Good Cause of the Month: Belknap House

This New Hampshire nonprofit provides families in Belknap County with a safe shelter during the winter months and empowers families to become independent.



Courtesy Photo

Starting last year, we’ve been alerting you to events and causes worthy of your time and philanthropic treasure in our Good Cause of the Month series. Keep an eye out for a Good Cause every month here at NHMagazine.com, from charitable events to volunteer opportunities to nonprofits you should get to know — and, by the end of the year, your do-gooder cred will be off the charts.

For this month's Good Cause, we'd like to introduce you to Belknap House. The nonprofit is dedicated to providing families in Belknap County a safe shelter – especially in the colder winter months. Started in 2014, the organization also works to empower families to become self-sufficient and independent by giving them education opportunities and resources to improve their lives. Read on to learn about the enormous impact this nonprofit is making and how you can be a part of the cause.

What They Do

In the spring of 2014, a small group of community members got together to form Belknap House. Colleen Garrity, president of Belknap House, is the only remaining member of the original five founders and remembers doing community outreach and discovering the need of a shelter space in Belknap county. “We saw the uptick of homeless families begin in October and begin to lessen around April of every cold weather season,” says Garrity. “There was no shelter space in the area, therefore they were sent to another shelter one or two hours away. This usually meant that a child lost not only their home, but also their school, friends and support system. We knew we had to take action.”

A typical day for the shelter includes ensuring that each family has the groceries needed to prepare and cook three meals each day. “We also meet with the families to discuss their goals and how they might achieve them,” says Garrity. “At any time, there could be up to 19 individuals and eight families living under the same roof, sharing the bathroom, kitchen, laundry and living space. We work every day to make sure that they are feeling safe and secure in their new environment, especially the kids.”

The nonprofit depends on volunteers to run the organization, and maintain accurate training and records to coordinate the many volunteers. Anyone who works at Belknap House has usually seen the issue of homelessness first hand. “We are most concerned about the children who are so vulnerable during homelessness,” says Garrity. “We are people who want to help others in whatever way we can. We care.”

How You Can Help

Since Belknap House is only open as a shelter from mid-October to mid-May, they open as a hostel from Memorial Day weekend to mid-October to earn much needed revenue for the shelter season. How do they do this? Through the following events:

  • Cow Pie Bingo The winner of this event is chosen by one of two well-fed cows. They are put into a fenced pasture with 500 4x4 squares. Each raffle ticket ($20) is assigned to a square, and the first cow to leave a "deposit" on a square chooses the raffle winner. The winner will receive 25 percent of the proceeds or up to $2,500. This event will be on September 22 from 1-3 p.m. at Moulton Farm on 18 Quarry Rd., Meredith. For more information, visit belknaphouse.org.
  • Golf Tournament This event boasts a full day of fun, an air cannon for each player, breakfast and lunch, prizes, raffles and silent auction items. Registration is $125 a person or $425 for a foursome. Sponsor and golf registration forms are available at belknaphouse.org. The event will be on September 24 at 9 a.m. at the Laconia Country Club at 607 Elm St., Laconia.
  • Belknap House Ball at Gatsby’s Garden This is a roaring '20s event with a cocktail hour, dinner, dancing and silent auction items. Tickets are $75 for a single ticket, $125 per couple or $500 for a table of eight. The event will be held on October 12 at Gilford Community Church Fellowship Hall from 6-11 p.m. at 19 Potter Hill Rd., Gilford.

Find out more about events here. You can also help Belknap House by volunteering and helping at the shelter with families, or with other areas like publicity or fundraising. You can also make a monetary donation if you can’t donate your time.

To learn more about Belknap House and all the ways you can get involved, visit the website here. Be sure to follow along and stay up to date on all that is to come for the nonprofit in 2018.

Do you know of an organization or charitable event that would make a great Good Cause of the Month? Send your ideas to Assistant Editor Emily Heidt at eheidt@nhmagazine.com

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