Marguerite’s Place celebrates 25 years in Nashua
NASHUA – As 2019 progresses, staff members at Marguerite’s Place are spending the year recognizing 25 years of hard work from dedicated employees, countless volunteers, the community and most importantly, the residents themselves.
Marguerite’s Place was established in 1994 by two Grey Nuns, Sister Sharon Walsh and Sister Elaine Fahey, who worked to serve at-risk homeless women and their children.
“The decision was made to establish Marguerite’s Place Inc. in Nashua because at the time, there were no long-term housing with services with on-site child care for this population in the entire state of New Hampshire. This has proven to be an important decision, as the number of women and children at risk continues to rise each year,” states the nonprofit organization’s history online.
Sister Sharon and Sister Elaine ended up first buying two buildings on Palm Street and then several condominiums that are scattered throughout the city. Many families have come and gone during the 25 years.
At Marguerite’s Place, the philosophy is, “True charity does not consist in doing for others but in helping others do for themselves.”
“Marguerite’s Place Inc. staff stand firm in believing that if people are motivated and given the opportunity to acquire skills of daily living in a safe, secure environment, they will be able to work miracles in their lives,” it states on the nonprofit’s history page.
Executive Director of Marguerite’s Place Mary Jordan said officials run a very structured program.
“When (the mothers) come in here they have an apartment that is furnished and they can stay here for two years, until they really get established, and while they are here they have to either work, be in a training program or be in school for 30 hours a week. They have to be doing something very productive during the week,” Jordan said. The rent is considerably cheaper than many places around the city, and in turn, the mothers get access to case managers, free on-site child care and various services in the community.
Director of Development and Public Relations Christa Tsechrintzis added, “They have to work hard for what they accomplish here, and if they do it right and take advantage of all the services, they really can get ahead.”
The women come from all walks of life.
Jordan said, “They have all come from situations of crisis – physical abuse, mental abuse, poverty is huge, drugs, substance abuse, chronic homelessness, mental health issues,” Jordan said. “There’s so many reasons why a person becomes homeless and then there are so many things to fix before they are actually ready to go out on their own and feel confident about it. So it’s a process. It’s not easy at all.”
But when the women pick themselves back up and put in the hard work, it makes it worth it.
sechrintzis said, “Every time there’s a really big success with one of the mothers, where the mother puts a lot of hard work in and you see that progression, you celebrate as if you’re part of their family.”
The sense of community at Marguerite’s Place is strong.
Jordan, who has been with the organization for about a year, said, “What I have seen is an organization that is so nurtured by the community in a way that I’ve never seen before. The community just surrounds this place. They donate and give money, they get diapers and soap, they celebrate holidays here.”
Jordan said they had a woman who, earlier in the day, had came in with a quilt for every child. And aside from the outside community, women within Marguerite’s Place have formed their own small community. Jordan said the women help each other with child care at night. And thanks to grant funding, there will also be a new family support group beginning soon, where the families will get together for a meal and work with a child psychologist.
The majority of the budget for Marguerite’s Place comes from donations and grants, Jordan noted.
Tsechrintzis said this shows the generosity of donors, and many of whom, Tsechrintzis said, have never stepped foot in the building. Along with donors, Tsechrintzis said the help of volunteers is also crucial. Last year, volunteers at Marguerite’s Place put in over 1,000 hours of time.
Tsechrintzis said they will be celebrating 25 years all year long. They will be hosting a gala which will showcase previous residents and their success stories in October.