While school may nearly be out for the academic year, the pace of life at The Chase Home will increase during the summer, as staff plan and run the agency’s Life Enhancement Program. Providing “supportive and therapeutic adventures” for at-risk youth who live on-site at the home, the program complements a wide range of services aimed at helping youth develop tangible life skills across multiple domains.
“These are youth who have been mandated by the State to live here while we help them work on addressing complex issues that have adversely affected their lives,” said Executive Director Meme Wheeler. “In the summer, our Life Enhancement Program provides structure to what can be a difficult time of year for some of our youth.”
One recent example of the kinds of activities that take place in the program includes a trip to Andre Institute of Art in Brookline, NH. “They hiked the trails and saw several outdoor stone sculptures,” said Bethany Murabito, Independent Living Coordinator. “At night, the kids went to Funspot in Laconia and won a ton of tickets and prizes.”
While experienced as fun for the youth, Murabito cited a deeper purpose behind these activities. “This programming is crucial in teaching our youth important skills, such as self-efficacy, self-esteem, and problem-solving,” she said. “Being able to offer our residents supportive and therapeutic adventures that push them to succeed and grow is one of the most rewarding and affirming elements of this program.”
Chase Home’s Life Enhancement Program recently benefited from donations made through NH Gives and a $20,000 grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s George W. Merck Fund. “We are so thankful for this support, because this program is underfunded, but so critically important,” said Wheeler. “This program helps us provide forgettable memories for youth that need time to be, well, just kids. It helps counterbalance the more serious aspects of our work.”
Founded in 1877, The Chase Home in Portsmouth serves at-risk youth annually through prevention, early intervention, residential and community-based programs. Some youth are served in the community while others live at The Chase Home.