If your agency is developing or has recently developed housing for the homeless, please email[email protected]to have it listed on our website!
On the Edge…At the Center
Stories from the Manchester Homeless Services Center
By Christopher Emerson, Manager
Too Important to Wreck
Let’s admit it, tensions can build when the homeless gather. The other day a couple guys were beginning to ramp up in their caustic comments to each other. It looked like a fight was brewing. Another guest called me out to intervene. When I got there, I heard another homeless man say to the angry guys, “Hey, cut it out! This place is too important for us. What would we do without it? Don’t wreck it!”
The tension ebbed away.
In that moment I was once again proud of this Center and pleased that its value is recognized and protected by the homeless themselves.
Ultimately, we all need to take responsibility for our own behavior and the behavior of our own community. We sometimes even need to intervene when the peace of the community is threatened. That is a lesson every sector of society needs to keep re-learning and reinforcing.
Even though the assistant manager and I are in charge of the Center, every day I try to strengthen that precious feeling of responsibility and accountability among our guests. Often that is a major step on the path toward self-sufficiency
Save the Date!
Families in Transition will be hosting its cinco de mayo celebration this year on Thursday, May 3, 2012 from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. in Manchester, NH at 1000 Elm Street.
Proceeds from this annual fundraiser will help support the homeless and FIT’s ongoing programs and services. A fun evening of live music, dancing, and Mexican fare is lined up along with a live and silent auction.
Individual tickets are $40 and VIP tickets are $75. More information is available at www.fitnh.org/cinco
Jennifer Comeau, Adolescent Outreach Social Worker
What is your name and position at Child and Family Services?
My name is Jennifer Comeau and I am the Adolescent Outreach Social Worker at Child and Family Services.
How long have you had that job title and how would you describe it?
I have been at CFS since June of 2011 and absolutely love what I do. As an outreach social worker I spend most of my time in the community and at schools speaking with youth under the age of 18 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. If a young person is interested in meeting with me, we can work together on attaining their goals and connecting to community resources. My office is at our Teen Resource Center on 99 Hanover St which is a drop-in center where youth have access to free resources like showers, laundry, clothing, food, computers, and counselors like me!
Are there any specific Continuum activities you’d like to highlight?(involvement with the Point-In-Time Count, MCoC meetings etc.)
I am an MCoC member in order to best represent youth who are homeless. Youth Homelessness is a huge problem that is often downplayed in our community and state as a whole. For example, when I attended the national conference for Runaway and Homeless Youth, I found out that we are one of the only states without a youth shelter. I feel like the MCOC offers an opportunity to discuss and improve some of these pressing issues youth face in our community. I enjoy learning about what other agencies are doing, but more importantly I like connecting with and learning from other individual members.
What should someone know about your organization?
I’d like to share the fun fact that many youth refer to our drop in center as “the 404.” This name came about because the drop in center used to be located on 404 Chestnut St. but is now on 99 Hanover St. So I’m just dropping the hint that, if you want to be cool, then you too can refer to us as “the 404” every once in while. Also, I think others should know that our programs really attend to youth whose situations are in the “gray area” in terms of the overall service system. For example, youth are not eligible for our program if they are involved in DJJS or DCYF. The program is really designed for youth who are slipping through the cracks.
What do you love most about your job?
Everyday I come to work and have the privilege of being in the presence of the most inspiring and strong youth in the world. These are youth who are brave enough to come to an adult and work on themselves as students, as family members, or just as people. No one is dragging them to do this but this is something they want. I am blown away by each and every single young person that I get to speak with and continue to learn so much from them.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Besides eating ice cream? I enjoy anything that involves being outside, and/or dancing. I also have a huge gardening habit and enjoy growing food.
Thank you, Jennifer Comeau, for your continued support and participation in the Manchester Continuum of Care!
Our heartfelt congratulations to Chris Emerson, Director of the Homeless Service Center, who received the St. Anselm’s President’s Award for Community Partnerships at the NH College and University Council’s President’s Awards luncheon in April. Chris has worked with St. Anselm’s students continuously since taking over as Director of the Center to affect everything from systems to marketing to daily flow. His blog (www.manchesterhsc.blogspot.com) is a mere glimpse into the important community work the Center does every day for the city’s homeless and the successes they see from it. We are fortunate in Manchester to have so many agencies doing work to support vulnerable populations in every way, and are always glad to see one of our own held up for recognition (although he may not be!). Thank you to Chris and his staff and volunteers for their passion and commitment to the cause of eradicating homelessness in the Queen City!
MCoC Community Outreach Committee Co-Chairs
Loretta Prescott | Susan Howland
Serenity Place | City of Manchester/Granite United Way