Video: Day of Caring a Force for Good in the Greater Seacoast

“The only thing that can’t come down is the monkey!”

Pati Frew-Waters, Executive Director of Seacoast Family Promise in Stratham, dashes to the middle of the room and explains to the onlookers. The funny-looking stuffed monkey, she says, represents not only levity for kids who are in a heavy situation, but also structure. You can look at the monkey but you can’t take him down. Those are the rules. And like any home, you have to follow the rules.

It’s an anecdote that helps Frew-Waters educate new people about the work being done at Seacoast Family Promise, a shelter that leverages a network of faith communities to provide temporary housing for homeless families. The audience in this instance was a group of 11 volunteers from Lindt & Sprungli, gathered to help scrub, wash, paint, dust, weed and trim for the annual United Way Day of Caring.

“We always appreciate the volunteer opportunities Day of Caring offers,” says Frew-Waters. “It gives us a chance to spread our mission, make new friends and clean and upgrade the facility so it makes it feel like home for our families.”

Kristina Romboletti, Marketing Coordinator for Lindt & Sprungli, is hard at work cleaning a massive amount of toys. She pauses from the spritzing and wiping to share her appreciation of the event.

“We’re fortunate that Lindt gives us this day to go into the community,” said “This really opens your eyes to the programs that are out there and what the community needs from us. And we’re office people, so it’s nice to get out and get our hands dirty.”

Up the road in Greenland at New Generation, a homeless shelter for new and expecting mothers and, like Seacoast Family Promise, a United Way partner organization, similar work was happening. There, 18 representatives from NextEra Energy Seabrook (including three retirees) painted a new transition apartment, filled a truck with brush and cleaned the grounds of the neighboring Second Generation Thrift Shoppe.

“I just love the opportunity to get out and help an organization that can really use it,” said John Halchak, a NextEra employee on his fifth Day of Caring. “This is a place that needs volunteers and that’s why I enjoy coming here each year.”

Lindt and NextEra were joined by 51 other companies and groups, which delivered over 700 volunteers to serve at 49 non-profit agencies throughout the service area of United Way of the Greater Seacoast: Rockingham and Strafford Counties in New Hampshire, and Kittery and Eliot, Maine. Day of Caring is held on September 11 each year, which is the National Day of Service.

“Day of Caring is our crown jewel of volunteerism for a reason,” says Cindy Boyd, Managing Director of United Way of the Greater Seacoast. “It’s a perfect example of how United Way works to strengthen the region. We bring together all sectors to work together and make something great happen.”