New BOD members needed to join restructuring effort of Beverly’s River House, The Beverly Citizen, March 21, 2012

By Staff Reports

Beverly, Mass. ” Beverly’s River House Shelter, a mainstay for homeless adults, has served the   neediest members of the North Shore community for close to a decade.

Recently, the grassroots, donor-supported shelter, which has kept its doors   open with the support of private donations, grants, community events like the   Polar Plunge and a minimal amount of public funding, has come to a pivotal time   in its history ” resources are stretched and program enhancement is critical if   River House is to remain effective in working with its homeless clients.

We have worked hard to build the needed resources to make sure the River   House can go on but it has been a struggle, especially in recent years,  explains Linda L. Anderson Mercier, River House Board president.

In response to these critical concerns, the River House Board of Directors   is taking decisive action.

As of May 1, Harborlight Community Partners (HCP), a regional North Shore   nonprofit affordable housing organization, will begin to work with the River   House Board of Directors and staff to address a number of the issues and build   additional funding opportunities. This will include improving the appearance of   the facility, enhancing a focus on long-term community housing, training and   employment options for residents.

Most importantly, HCP and the River House Board of Directors will be working   to secure multiple streams of fiscal support such that River House can maintain   a balanced operating budget. While Harborlight Community Partners will buoy this   work, the River House will remain an independent organization with its own Board   of Directors. Toward that end, River House is interested in securing new members   to join in this agency restructuring effort.

We are honored to be working with the community and the River House board to   help this program rebuild for the future,  says Carol Suleski, the Harborlight   Community Partners president.

To execute these changes in the most efficient manner, the emergency shelter   portion of River House will temporarily close as of April 30. Every effort will   be made to find alternative arrangements for the current shelter residents in   the wider Boston area. The permanent single room housing will continue with   Program Director Kate Benashki staying on to operate it.

North Shore Community Action Programs (NSCAP), which has provided the fiscal   guidance and management assistance for River House, will transition out of its   role on April 30.

NSCAP has been invaluable in building River House, including helping to   secure the initial capital to create the River House facility. We have been   delighted to support the development and growth of River House,  says NSCAP   Executive Director, Beth Hogan.

The transition out of this role will make room for Harborlight Community   Partners to step in to that management position. River House is slated to reopen   in time for this coming winter, with a proposed date of Oct. 15. Harborlight   Community Partners will undertake the significant tasks needed to breathe new   life into River House. These include negotiating public contracts, making   building repairs and securing philanthropic gifts from the North Shore   community.

Toward that effort, a major gift has been granted by an anonymous donor in   the form of a $75,000 challenge grant.

This is the first stone in the foundation of what will be the long term   success of River House,  says Andrew DeFranza, executive director for   Harborlight Community Partners.

River House will need to match that grant with $75,000 in additional gifts   from the community and will need to do so to achieve the goal of the shelter   reopening in October.

The River House Shelter exists to assist homeless people regain their   independence. River House provides emergency shelter and social services to 36   men per night, 365 days a year, assisting nearly 200 adults annually. River   House also provides permanent, single room housing with support services for 5   adults. The shelter and housing residents hail from many North Shore   communities.

River House was the culmination of a vision of many in Beverly to provide a   shelter for those who were homeless and to work with each guest to help find   employment, health care and a home,  says one of the River House founders Stella   Mae Seamans.

If you are interested in joining this grassroots effort, or would like to   make a donation to help River House reach its goal, visit   Donations can also be sent to River House, PO Box 3226, Beverly, MA 01915.