application is due January 20th, and the FHL Annual Benefit Dinner to honor its donors and recognize the scholarship recipients will be March 10, 2018! It will be held at The Common Man Inn and Restaurant in Plymouth. If you know of a high school student in need of FREE prom attire check out the Formal Attire Event on April 7th at PSU!

Advice to Young Professionals:

When asked what advice she had for others looking to give back Lara said, “Sometimes giving back can seem like a daunting task, especially when life gets so busy! Everyone has the power to give back, even if it’s just in the smallest ways. Give someone a high five, share a smile, donate an item someone else needs. All leaders, heroes, and all stars started their journey with one small decision to make the world a better place. It costs zero dollars to be kind, share a smile and encourage one another. The world is a big place, but change can start with you!”

Lara at Dance to Make A Difference. An event put on by local dance professionals to Benefit FHL’s Scholarship Fund.

“You don’t need a cape to be a hero. You just need to care.”- Kid President

There are so many wonderful people and agencies making a difference in our own back yards! If you would like us to feature your non profit agency or know of an amazing NH professional giving back like Lara, email me at doinggood@stayworkplay.org.

Until next time –Do Good NH!

2 Responses to “Doing Good NH: Lara Gruner of the Faith, Hope and Love Foundation”

  1. Hari gurungJanuary 12, 2018 at 6:26 pm #

    Great job LARA, you inspired to all your team, college and the community. Thank you LARA for your hard work and dedication to make happen to our families life.
    Your friend
    Hari Kumari Gurung

  2. V MaukJanuary 15, 2018 at 7:47 pm #

    My granddaughter who I am I’m very proud of her

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