Meet Up and Reach Out

As many young 30-somethings do, I live on a tight budget, yet I am always up for fun, social activities with friends. I grew up volunteering in my community and its something that I continue to do and love. After graduating from Plymouth State, I was lucky enough to get a few job offers in the area, so I decided to leave my roots in Rhode Island and start my brand new “big girl” job in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. So there I was, college graduate with my new “big girl” job and I didn’t know anyone in my area. The next task on my list of living in a new place, was to get acclimated to this place that I now called home. One way I did this was to start volunteering in town, not only was this a way to meet new friends with the same values, it was also a way to learn about the community in which I lived. Learning about the area, the people who live there and the amazing community members was something that stuck with me…and took me on my next journey.

In 2006, I joined forces with a college friend, Jessica Dutille, and we started The Faith, Hope and Love Foundation. Upon starting this foundation, to help children and youth suffering from poverty, hunger and homelessness, we have received many wonderful donations, super strong community support and the helping hands of so many people, who are willing to donate their time to our organization. Each year we hold several events, but my favorites are “Gowns for Girls” and giving out the college scholarships. “Gowns for Girls” is an event where girls are able to come to a boutique created by our Foundation and pick out a dress and accessories for free. This is our way of letting young women in need know that they too, can have a beautiful and magical prom. The community support for this event is outstanding every year… all our of gowns are gently worn and donated from community members all over the state. We also give annual college scholarships to high school seniors and our Foundation gets to meet some of the best students that New Hampshire has to offer, which I think is so cool. More importantly we get to learn about students, their experiences and how they like to give back… which in turn helps us run and develop the Foundation.

Some other great non profits in the Lakes Region I have had the opportunity of volunteering with include: Hands Across the Table, Lakes Region Habitat for Humanity, and New Beginnings Shelter.

There truly is something for everyone in New Hampshire. Do you enjoy mountain biking Check out the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) and help fix up local trails. Do you love animals? Check out Happy Tails Dog Park and the New Hampshire Humane Society. Do you network and love to chat with new people? Inquire with your local Young Professional Group, they may need a hand. The possibilities are endless… check out these websites for opportunities near you www.volunteernh.orgwww.unitedway.org, and www.nhredcross.org.

I realize not everyone has time to start their own non profit or hold an executive position in a non profit, but local non profits appreciate any time you can give. The thing about volunteering is that you can choose something you are passionate about and do work in that environment. Not only does volunteering help others, but it can help you develop as a person and meet some amazing friends along the way.