The year 2021 has ushered in a sense of hope and slow, but steady, return to normalcy. While we navigate our lives with some lingering uncertainty, we move forward with the hope that things will get better and take comfort in the support of our family, friends, neighbors and community.
Despite the improvements, many people continue to face very challenging and uncertain circumstances. In the face of these stresses, The Grapevine remains a steady ship, continuing to provide high quality programming and services for our families and community. We are incredibly grateful and proud of our ability to have remained open and accessible throughout the past year, with little change to our programs and services. In fact, our reach has increased as a result of COVID, with more programs offered in both online and in-person formats. During the 20/21 program year, we offered over 500 hours of online programming between our child, family, and Avenue A teen programs, in addition to the in-person programs we run!
We remain committed to our goal of bringing forth resources, education and training focused on Mental Health and Suicide Response and Prevention. In March, we partnered with the Tuttle Library to host a program on childhood depression and welcomed local author Irene Buchine, who has personal experience with this issue. In June, we hosted nationally recognized author and therapist Lynn Lyons, who presented a program on dealing with childhood (and our own) anxieties amidst the pandemic. And, two of our staff are now trained to offer NAMI New Hampshire’s Connect Program in Suicide Prevention. This will allow us to continue building the network of gatekeepers in our community, who know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a person at risk of suicide.
This past year, we served over 1,200 individuals, representing 14 towns in our region. We stay true to our mission to promote the health and well-being of our community through support, education and the sharing of resources by providing core family and community support and programs while responding to changing needs. Your volunteer and financial support makes this work possible, including programs such as our Better Beginnings groups for parents and children, online support groups, Learning Vine Preschool, Avenue A Teen Center, Home Visiting, Kinship Support for Relative Caregivers and so much more. Your donation also supports services such as our Community Wood Bank, Information and Referral Services, and Community Tool Lending Shed, which make a true difference for people in times of need. Whatever you can give, we are truly grateful. Below please find our 2020-21 Year in Review, including personal testimonials.
Best wishes for a healthy and peaceful holiday season,
Melissa Gallagher Rosemary Novotny
Executive Director Chair, Board of Directors
Kate Carnaroli & Family
Kate and her family came to the Grapevine in 2018, after hearing about the Better Beginnings program from a friend. She was looking for a place to go where her boys, Parker (now 5), and Kaleb (now 3), could socialize and meet other children. Kate shares that the boys have grown very comfortable at the Grapevine, “They love it and always ask if it’s Tuesday,” she laughs, “I say the group is for them but really, it’s for me!” Kate says she didn’t realize how beneficial being a part of a parent group would be. “I love having the time to talk, vent and learn from other parents and to know that everything I say is confidential and isn’t going to be shared outside of the group. Having this program helps us reset and creates a better flow to our day.”
And now that her son Parker is 5, he has graduated to the Grapevine’s Learning Vine preschool. Kate loves that it is an outdoor based program. “I think he learns better that way, actually. In addition, both of the boys are still in a playgroup together, and I see them working together and how good it is for them.” And as a volunteer parent, Kate has helped with several Grapevine events and is looking forward to getting more involved. She is also excited about the opportunities at Avenue A Teen Center for her stepdaughter, who is 12. Kate sums it up by sharing, “The Grapevine seems to have checked all the boxes for the things our family needs right now!”
Stephanie & Mikala Mackesy
Mikala Mackesy’s first introduction to the Grapevine was at the age of four in our Learning Vine Preschool. She remembers the “wonderful Miss Carol ‘’ and hours of fun outdoor play, circle time, and her favorite—sing time with parents. It’s not often that teenagers talk of preschool with such enthusiasm. For Mikala, Learning Vine Preschool was a formative experience, or as she puts it “such a happy place.” Her mother, Stephanie, was part of the parent cooperative preschool, and says that working with Carol Lunan was “incredible.”
Years later, Mikala came back to The Grapevine as a 6th grader, as a member of our Avenue A Club afterschool program. She remembers making crafts with Arlene and feeling like it was a great place to unwind after the school day. At an Avenue A summer cooking program, Mikala’s world expanded. “I met my best friend at Avenue A! It’s hard to top that!” Throughout the years Stephanie has remained connected with The Grapevine through programs such as Guiding Good Choices for parents of pre-teens. Stephanie says she gathered ideas and information that she’s applied to parenting a teenager. “When Mikala became involved with Avenue A, it opened up so much for my daughter. She loves it there.” Over the years, Mikala has participated in Avenue A’s Creative Writing Club, art group, and other teen programs. Mikala describes Avenue A as “A place for everybody. Everybody has a place there. Everyone belongs.” Stephanie adds, “The Grapevine and Avenue A are safe places for children to be. That’s very important to us.”
Focus on Mental Health
The Grapevine recognizes the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our community and families. Social Isolation, financial hardship, and changes in family and home circumstances have affected our mental health and well being. This past year we continued to shine a light on mental health awareness and bring information and resources to our community.
In March, in partnership with James A. Tuttle Library, we welcomed local author Irene Buchine to a Zoom presentation and discussion on Childhood Depression. Irene related this to her book, Celia and the Boy, a poignant story of a boy hiding under a staircase and the girl who tries to reach him. In June, we welcomed renowned Childhood Anxiety expert and therapist Lynn Lyons who presented on childhood anxiety and the impact of the pandemic on children and parents. Over 60 people attended this session and were given time to ask questions of Lynn on managing challenging behaviors and stressful situations at home.
We have also heard from parents and teens that finding a mental health counselor or therapist can be challenging and frustrating. People seeking this support in our region will often encounter barriers such as waitlists and lack of insurance coverage. With financial support from the NH Charitable Foundation, The Grapevine initiated a pilot effort this year in partnership with The River Center to bring mental health providers together to share information and resources. We have begun to identify gaps in services, as well as connect providers to one another so that people might access services more quickly.
This year two Grapevine staff members were qualified as trainers in the NAMI Connect Program Suicide Prevention training. We now have the ability to offer this “gatekeeper” training to anyone in our region who wishes to understand the signs and symptoms of a person at risk of suicide and what they can do to prevent it. As an organization, we are committed to promoting mental health and suicide prevention awareness across our region.
In Honor and Memory
We wish to thank the following families for requesting donations to the Grapevine in
memory of the loss of recent loved ones:
Lisa Swarbrick & Family of Francestown in memory of James Swarbrick
Carol Lunan & Family of Francestown in memory of John Lunan
The Hennessy Family of Antrim in memory of Anne Hennessy
The Beauchamp Family of Antrim in memory of Mike Beauchamp
We are also grateful for the generosity of the Elders of the recently closed Francestown Community Church, who selected the Grapevine as a benefactor of their remaining church funds.
There are many ways to give to your community and the Grapevine! Consider donations of time, goods, and services like these incredible local businesses and groups: Antrim Bennington Lions Club – Antrim
Recreation Department – Antrim Elementary School – James A. Tuttle Library – Edmunds Ace Hardware – Eversource – Larry Schwartz with PHC Financial – Great Brook Middle School – Lemire & Sons – Monadnock Paper Mill – MoonRivers Technology Group, LLC – Ragdoll Animations – AND THE MANY VOLUNTEERS involved with our Community Wood Bank, Community Tool Shed and Avenue A Teen + Community Center!
Thank you to our Board of Directors: Tom Badgely, Dottie Bauer, Rick Edmunds, Rosemary Novotny, Kim Fletcher, Diane Yeo and Kathleen Robbins.
Thank you to our staff: Sarah Beaumont, Paula Coombs, Amy Doyle, Melissa Gallagher, Michelle Heath, Andrea Jurewich, Carol Lunan, Nancy Macalaster, Rosemary Nugent, Jacqueline Roland, Erica Snyder, Lisa Swarbrick & Arlene Soule; and a special thanks to our marketing consultants Tonya Dreher & Liz Swan
Farewell and thank you to our Community Resource Coordinator, Mackenzie Nichols. She is replaced by Erica Snyder. We also welcome our new staff member Andrea Jurewich.
For a full listing of Grapevine supports and services, please visit our website at grapevinenh.org