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Monadnock at Home Helps Area Seniors Live at Home

By Gary Bouchard

Soon July Fourth skies will light up with fireworks as people gather with family and friends to celebrate our nation’s Independence. For many people though, retaining their independence is a lifetime goal as well as a weekly struggle.

Sandra Faber, executive director of Catholic Charities NH’s Monadnock at Home program, works with dozens of volunteers to help Monadnock Region seniors continue to live independently in their own homes. “When I meet with seniors who are considering our services they typically tell me, ‘But I want to remain independent.’ I assure them, ‘We will help you to be independent, not take your independence away.’ The services we provide,” she says, “from transportation to check-in visits, to social activities, are designed to help people stay independent.”

Parable CCNH 0722The Monadnock Region of New Hampshire comprises about 500 square miles and includes the towns of Peterborough and Jaffrey as well as 12 other towns with much smaller populations. The kinds of services and amenities available to people living in a city or suburb are simply not accessible to people in these rural areas, many of whom live in homes far from any neighbors or town center. Ride services like Uber and Lyft do not serve these areas. Grocery stores and medical offices are rarely nearby, and opportunities to socialize and engage with others can require significant planning. If you consider the challenges of New Hampshire’s long winters, then layer in a pandemic, you can begin to appreciate how the services of Monadnock at Home are a vital lifeline to a growing population of aging people.

Monadnock at Home originated as a small non-profit organization in 2010 after a few couples became aware of the growing Village-to-Village Network movement that was taking shape across the country. Conversations and listening sessions were started about the benefits of this model, and as interest increased, Monadnock at Home took shape with a board of directors, then hired an executive director to manage services and grow membership.

Sandra joined the organization in 2012, bringing significant non-profit and for-profit public relations and marketing experience. When Cindy Bowen, the founding executive director, retired, Sandra moved into that position. “Monadnock at Home has about 85 members,” she says, “though that number fluctuates throughout the year. Some people become members because they need a breadth of services. Other people just have one need, like transportation to doctor appointments, a referral for a reliable plumber, or grocery and medication delivery.”

This past year, Monadnock at Home provided more than 2,300 hours of check-in calls, social interaction and monthly programs. Volunteers provide 85 percent of the services, which this past year totaled more than 1,325 hours.

In February 2020, just before the COVID outbreak, Monadnock at Home became a program of Catholic Charities NH. “Catholic Charities had been involved with our work from the very beginning,” Sandra says. Catholic Charities initially provided meeting space and other support through Good Shepherd Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, which it then owned. When Catholic Charities NH sold the Jaffrey facility in 2019, it said it wanted to continue its commitment to providing services to seniors in the Monadnock Region.

Given 97 percent of people over the age of 75 indicate they prefer to remain in their homes, the joining of Catholic Charities with Monadnock at Home was a way to meet that need. “We were a small non-profit in the region where everyone is vying for the same dollars,” Sandra says. “Merging with Catholic Charities allowed us to lower our costs and make our services available at a more affordable rate. We don’t turn anyone away, regardless of their ability to pay and Catholic Charities makes it possible for us to achieve that goal.”

Sandra emphasizes how critically important the social component of their work is. “Even a ride in the car with a driver can provide a chance for conversation.” Like the rest of us, Monadnock pivoted during the pandemic to Zoom gatherings and check-ins, providing technical assistance to help people stay connected from their homes. Those without the necessary technology took part in telephone conference calls where they could get COVID updates.

Knowing the value of what they are able to provide, Sandra says she wishes the Village-to-Village model could be replicated elsewhere in New Hampshire. One challenge, she says, is finding enough volunteers in the more rural areas of the state.

To Learn More About Monadnock At Home, please visit or Call 603-371-0809.

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