This week I spoke with Beth Heyward, the Director of Community Services at Community Action Program, Belknap-Merrimack Counties Inc. in Concord.
Beth was born and raised in Epping and now raises her own family there! When I asked Beth why she decided to stay, work and play in New Hampshire she said “I love everything about New Hampshire. It is absolutely beautiful. I love the beaches, the mountains, the lake and the great community we’ve built here. I cannot imagine living or raising my family anywhere else.”
When Beth isn’t working, you can find her volunteering at the Epping Community Church on the Board of Trustees as well as working in their soup kitchen or singing in front of the congregation, training for races with the Fremont Running Club, working out at Rock Your Body, hiking Mount Major, walking the Henderson-Swansey Town Forest in Exeter, walking around Downtown Portsmouth, or visiting Jackson – one of her favorite towns and where she got married!
When I asked Beth how she got involved with giving back she credited her mother. Beth said “My mother volunteered. She helped start Soup of the Day Café at our church and I grew up volunteering there. We were always helping out at the monthly dinners and at pizza night. My mother taught me how important it is to give back in whatever way you can. I have spent all of my professional career working for nonprofits and volunteering with those nonprofits.”
As the Community Services Director with CAP Belknap-Merrimack Counties, Inc., she oversees five Area Centers which provide food, fuel and electric assistance for our neighbors in need.
A few facts about CAP:
- Housing stabilization programs at CAP offer street outreach to people who are experiencing homelessness, and they work closely with shelters and landlords trying to secure permanent housing. They offer rental assistance programs which help individuals with rent and utilities. Additionally, they partner with many other community organizations.
- They have over seventy different programs – examples are Meals on Wheels, Head Start, Women, Infant, Children (WIC), Concord Area Transit (CAT), and food pantries.
- They have Seniors Centers throughout the two counties with senior companion programs, and own and operate family and elderly housing.
- There are five Community Action Agencies in the state of New Hampshire.
When I asked Beth what advice she would give to young professionals looking to give back she said:
My advice is to try it. Try different things, you may not know what you are passionate about until you try volunteering. NH has so many great organizations that always need volunteers. Or if you do know what you are passionate about, find an organization and see what they have to offer. So many people think that they can’t make an impact because they may not be able to offer large donations or spend a lot of time with an organization, but that is not what volunteering is all about. Even if it is once a month the impact that volunteering does for the organization, the people they serve, the community and the state is amazing. Volunteering is for me as much as it is for the organization and people I volunteer with. To know you are a part of something bigger than yourself is the greatest gift of all.”
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
There are so many wonderful people and agencies making a difference in our own backyards!