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News & Updates

Goffstown Community Garden is open for business

By KATHY REMILLARD Union Leader Correspondent

GOFFSTOWN — As gardening season approaches, a handful of plots are still available at the Goffstown Community Garden, located next to the police station on Route 114.

The garden is managed by Southern New Hampshire Services, and Valerie Carignan, the program coordinator, said about five of the original 50 plots remain.

“But there is always someone who decides not to garden, and more become available,” Carignan said.

The plots are 30 feet by 30 feet in size, and are free to low-income participants, Carignan said. Those with an income that falls above the guidelines are asked to make a donation.

Gardeners began planting over Memorial Day weekend and expressed appreciation for a program that allows them access to healthy fruits and vegetables, and gets them involved in the process as well.

“I have a garden here every year,” said Hava Causevic of Manchester, who began using the program four years ago.

Causevic is growing peppers, potatoes, beans and pumpkins. She is permanently disabled and said that being in the garden helps her to relax.

Causevic said she shares some of the bounty from her garden with other people she knows who are in need.

“It really makes people happy,” she said.

Donna Hodgdon of Goffstown used to participate in the program with her own children, who would help her in the gardens.

“It was a lot of fun for them,” she said, “and having the extra food was always nice.”

Hodgdon's children are now grown, but she's come back to the garden because of the tight economy.

“The economy is tougher than it used to be,” she said.

Hodgdon said she is looking forward to having her grandchildren work with her in the garden.

The land for the plots has already been rototilled, and this year water spigots are available in the gardening space eliminating the need for gardeners to haul in water.

“It gets better every year,” said Causevic.

Carignan said the benefits of the community garden are twofold.

“Having a garden helps participants to become more self-sufficient,” she said, and it helps them to eat healthier by growing fresh veggies and fruits.”

For more information on how to apply for a garden plot, call 668-8010, ext. 6042, or log on to snhs.org and download the application.

Reprinted with permission The Union Leader May 28, 2012

Energy upgrades aid low-income families

By AARON SANBORN This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. May 15, 2012

EXETER — The town is currently home to a massive weatherization effort targeting manufactured homes.

Southern New Hampshire Services is attempting to weatherize about 100 homes in the town's four manufactured-housing parks: Exeter River, Icy Hill, Exeter-Hampton and Powder House.

Crews from Southern New Hampshire Services were at the Exeter River Landing last week weatherizing several homes.

According to Rick Minard of the nonprofit New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, weatherization is an option usually offered from the state's five community action programs to those who apply for fuel assistance each winter. Fuel assistance is awarded based on income levels.

The effort was expanded this year. The Community Loan Fund is working through the community action programs to weatherize manufactured homes in co-ops statewide with a $2 million grant from the N.H. Public Utilities Commission using money from its Regional Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Fund, according to Minard.

Minard said the U.S. Department of Energy has contributed a $600,000 grant to the project. Statewide, the grants should weatherize about 425 manufactured homes in 20 resident-owned communities by the end of the year. The home energy audits and weatherization services are free.

Minard said the average per-home weatherization cost is $6,500, adding that the weatherization work reduces a household's energy consumption by about 25 percent. "That would be a huge impact on home energy costs in Exeter," he said.

Exeter River co-op resident Grant Clough took advantage of the opportunity.

"This place is nice, but you wouldn't want to wear a hat in here because it would blow off," he joked about the drafts in his home.

Clough said he typically spends about $1,400 a winter on heat, and he is optimistic the weatherization will help bring the cost down. "This should be a big help," he said.

Clough said he is conscientious about his energy usage and often unplugs appliances when he's not using them.

Ken Cantara, the energy auditor that worked on Clough's home, said prior to the weatherization services, he measured 1140 CFMs in Clough's home. CFM is short for cubic feet per minute, a measurement of the velocity at which air flows into or out of a space.

After insulation was added and some duct work was done, the CFM measurement in Clough's home was cut to 700 CFMs, according to Cantara. "He'll save about 100 gallons of fuel a year, based on my past experience," Cantara said.

Cantara said Clough should also save in the summer on air conditioning costs.

In addition to the weatherization efforts, energy auditors also conduct carbon monoxide readings on homes and check for other safety issues, such as gas leaks. "We don't want to go through with the weatherization process and make a problem worse," Cantara said.

Crews fixed a gas leak in Clough's heating system prior to doing the work on his home and installed a new carbon monoxide detector, Cantara said. He said it usually takes three to five days to complete weatherization efforts in a home.

Minard said weatherization is cost-effective. "You make this type of an investment in a home and it will last a long time," he said.

This may also be the last time the services are offered on such a large scale, according to Minard. He said the state Legislature is looking to cut the Regional Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Fund. "I don't think they understand how important it is for the community," he said. "If we lose that funding, it will be a shame because the feds won't be there to pick up the tab."

Homeowners must qualify for fuel assistance to be eligible for the program. Anyone who is interested in weatherization but who does not already receive fuel assistance is asked to call Southern New Hampshire Services at 895-2303 or Rockingham Community Action at 431-2911.

Reprinted with permission.

SNHS supports “Help Me Out, Vet” survey efforts

If you are one of the 135,000 veterans living in New Hampshire, you can help NH’s veterans receive the care they need.

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) are the signature injuries of war. Vets from all branches of the military and all conflicts are asked to SHARE (Survey Helping to Advance Recovery Efforts) their experiences in an effort to benefit today’s Veterans dealing with post-combat injuries as well as veterans for years to come.

The survey has been developed by the NH Legislative Commission on PTSD and TBI. The brief survey is completely confidential and can be completed on-line by visiting www.nh-veteran.com.

A downloadable version of the survey is available. When completed, the survey should be mailed to:

Commission on PTSD & TBI

109 North State St., Ste. 2

Concord, NH 03301

NH Veterans SHARE Flyer

NH Veterans SHARE Survey

RSVP Fixit Corps receives grant to help local seniors

Manchester, NH —Southern New Hampshire Services’ Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Fixit Corps will help seniors 60 years of age or older and persons living with disabilities remain independent in their own homes by addressing the minor maintenance and repair projects that they are unable to do through a grant received from the Home Instead Foundation. The grant funds the program in Hillsborough County.

The RSVP Fixit Corps volunteers will be available to respond effectively to requests such as repairing leaky faucets, installing a grab-bar, repair switches, outlets or sockets and other minor requests for home maintenance assistance. All labor is provided free of charge by volunteers; clients are asked only to cover the cost of materials.

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program is a 39-year-old nationwide organization that provides an organizational framework through which community needs and senior volunteer resources come together to benefit the entire community.

The RSVP Fixit Corps was developed to increase the reach and efficiency of the volunteer home maintenance program by harnessing the volunteer resources available through the RSVP program. The move combines the strengths of two successful and highly regarded programs.

“This funding will allow the Program Coordinator to focus on the recruitment and training of volunteers and with repair requests received from clients. Support provided by the Home Instead Foundation will also allow for the purchase of supplies in those cases when the client is indigent and unable to cover the costs,” said Dee Martin, volunteer services director. SNHS’ RSVP Fixit Corps is one of 13 organizations awarded grant funding from The Home Instead Senior Care Foundation in 2012. The grant from the Home Instead Foundation allows the RSVP Fixit Corps to continue its support of seniors in Hillsborough County communities.

(L-R) Lisa Byrne, Owner, along with Pattie Hayes, Director of Community Relations, present the check for $15,000 to Dee Martin, Volunteer Services Director for the RSVP Fixit Corps.

“Our missions are very similar to the RSVP Fixit Corps, as we both help enhance the lives of aging adults and their families,” said Roger H. Baumgart, Executive Director of The Foundation. “We are pleased to provide grant funding to The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program Fixit Corps for making a positive difference in the safety, well-being and independence of seniors,” Baumgart said.

In 1994, Lori and Paul Hogan founded Home Instead Senior Care, an international company of independently owned and operated franchises, to provide non-medical care for seniors. As a means to enhance the lives of older adults, going beyond the scope of this organization, The Home Instead Senior Care Foundation was established in 2003.

The Home Instead Senior Care Foundation has awarded more than 100 grants throughout the United States and Canada since 2004. To learn more about The Foundation, visit www.homeinsteadseniorcarefoundation.org.

USDA official stresses need for nutrition in school food

By BRITTANY GIVENS This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. January 28, 2012

PORTSMOUTH — U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin W. Concannon said school lunch programs should be providing children with more fruits and vegetables.

"We have a serious problem of obesity in the country," Concannon told a group of local nutrition and health services professionals Friday. "We really need to focus on activity and healthy foods."

Concannon was the featured speaker in a roundtable discussion at Community Campus. The event was attended by representatives from programs such as St. Vincent's, Southern New Hampshire Services and the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. Participants discussed ways in which schools could improve lunches and how the USDA has been able to help people in tough economical times.

This week, 101,000 schools across the country celebrated a nutrition week by improving the dietary value of school lunch programs.

Concannon discussed ways that the USDA plans to take these efforts further and shared reasons for the program's success. He said that one of the USDA's major goals is to improve the diets of Americans from birth.

Representatives from local nutrition organizations voiced concerns over the current situation in schools. Many were concerned with the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in schools and wanted to see less canned foods and sugar.

Other concerns included a need for more storage space for fruits and vegetables, as well as easier and cheaper ways to provide milk and meat.

Concannon also spoke about USDA's efforts to help those who cannot afford to eat healthy.

"We're living through a ... tough time in the economy," Concannon said. "I've been to food banks and pantries and I always hear, 'I never thought I'd be here.'"

The USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has helped 46 million people, Concannon said.

"For people who have been shy to ask for help, they are still able to get it," Rockingham County Action coordinator Patte Ardizzoni said.

The event was presented by Southern New Hampshire Services' Rockingham County arm, Rockingham Community Action, and hosted by the Foundation for Seacoast Health.

Reprinted with permission

Free tax preparation sites: Hillsborough, Rockingham & Strafford Counties

The following is a list of sites in Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford Counties where low- to middle-income families can have their taxes prepared at no charge. Please note that this list is current through Friday, February17, 2012. To confirm up-to-date information, it is suggested that you call 2-1-1 in New Hampshire.

Hillsborough County

Greenville:

  • Chamberlin Public Library, 46 Main St.
    • Through April 18
    • Friday: 9:30am-12:30pm
    • Walk in – no appointment needed
Hudson:
  • Rodgers Memorial Library, 194 Derry Rd.
  • Through April 18
  • Wednesday: 2:00-7:00pm
  • Appointment required – Call (603) 886-6030 x 4522
Manchester:
  • Community Health Services, 195 McGregor St.
  • Through April 18
  • Thursday: 9:30am-1:15pm
  • Friday: 12noon-3:00pm
  • Appointments required – Call (603) 626-2626
  • Elliot at River’s Edge, 185 Queen City Ave.
  • Through April 15
  • Monday: 8:30-11:30am
  • Appointment required – Call (603) 663-4567 (option 2
  • For ages 50+
  • Salvation Army, 121 Cedar St.
  • Through April 15
  • Mondays & Thursdays: 10:00am-2:00pm
  • Walk in – no appointment needed
    • Southern NH University, 2500 North River Rd., Webster Hall, Rooms 106 & 107
    • Through April 17
    • Thursday: 3:30-6:00pm
    • Friday: 11:00am-1:30pm
    • Saturday: 9:00am-12noon
    • Closed March 8-10
    • Walk in – no appointment needed
    Merrimack:
    • John O’Leary Community Center, 5 Church St.
    • Through April 15
    • Wednesday: 9:00-11:30am
    • Make appointment on site – also walk in
    • YMCA Merrimack, 6 Henry Clay Dr.
    • Through April 16
    • Monday: 9:30am-12noon
    • Appointment required – Call (603) 424-3908 or (603) 440-3889
    Milford
    • Wadleigh Memorial Library, 49 Nashua St.
    • Through April 17
    • Tuesday: 9:30am-2:00pm
    • Thursday: 4:00-6:30pm
    • Walk in – no appointment needed
    Nashua:
    • Nashua Public Library, 2 Court St.
    • Through April 16
    • Monday & Wednesday: 10:00am-7:00pm
    • Friday: 10:00am-2:00pm
    • Walk in – no appointment needed
    • Nashua Senior Center, 70 Temple St.
    • Through April 17
    • Thursday: 9:00am-1:00pm
    • Call 211 for appointment - 211 or (866) 444-4211
      New Ipswich:
      • New Ipswich Public Library, 6 Main St.
      • Through April 17
      • Wednesday: 2:30-6:00pm
      • Walk in – no appointment needed
      Peterborough:
      • The River Center, 46 Concord St.
      • Through April 15
      • Wednesday: 4:00-8:00pm
      • Saturday: 9:00am-3:00pm
      • Call for appointment - (603) 924-6800

      Wilton:

      • Wilton Town Hall, 42 Main St.
      • Through April 15
      • Thursday: 2:30-6:00pm
      • Walk in – no appointment needed
      Rockingham County

      Derry:

      • Marion Gerrish Community Center, 39 West Broadway
      • Through April 18
      • Tuesday & Thursday: 10:00am-3:00pm
      • Walk in – no apppointment needed
      Epping:
      • American Legion Post, 232 Calef Highway
      • Through April 18
      • Tuesday: 12:30pm-3:30pm
      • Walk in – no appointment needed
      Exeter:
      • Elderly Housing, 277 Water St.
      • Through April 18
      • Monday & Friday: 9:00am-11:30am
      • Walk in – no appointment needed
      • Exeter Public Library, 4 Chestnut St.
      • Through April 18
      • Tuesday & Thursday: 4:30pm-7:00pm
      • Walk in – no appointment needed
      Hampton:
      • Lane Memorial Library, 2 Academy Ave.
      • Through April 18
      • Monday: 9:15am-5:00pm
      • Tuesday & Wednesday: 5:15-7:30pm
      • Walk in – no appointment needed
        Portsmouth:
        • North Church Parish House, 355 Spinney Rd.
        • Through April 15
        • Monday & Thursday: 9:00am-12:30pm
        • Walk in – no appointment needed
        • Portsmouth Library, 175 Parrott Ave.
        • Through April 15
        • Tuesday: 4:30-7:30pm
        • Sunday: 1:30-4:30pm
        • Call 211 for appointment
        Salem:
        • Southern New Hampshire University, 25 Pelham Rd., Suite 310
        • Through April 18
        • Tuesday: 1:00-5:00pm
        • Thursday: 1:00-8:00pm
        • Friday: 9:00am-3:00pm
        • Appointment required – Call (603) 890-2130
        Seabrook:
        • Seabrook Library, 25 Liberty Lane
        • Through April 16
        • Monday: 1:00-6:00pm
        • Call 211 for appointment - limited walk in
        • Time permitting
        Strafford County

        Dover:

        • Dover Public Library, 73 Locust St.
        • Through April 16
        • Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday: 9:00am-12noon
        • Appointment Required - Call 211
        • Limited walk-in service also available

        Rochester:

            • Rochester Public Library, 65 South Main St.
            • Through April 16
            • Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday: 9:30am-12noon
            • By appointment on Tuesday and Thursday – call 211 Walk in or appointment on Saturday

            Earned Income Tax Credit can put money in your pocket

            You could be eligible to get more money back from the IRS - as much as $5,751. If you earned less than $49,078 from wages, self-employment, or farming last year, you may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit - or EITC.

            EITC is a financial boost for working people in a recovering economy. You may be among the millions who will qualify for the first time because your financial, marital or parental status changed in 2011.

            Eligibility is based on several factors, including the amount of earned and other types of income, or combined income if married, whether you have qualifying children and how many. Workers without children may also qualify.

            Four of five eligible people claim and get their EITC. Use IRS's online EITC Assistant to see if you qualify. If so, you must file and claim the credit to get it.

            Free help is available at volunteer income tax assistance sites. Locate a volunteer site by calling New Hampshire's 211 number for local services or call the IRS at 1-800-906-9887.

            Watch a video about the EITC on YouTube!

            Who is ELIGIBLE for the Earned Income Tax Credit?

            • Individual (one child) earning less than $36,052 or married (one child) filing jointly earning less than $41,132 may receive the EITC maximum credit of $3,094.
            • Individual (two children) earning less than $40,964 or married (two children) filing jointly earning less than $46,044 may receive the EITC maximum credit of $5,112.
            • Individual (three or more children) earning less than $43,998 or married (three or more children) filing jointly earning less than $49,078 may receive the EITC maximum credit of $5,751.
            • Individual (no children) earning less than $13,660 or married (no children) filing jointly earning less than $18,740 may receive the EITC maximum credit of $464.
            • Investment income must be $3,150 or less for the year.

            What to bring when you have your taxes prepared

            Taxpayers need to present the following items to have their returns prepared:
            • Proof of identification – Picture ID
            • Social Security Cards for you, your spouse and dependents or a Social Security Number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration or
            • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter for you, your spouse and dependents
            • Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
            • Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
            • Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc from all employers
            • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
            • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns if available
            • Proof of bank account routing numbers and account numbers for Direct Deposit, such as a blank check
            • Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider's tax identifying number (the provider's Social Security Number or the provider's business Employer Identification Number) if appropriate
            • To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.
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