It’s April 1 and the Seacoast Family Promise Day Center in Exeter is, suitably, hopping. The annual Easter Party is in full swing, and the cold rain has not deterred families from coming down for a day of food, fun, and, of course, candy (with a special cameo by the Easter Bunny).
For most of the morning and into the early afternoon, over 50 adults and their children filter through the building, some current guests of the program, others “graduated” alumni. But they all have something in common: at one point they were homeless and have been working to reorient their lives and journey on a path of financial stability and success.
“Our families love events like these,” said Pati Frew-Waters, Executive Director of Seacoast Family Promise. “I knew that they would brave the rain, because it means so much to them to gather together and have fun like this. And it means so much to our staff and volunteers to have them here as well.”
Many of the children huddle around the playroom, building with blocks, zooming toy cars, or taking a moment to give a fist bump to the Easter Bunny. Others circle the dining room table to work on special activities prepared by a few of Seacoast Family Promisie’s many volunteers in attendance.
The growns-ups connect with each other or take turns loading up their cars with the hefty bags of donated food and goods that all families receive at the event. A few chat with Pati and her staff to talk through the challenges - and opportunities - of the day.
“We’re all about wrap-around support for our families,” Pati says. “It doesn’t matter if you were with us ten years ago or just walked through our doors, we want to offer the support and share the tools for ongoing success.
The fanfare comes to a close after lunch (highlighted by pizza donated by Otto Pizza in Exeter) and with a march of kids retrieving Easter “buckets” jam-packed with all manner of treats (including Lindt-donated chocolate). Other donors include: Starbucks, Joe's Meat Shoppe, Planet Fitness, Hannaford Supermarkets, Shaw's Supermarket, BJ's Wholesale Club, Trader Joe's, and Peggy's Parties,
“We can’t do these types of events without the support of our friends and neighbors,” Pati says. “I know how much our families appreciate having the arms of the community wrapped around them.”
In addition to Easter, Seacoast Family Promise adopts families for Thanksgiving and Christmas and continues service and support through Home Again aftercare to help families defray the costs of holidays and focus on paying for essential needs.