Fellowship Housing Opportunities Supporters,
NH Gives Day (6pm on June 6th thru 6pm on 7th) is a day devoted to the needs and accomplishments of non-profit organizations in NH. Did you know that about 20% of the state’s workforce are employed by non-profits? And they hold assets of nearly 13.86 billion dollars? As the proud director of one of those non-profits, I would like to talk about the value of non-profits, and the value of the one I thankfully work for and with.
All nonprofits are born of the same roots. A need is identified by citizens, and resources are mobilized to create solutions to meet that need. With its historically lean government, New Hampshire citizens have relied upon the flexibility of the nonprofit structure to address a wide range of issues for decades. In the case of Fellowship Housing, back in the 1960’s a lot of people were discharged from the New Hampshire State Hospital. This was due to major societal shifts in how the mentally ill were treated, given new medical, social, and fiscal changes in our society. After years of institutionalization in most cases, these people had few skills with which to live independently in the community and even fewer resources. So, a group of concerned citizens who had identified the need came together to try to do something about this. What would become Fellowship Housing Opportunities was established in 1966. Our residential home (Fellowship House) opened several years later. Many people come from the State Hospital to live at Fellowship House.
It was then noticed that as people lived in the residential home with staffing for a time, they became more capable to live independently without the aid of 24 hour staffing, but again, there were no options for a place for them to go from there. So again, Fellowship Housing stepped up and the first of now seven properties was opened as a subsidized affordable apartment building where people could live on their own, with supports and be vital and active members of the community.
One of the success stories of Fellowship Housing Opportunities is about a woman who, until last Friday, lived at our group home, Fellowship House. She is a woman who has a history of substance abuse and major mental illness. For her, these illnesses often resulted in a personal history of getting into big fights and battles with police and other authority figures, hurting herself and others in the process, and being hospitalized and jailed. She was usually homeless or at risk of being so when she was not in the hospital or jail, and didn’t know where her next meal was coming from.
Since living in Fellowship House, she is now clean and sober, has learned how to manage her mental illness, is working out and managing her physical well-being, and now talks eloquently that the one thing she has very much learned while living at Fellowship House, is how to control her anger and communicate her feelings constructively. She moved into an independent apartment through Fellowship Housing and now lives with her long-time partner, and they are both very happy there. She will continue to need some supports on an outpatient basis, but she has moved through the various treatment modalities to greater and greater independence, has not been hospitalized for some time, and is doing very well. We wish her and her partner all the best. And we will be there to support them if that is needed.
I am proud to work for such an organization, and see many more success stories each day and even more valiant attempts against some powerful odds. I hope you can join me in helping support our mission, goals and work by giving what you can to Fellowship Housing Opportunities during NH Gives 2018.
Nancy Egner, Executive Director
Fellowship Housing Opportunities, Inc.