Margaret Nelson: View From the River – Thanks to the volunteers

  • Margaret Nelson

Published: 11/17/2023 8:17:02 AM

I want to take this Thanksgiving season to highlight the wonderful work of volunteers.

Volunteers often work behind the scenes, supporting the front-line work of nonprofit staff in so many ways. Whether they are on the board, take your ticket at an event, set up tables for a community supper or help at the food pantry, volunteers are essential to nonprofit organizations.

We are hosting a volunteer open house at The River Center on Wednesday, Nov. 29, from 4 to 6 p.m. at 9 Vose Farm Road, Suite 115 in Peterborough. If you would like to know more about how you could volunteer at The River Center, please join us, and bring a friend.

So, how do volunteers help us here at The River Center?

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program runs each tax season with the energy and hard work of over two dozen volunteers. The volunteer tax-preparers have studied for and successfully passed the IRS certification test. The tax greeters welcome tax clients and make sure they are comfortable while they wait for their appointments. Our staff coordinate the program and the volunteers and set up appointments. The result in 2023 was 300 tax returns completed at no cost to the taxpayer, and thousands of dollars in tax returns and tax credits. We are so thankful for the volunteers who help many in our community by preparing their tax returns.

The River Center Wood Bank has many volunteers who come to help. This summer, we needed a new woodshed. The Town of Peterborough offered us space for the woodshed at the Recycling Center. Our volunteers from Monadnock Congregational Church headed up the build effort; the River Center’s volunteer coordinator recruited more volunteers, and a new shed was built on two very hot summer Saturdays. Thank you to all of you!

Once the woodshed was built, there was, of course, the need to fill it with firewood. A grapple load of wood was donated and a group of volunteers showed up to process that wood. Some were wielding chain saws; multiple wood-splitters were in use, and more were stacking in the new woodshed. There were teens from Conant and ConVal, church members, community members, friends of friends. They were all there to help make firewood available to our community members who need some additional wood to keep warm this winter. Thank you!

Another obvious way that any nonprofit is supported by volunteers is the board of trustees. All 501 (c)(3) organizations are required to have a minimum of five volunteer board members to be legally registered as a nonprofit in New Hampshire. The board is responsible for overseeing the organization, ensuring that your charitable contributions are used responsibly and to promote the mission of the organization to which it is given.

Being a board member is a serious and important role. I am so thankful for the board members of The River Center – eight individuals, representing different ages and stages of life, coming from different professions and towns, with needed skills and perspectives to lead The River Center forward in this mission to strengthen individuals and families in our community. The board is the backbone of the organization. They give wisdom, encouragement, balance, financial support, hard work and time. Thank you to the current board: Doug, Kristen, Stephanie, Tim, Paddy, Ivor, Peggy and Johanna.

The advisory council members serve as our volunteer advisers and advocates for The River Center. We are thankful to all of you and the many ways you support this work. There are several board committees that include both board and community members. They support The River Center through their expertise, whether it is through the finance, marketing or development committees. Thank you all!

During the season of giving, we have a special group of volunteers that are on a contact list willing to help out with last-minute gift-giving needs. There are a variety of reasons why a family may find themselves in need just before the holidays. When that happens, we have volunteers ready and willing to shop, fund and do whatever is needed to fill in the gap. Thank you to these special volunteers that have a heart to bring joy in what might be a discouraging time.

There are volunteers who take discarded paper to the Recycling Center, put together wooden play structures, move furniture, advise us on technology purchases to meet our needs or just go for a walk to help with problem-solving. I could go on. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Volunteers are welcome, needed and so important. Join us Nov. 29 to find out more ways you can help here at The River Center. For more information on all we do, check out

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Margaret Nelson is executive director of The River Center Family and Community Resource Center.

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