Knitting for “Hope” in NH

White Birch Community Center program participants are greeted by Kerry Norton, RN and co-founder of Hope on Haven Hill

Kerry Norton, RN and Co-Founder of Hope on Haven Hill, speaks with White Birch Community Center Senior Program members

Hope for Haven Hill’s founders Kerry Norton, RN (l) & Colene Arnold, MD (r) share a hug with Helen MacKenzie, WBCC participant

“It was a day full of emotions”, said a participant in the White Birch Community Center Senior Program, her words resonating with the other members of her knitting circle. The group was referring to their recent trip to Rochester, NH to deliver 5 boxes of hand knit and crocheted items to Hope on Haven Hill, a new residential Substance Use Disorder program for pregnant and postpartum women and their children.

Founders of Hope on Haven Hill, Kerry Norton, RN and Colene Arnold, MD OB/GYN, were delighted to meet the seniors and receive the exquisite blankets, sweaters, caps, baby booties and bags for women and children in their care. Smiles and tears were shared as the boxes were opened and stark realities of addiction were discussed. Hope on Haven Hill plans to officially open its doors this July, with rooms available for 8 women. There’s already a waiting list.

The 55-mile connection from Henniker to Rochester comes from a longstanding family friendship between Helen MacKenzie, of the White Birch Senior program, and Hope on Haven Hill’s Kerry Norton. Helen was the best of friends with Kerry’s grandmother, and although Kerry’s grandmother has passed on, Helen and Kerry make a special effort to keep in touch. Helen, an avid knitter, spearheaded the outreach along with Senior Program Director, Beth Ann Paul. Paul, described the outreach as touching and inspiring, noting “Hope on Haven Hill is doing critical work that is especially needed in our state. It feels good to support their mission and touch some lives”.

This volunteer initiative is just one example of the community service efforts of the White Birch Senior Program whose members come from Henniker and surrounding towns. Last year alone, these active older adults logged over 800 hours of volunteer services such as driving, facilitating exercise groups, providing luncheons, teaching chess, bridge, and computer lessons, and organizing fundraising and donation projects. The mission of White Birch Community Center is to enrich the lives of citizens by providing social, education, and recreation programs for families, children, and adults in a stimulating, supportive, and safe environment.

White Birch Center Receives School Recycling Award

Erica Miller (l), Assistant Director of Education at White Birch Center, proudly displays school recycling award with Gwen Erley (r), Programs Coordinator for Northeast Resource Recovery Association.

5-year-old Brooke Bonilla participates in the Milk Jug Stomp contest at White Birch Center

On May 17th, 2016, White Birch Center of Henniker, was recognized by the Northeast Resource Recovery Association for outstanding school recycling efforts. White Birch received the “Rookie Recycler of the Year” Award for new and successful recycling initiatives in their Early Learning and School-age programs. The award ceremony was part of the Association’s annual School Recycling Conference & Expo, held at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua.

Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA), is a regional non-profit leader in cooperative programs, educational and networking opportunities, and technical assistance that help enable communities to manage their own recycling programs. Through the NRRA’s School Recycling Club, support is available for students, teachers, schools, and communities in directing sustainable recycling and waste reduction programs.

The person behind the success of the recycling program at White Birch Center is Erica Miller, Assistant Director of Education. “I am excited to educate and empower children to take action in their community and to play an important role in protecting our planet”, states Miller. At White Birch, the children collect recyclables in their own classroom bins and are responsible for sorting them into larger outdoor bins on a weekly basis. They also participate in contests like the Milk Jug Stomp and activities such as Recycled Art. All the while, children are encouraged to question how materials are used and reused, and to share these ideas at home and with others.

The mission of White Birch Center is to be a community leader in providing exceptional programs and services that support learning and active living for children, adults, and families.