FSNH Annual Meeting 2015

Kaitlyn gazes at her newborn son during the FSNH Annual Meeting.

CONCORD -- "If it wasn't for The Family Resource Center (of Greater Tilton), I wouldn't be here today," said Kaitlyn during a panel discussion at the Family Support New Hampshire Annual Meeting on Tuesday.

Kaitlyn has a story that many would say is becoming much too common. She began using heroin at the age of 13 and believed she would never recover. 

"When you're a junkie, you kind of just accept that is who you are," she said, "I understood that I'd always be that way." 

But, with Protective Factors in play, the staff at her local family resource center and tremendous personal strength and resilience, Kaitlyn is two years sober. Her family resource center helped her set goals, find childcare for her oldest son and provided emotional support during her recovery.

"They believed in me when nobody else did, and I'm so grateful for that," she said.

On Tuesday, October 20, 2015 a network of staff from family resource centers statewide, called Family Support New Hampshire, met for their annual meeting at Camp Spaulding in Concord. Kaitlyn was just one of a slew of impactful presentations on topics addressing the opioid crisis, two-generation approaches to family care, resilience in families and reinforcement for the work they do every day.

"Our success is not an accident, or a result of being at the right event and the right time.  We have worked hard.  We are not just a group of nice women and men doing nice things for our community," says FSNH President Erin Boylan during a presentation to the entire network, "We are advocates, warriors and a force to be reckoned with."  

Among the grassroots family resource center workers was Mary Stuart Gile, a NH representative and long-standing champion for children and families. She presented the Family Support NH Kay Sidway award to one woman for her excellence in family support and strengthening work. 

Sue Watson accepted the FSNH Kay Sidway Award for Family Support, which recognizes an individual who embodies the Principles of Family Support and Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework. Sue has been a leader in family support and home visiting in New Hampshire for over a decade. As Director of Family Support Services at the Family Resource Center of Gorham, she provided quality family-centered, strength-based support to families and served as a knowledgeable colleague, mentor and coach to her staff as well as the extensive list of community partners in Coos and Grafton County.

Family Support NH established the award to recognize a professional working in the field of family support who embodies the skills and values that inspired so many to look to Kay Sidway, former director of the Children’s Place and Parent Education Center, as a mentor.  Kay was an early champion in New Hampshire of parent leadership, family resource centers, and the importance of early childhood.

Family resource centers provide comprehensive services to parents and their children, from pregnancy through age 18, by using a two-generation approach; meaning that services are designed to address the needs of both children and those who care for them. In most cases, services include parenting classes, parent-child groups, early learning centers, play groups, assistance with tax preparation, information and referral, after school assistance and other programs to meet specific community needs.  Family resource centers are open to all families and can be especially supportive of families struggling with challenging issues, limited financial resources and/or troubled family dynamics.  

All family resource centers seek to strengthen families by promoting health, wellbeing, self-sufficiency and positive parenting through support and education. Most family resource centers, and other types of family support programs, belong to the statewide network called Family Support New Hampshire

"I'm here. I'm proof that the family resource center helped me achieve my goals," said Kaitlyn concluding her presentation, "Almost two years of sobriety, and I'm here."