Listen Community Services
In A Nutshell:
Listen provides services and support to meet the critical needs of Upper Valley individuals and families via community dinners, a food pantry, heating/housing assistance, summer camp scholarships, holiday baskets, a teen center, crisis counseling , and thrift stores.
Why They Rock (highlights from 2010):
- Listen provided emergency fuel aid through a program called Heating Helpers: 354 households received fuel assistance totaling $109,775.
- Listen organized Community Dinners five nights a week; close to 40 volunteer cook teams provided the manpower which served 6 meals a week at 4 locations.
- Their Food Pantry provided 1,117 household visits which totaled $98,059 worth of meals.
If Listen were a website then ‘Amazon for the Good’ would an appropriate fit since they provide everything: mentoring, food, utility bill assistance, clothes…the necessities of life. I got a good taste of all their programs under the guidance of volunteer coordinator AJ and received my first chokehold on tour!
I arrived at the Listen headquarters in Lebanon, New Hampshire (miles from Dartmouth), and I was put to work outside the Thrift Store Drop-Off under the direction of compassionate Ruth…she handed me broom and dustpan to beautify the area (I have mastered a new cigarette-claw technique). Next, I was transported to the food pantry and laid-back Ray got me sorting cans (FYI – donating beans from May 2006 is good for aliens and not humans). While stacking chili and corn niblets, AJ (UFC style fighter/scuba diver) demonstrated a chokehold on my head…my esophagus is still recovering although the organic free lunch from Listen soothed everything.
Still breathing and I crossed to the Connecticut river to kick-off the community garden with easy-going Amanda from The Junction (drop-in center for at-risk youth). We composted, prepared the soil for planting, and played HORSE on the b-ball court with Junction staff and teenagers…they were trick-shot pros. I did a quick pit-stop back at The Junction headquarters (supercool rec/kitchen/lounge) – a safe spot for the teenagers, and I was treated to a refreshing smoothie from Chico (he is supercool…look for his banana photo).
Off again from White River Junction to Lebanon to help ‘Chokehold AJ’ with community dinner. There were about 50 guests who showed up and they were extremely grateful for a warm meal, most likely the only one they will receive each day. My assignment was clean-up duty and I was pleasantly surprised that some guests pitched in to mop the floors…I think I did a good job cause I was not karate chopped by AJ.
Hospitality in the Upper Valley region was supplied by Marriott via a stranger (Sean – now friend) who heard about 50Give via my friend Jaclyn. Sean generously donated points from his credit card for perfect accommodations: Wi-Fi, machines for laundry, and complimentary breakfast…complimentary is high-class for free! This kind of support proves giving and volunteerism is important and I hope the tour will inspire others to do anything in the name of positivity.
Listen focuses on providing the basics of life incorporated with a family style approach. They are providing shelter for the community and I could list all the programs but the love doesn’t stop there – they listen to people…this provides hope.
“A friend is someone who helps you up when you’re down, and if they can’t, they lay down beside you and listen.”