MANCHESTER, NH – In 1991, the city of Manchester was a different place than it is today. Despite a growing population, the city had 15,000 fewer people than were reported in the 2020 census. Sadly, there were several run-down, dilapidated buildings dotted around the city with few people interested in renovating them.
The public’s compassion for homelessness was also different; the economy was good and had yet to enter a long downturn as has been seen in recent years. Understanding of trauma, the cycles of poverty, substance use disorder, mental health, post-traumatic stress and their impact was far less widespread than it is today. If a person was homeless, therefore, the perception was – and sometimes continues to be – that the situation was based on a personal failing, bad decisions, or laziness.
Maureen Beauregard saw things differently. She saw single mothers, children, and families not given sufficient space in shelters, much less places where they could live while getting their lives back together. Wanting to give such people these places to live, heal, recover, and thrive led her to found an organization called Families in Transition (FIT) and invest in property around Manchester.
Her work was transformative. Rather than having children starving on the street, they could now find a place to live, eat, grow, and attend school. The buildings she helped purchase and renovate were, in her words, “like night and day,” after FIT overhauled them.
In 2018, she found herself surprised to be selected Manchester’s Citizen of the Year. Unbeknownst to her, others had nominated her for this prestigious honor.
“I was shocked, completely shocked,” Beauregard said. “It’s never anything I thought would happen.”
Fast forward to 2022. Today, Beauregard finds herself in her third year as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Easterseals New Hampshire, the 12th-largest employer in the state and one of the state’s largest social services providers. When she joined, she had no idea the COVID-19 pandemic was coming; no one, including Easterseals, was sufficiently prepared to deal with what was to come. However, since the onset of the pandemic, she and her staff have continually found ways to help the people they serve. Some staff members, she said, stayed overnight at their clients’ residences, not wanting to leave them alone and without services.
Her work of late has been challenging. Yet, she calls it a rewarding experience. She has nothing but positive things to say about the staff, board and clients, and everyone she works with.
“People here have been very gracious to me,” Beauregard said. “It feels good to be as welcomed as I was.”
She was inspired to join Easterseals by her sister, Carolyn, a child rep in the ‘70s. Though Maureen lived with her siblings in foster care, the family was split up, and they never got to see each other again as children. Carolyn has always stayed in Maureen’s heart as an inspiration and a connection to Easterseals. Even to this day, Maureen will sometimes meet people who were touched by their experiences and interactions with Carolyn.
“I always carry her with me,” Beauregard said. “I’m proud of her. People know her, even though I didn’t. That’s pretty cool.”
Through the most challenging of times, Easterseals, from the newest staff member to the oldest executive, has risen to the occasion in order to make sure they meet their mission and goals of helping those who most need it.
Today, she continues to work just as hard as she did when she was named Manchester Citizen of the Year.
“I love getting things done,” Beauregard said. “I’m pretty driven. I don’t like to remain static. FIT was an opportunity to keep doing that next thing, trying something new. It was challenging, but I loved it. I’m getting the same opportunity – on a much larger scale – here at Easterseals.”
In 2021, Beauregard was named among the New Hampshire 200, New Hampshire Business Review’s annual list of the most influential business leaders, and the 2021 Business Excellence Winner in the nonprofit category.