On Thursday, April 19, several dozen entrepreneurs, local business owners and community members gathered at Tuscan Kitchen in Portsmouth for a night of “elevated style and wellness,” but the purpose behind it was much deeper.
“I’m from Portsmouth, and I want people to know about Chase Home and what it does,” said Graham Shaffer-Rais, who has planned several similar events with fellow J. Hilburn Stylist Bill MacDonald. “These events get everyone in a room for a great time, but it also gives us a chance to talk about Chase Home.”
Founded in 1877, Chase Home has historically served children in the most need, which places staff today in the front lines of the opioid crisis, cases of abandonment and abuse, and extreme delinquency.
“These are the kids that need the most support in our society, and there are no quick fixes,” said Chase Home Executive Director Meme Wheeler.
Some of the kids the agency serves live at Chase Home. In these cases, staff provide 24/7 support and guidance to youth, ages 11 to 17, many of whom are at grave risk for suicide. In 2017, Chase Home received funds from Exeter Hospital with other partner agencies to form the Seacoast Youth Suicide Prevention Network (SYSPN).
“At first glance, the Seacoast appears to be a beautiful place, so are there really problems here?” Wheeler rhetorically noted. “The answer is ‘absolutely,’ and teen suicide might be the biggest issue we face as a local community, which is why we are laying the groundwork to more effectively fight and prevent it.”
As far as she is concerned, events like Spring Gentlemen’s Night represent an important opportunity for Chase Home to not only raise money, but awareness.
“Helping people understand what we face everyday is critical,” she said. “Our relationship with Bill and Graham extends back more than a year now, and we could not be more thankful for their support.”
In total, the event raised more $2,500 to support Chase Home, which includes The Provident Bank and Port City Nissan each donating $500 as co-sponsors. In addition to providing several big ticket items for a raffle, Tuscan Kitchen donated the food and the space for the event.
“It is so great to have a place like Tuscan Kitchen where we can host events like this one,” said Shaffer-Rais. “With their support and well over 15 businesses that donated to the cause, we were able to give Chase Home and their kids a boost.”
To learn more about Chase Home, which serves kids on the immediate Seacoast and throughout the state, visit www.chasehome.org.