I was standing in line at an area store last week and overheard a guy telling the cashier that four cops were surrounding a car in the parking lot. He proceeded to say how bad Manchester is and referred to it several times as “Manchganistan.” The cashier politely smiled and told the guy to have a nice day.
The comment annoyed me, as does any comment that disparages the city I love. After all, Manchester is the city we chose to move back to when returning to New Hampshire over five years ago. Now I know that there are plenty of issues with our city, but they can be – or rather will be – overcome as they have throughout the history of our great city. We have to remember that Manchester is the city that won’t die!
As we know, Manchester’s top two issues are addiction and homelessness. Interestingly, the two can be associated with one another as addiction can lead to homelessness. So how do we keep Manchester from becoming a bad place; a city that nobody wants to visit because it is so bad; a city where you keep your windows closed while driving through and one where you run to your destination when getting out of your car? How do we keep Manchester from becoming a city where nobody hangs out on the strip out of fear of violence? Two words…Get Involved.
While who we elect is important, especially since they decide where our resources go as well as the city’s plan for helping solve these issues, the fact is that the mayor and 14 aldermen alone cannot solve the problems of a city of over 115,000 people. Government by itself isn’t here to solve problems. Government can help lessen certain burdens, (such as taxation and regulation), but to help people and to truly solve problems takes a village…it takes people getting involved. Getting involved not only helps minimize the suffering of those trapped in addiction or overcome by homelessness, it also gives one a different perspective and helps them develop better solutions.
One thing that prevents people from getting involved is that they don’t know where to go. So I have listed a few organizations that are involved with the major issues of our city. This list is a good starting point for people to get involved.
Addiction is a major problem in our city. We need to get a core understanding of the problem and work together to truly solve it. There are people and organizations involved with this as well as with working with those in recovery. Sometimes, getting involved with recovery helps with our understanding so that we can offer more ideas that would help with solutions.
One organization that is at the forefront of helping people in their recovery journey is Hope for New Hampshire Recovery. Hope is a “safe judgment-free space and peer support to folks seeking recovery, their families and friends, or people already in recovery.” Hope offers meetings, telephone recovery services, and various therapeutic activities, such as art, music, and writing. Everyone who works at Hope is in recovery so are peers who know and understand and are equipped to help people through their journey.
Contact Hope about helping them with such things as events, awareness, fundraising, life-skill or mind/body course facilitation. One event that they host is the annual “Rally4Recovery” event held in Veterans Park. While this year’s event has passed, there is always planning for next year.
Another major problem in our city is homelessness. It seems that almost daily we hear of a new homeless encampment or one that is being removed or relocated. There are a few organizations that are involved in working with the homeless.
New Horizons shelter, which is part of Families in Transition, offers overnight accommodations for those who are 18 and older. Dinner is served for those utilizing the shelter as well as for adults and families who do not stay at the shelter. A day resource program with case management support in the areas of housing, employment, personal needs, as well as referrals to other community resources is also available.
The Twelve (aka 1269 Café), is a “street outreach” that serves the homeless and those in need in Manchester. The Twelve offers hot meals, showers, clothing, laundry service, short-term storage lockers, and onsite support services such as medical care, recovery meetings, counseling, and job training and placement.
Waypoint is an organization that provides a wide range of services to those who need help, including resources for families affected by incarceration, home care for older adults and adults with disabilities, as well as advocacy. In particular, I want to highlight the fact that they offer services for young people experiencing homelessness. It is estimated that almost 15,000 youth will experience homelessness this year in New Hampshire. This is an important issue as, although part of the overall homelessness issue, being homeless as a teenager or young person offers challenges not seen with adults. In addition, youth homelessness is often an invisible issue. Think about it…is it at all uncommon to see a teenager carrying a backpack?
I hope that this short list of organizations will act as a starting point for people to become more involved in both lessening the suffering of our neighbors as well as inspire them to look at different perspectives and offer thoughtful solutions. Together, we the people can get these issues solved.