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Methodist Church Hosting Annual Christmas Meal

GILFORD — For the last decade and a half the congregation of the First United Methodist Church has been putting on a free meal on Christmas day.

It all started because one family at the church lost a part of their own Christmas tradition. For many years the Keysar family of Laconia had spent their Christmas afternoon serving dinner at Patrick's Restaurant in Gilford. The Keysars were a small family and had found that the holiday ended early for them and wanted a way to give something back to the local community and in an effort to extend their own celebration began working the community meal at Patrick's. After several years the restaurant was sold and the meal stopped.

For a couple of years Mac and Maude Keysar and their daughter Jessica Alward didn't know what to do with themselves and Christmas didn't feel complete. Having done some catering and a whole lot of church suppers they decided that if their home church would support them they would take up the reins of the meal themselves.

This year marks nearly 2 decades of that dinner. Mac and Maude have both passed away now but Alward and her family are keeping the tradition alive.
Every year the doors of the church open at noon for fellowship, carols and appetizers. At 1 p.m. a complete ham dinner is laid out in the church fellowship hall. It is a holiday feast done right with all the trimmings. Linen table cloths, festive centerpieces and fine foods to fill the belly including homemade pies. "We have been lucky to have such a great home church with a super facility that allows us to put on such a bigger dinner." Alward says.
Alward, now married and mom to two boys is quick to say that it takes a lot of help from the community to put on the meal. "Every year we get folks from all over the local area that come and help us make this meal possible. They work in shifts on Christmas Eve to set up and prep food, two shifts on Christmas day, one to serve the meal and one to clean up. I don't know what I would do without these helpers."

She and her crew fed just over 200 last year and she anticipates an even bigger turnout this year. "People come back year after year. Some come so they won't be lonely on the holiday and others come because they just don't have enough food or money. Times are hard right now."

The Alward family welcomes anyone to come and eat or to work on the meal. Reservations are required so that they can plan enough food for everyone and you can make those reservations or volunteer to help by calling or emailing her by December 20 at 527-0152 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 10:16

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Gilford Rotary Selling Engraved Bricks at Craft Fair

GILFORD — This Saturday, December 7 at the Christmas Fair at the Gilford schools, Gilford Rotary will be selling engraved bricks that will be located around the flag pole at the Gilford Village Field.

Each personalized engraved four by eight brick will become part of the permanent Gilford flagpole garden. A 50 dollar investment will help support the Gilford Rotary Club's ongoing local fundraising efforts.

Gilford Rotary will also be selling ornaments by Hermann Defregger that will depict the covered bridge that Gilford Rotary Club built and donated to the town in 1995.


Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 10:14

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Leadership changes announced at Spaulding Youth Center and Foundation

NORTHFIELD —  Spaulding Youth Center Board of Trustees Chairman Michael Ventura announced the following leadership changes at Spaulding Youth Center and Foundation.

His announcement follows a thorough leadership succession and transition planning process to prepare for Susan S. Calegari's plans to step down as CEO and President in January 2014.
At the October annual meeting Ventura was elected Chair of Spaulding Youth Center Board of Trustees, succeeding James Clements in that role; and Hali Dearborn was elected Chair of Spaulding Youth Center Foundation Board of Directors, succeeding Ventura. Both of these newly-elected officers have served with distinction as board members, highlighted by co-chairing a successful $3.2 million capital campaign to build a new school at Spaulding.
Noting the Board's acceptance, with respect and regret, of Susan Calegari's resignation, Ventura stated, "During Susan's 10-year tenure, first in her role as Vice President for Development, and in the past six years as CEO and President, she has skillfully led with determination, commitment to excellence, and good humor. Her tireless leadership of the new school building project and capital campaign; her deft management of the leadership team during a time of program growth and expansion; her diligent stewardship of resources and finances; and her keen understanding of the importance of strong staff, Board, donor, referral source, and community relationships are but a few of the hallmarks of her time at Spaulding. Jim Clements, Hali Dearborn and I could not be more effusive in our praise; and we are also pleased that she has agreed to take on a newly created position of Chief Innovation Officer after she takes a well-deserved break."
Ventura continued, "In addition, Hali Dearborn and I are delighted to announce that Jim Clements has been selected to succeed Susan as CEO and President. I know we speak on behalf of all board members that we could not be more pleased with the outcome of this leadership succession process. A lifelong educator and school administrator, many know Jim in his most recent role as Head of Tilton School, and all of us know him as a thoughtful leader and enthusiastic advocate for young people."
Clements added, "Though our roles have changed, the four of us are energetically committed to ensure strong leadership at the board and executive levels and to the continuity of excellence in services to children and their families. Spaulding is poised for growth and we enthusiastically look forward to the opportunities and possibilities which await us."

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 10:11

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Plymouth Leadership Academy session focuses on education

PLYMOUTH — On November 6th the Plymouth Regional Chamber of Commerce held the third session of its Leadership Academy at Holderness School. The class gathered together in Livermore Hall to gear up for a day full of conversation around the topic of education in the State of New Hampshire and the local region.

The discussion of the day focused on public education through the lenses of leaders of Early Childhood education up through public university and college. Class co-facilitator Ty Gagne started off the first session of the morning by leading a panel of local public education leaders from the Plymouth region discussing roles and responsibilities in their respective positions, along with insight into their thoughts on how education has changed over the years. The panel was comprised of Mark Halloren, Superintendent of Schools, Michael O'Malley - SAU 48, Principal – Newfound Regional High School, Julie Flynn, Principal – Plymouth Elementary School and Karen Ferguson, Health and Safety Coordinator – Tri-County Head Start.

There was a discussion between the panelists and the Leadership Academy class around today's educational standards set by the State of New Hampshire and the Federal Government. The panelists gave an inward look into the challenges each of them face on a daily basis in public education, ranging from students who may be homeless, meeting the needs of each student in the classroom, ensuring that kids have a chance to eat healthy, and are receiving the medical attention they need that they may not necessarily get at home.

The second session of the day was led by Daniel Barrick, the Deputy Director of the NH Center for Public Policy. Barrick began his presentation by reviewing research data showing how education has been and is currently funded in the State. Discussions ensued regarding the path NH has chosen to fund public education.

Todd Leach, Chancellor of the University System of NH and Sara Jayne Steen, President of Plymouth State University were the two special guests who took part in the first afternoon session of the day. Chancellor Leach began with an overview of the four schools within the USNH system, and explained how the system is funded overall. President Steen reviewed what Plymouth State has to offer and what it does to fit into the community it resides in. She also discussed All Well Center project taking place across the river in Holderness.

The class actively discussed with the Chancellor and President how education has changed over the years in high education along with a great debate how the system is primarily funded on student tuition. During the discussion, the class was alarmed that NH is close to last in the country for state funding of public higher education and Pre-K through 12.  

The day concluded with a visit from Michelle Holt-Shannon, Associate Director of NH Listens. After a day of learning from various speakers and panelists about education in NH, Michelle took the opportunity to lead class in a discussion about what we learned from the speakers along with what their thoughts were on what needs immediate addressing in public education in NH. This facilitation gave the group a chance to have very open conversation and allowed them to start brainstorming how we as a group could make a difference in public education.


Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 10:07

Hits: 105

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