MANCHESTER, NH – After more than two weeks and much internal upheaval, HOPE for NH Recovery was cleared Wednesday by the NH Attorney General’s office of any wrongdoing or “criminal conduct.”
A brief investigation was launched last week following publication of a story by NH Public Radio on June 12 based on allegations lodged by former employees, who accused management at the organization of “bullying” and misappropriation of funding.
A lengthy statement posted June 14 on the HOPE for NH website countered the article, calling the allegations “unfortunate” and “inaccurate,” and addressed the NHPR story point for point:
“It is regrettable that at a time when New Hampshire is in the middle of a health crisis of historic proportions that HOPE for New Hampshire Recovery must take time away from getting people well to address several inaccurate statements published in a recent story regarding our organization. [Read the complete statement here.]
Former Executive Director Holly Cekala was singled out in the NHPR story. She has since left the organization.
In May, HOPE for NH announced the search was on for a new executive director, as Cekala prepared to shift into a new role for the growing organization, expanding service contract relationships with medical and insurance providers.
Cekala, who rebuilt her own life after battling addiction, understood first-hand the mission of the organization, which provides peer-to-peer support for those in recovery. She was hired to lead the way, and moved from Rhode Island to New Hampshire to help build what is now a network of community-based recovery centers in Manchester, Franklin, Newport. Claremont, Concord, and Berlin.
The community recovery model was an innovation here, a movement spearheaded by board member Melissa Crews, also in long-term recovery from addiction. The organization fought hard to find its footing as the city’s opioid crisis exploded, fighting for funding while also educating the public on the disease of addiction and the critical need for more immediate services and long-term recovery resources.
In November of 2016 HOPE finally opened its doors at a new location on Wilson Street, which also shares space with Families in Transition.
During the Attorney General’s investigation, funding for the organization was temporarily suspended. MacDonald released the following brief statement on June 28, absolving HOPE for NH of wrongdoing and offering to assist them, going forward:
“The office reviewed allegations made by former employees as well as those reported in the media. Based on the facts currently known, the office has determined that none of the allegations rise to the level of criminal conduct.
“The charitable trust unit will be reaching out to Hope for New Hampshire Recovery to offer assistance and guidance with respect to the governance of the organization.