GILFORD — It’s a chicken-and-egg conundrum at Camp Resilience.
The Patriot Resilient Leader Institute — a nonprofit group of veterans and concerned citizens that operates three- and four-day retreats “Helping Those Who Serve” — is looking to expand its services and offer more sessions, but to do so, it will need more money.
To raise that money, it needs to hire staff members capable of seeking those funds, which means spending more money.
“The goal is to be a resource for all of New England and beyond,” said President Kurt Webber.
The Institute has held 59 retreats in its five-year existence, depending upon volunteers for essential help in conducting the outdoor events and partnering with mental health professionals to offer workshops.
“It’s not necessarily a tough sell” to get people to volunteer, Webber said. There are many people who want to help veterans and others who have served, and the opportunity to take them hiking, kayaking, and other adventures is an attractive proposition.
Still, they can always use more volunteers, Webber said.
Operating as a volunteer organization has made the program very successful, and they don’t want to lose that advantage, he continued, but in order to expand their reach, they need to transition to some professional staffing.
The organization has developed a plan calling for five paid personnel: a director, a program coordinator, a fundraiser, a licensed clinical social worker, and an outdoor recreation specialist.
Since developing the plan, Alyssa Tetreault Mosher has joined the Institute as program coordinator. A graduate of Champlain College with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a minor in accounting, she has proven an invaluable asset to the group, Webber said.
They also are receiving help from Sarah Powell, who serves as outreach and development coordinator through AmeriCorps VISTA.
Webber noted that there also are vacancies on the board of directors, and they are hoping to find someone with a background in fundraising.
In addition to Webber, board members include Treasurer Chris Ray, Mark Corry, Cindi Curtis, Jeff Gaudet, Sandi Moore-Beinoras, and Linda Robinson. Former board member John Walsh is serving as a consultant on applications and life skills activities.
Although neither a board member nor a veteran, Les Schuster and his wife, Linda, are an integral part of Camp Resilience. When Webber was looking for a place to hold the retreats, he contacted Schuster, who was looking to buy the Gunstock Inn at the time. The idea was attractive to Schuster, who has several family members with military service, because it also would allow him to introduce people to the inn and tavern.
“We were supportive of the idea, and have been working with him ever since,” Schuster said. “It’s a great environment here, and theirs is a great cause.”
Schuster even minted a commemorative Military Challenge Coin for participants.
“They arrive tattered, settle in, and by the time they leave, they say it’s made a difference,” he commented.