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 Nursing Center Residents In New Hampshire Band Together To Fight Hunger

“I simply find that people going hungry in our state—especially children—is unacceptable.”

That statement nine years ago by a resident of Pleasant View Center, a Genesis HealthCare facility in Concord, N.H., started the ball rolling for what has become a statewide volunteer organization of skilled nursing and assisted living center residents working to fight hunger and improve lives in their communities.

Reacting to news coverage of unmet need at the New Hampshire Food Bank, members of the resident council at Pleasant View Center decided they wanted to do something about it, and Seniors Aid New Hampshire (SANH) was born.

Through an email communication network supported by the New Hampshire Health Care Association (NHHCA), residents of Pleasant View Center invited their peers from around the state to join them in raising money to support the New Hampshire Food Bank. A group of residents from 52 skilled nursing care centers, assisted living facilities, and independent living communities answered the call and joined forces in the campaign.

Coordinating their efforts via conference calls, residents organized a wide variety of local fundraising events—including chili cook-offs, mini golf tournaments, bake sales, raffles, dunking booths, and rubber duck races—which netted more than $42,000 in support of the food bank in the first year.

“This is not just something that’s ‘nice to do’ or a project done for recreation and entertainment,” says Mark Latham, executive director of Pleasant View Center. “Through Seniors Aid New Hampshire, this well-organized group of residents living in facilities throughout the state has made a commitment to dramatically and positively impact their communities.”

Fundraising for the food bank has become a major annual event for the group. To date, SANH has raised more than $140,000 for the New Hampshire Food Bank.

“I have no doubt that their fundraising efforts give these residents a feeling of accomplishment, involvement in their community, and something to anticipate,” says Mel Gosselin, executive director of the New Hampshire Food Bank. “The participating seniors inspire their friends, family, and a neighbor by showing that philanthropy has no age limit.”

Since their initial fundraising success in fighting hunger, Seniors Aid New Hampshire members have broadened their focus to include public policy and working with state officials and senior advocates. SANH members are writing letters to the governor of New Hampshire, testifying before legislative committees, and working with resident advocates on a variety of issues that affect care, staffing, and quality of life.

Monthly conference calls facilitated by NHHCA staff allow SANH members to discuss current issues, plan events, and share ideas for advocacy activities.

“This inspiring group of seniors is a powerful force for positive change in our communities,” says Kristen Schmidt, director of communications for NHHCA. “By working to improve the lives of others, SANH members are improving their own lives.”

Seniors Aid New Hampshire received the 2012 Group Volunteer of the Year Award from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) in recognition of its passion for volunteerism and the many contributions it has made.

For more information about Seniors Aid New Hampshire—or for ideas on forming a similar group—contact Kristen Schmidt at the New Hampshire Health Care Association at (603) 226-4900.

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