Remember the old proverb about how, for the want of a single nail, a horse lost its shoe in battle and tossed its rider to the ground? The story goes on to tell how that fall caused a pivotal loss in a greater war which ultimately brought an entire kingdom to ruin. All for the want of a nail.It's a believable scenario.So why not the opposite?What if a nail set in just the right place, tying up a dangerous loose end or finishing a much-needed project, could turn the tide of a battle to make our state a better, safer, happier and healthier place?Building on Hope, a volunteer organization created just over a year ago, believes it can. Last May with the help of hundreds of volunteers and dozens of companies offering construction, design and materials, Building on Hope put the final nail into such a project: the complete remodeling of an Easter Seals NH group home for boys. That project transformed the living conditions and the lives of a stream of young men who have overcome numerous challenges and are preparing to enter the world.This year Building on Hope has joined forces with four other organizations who share the conviction that just one solid change made in the right place can have transformative powers. The organizations, each with unique missions and operating in different parts of the state, share a similar vision. Each one has set out to leverage the goodwill and community spirit around them to beat the odds and overcome the challenges of a bad economy and a stressful pace of life.The challenge to them was to complete one project in May 2011 (dubbed Building on Hope Month by decree of Gov. John Lynch) and submit the results to the Building on Hope committee for evaluation. All four projects would be celebrated in this magazine and one would be chosen for special recognition with the first-ever Building on Hope Community Impact Award. (The winner was a teen center called "The Factory.")So here are four projects that will make a huge difference for Granite Staters for years to come. Each one was completed by a group of volunteers who know small changes in the right place can make a big difference - and who know that the force that drives the nail isn't really strength, it's hope.Community Impact Award Winner:The Bridge Outreach Center"The Factory"
Spanning the gap between kids and communityLittleton is by most measures a healthy place to live, but for young people all that "quality of life" can seem pretty, well, boring. That's why the Bridge Outreach Center dedicated a floor of a 37,000-square-foot renovation project to building a teen center dubbed "The Factory." Thousand of dollars in cash plus in-kind donations from local businesses arrived, and about 40 volunteers joined forces on the project that was completed on June 4 with a ribbon cutting and celebration. The group is still seeking funds for games and pool tables. The project was instigated by James and Angel Anan (pictured here) of White Mountain Christian Church, which owns the building.New Life HomeBuilding a new life for women and their childrenThe New Life Home for Women and Children provides residential substance abuse treatment to moms in a facility where they can keep their kids with them. The facility was accommodating, but the only daycare area was in a rather dank basement. After a team of volunteers cleaned, painted and appointed a fresh new space with all costs covered by individual contributions, the results are obvious. Now the women can participate in program activities knowing their children are in good hands and a safe environment.Odell ParkCreating a park that's a perfect "fit" for one townThe town of Franklin, with a population of about 8,000. has been busy revitalizing and beautifying public spaces, but the parks department knew that the people needed a little shaping up, too. According to school district findings, the town's childhood obesity rates were well above the state average. By raising about $5,000 from donors to add to public funds they were able to install a series of fitness stations to make a romp in the park into an opportunity to really get into shape.Camp AllenMaking the joys of summer more accessibleEach summer Camp Allen provides a natural outdoor experience to about 600 campers of all ages with all sorts of disabilities, but the demand for the day camp always exceeds the supply. To rehabilitate and enlarge their lower facility and install new ramps, the camp raised about $20,000 and brought in dozens of volunteers, including a number of local businesses who provided free labor and materials. All good news as the camp prepares to celebrate its 80th anniversary this year.A New Year of HopeBuilding on Hope plans for their 2012 Signature ProjectWith these four 2010 Community Impact Projects done by their own sets of volunteers, the Building on Hope committee and partners are rested and ready to take on another big assignment.The extensive remodeling and redesign of the Krol House Intensive Residential Facility of Easter Seals, NH, completed in May 2010, proved just how much could be accomplished by a committed group of volunteers focused on a worthy cause, so the excitement is building around the prospects for 2012.At this time the Building on Hope committee is seeking nominations for suitable projects and will be selecting their Signature Project for 2012 in the fall from the candidates presented to them. If you know of a non-profit organization with a community-focused mission that has a public or residential building in great need of structural or aesthetic improvements, send the details to the address below for consideration.Include details on the non-profit group along with a description of the role of the building in serving the group's mission and an estimate of the number of people served and the benefits to the surrounding community. Photos or blueprints of the structure would also be useful.Click here for last year's story - including before and after photos - of the Krol House Building on Hope project.
This article appears in the July 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine