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Take some time and see what might be downtown for you

To the Daily Sun:

In July 2017 I will be a resident of Laconia for 40 years. I am still considered a "flatlander" by many and will never reach the status of being "a local," but that is okay. I am privileged to be married to a Laconia "native" and have heard the many stories of growing up in downtown Laconia. The shopping, the holidays, the Colonial Theater and 25 cent admission to a Saturday afternoon matinee, walking to Opechee Cove for swimming lessons and many many more. In the near 40 years of my adult life here, raising three children and growing to love the Lakes Region, we all spent much time shopping downtown, welcoming the Christmas season by watching the parade, the Christmas Open Houses on a Sunday before Christmas, shopping local for all the families needs: gifts from Sundial, clothing from O'Shea's, Junior Deb, shoes from Melnick's, jewelry from Sawyer's and All My Life Jewelers. We loved Benjamin's, Levasseur's for the dads and so many more downtown shops.

As the years passed, so did many of the shopping opportunities. And so to the mall in Concord and Manchester we drove for the family's needs. It was never the same, we missed the personal touch and the local connection.

And now there are happenings in downtown once again. The antique shops are fun and a reason to go back downtown, and now the renovation of the Colonial is exciting, and again there are a few shops to bring you down. Last week I ran down in hopes to pick up a birthday gift and went into The Studio. I was immediately greeted by Melissa with a "Hi Marcia" and picked a couple of wonderful things in a wonderful and maybe wacky little shop. After chatting I left and discovered a newly opened shop right next door — Curiousity and Co. Milk glass painting classes are run here and the loveliest gift shop. Then a quick stop at All My Life Jewelers. It was enchanting. Was I really downtown Laconia? I left with a few gifts and drove home with a wonderful feeling of hometown. I felt hopeful about our wonderful little town for the first time in quite a while, there is hope, there is potential, there is much more to come.

Take some time and see what might be downtown for you — The Wayfarer Coffee Shop, The Local meat and fish market, the bakeries, All My Life and Sawyer's for jewelry and see the progress in the old Sundial. There are antiques that are drawing shoppers from afar and remember that feeling when someone smiles and says a warm hello as you walk into their establishment. And treat yourself to a lunch or dinner at the many restaurants and sandwich shops too. Again a local restaurant is better in so many ways than one of the big chains.

Enjoy our assets and believe in the future of downtown Laconia!

Marcia G. Dionne

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Let me introduce you to the St. Vincent de Paul Society team

To The Daily Sun,

2016 marks the 25th year that the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Laconia has been serving the people of the Lakes Region by providing food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, disaster relief, and children's programs to those in need. Jo Carignan, Jeanette Buckley, John Peavey and I received 25 year service awards at our annual volunteer dinner in May.

In May 2002, I had the honor of being elected the fourth president of the Laconia Conference. While I will continue to volunteer with the organization, I am stepping down as its president. It's time for some "new blood" to head up our efforts. My husband (a former president also) and I moved to New Hampshire in 1991 and became involved with the society that same year. I will continue to manage the Thrift Store. I believe wholeheartedly in the organization and the work it does for our communities.

Let me introduce the other officers and their programs. Jo Carignan, with the able assistance of John Peavey and McKee Jack, manages our food pantry. The program served more than 6,000 people in 2016 in the Lakes Region. Food donations include meat, vegetables, fruit, bread, cereal, paper products, diapers, soap, detergents, and toothpaste. Most of the food is donated during the holidays.

Jeanette Buckley, Betty Gonyer, Bebe Lahey, and Sue Martino are my able supervisors in the Thrift Store. All items from the store are donated by people in the Lakes Region. While we sell most of these items, we do give away approximately $25,000 in furniture and clothes each year. The proceeds from the sales go to support our other programs.

The largest of our programs in terms of financial outlays is our financial assistance program. Under the able coordination of Bill Johnson, teams of 20 SVdP volunteers reach out to help more than 300 families in the Lakes Region with dental, medical, daycare, rent, utilities, car repairs and fuel assistance. They meet personally with all applicants to support them with financial help, budgeting, emotional support, encouragement and guidance with decision choices.

Long-time SVdP volunteer, Sue Page, monitors the society's Children Foundation. This program works with school nurses, guidance counselors and daycare centers to provide education-related assistance to children on the school's free and reduced lunch program. This includes our Christmas Program, "Project Pencil" school supplies in September, camperships in the summer, as well as sneakers, diapers, daycare, book scholarships, field trips and head lice shampoo during the school year. The Children's Foundation is a benefactor of the Children Auction's in December.

Supporting all of these programs are our financial gurus, Treasurer Neil Ahern and Assistant Treasurer Mary Beth Moran. They are responsible for keeping the books in order, complying with federal and state reporting requirements, making out checks to help others, and paying our general bills. Daryl Twombly cares for our building and grounds.

I hope this brief resume gives a little more light into our organization and its activities. As its outgoing president, I urge you to continue your support of our volunteers and our mission. Volunteers are always encouraged — call 524-5470 to discuss how you can help. Many thanks for your support.

Erika Johnson, President

St. Vincent de Paul Society


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