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.