Health

Riverfire 5k Run/Walk to benefit Response

BERLIN — Organizers are pleased to announce that the third Annual RiverFire 5K Run/Walk will take place on Saturday, Oct. 17, once again in conjunction with Berlin’s annual RiverFire Celebration. The event follows a flat and fast, picturesque course along the Androscoggin River beginning and ending at Northern Forest Heritage Park where other RiverFire events are centered.

Runners and walkers of all ages and ability levels are encouraged to participate either individually or as part of teams. Handcrafted awards will be presented to the fastest overall male and female finishers with $50 incentive bonuses offered to the first male and female to break the course records of 16:36 for men set by Brian Beegle and 19:38 set by Amanda Dubs in last year’s race. Commemorative medals will also be awarded to the top three male and female finishers in the several ages categories.

Groups of three or more family, friends or co-workers are also being encouraged to join together and participate as teams. Though awards will be awarded to the fastest three teams (times of 3 fastest runners added together) there is also an award for the team with the “most original theme” as reflected by the team’s name and appearance. This award may be presented to teams of either runners, walkers or a combination of both.

Registration for the third annual RiverFire 5K Run/Walk is $20 until Oct. 8 and includes a T-shirt. After Oct. 8, registration increases to $25 and a T-shirt is not guaranteed.

Participants may register online through www.racemenu.com or in person at any of the Coos Country Family Health Services offices in either Berlin or Gorham. A paper registration may also be downloaded from www.coosfamilyhealth.com or www.avhnh.org and mailed in.

All proceed from the third annual RiverFire 5K Run/Walk will benefit Response, a non profit organization which provides services to those affected by domestic or sexual violence here in the North Country.

Lab Technologist celebrates 50 years at Weeks Medical Center

LANCASTER — For Mona Riendeau, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!” That’s the philosophy Riendeau has lived by throughout her life and during her 50-year career working in the laboratory at Weeks Medical Center. It has served her well.

There was no great plan in Riendeau's career path. It began simply by looking for a good job to support herself and her family. She found that job on Oct. 12, 1965, after walking into Weeks and saying, “I want to work here.” She immediately liked the welcoming, relaxed atmosphere of the hospital. Today, Riendeau looks back on her 50 years at Weeks with great pride.

“Weeks means family to me,” Riendeau says wiping a teary eye. “I’m honored to have served four generations within the community.“

When Riendeau started at Weeks she really didn’t know what she wanted to do, or realize it would lead to a lifelong career. “I started by drawing phlebotomy in the lab and doing whatever was required of me,” she says. “It’s a miracle that it all happened.”

Riendeau did have the plan to become a medical secretary. She took classes at Becker Junior College, but she “hated them.” It was the few classes having to do with lab work that really interested her. When she later learned about a program to train lab technicians run by Dr. Robert Christie, she decided to sign up. Later, to further her education, she attended night classes twice a week. She did this while working full time at Weeks and part time at Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin.

“I would work at Weeks from 6 a.m. till 2:30 p.m., go home for a short rest, then be at AVH from 4 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Then back to Weeks at 6 a.m.,” Mona says. “I traveled throughout the North Country for classes to get ahead. I eventually got my medical technician degree and then my medical technologist degree. Where there’s a will ...”

Riendeau worked full time at Weeks and part time at AVH for 26 years. While she’s since left AVH behind, she still draws labs for Country Village Healthcare Center/Holton Point twice a week. She’s being doing lab work there for 35 years.

Even with all her freelancing, Riendeau has always been committed to Weeks. “I’ve had a lot of fun while working at Weeks,” she says. “We had many laughs along the way. I’ve worked with some great people in and out of the lab, and some terrific physicians, through the years. I’m still good friends with my first lab supervisor, Ruth Ann Bernier.

“When I first started in the lab, we were still using frogs to test for pregnancy by injecting them with the woman’s urine. The doctors would play jokes on us all the time by putting a frog in a coffee cup so it would jump out when anyone took a sip. I still say laughter is the best medicine,” Riendeau says.

The biggest challenge she faced was being on call for the hospital. “Being called in always seemed to happen at the strangest times. Once I was out at a fancy ‘shin ding’ wearing a fancy black gown. The patient was really surprised to see me all dressed up to draw blood,” Riendeau says. “Another time I had to rush in to draw labs with curlers in my hair.” Despite the bad timing, “I never questioned the need to be called in. It was all in the best interest of the patients.”

Riendeau dedicated service has even influenced her grandchildren. All three grandchildren chose healthcare for their careers. “Dagan is a certified orthopedic physician assistant, Adam is an interventional radiology technician, and Katelyn is a doctor of physical therapy. All three graduated with honors and I am very proud of them,” she says.

During her 50 years at Weeks, Riendeau has also seen numerous changes and improvements. “The lab staff works very hard,” she says. “When I first started everything was done manually. We didn’t have the technology we have today. We could not keep up with today’s volume if we were still processing tests like we did when I first started. The computer also has helped a lot. No more paper logs. It also has cut down on time as well as alerting the lab and providers to critical results.”

The lab itself also has been transformed. “In the past we used to drink, eat, and smoke in the lab. That’s not allowed today. The coffee pot used to be next to where they tested urine. The blood draw chair, which was an old-fashioned school desk, used to be right in the middle of the lab. Things have definitely changed for the better,” she says.

Riendeau doesn’t see herself retiring, although she may cut down to three days a week next year. “I still have a big house to take care of,” she says. In her spare time, she likes to work in her flower garden and visit the Oxford Casino. “I won $6000 one time. And it’s fun to get out of town,” she says. And Riendeau loves to have fun.

As to her 50-year legacy at Weeks, Riendeau says: “I’m proud of my phlebotomy skills and that I’m frequently requested by patients. I’d like to be remembered for always being here.”

MonaMedical technologist Mona Riendeau will celebrate 50 years working in the laboratory at Weeks Medical Center on Oct. 12.

Scholarships offered by National Federation of the Blind of NH

The National Federation of the Blind of New Hampshire offers two scholarships each year in memory of former members who generously gave money to further the education of blind and visually impaired students of New Hampshire.

The Floyd M. Callward $1,000 Memorial Scholarship is open to any legally-blind resident of New Hampshire or a legally-blind non-resident who is currently or who will be studying in New Hampshire at the post-secondary level next fall. No restrictions apply to field of study.

The Theresa C. Herron $500 Memorial Scholarship is open to legally-blind New Hampshire school students to pay for extra services or devices for successful study and achievement. Preference is given to students in grades K-12 as per Ms. Herron’s wishes, but post-secondary students may also apply. Callward applicants wil automatically be considered.

Further information and application will be posted on our website when available. (www.nfbnh.org) Or contact NFB New Hampshire Scholarship committee members via e-mail (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Tele. Andrew Harmon at (603) 992-4053.

Critical need for CASA volunteers in the North Country

The end of summer and the start of a new school year is an exciting time for most children. But for some, the beginning of school could reveal a dark secret when signs of abuse and neglect these children have suffered over the summer are noticed by teachers, staff and other parents.

“Because children are subject to less adult supervision over the summer, it’s not uncommon for reports of suspected abuse and neglect to spike at the start of the school year,” said Jen Buteau from CASA of N.H.

Many of the children who are confirmed as victims are removed from their homes and placed into foster care; often far from their friends, families and schools. CASA volunteer advocates are specially screened, trained and supported to speak up for abused and neglected children who through no fault of their own end up in the child welfare system.

“Being uprooted from their homes, families and everything they know is terrifying for a child. At CASA of N.H. we want to make sure that they do not get lost in the shuffle,” Buteau said. “For that reason, we need more people in our community to speak up and make sure children’s best interests are represented. We want to help ensure that they are in a safe, loving, permanent home as quickly as possible so they can begin to heal.”

“Too many children are forced to go through the chaos of moving through the child protection system alone,” Buteau added. “Every child going through this difficult and somewhat unimaginable time deserves a caring adult who really wants to get to know them, have hope for them and will advocate on their behalf until they are in a safe and permanent home.”

If you would like more information on becoming a volunteer advocate or in other ways you can get involved, call Jen Buteau at (603) 752-9670. More advocates are needed throughout New Hampshire, but there is currently a critical need for volunteers in the North Country.

NH Food Bank and Feeding America launch statewide awareness campaign to combat hunger

With 144,290 people in New Hampshire going hungry, the N.H. Food Bank is launching a major statewide awareness campaign to urge New Hampshire residents and businesses to take action this month to combat hunger. Relying on a series of events, initiatives and competitions, the N.H. Food Bank, a program of Catholic Charities N.H., is launching this campaign in partnership with Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks that coordinates the national Hunger Action Month every September. In addition, NH Food Bank Executive Director Mel Gosselin has been named the 2015 National Chairwoman of Hunger Action Month, a role she also held in 2014.

“I am proud to serve as chairwoman for Hunger Action Month once again this year and I look forward to another successful year making a difference for those most in need. The goal of Hunger Action Month is to mobilize the public to act on behalf of the one in nine men, women and children who are food insecure in New Hampshire and the 50 million people facing hunger nationally,” Gosselin said. “Hunger Action Month is our opportunity to create a movement that has a real and lasting impact on the N.H. Food Bank’s mission to help end hunger in our state. The N.H. Food Bank needs all the support we can get: last year, we distributed a record 11 million pounds of food and this year, we are expecting to distribute more than 13 million pounds of food—because the need is still growing.”

In an innovative, unique collaboration, the N.H. Food Bank kicked off the month-long campaign today at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport where the Food Bank has placed a vending machine selling spoons. The orange spoon has become the symbol of Hunger Action Month, dubbed “Spoontember,” as the spoon is not only used to eat, it is also used to prepare food, serve food and is the most common utensil used to feed those who cannot feed themselves. Throughout Hunger Action Month, the N.H. Food Bank is encouraging people to snap photos of themselves—“spoon selfies”—while balancing an orange spoon on their noses.

Gosselin was joined at the airport today by J. Brian O’Neill, deputy director of the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, John Dumais, co-chairman of the NH Food Bank Advisory Committee, and president of the NH Grocers Association, and representatives from the NH Institute of Art for a ribbon cutting ceremony before the new vending machine, which has been placed in the baggage claim area and which was designed by students from the NH Institute of Art. People can purchase spoons for $2 each throughout September.

Deputy Airport Director Brian O’Neill remarked, “The airport is pleased to have the opportunity to work with the New Hampshire Food Bank and to help raise awareness about Hunger Action Month. We hope that visitors to New Hampshire, as well as local travelers, meeters and greeters and airport tenants, will help support this critically important program.”

“I’m thrilled that the New Hampshire Food Bank approached us to collaborate on this innovative project,” said Kent Devereaux, President of the N.H. Institute of Art. “Projects like this not only give our students and faculty an opportunity to use their creativity to raise awareness around the issue of hunger in our communities, but to appreciate how organizations such as the New Hampshire Food Bank make a difference by strengthening families, our community, and our own resolve to make the world a better place."

Hunger Action Month will feature a “Canstruction” competition, in which individuals, companies or groups are encouraged to build a structure with canned or packaged food items. Once completed, the cans are donated to the Food Bank for distribution to those in need. Canstruction judging will take place the week of Sept. 28. Bank of America is also sponsoring a “Mac-Off” competition on Friday, Sept. 18, in which teams compete to see how many mac and cheese meals they can pack in one hour. 

The 11 million pounds of food the NH Food Bank distributed during 2014—which equates to 9,166,666 meals—marks a nearly 30% increase in distribution compared to 2013. The N.H. Food Bank, which receives no state or federal aid, projects to distribute more than 13 million pounds of food this year. The N.H. Food Bank distributes food to a network of more than 400 partner agencies statewide.

Along with Canstruction and the Mac-Off competition, the N.H. Food Bank is promoting a number of events, opportunities and initiatives this month aimed at raising awareness for those in need in New Hampshire, and to give people a chance to contribute to lasting change, including:

Show off your spoons! All month, the N.H. Food Bank is looking for people in New Hampshire to take “spoon selfies” while balancing an orange spoon on their noses, and to encourage their friends, family and coworkers to do so as well. Show off your spoons by tagging the N.H. Food Bank on Facebook and Twitter. Use the hashtag #Spoontember.

Volunteer! The N.H. Food Bank offers numerous volunteer opportunities, from administrative support to warehouse to direct distribution. Opportunities are available each week Monday through Friday and Saturday mornings. Too far from Manchester? Volunteer at a member agency. An agency list can be found at www.nhfoodbank.org.

The Sixth Annual WBS Harvest Golf Classic, which will take place on Monday, Sept. 14, is an annual golf tournament benefiting the N.H. Food Bank. The tournament will be held at the Manchester Country Club with an 11 a.m. shotgun scramble format. All funds raised at the golf outing will support the N.H. Food Bank's efforts to expand food distribution and innovative educational programs to reach those who need it most.

The N.H. Tackles Hunger food drive, which is a partnership between the N.H. Food Bank, WMUR and the N.H. Interscholastic Athletic Association, will take place on Friday, Sept. 25, and Saturday, Sept. 26, during which food drives will seek donations during high school football games in communities across New Hampshire. All food donated during this weekend will go to local food pantries.

The Food Bank is urging members of the public to become a N.H. Food Bank Ambassador. As an ambassador, people can help the Food Bank extend its reach throughout the state by attending events on its behalf and building capacity for the organization. Being an ambassador is a great opportunity for individuals who want to make a commitment to being involved with the Food Bank but who are unable to volunteer at the Manchester facility.

For more information on Hunger Action Month and the various events that will be hosted by the N.H. Food Bank, please visit: www.nhfoodbank.org/Hunger-Action-Month.aspx.