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Belknap and Merrimack Community Action Agency programs.

Families facing a hardship can turn to the Community Action Program of Belknap-Merrimack for case management and support. The non-profit will do its best to address the crisis, whether it is lack of food or assistance needed for utilities, while helping the individual overcome their long term challenge.

If the agency can’t assist, they often have referrals. So case managers from the non-profit can direct clients to other options, such as government resources or maybe local charities in the region, such as Merrimack County. They also usually have information on other benefits available, such as SNAP food stamps.

Find help for seniors

Additional senior assistance is available in many of the agencies Belknap and Merrimack County communities. They all have a common goal, with is to promote independence and well-being of the elderly through a healthy lifestyle. This also touches upon a variety of volunteer opportunities, increased social interaction, human services, numerous community integration projects, educational seminars, and rural transportation services.

Community Action Program of Belknap-Merrimack (CAP) has many resources for older adults. Some of them include free Meals on Wheels, The Fixit Program for home repairs, Elderly Housing, and job placement in New Hampshire from Community Service Employment. Much more may be offered too.

Low income housing assists local communities, in particular those with senior members, within Belknap and Merrimack Counties. It is available in the development of affordable, independent living housing for the elderly. Units are leased out as rent subsidized, with the tenants required to pay 30 percent of their adjusted income for their monthly rental expenses. There are apartments in Riverside, Franklin, Alton, Warner, Epsom, and Belmont, among other towns.

Job placement for seniors is part of SCSEP. It provides unemployed NH residents aged 55 and older with subsidized community service-based training at local nonprofit, charities or public training sites. Participants work each week for minimum wage at host sites in non-profit or public facilities. The program’s aim is to provide a period of training and relevant experience to clients that then leads to unsubsidized employment opportunities.




Funds for rent and bills from Community Action of Belknap-Merrimack

Homeless and eviction prevention is part of the Community Action Program of Belknap-Merrimack resources. The non-profit CAP will periodically receive federal funding through the Stewart B. McKinney initiative. Any funds will always be designated for use as one-time emergency rental assistance to individuals or families to prevent eviction. There may also be grants used for utility disconnection, security deposits and other events that lead to homelessness.

The Homeless Outreach Intervention Program case managers also travel throughout the local towns and communities. They do this in order to engage people who are out on the streets and difficult to reach. This enables the non-profit to assist them in accessing appropriate shelter, maybe apply for a loan for their security deposit or fist months rent, and other services for which they may be eligible.

The community action agencies New Start Program offers a two-year continuum of care that provides human services to individuals. It will incorporate service plans, prevention, and intervention, as well as access to low income apartments and support services, for persons in the Concord area who are homeless or at risk of evictions.

Utility bill assistance from the New Hampshire Electric Assistance Program provides government grants or credits to be used to pay for electricity or gas bills. This is for low income income-eligible customers.

Any financial assistance is in the form of a discount of five to seventy percent on monthly electric bills. The amount of the discount is determined based on gross household income. This is offered by CAP working with local utility companies, including New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, Public Service of New Hampshire as well as others.

Non-profits and community action agency all participate in Neighbor Helping Neighbor Program. This provides cash grants of up to $300 toward paying utility or energy bills for households that may not be income-eligible for CAP’s other assistance programs. But it is an option for those that have experienced a crisis or hardship leading to a utility shut-off.

Any grant monies paid out by the agency must be used toward utility bill payments only and can’t pay for any other expenses. Households with a member over age 60 are not required to show a shut-off notice. Applications for this program are available and accepted at local CAP offices.





Employment and educational support

The under or unemployed can benefit from the WorkForce Investment Act. Community Action Program of Belknap-Merrimack is involved in running this, and it will increase the rate of employment, job retention, and earnings among community members. In addition to that, it will improve the quality and skillset of the workforce in regard to skills and abilities.

This objective is accomplished by providing employment and job training services to dislocated (unemployed) workers and other adults who are aged 18 and older. Based on each individual’s needs and goals, WIA offers job search, skills assessment and placement assistance. There are also workshops held on occupational skills training, group career counseling, and case management.

Child development from Head Start is a resource for low income families. The goal is to provide comprehensive services to families with young children (three to five years) that effectively prepare them for beginning kindergarten and becoming successful in school and within their communities.

Some of the program services include an individualized and age-appropriate educational curriculum in a four to five-day weekly session, an array of support services; center-based setting, free medical and dental health screenings and follow up care. The community action agency will also offer nutritious meals and snacks, supported with nutritional information.

Parental involvement in all aspects of the program and the child’s development is strongly encouraged. Each center that participates in Head start also has a family service worker on staff to provide support and assistance to each enrollee. Full-day, full-year, subsidized child care is also offered at the Laconia and Concord centers.

Similar to above is the federal Early Head Start program. This is just for children under the age of 4. It will provide them with Parental Involvement and Education, Center-Based, Full-Day Child Care, Medical and free Dental Screenings, Nutrition Education, and more. Parents also play a key role in this too.

Food programs

An array of nutritious USDA commodities are distributed from the Emergency Food Assistance Program. For those that qualify, items are usually distributed at no charge. There may be groceries and meals for families and individuals in need of food assistance.

The agency is the statewide coordinator for the distribution of TEFAP commodities, with distribution to local churches, food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and a wide variety of charitable institutions across Belknap and nearby counties.

Women and young children can benefit from Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children - WIC. This is the main federal resource that provides assistance to income-eligible postpartum, pregnant and nutritionally at-risk infants and children.

Using federal funds and grants, WIC provides free nutritious foods, baby formula, health screenings, and referrals to health care providers or social services. Some of the other assistance from Community Action Program of Belknap-Merrimack for participants include nutrition-related education about appropriate foods to eat during pregnancy. So lower income women will receive the support they need during this timeframe.




The CSFP (Commodity Supplemental Food Program) furnishes free nutritious foods to supplement the diets and improve the health of income-eligible seniors. The monthly supplemental food package passed out to them will contain a variety of foods, such as nonfat dry and evaporated milk; soups, juice; rice; pasta; peanut butter; cereal, canned fruits and vegetables; yogurt, canned meat, or tuna; and cheese.

Case managers from Merrimack-Belknap CAP also provide nutrition education in regard to meal preparation as well as dietary intake. Food and the educational material is distributed at the Concord Warehouse and in communities throughout Coos, Merrimack, Belknap, and Grafton Counties.

The location of Community Action Program of Belknap-Merrimack Counties is at Concord, New Hampshire 03302-1016. Call the center at 603-225-3295.


By Jon McNamara











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