What support really looks like

A couple of weeks ago a lady dropped a man off at our front desk with the words, “You take care of him,” and then promptly left. Susan Howard, Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter (MATS) case manager, was in the office that day for her regularly scheduled hours here at The River Center. Although it was time for her to leave for the day, she put down her bags and asked the man some questions. She determined that he had been found at the Peterborough Library, alone, without a car, without a shelter for the night, with only the clothes on his back. He was from Massachusetts, a veteran, and had evident mental illness. For the next several hours, Susan made arrangements for him.

She contacted the Homeless Outreach Coordinator for the Monadnock region who informed her that there were no available beds but that he would make room in the emergency shelter in Keene for the night. Claremont had longer term shelter for him for ensuing nights. Susan made arrangements with Ernie Belletete of the Peterborough Police Department and Board member of MATS, for transportation to Keene that afternoon. She also arranged for clothing, food and mental health care through Monadnock Family Services. She then found transportation for him to get from Keene to Claremont on the following day. We have since heard that he is doing better and his situation has improved.

We are very thankful for the collaboration with Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter and the River Center. Susan is a valuable resource for our community, bringing with her knowledge and care for those without shelter or under threat of losing their shelter. I would like to publicly thank the Board of MATS for initiating this collaboration this past year.

This story points out the intrinsic need we all have for support. Every individual, family, school, business and organization needs support. Support looks like people who come along side of us when we are hurting, helpless or hungry. Support looks like an encouraging word, watching your children while you go to the doctors, bringing a meal when you are grieving. Support looks like cheering from the sidelines during a track meet. Support looks like shoppers who choose to do business in our local stores and farmer markets. Support looks like financial donations that keep social service nonprofits like the River Center open to keep serving the community.

Thank you to all of you who are the River Center’s supporters! We held our 9th Annual Community Spelling Bee on May 2. Eighteen teams competed for the glory of being the best spellers in the region. The teams entered into the spirit of it with creative outfits, zeal for words and enthusiasm. Businesses and civic and faith organizations supported us with sponsorships and donations of their products. Individuals donated money and time. We are so thankful for all of you who supported the River Center through this year’s Spelling Bee.

Every day we are supported by our volunteers who help with everything from raking the leaves, holding crying babies, baking cookies for an event, splitting wood, or answering the phone. Some volunteers present workshops, others do building repairs. One of the windy April days I watched as the flashing on the roof was wildly flapping in the wind. I called one of our volunteers and within 15 minutes he was at the River Center, up on the ladder and hammering the flashing in place. Volunteers are key supporters.

How is your support system? Do you have a few key people in your life that you can call when you need help? Do you consider yourself a supporter for others? It is good to know that when you offer support to others in any way you are strengthening the very fabric of our community. A healthy community is built on this network of support.

Margaret Nelson is the executive director of The River Center. Reach her at or 924-6800.

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