Serenity Steps — A valuable resource

BERLIN — Serenity Steps is located at 567 Main St, in Berlin. It has been serving area people with emotional or mental wellness challenges since 2003. Their services are free and confidential. It is a safe, welcoming place. As their mission statement states, they "provide a sanctuary where people 18 years old and older learn to create a personal vision leading to their own recovery."

At Serenity Steps, people are accepted for who they are, and encouraged to move forward to the life they chose to live: their best life. Mental illness is an illness of isolation. The acceptance and the support people receive when they enter the center allow them to risk trying new ways of relating to themselves and the community.

All the members and staff of Serenity Steps have been challenged by mental wellness issues. This sharing of lived experience allows each person to explore and come to understand what those life experiences mean to them and perhaps change the way they see and understand their world. This is called worldview.

Along with sharing those lived experiences, power is shared at Serenity Steps. No one person is the expert on someone else's experiences. There, they do not interpret another's experience, rather they learn from each other. These shared lived experiences, and the co-learning that is the result, allow people to decide which direction they want to go and to design the path they are willing to take, in order to live their best life.

"Speaking for myself, Serenity Steps has been a major part of my recovery. At Serenity Steps, I have seen people move forward, as have I. I believe others have also achieved a measure of stability that they may not have had before. I know I did. It is a good resource," said Ellen Tavino, team leader at Serenity Steps.

Serenity Steps offers support and educational groups, along with one-to-one peer support. They also offer social and recreational activities. They are open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Their services are free and open to any person who self-identifies as a current, past, or are a significant risk of using mental health services. They have a van, and provide transportation to and from the center. For more information call (603) 752-8111.

CASA of NH celebrates 26 years of dedicated child advocacy

MANCHESTER — CASA of N.H. capped off its 26th year with its annual celebration honoring CASA advocates and community partners for their dedication to improving the lives of the state's abused and neglected children.
In addition to honoring 41 advocates for milestone years of service – 26 five-year advocates, nine 10-year advocates and six 15-year advocates – CASA also awarded its honorees for its second annual Judge of the Year Award – the Hon. Susan Ashley, out of Rochester Family Court – and third annual John McDermott Champion of Children Award – Kristy Lamont, Permanency Planning Coordinator for the Court Improvement project.
CASA also recognized three board members, stepping down after numerous years on the Board of Directors – Gerri Moriarty of Hollis, Patty Tollner of Nashua and Lynn Photiades of Bedford, while welcoming five new members who've joined the board – Judy Bergeron of Portsmouth, Arthur Bruinooge of Hollis, Kathy Christensen of Amherst, Benjamin Gaetjens-Oleson of Lancaster, and Linda Lovering of Meredith.
"Tonight, we celebrate another year of hard work. A year of brilliant successes and challenges beyond measure," CASA CEO and President Marty Sink said in her opening remarks to the more than 200 volunteers, family, friends and colleagues present at the celebration. "We celebrate the commitment of hundreds of people, past and present, and their tireless advocacy."
Two former CASA youth who spoke to the gathered guests earned standing ovations as they shared their successes that have been marked by the guidance of the CASAs in their lives. Dakota, 19, proudly shared that despite believing at 16 that she had little hope for a successful future, she is entering her sophomore year of college, due in large part to the encouragement she earned from her CASA and foster family.
Madison, 17, was adopted just hours before the evening event at the Manchester Country Club, and he also shared that he is bound for New York City next year to attend college, a dream he didn't know he had until he found stability with his adoptive family. Both teens expressed their sincere gratitude not only to their CASAs, but to the judges on their cases who they said took great care and consideration when listening to what they wanted for their futures.
In his remarks before swearing in CASA's newest advocates, the Hon. Edwin Kelly spoke to the importance of his and the state's other judges' duties to examine the facts of the case and make decisions based on the best information that can be gathered in a case.
"The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind world that it leaves to its children," Kelley said, quoting Dietrich Bonhoeffer. "Every person in this room is meeting that challenge day, after day, after day."
CASA of N.H. is a statewide, nonprofit organization that strives to protect every abused child's right to live, learn and grow in the embrace of a loving family. CASA's trained volunteers advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children who've come to the attention of New Hampshire's family court system through no fault of their own. Learn more about CASA at or call 800-626-0622.

Coos County Family Health Services now serving Veterans Choice Program

BERLIN — Coos County Family Health Services is now serving local residents participating in the Veterans Choice Program. Congress authorized the program in response to the delays that veterans experienced in obtaining care through the VA health system.

"We are pleased that Family Health has been approved to provide health care services to North Country veterans, and look forward to partnering with the Veterans Administration on this program and on other initiatives," said Patricia Couture, chief operating officer at Coos County Family Health Services.

The Veterans Choice Program allows eligible veterans to seek care from community-based providers when access to care may be delayed due to excessive travel or provider availability. Those interested in participating in the Veterans Choice Program should contact the VA Choice Hotline (1-866-606-8191) to confirm their eligibility for the program, and to obtain prior authorization to receive medical care via a family health provider.

"We are honored to serve veterans and their families," said Ken Gordon, CCFHS CEO. "The Veterans Choice Program will ease the burden of travel for many local veterans, and will also allow for care to be delivered in a more coordinated fashion at the community level."

"Special thanks to Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte who advocated tirelessly on behalf of North Country veterans and their families for this program," Gordon said.

Additional information about the program is available on line at or by calling the VA Choice Hotline at 1-866-606-8198. The hotline is used exclusively for ensuring eligibility for the VA Choice Program and to schedule non-VA care appointments. More information about how the program works can also be obtained by calling Karen Daley or Helen Roy at Family Health at (603) 752-2040.


Cutline: Brosnan retires from Family Health board

Asa-Brosnan---Bob-Pelchat---CCFHS---6-18-15The board of Directors of Coos County Family Health Services marked the retirement of Asa Brosnan of Shelburne from the board at their June meeting. Brosnan served as a board member of the organization for more than 12 years, and helped to grow and strengthen CCFHS during her tenure. Brosnan is picture here with CCFHS Board President, Bob Pelchat. For more information about Family Health, contact the organization by calling 752-2040 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

White River Junction VA Medical Center invites all to be a part of a 'Summer of Service'

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A new nationwide initiative called a 'Summer of Service' seeks the help of local communities to create and build partnerships to grow the number of individuals and organizations serving Veterans.

In Vermont and Western New Hampshire the White River Junction VA Medical Center is renewing its commitment to Veterans by inviting the community to visit and explore opportunities to serve Veterans during an open house at the medical center on July 2, from 1 to 4 p.m. The open house will be held in the Research Building (building 44) at 163 Veterans Drive White River Junction, Vt.

Veteran Services:

Veterans, Veteran Service Organizations, Community Partners and friends, are invited to learn about services available to Veterans like: the Women Veterans Health Care Clinic, Veterans Integrated Health Care for Primary and Mental Health, OEF/OIF/OND specialized care and services, Veterans Choice Program, Eligibility, Veterans Benefits, Vet Centers and more.

Career and Volunteer Opportunities:
• Career Opportunities: Speak with VA Human Resource Specialist to learn what exciting career opportunities are available and you might become part of the VA team providing compassionate care to Veterans.
• Volunteer Opportunities: Learn about the multiple ways you can lend a helping hand. This summer thank a Veteran and pledge the gift of time.

For Veterans Not Currently Enrolled in VA Care:
If you served in the Armed Forces and received an honorable discharge, you may qualify for health care benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. VA staff will be available to answer questions and assist Veterans with completing their VA health care application. Veterans and their family members can also visit information tables to learn more about VA compensation benefits and available health care services.
If you know a Veteran who is not receiving VA health care services, is experiencing a financial hardship or is returning from military service, then Tell-A-Vet about this important VA open house and information fair.

All are welcome to stop by to ask questions, register for care, or learn how you can help Veterans in your community.

If you have questions about the open house contact Naaman Horn, Public Affairs Officer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information about the White River Junction VAMC and its services go to