The Friends Program has been matching volunteers with community members in need since 1975. Over the past decade, its fundraising auction has been an annual tradition for the Who's Who of Concord. This year will be no different.
The 2012 auction will take place on May 18 at the Grappone Confreence Center - although you may not recognize the room when you get there. It will be transformed for the night into "Merrimack Stadium," as this year's baseball-based theme is "Get Off The Bench," which ties the need for volunteers and donations to the featured auction item, wooden, handpainted storage benchs. The benches, which are pictured all around this page, have been created and painted in unique designs by a host of local artists. One of them was even painted by inmates at the Goffstown Women's Prison - see page 14 for the full story. There are lots of different designs, perfect for a kid's toybox, a classy storage device or whatever else one can imagine.
Aside from the storage benches, there is original artwork up for auction, several "Artist's Choice" items including a commissioned painting, and a variety of specialty items, including:
You can even win the chance to create and name your own sandwich at The Works. "The Merrimack Stack," a sandwich created by auction winners Merrimack County Savings Bank, has been selling like hotcakes over the past two years. Well, hot multigrain bread with turkey, ham, bacon, spinach, tomato, cucumbers and herb cream cheese, to be specific.
Admission to the auction will run you $50 and includes a full dinner and dessert. Last year's auction raised about $100,000, which goes a long way toward funding the Friends Program in its efforts to unite the community through volunteerism.
Of course, the Friends Program is really four programs. There's the Foster Grandparent program, which sets up retirees with volunteer opportunities in youth-service organizations like schools or group homes, where they can pass on their wisdom to younger generations. The Junior-Senior Friends program links at-risk youth with an older mentor to hang out with. The Retired Senior Volunteer Program matches seniors 55 and older with volunteer positions at places like the Boys and Girls Club and Concord Hospital. And there's the Emergency Housing Program, which offers shelter to homeless families and helps them get back on your feet.
There are two common themes running through these four programs. One is that they both exemplify a community's compassion and willingness to help out those in need. The other is that without the money raised at the annual Friends Auction, these programs simply could not operate. What better way to support community service in Concord than to raise money and get one-of-a-kind prizes?