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PETERBOROUGH

A Working start

Monadnock Worksource: Nonprofit a bridge between people with disabilities and community

  • Kyle Guillemette, 21, of New Ipswich stacks the shelves of the local food panty, as part of his regular volunteer service through Monadnock Worksource in Peterborough. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Kyle Guillemette, 21, of New Ipswich stacks the shelves of the local food panty, as part of his regular volunteer service through Monadnock Worksource in Peterborough.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • James Murray, 23, of Peterborough unloads box of granola bars for the local food pantry in the lower level of the All Saints Episcopal Church parish.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    James Murray, 23, of Peterborough unloads box of granola bars for the local food pantry in the lower level of the All Saints Episcopal Church parish.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Kyle Guillemette, 21, of New Ipswich unloads a case of tuna fish onto the shelves of the local food pantry, as part of his regular volunteer service through Monadnock Worksource in Peterborough. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Kyle Guillemette, 21, of New Ipswich unloads a case of tuna fish onto the shelves of the local food pantry, as part of his regular volunteer service through Monadnock Worksource in Peterborough.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Kyle Guillemette, 21, of New Ipswich unloads a case of tuna fish onto the shelves of the local food pantry, as part of his regular volunteer service through Monadnock Worksource in Peterborough. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Kyle Guillemette, 21, of New Ipswich unloads a case of tuna fish onto the shelves of the local food pantry, as part of his regular volunteer service through Monadnock Worksource in Peterborough.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Kyle Guillemette, 21, of New Ipswich unloads a case of tuna fish onto the shelves of the local food pantry, as part of his regular volunteer service through Monadnock Worksource in Peterborough. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Kyle Guillemette, 21, of New Ipswich unloads a case of tuna fish onto the shelves of the local food pantry, as part of his regular volunteer service through Monadnock Worksource in Peterborough.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • James Murray, 23, of Peterborough, a Monadnock Worksource in Peterborough client, helps out the local  food pantry by assisting with stocking the shelves on a regular basis. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    James Murray, 23, of Peterborough, a Monadnock Worksource in Peterborough client, helps out the local food pantry by assisting with stocking the shelves on a regular basis.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Paige Lawrence, 22, of Peterborough, hefts coolers of food in preparation for making her weekly trip through a Meals-on-Wheels route.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Paige Lawrence, 22, of Peterborough, hefts coolers of food in preparation for making her weekly trip through a Meals-on-Wheels route.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • James Murray, 23, and Monadnock Worksource staff member Miranda Blanchette, both of Peterborough, help  stock the Monadnock Area Food Pantry at All Saints Episcopal Church in Peterborough. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    James Murray, 23, and Monadnock Worksource staff member Miranda Blanchette, both of Peterborough, help stock the Monadnock Area Food Pantry at All Saints Episcopal Church in Peterborough.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Paige Lawrence, 22, of Peterborough hefts coolers of food in preparation for making her weekly trip through a Meals-on-Wheels route.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Paige Lawrence, 22, of Peterborough hefts coolers of food in preparation for making her weekly trip through a Meals-on-Wheels route.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Paige Lawrence, 22, of Peterborough, hefts coolers of food in preparation for making her weekly trip through a Meals-on-Wheels route.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Paige Lawrence, 22, of Peterborough, hefts coolers of food in preparation for making her weekly trip through a Meals-on-Wheels route.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Kyle Guillemette, 21, of New Ipswich stacks the shelves of the local food panty, as part of his regular volunteer service through Monadnock Worksource in Peterborough. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • James Murray, 23, of Peterborough unloads box of granola bars for the local food pantry in the lower level of the All Saints Episcopal Church parish.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Kyle Guillemette, 21, of New Ipswich unloads a case of tuna fish onto the shelves of the local food pantry, as part of his regular volunteer service through Monadnock Worksource in Peterborough. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Kyle Guillemette, 21, of New Ipswich unloads a case of tuna fish onto the shelves of the local food pantry, as part of his regular volunteer service through Monadnock Worksource in Peterborough. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Kyle Guillemette, 21, of New Ipswich unloads a case of tuna fish onto the shelves of the local food pantry, as part of his regular volunteer service through Monadnock Worksource in Peterborough. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • James Murray, 23, of Peterborough, a Monadnock Worksource in Peterborough client, helps out the local  food pantry by assisting with stocking the shelves on a regular basis. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Paige Lawrence, 22, of Peterborough, hefts coolers of food in preparation for making her weekly trip through a Meals-on-Wheels route.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • James Murray, 23, and Monadnock Worksource staff member Miranda Blanchette, both of Peterborough, help  stock the Monadnock Area Food Pantry at All Saints Episcopal Church in Peterborough. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Paige Lawrence, 22, of Peterborough hefts coolers of food in preparation for making her weekly trip through a Meals-on-Wheels route.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Paige Lawrence, 22, of Peterborough, hefts coolers of food in preparation for making her weekly trip through a Meals-on-Wheels route.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

It’s almost lunchtime on Friday at the Monadnock Worksource, a Peterborough-based nonprofit that assists people with mental or physical disabilities find their niche in the community. But instead of getting ready to have her own lunch, Worksource client Paige Lawrence is gearing up to deliver meals to those in need.

Lawrence, 22, of Peterborough gathers up the coolers of prepared meals and loads them into the van that’s ready to take her on her regular route for Meals on Wheels, delivering food to residents in the area. Lawrence loves her route, and said the best thing about it is knowing she’s helping to feed people and making new friends along the way.

At the same time, down the street from Monadnock Worksource, two other clients, Kyle Guillemette, 21, of New Ipswich and James Murray, 23, of Peterborough, are also helping those in need get access to a hot meal — they’re stocking the shelves of Monadnock Area Food Pantry at the All Saint’s Episcopal Church old parish house on Concord Street.

Murray volunteers both at the food pantry and with the Meals on Wheels program. “I do Meals on Wheels and I especially like getting out and delivering meals to people. I’m sure it makes them and me happy,” he said, adding that he likes his work at the food pantry as well, where he stocks shelves and makes sure everything is within the sell-by date, so no one gets sick. “I love the food bank. Stocking shelves, checking dates on old food makes me really happy.”

The 37 clients that Monadnock Worksource currently serves are from 14 towns throughout the region. They volunteer a total of 40 hours a week with more than 18 nonprofits in Peterborough, Greenville and Jaffrey. Some of them also hold down paying jobs at area businesses.

“Our biggest missions include integrating the folks we support into the community in a positive way,” said Monadnock Worksource Associate Director Rob Gillis. “Both employment and volunteering are critical in making those social connection, as well as allowing the people we serve to be a valuable and contributing member of the community.”

When students in special education reach the age of 21 in New Hampshire, they are no longer supported by the public school system, and must enter the real world. Monadnock Worksource is there to help them get involved in the community in a meaningful way.

Among other opportunities offered by Monadnock Worksource, a Monadnock United Way organization, their clients get the chance to face the same challenge everyone has after leaving school: Finding a job.

Sometimes, said Gillis all the clients can do is a few hours a week, either because they have limitations, or the businesses that employ the workers have a limited amount of work available. The jobs range with the skill level of the person. While some might work in manufacturing at, for example, N.H. Ball Bearings in Peterborough or provide office assistance at Eastern Mountain Sports, also in Peterborough, others will assemble pizza boxes at Grappelli’s Pizza in Peterborough or Pizza Barn in Jaffrey. They get paid the same as any employee doing the job.

Even for those more limited opportunities, it’s extremely valuable for the people Gillis works with, he said. Not only does it help them integrate into and interact with the members of their community, it also provides a sense of responsibility and self-worth. And for many of the clients that are supported by state aid, any amount of pocket money to do the things they like to do is valuable.

But with a down economy and some employers struggling to maintain their full-time employees , there aren’t always employment opportunities available. And even when there are, hours are limited. “It’s really hit our population hard,” Gillis said of the economy. “It’s very hard for an employer to justify keeping a short-hour employee, when they have to lay off a 40-hour worker.”

To get around that issue, some companies have reached an arrangement with Monadnock Worksource, in which Monadnock Worksource is the employer on paper, and pays for insurance and retirement and issues the paycheck, while the company compensates Monadnock Worksource for the employee’s salary. It allows small businesses to justify keeping an employee who may only work a few hours a week.

Making connections in the community is the main focus of Monadnock Worksource, but it does present challenges, Gillis said. The economy not only affects local businesses that might otherwise be able to hire part-time workers; budget constraints have hit the Worksource, too.

Monadnock Worksource simply can’t always afford to have the one-to-one client and staff ratio often needed when a client is going out in the community to work. They also don’t always have transportation available, to be able to drive the people they serve to their places of work.

But there are other ways to get involved in the community in a productive way. Monadnock Worksource clients read to children in Headstart, help the library send late notices, stock the food pantry, and do Meals on Wheels routes. These volunteer positions are long-term commitments with the community, and are treated as seriously as a job is, Gillis said. If one of the workers can’t do a Meals on Wheels route due to illness, another fills in until the job is done. Volunteering is often an opportunity for clients to learn a lot of the same values as one might on a paid job, Gillis said, and both are vehicles to those valuable connections with the world.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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