On Tuesday, November 15, the Chase Home in Portsmouth will host its 3rd Annual Wine, Appetizer & Chocolate Tasting at Demeters Steakhouse with more than 80 expected in attendance. The narrative behind the need for such a fundraising event, however, is more compelling than many in the community might realize.
“For years, Chase Home has operated behind the scenes on the Seacoast,” said Executive Director Meme Wheeler, who noted the nonprofit agency was founded in 1877. “In light of the opiate epidemic and other factors, we have become more vocal about what we do and who we serve so we can better meet community needs.
Operating a residential home for youth, ages 11 to 19, and an Independent Living Program for youth up to age 21, Chase Home also provides services in the community to try and prevent the separation of families. In some cases, Chase Home is successful. In others, it is not.
“We work with so many different agencies to try and make things work—it is not just the kids, we work with parents, too,” she said. “Sometimes, though, the situation is at a crisis level and kids need to be placed here or in other facilities—it can be heart wrenching.”
In many cases, though, the parents struggle as much as the children.
“For every child living in our home, one or both of the caregivers are struggling with drug addiction,” she said. “The opiate epidemic is very real to us and the people we serve.”
Examples of other kinds of kids with whom Chase Home works includes those who have been neglected, abandoned, or abused. In other cases, youth may have committed delinquent acts and have consequently become ensnared in the juvenile justice system. In every case, however, the kids and youth are in active crisis, which has begun to attract the attention of corporate and individual support.
Insurcomm, Piscataqua Savings Bank, Newburyport Five Cents Bank, and The Provident Bank represent just a few of Chase Home’s largest supporters. Smaller businesses, including Laney & Lu in Exeter, have also stepped up to support Chase Home.
“When I learned about what they do and the families they serve, I knew I had to get involved,” said Laney & Lu Owner Jennifer Desrosiers, who also founded WILD ADVENTUROUS LIFE, a wellness and lifestyle media company.
In addition to raising funds to support Chase Home, Desrosiers, who also teaches yoga, said she has begun to offer yoga classes for the kids, too.
“I want the kids to recognize how truly important and amazing they are,” she said. “Yoga is a powerful and uplifting tool that they can to use nurture themselves and build confidence. It helps create balance and ease holistically—mind, body, and spirit. I encourage the kids to push themselves in loving ways and to laugh…a lot.”
According to Chase Home Board President Rob Levey, Desrosiers’ commitment to the community exemplifies a growing movement on the Seacoast in which businesses lead by their hearts as much as their strategic acumen.
“We cannot work alone to meet the needs of kids on the Seacoast, and so her support and that of so many other community oriented businesses means so much,” he said. “With Meme leading an incredibly talented staff and the community rallying around our kids and families, I believe we can save lives…It’s already happening.”
In looking ahead to the future, Wheeler said the entire staff and board are working to ensure November’s fundraiser is as successful as possible. She expressed gratitude for anyone who has already shown their support and invited others to do the same.
“Chase Home has been part of the community since the 1870’s,” she said. “We invite everyone to join us and support our mission…Let’s take care of our kids.”
To learn more about Chase Home, or to purchase tickets for its 3rd Annual Wine, Appetizer & Chocolate Tasting at Demeters Steakhouse on Tuesday, November 15, visit www.chasehome.org.