Member Profile

The Friends Program

The Friends Program recruits volunteers to meet community needs and restore hope in the human spirit. The organization marshals a corps of about 800 volunteers who mentor at-risk youth, sheler homeless families, and help seniors actively contribute to the community. Started in 1975 as a youth mentorig organization, the Friends Program has evolved over the past four decades to support a growing number of our most vulnerable neighbors. Our Four Programs include:

  • Friends Youth Mentoring (1975): a small professional staff matches volunteers with Merrimack County youth who are referred to us through a network of over 30 schools, human service nonprofits, and public agencies. About 130 volunteer mentors participate in the program annually. Volunteer mentors devote approximately 11,500 hours to support their "Junior Friends" each year.
  • Friends Emergency Housing (1980): The Friends Program operates the only shelter exclusively for families in Merrimack County. Occupancy at this 8-unit facility is functionally at 100% capacity. On any given night, between 20 to 32 guests are sheltered here. In addition to having a safe and secure place where homeless families can remain together as a unit, adult clients meet regularly with a case manager, who connects them with resources that can help them find and keep affordable housig of their own.
  • Friends Foster Grandparent (1984): N.H. low-income seniors volunteering with this program are matched with local schools, child care centers and afterschool programs were they provide individualized academic support to schoolchildren needing extra help. Foster Grandparent is a federal program that is overseen by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Friends Program is its statewide sponsor for N.H. Through a grant from CNCS, the Friends Program is able to provide volunteers with a very modest, tax-free stipend that does not affect Social Security or other senior benefits.
  • Friends Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) (2006): The Friends Program manages this CNCS-funded federal program in Merrimack, Rockingham, Belknap, and Strafford counties. RSVP is essentially a volunteer placement service that matches senior volunteers with nonprofits and public agencies. Approximately 500 volunteers serve at over 130 locations, combining to contribute about 60,000 hours of annual service. Friends RSVP also operates a pair of signature programs. The Caregiver Program matches homebound seniors with volunteer drivers, who bring clients to medical appointments and to run other vital errands. Additionally, Friends Bone Builders is an osteoporosis prevention program that is led by certified volunteers who conduct 29 senior exercise sessions every week at locations throughout our service areas.

Volunteer New Hampshire "Spirit of NH" Awards given to RSVP volunteers Jeff Colcord, Elaine Marie Connors, Estelle O'Donnell, Lorraine Hernandez, Arlene Bassett, Sue Depouy, Louise Chartier and Betty Corriea, November 2016

New Hampshire Partners in Education "2016 Volunteer of the Year" Award given to Foster Grandparent Frances Anderson, October 2016

Concord Rotary Club "Service Above Self" Award  given to Foster Granparent Diane Wells, June 2016

Campus Compact for New Hampshire "Presidents' Community Partner" Award given to the Emergency Housing Program, April 2016

State of New Hampshire "Friends Program 40 Years of Service" Governor Commendation, June 22, 2015

New England Patriots Foundation "Difference Maker of the Week Award ~ December 28, 2014" bestowed upon RSVP volunteer Caren Bonisteel

State of New Hampshire "Youth Mentoring Month" Governor Proclamation, Janaury 2014

Call Development Director Laura Scott at 603-228-7604 or visit 

Posted on: Thursday, October 12, 2017

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