Doing Good NH: Project Hope

I had the opportunity to recently speak with Meaghan Guanci, an English teacher at Timberlane Regional High School (TRHS) and faculty advisor of the Class of 2019, the school newspaper and philanthropy groups Students of Service and Project Hope!  

Meaghan was raised in Massachusetts and earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont, her master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Lesley University and her master’s in Educational Leadership and Principal Certification from Southern New Hampshire University. After college and getting hired at TRHS, Meaghan and her husband moved to New Hampshire and are thrilled to raise their son here in the Granite State!

When Meaghan isn’t spending hours at work inspiring our youth, she can be found with her family exploring the ocean, the lake and the mountains! She recently fell in love with hiking and really enjoys the Derry/Windham Rail Trail for walks when the weather is beautiful!  

Now in her 30s she has dedicated her time and passion to teaching our youth and inspiring them to believe that they can truly make positive change in our world!

At a young age, she learned the importance of giving back and making positive change in the community. Her grandmother and father instilled in her the meaning of “actions speak louder than words.” She knows that many people talk about change but the real change makers are everyday people that put words into actions and actively make a difference through small acts of kindness, speaking up for those without power in society, inspiring others to find their inner change maker and putting on events and activities to help others! While at UVM, Meaghan participated in an Americorp program that inspired her to tie service learning into her curriculum. Today, she has her students partake in numerous service learning activities that they develop themselves and through this they see how they can make positive change and they also learn lessons that extend beyond the classroom walls.

One of her proudest accomplishments is running the Project Hope club and having students learn the power that lies in each of us to change the world! Timberlane High School does not have a graduation requirement for community service; the hundreds of students that are in this club are in it for the right reasons and not for a resume boost or to fulfill a requirement.

Project Hope is a student-driven club dedicated to raising awareness and funds for cancer. They hold various fundraisers throughout the course of the year but the most anticipated event is the Strut for a Cure fashion show. The group was started eight years ago by two students whose families had been directly impacted by cancer. They wanted to put on this fashion show, and they came to Meaghan because they needed an advisor. In a month’s time, they put on something that was so much more than a fashion show. The event has truly become a night that unifies the community in hope and love. This annual event now takes months of preparation and over the past few years has brought in 1000+ in attendance – including returning alum. Today the group has over 175 active members!

Here are five things you should know about Project Hope!

  1. In the last eight years, Project Hope has raised just under $100,000 for cancer non-profits and local families affected by cancer. This year, the current total is just over $12,000.
  2. The major fundraiser is a fashion show, which consists of raffles, a silent auction, and concessions, along with music, dance, and poetry performances – and of course, the fashion showcases. The night also features a guest speaker; this past March, the speakers were Karen Messurri, an Atkinson resident and beloved community member fighting Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and TRHS graduate of the Class of 2016, and Meaghan Pelletier who shared her story of overcoming thyroid cancer. If you missed this year’s show, watch it here.
  3. The curtain for the show is comprised of 100 hospital sheets that have been dyed and sewn together. It’s hung from the batting cage bolts in the school gym!
  4. The students get creative with their poses/struts down the runway. This year, they even had a surprise promposal! The fashion show also features a showcase dedicated to the school’s Best Buddies program.
  5. The most powerful, moving portion of the night is at the end when they showcase the Cancer Fighter/Survivor/Memorial Walk. This moment is the true reason for the event; witnessing the strength and fight of the individuals and their families is a gift for all to see.   

Want to help and just don’t know how?! Well here is your chance!

Contact Meaghan via email OR send a donation to ATTN: Meaghan Guanci, Timberlane Regional HS, 36 Greenough Road, Plaistow, NH 03865. Checks made payable to TRHS.

When asked what her advice is for young professionals and future leaders looking to give back, she said, “Take risks! You never know what you can achieve unless you try. And if it doesn’t work out the way you want – learn from it. We must learn from all of our experiences to continue to grow and flourish. Create a team that you can collaborate with, not only to help alleviate the amount of work and stress, but to share in the excitement and celebrations. Involve our youth – they are our future. Teach them now how to be active citizens in their communities and beyond, and finally ask questions and learn from those with experience.”

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu

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 Meaghan email  me at doinggood@stayworkplay.org

We all can make positive change in our communities!  It starts with us!  Until next time- Do Good NH!!!

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