South Church presents $2,041 gift to Chase Home

Working with at-risk youth across the Seacoast and the state, Chase Home in Portsmouth has been fortunate to receive substantial contributions from the community with the latest from South Church with a gift of $2,041.

(l to r) South Church Office Administrator Jennifer Leyden, Chase Home Executive Director Meme Wheeler, South Church Rev. Chris Holton Jablonski.

The monies will be used to support the operations at Chase Home, which provides a variety of clinical, therapeutic and practical interventions to youth and families in crisis. Chase Home Executive Director Meme Wheeler referred to the gift as “a blessing.”

“When you have unexpected support like this, there is no other way to describe it—this is a big gift and we are putting it to immediate use,” she said.

Cindy Brown, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at South Church, said the gift to Chase Home represents their weekly giving philosophy, which is captured in a mission statement:

“At South Church, we nurture spiritual growth through worship, learning, and community,” she said. “We celebrate the worth and dignity of all people, and we inspire one another to act on our faith in the larger community.

“We are so thankful for South Church and their choice of us as beneficiary,” added Wheeler. “I want all their members to know they have made a difference in the lives of kids and families who need help today.”

To learn more about Chase Home, visit To receive updates from Chase Home, text CHASEHOME to 41411.

South Church presents $2,041 gift to Chase Home

Exeter Hospital, local nonprofits working together to combat teen suicide

Earlier this year, New Heights, Chase Home, and Seacoast Outright were awarded a $50,000 grant from Exeter Hospital to address the issue of teen suicide on the Seacoast. On September 26, this initial collaborative group of nonprofits—formally known as the Seacoast Youth Suicide Prevention Network (SYSPN)—will hold a summit that brings together more than a dozen community stakeholders to discuss next steps.

“We are bringing together mental health centers, community health centers, law enforcement, school personnel—anyone that works directly with youth,” said Chase Home Executive Director Meme Wheeler. “Teen suicide is a significant problem in our area—and we are very thankful for the opportunity to develop a program that has the potential to combat it.”

SYSPN is one of 11 projects that was funded by Exeter Hospital as part of a 5-year initiative to address the underlying causes of youth suicide. The $50,000 is part of a 4-year $200,000 annual grant cycle launched by the hospital last fall.

“This year, we will distribute more than $300,000 in grant funds in 2017 with an additional $30,000 in sponsorship support,” said Jennifer McGowan, Community Impact Officer at Exeter Hospital.

Organizations that have been awarded grants include Arts in Reach ($15,000); HAVEN ($30,000); Exeter YMCA ($45,000); New Heights, Chase Home and Seacoast Outright ($50,000); Carriage Barn Equestrian Center ($25,000); Connor’s Climb Foundation ($12,000); Seacoast Public Health Network ($10,000); Raymond Coalition for Youth ($10,000); Big Brothers Big Sisters of NH ($10,000), and Zero Suicide.

According to Tracey Tucker, executive director at New Heights, Exeter Hospital’s Suicide Prevention Initiative provides a unique opportunity for the entire community.

“We have the opportunity to address a lot of the underlying reasons behind youth suicide,” she said. “These youth have identifiable risk factors that as a collaborative entity we can more effectively address to prevent suicides.”

In looking to the future, McGowan said Exeter Hospital will actively work with all grantees to best leverage resources as well as to help forge new partnerships with community stakeholders.

“We cannot make an impact on youth suicide by working in silos,” she said. “It is a serious issue we all need to address together.”

SYSPN’s Teen Suicide Summit will take place on Tuesday, September 26 at 10 am at Chase
Home in Portsmouth. To learn more, or to attend, visit

To learn more about Exeter Hospital’s Suicide Prevention Initiative and Community Impact Program, visit

Exeter Hospital, local nonprofits working together to combat teen suicide

‘Sewing’ the seeds of hope at Chase Home

Recently, Chase Home received 18 handmade quilts and pillowcases from the Cocheco Quilters Guild.

Expressing amazement at the unexpected gift, which she described as “beautiful,” Chase Home Executive Director Meme Wheeler said the quilts have been handed out to youth in their residential program.

“Gifts like these are valued very highly by our residents,” she said. “It helps to create a sense of comfort and safety and shows that people care. We are all so thankful for this gift.”

Judey Clemons, president of the Cocheco Quilters Guild, said they had as much fun delivering the quilts as they did making them.

“I would also love to do pillowcases with the kids,” she added. “I have worked with children before as a 4H instructor and recently taught a kids camp in the area.”

Noting 18 guild members each made a quilt, she said it took nearly 50 hours to create each one.

“Our guild typically donates over 100 quilts annually to the community,” she added.

Cocheco Quilters Guild is a non-profit quilters guild that promotes the art, skill and joy of
quilting thru workshops, monthly meetings and small quilting bees. The guild has played an
active role in the seacoast community since 1980 when the group formed. For more information about their group or annual quilt show, visit

Founded in 1877 as an orphanage, Chase Home has evolved through the years to meet needs in the greater Seacoast community related to children and youth. To learn more about Chase Home, visit To receive updates from Chase Home, text CHASEHOME to 41411.

‘Sewing’ the seeds of hope at Chase Home

Chase Home’s summer programs provide structure and inspiration

In keeping with its mission to provide supportive and restorative services to at-risk youth in and around the Seacoast, Chase Home offered a variety of programs this past summer for those who live there full-time.

“The shift from school to summer and back again can be tough for them,” said Meme Wheeler, Chase Home’s Executive Director. “Kids tend to have a lot of idle time in the summer, which is when some of them are most at-risk for getting into trouble.”

This summer, Chase Home residents—who ranged in age from 11 to 19—participated in rock climbing, a trip to Six Flags theme park, deep-sea fishing, and camping in Lost River among other activities. Other offerings included beach days, movie theater trips, basketball, gardening, origami workshops, and pool time at the Portsmouth YMCA, which offers free memberships to Chase Home residents.


Wheeler said youth also participated in various cooking activities.

“Whether they are making breakfast for the group, putting on special dinners, participating in cooking demonstrations by local volunteers, or preparing mackerel from their fishing excursions, residents are encouraged to learn more about—and appreciate—the foods they eat,” she said.

She said such activities help to “inspire” healthier life choices.


“We encourage them to get outside and be active and try new food, because many of them don’t have a lot of experience with these things,” she said.

According to Wheeler, the end of summer represents another important transition period, as some residents out of residential program and back into the community and with their families.

“These summer activities aren’t just filling a gap—they are creating a foundation,” she said. “The more engaged these kids are, the more likely they are to thrive when they finally do leave Chase Home, which at the end of the day is what we want for all our kids.”

Founded in 1877, Chase Home provides a wide range of programs for youth and families both on-site and in the community. For more information about Chase Home, visit


Chase Home’s summer programs provide structure and inspiration

Chase Home receives $5,000 grant from CDBG

Serving area youth since 1877, Chase Home recently received a $5,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG) awarded through the City of Portsmouth. The money will be used to support its Seacoast Community Diversion Program (SCDP), which was formed this The Chase Home (92 of 92)past May with numerous community collaborators.

“This program represents a concerted community effort to provide comprehensive support and services to youth on the brink of entering the juvenile justice system,” remarked Meme Wheeler, Chase Home Executive Director. “This is not a new concept either. It is tested and supported by a lot of evidence. Other programs in the state are experiencing a lot of success.”

Mike LaLime, Chase Home Board Member and owner of TRE Cleaning & Restoration in Portsmouth, said the entire organization is grateful for the continued support shown by the city of Portsmouth.

“From the major renovations performed at Chase Home in the past year to this second year of funding through this program, Portsmouth is behind Chase Home and that means a lot,” he said.

Elise Annunziata, Community Development Coordinator for the City of Portsmouth, said this block grant has existed in Portsmouth since the late 1970’s.

“It has helped thousands of people in our community who meet eligibility requirements,” she said. “Because of this program, the City of Portsmouth is able to assist public services like Chase Home that provide important programs and activities for the community’s most vulnerable populations.”

Over the years, Portsmouth’s Community Develop Block Grant Program has also been used to make improvements such as fire code and life safety improvements at Chase Home last fall and in public facilities and housing that serve persons with low to moderate incomes.

Sergeant Rebecca Hester of the Portsmouth Police Department, which helped form the program, said the importance of diversion measures for today’s troubled youth cannot be underestimated.

“I think diversion as a whole is the right approach for kids,” she said. “Because these programs are tailored to the individual youth, we’re better able to make recommendations designed to support better choices while also honoring the restorative justice piece within the community.”

According to data provided by the NH Juvenile Court Diversion Network, 78% of all youth served in diversion programs in 2012 were free from court involvement one year after program completion. 58% remained out of the criminal justice system after three years.

To learn more about SCDP, or Chase Home, visit To receive updates from Chase Home, text CHASEHOME to 41411.

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Chase Home receives $5,000 grant from CDBG

Seacoast Community Diversion Program helping to divert troubled youth

Historically, Seacoast youth who committed minor, nonviolent offenses were treated much like anyone else—they were arrested and subjected to traditional punitive measures. With the launch of the Seacoast Community Diversion Program (SCDP) this past May, however, these and similar youth have another option.

Chase Home’s Cory Towne-Kerr and Meme Wheeler

“Juvenile diversion programs are evidence-based and have been met with great success,” said Meme Wheeler, executive director at Chase Home, which helped spearhead the program. “When the diversion program in Greenland shut down in 2010, the Seacoast was left with a gap in services. Our youth suffered because of it.”

In addition to Chase Home, other program collaborators include the Portsmouth Police Department, New Heights, Portsmouth School System, Exeter School System, Rockingham Juvenile Court, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).

“We developed the program to address specific needs in the community and with sustainability in mind,” added Wheeler.

Cory Towne-Kerr, SCDP coordinator, said they already have 5 kids enrolled with additional intakes already scheduled.

“I like that education and support are a huge aspect of the program as well as restorative justice,” she said.

As far as how the program works, youth are referred to it by school staff or law enforcement. Youth do not just enter the program either, but are instead accepted into it and mandated to sign and consequently full the stipulations contained within a contract.

“We hold each youth accountable for their actions and hone in on what we feel they would most benefit from—whether it is family therapy, group therapy with Al-Anon, community service, or apology papers,” she said.

A family component is also required in each case with Families First Health and Support to lead a parents’ group that will start soon and meet every other month.

“Collaboration is the key to this program,” added Wheeler. “We cannot do this alone.”

Tracey Tucker, executive director at New Heights, agrees with Wheeler and said their involvement in the program will consist in providing adventure-based opportunities to participants and their families.

“We need to create solutions together,” she added.

Wheeler said they are currently working to become an accredited program within the NH Juvenile Court Diversion Network. Currently, there are 17 accredited diversion programs in the state with accreditation of SCDP expected by the end of 2017.

Founded in 1877 as an orphanage, Chase Home has evolved through the years to meet needs in the greater Seacoast community related to children and youth. To learn more about the program, visit

Seacoast Community Diversion Program helping to divert troubled youth