MANCHESTER, N.H. – Last week, an alliance of government agencies and local non-profits gathered at Beech Street Elementary School for a “Spring Into a Healthy Summer.”
From 4 to 6 p.m., local residents received assistance in obtaining New Hampshire Medicaid renewal information with assistance from WellSense. That assistance gave a particular focus on helping those who obtained Medicaid eligibility during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic but may potentially lose that eligibility in the near future due to the difficulty of changing eligibility guidelines.
One of those helped was Sara Castonguay, who was able to obtain information for herself as well as her son.
It’s interesting, I got a lot of information I was exactly 100 percent sure what was being offered and being able to ask in an open forum was helpful,” said Castonguay. “Without this event, it would have been harder to renew, I would have had to go through ‘press 1 for this, press 4 for that,’ it’s a lot easier actually talking to a human being.”
Like Castonguay, Jillian Call was also in attendance to finalize the renewal process with the added bonus of other activities at the event for her children.
“I think it’s great to get the community together and see what they have for needs,” she said. “While I already had a good grasp on the renewal process, this is easier for people who don’t really understand how to renew online. Plus, this had a community aspect to it, it was good to see the mayor, my kids are going to head over and look at the fire trucks, I think things like this promote Manchester being a safe community.”
According to Well Sense Executive Director David Donohue, the event had more people signed up within its first few minutes than a comparable event in Concord a few days earlier due in large part to those other non-profits and government agencies on hand offering resources such as the New Hampshire Food Bank, the Manchester Fire Department and others.
Local leaders such as Manchester School District Superintendent Dr. Jenn Gillis and Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig also were grateful for the collection of organizations that participated in the event.
“I think it’s amazing, any time we can bring in our community partners to really dig in and support our families, it’s an absolute win for the city,” said Gillis.
“We’re really lucky that we have partners like this coming forward to ensure that residents and parents of students here at Beech Street Elementary School and the neighborhood have access to critical services that are available,” said Craig.
Both Gillis and Craig said that both the Manchester School District and the City of Manchester will aim to hold comparable events in the future as well as mobile events that bring resources directly into neighborhoods, building on past and existing initiatives such as the Manchester Health Department’s Wellness on Wheels program and the Manchester Public Library’s Bookmobile.