Dec 17, 2015 8:25 PM
Organization set to open first-of-its kind facility in NH to help growing number of homeless families
MANCHESTER- Starting next month homeless families in New Hampshire may have new hope."It is devastating and it's haunting to think that in a land that is so rich in resources that any child has to sleep outside," said President and founder of Families in Transition Maureen Beauregard.For over two decades, the non-profit organization has helped homeless families get their lives back on track. Her drive and unwavering determination comes from a very personal place. As a child, she was homeless."We would have to go and live with other people, but I remember it very clear."That experience has shaped her organization's vision for a new 11 family resource center and shelter located on Lake Avenue in downtown Manchester.What makes it unique? By design, it is more than a warm bed. When the doors swing open next month, it will become a one-stop shop to help families get the services they need under one roof without wasting precious time.There will be Goodwill for job placement, a medical clinic, kitchen and Head Start with teachers who say the would not want to work anywhere else."It touches my heart, " said teacher Melissa St. Pierre. "I felt like this is the place for me, a family place."The work these teachers do will be critical. They will help minimize the trauma of homelessness which can damage a child's success in school."We have found there's been delays a lot in their language development," said child and family therapist Jo Davidson. "So the teachers work really hard to get them ready for kindergarten."It is a battle many New Hampshire children will have to fight. According to the Director of the New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness Dr. Cathy Kuhn who does research on the state's homeless population."The reality here in New Hampshire is that almost half of that homeless population are families with children," said Kuhn.But as NH1 learned most emergency cold weather shelters in the state do not take families considering it too risky to let children be around those who could have a criminal past.NH1 spoke with a mother of four who is relieved to know she will be among those moving into the facility in January."People judge, and it's like you just don't know the battles some people fight."She looks forward to having the basic privacy most of us might take for granted."We'll also have our own bathroom. There's locks on the door because my youngest is autistic and she likes to wonder. So it's kind of good for her."A priceless sense of security that shows even in the toughest part of the Queen City there is hope of blue skies ahead.