Dear friend…

I’m a little out of my comfort zone here, but I’m writing ask for your support for a program that began last fall at Crotched Mountain because I believe it is as urgent and compelling as anything we have ever undertaken on our campus.

As you probably know, New Hampshire has one of the worst opioid problems in the country. The extent of the crisis here has played a huge role in the number of child abuse and neglect cases seen by the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). In 2018 alone, they investigated 12,000 reports in our small-population state.

DCYF has always had a relationship with the Crotched Mountain School, but the number of referrals we receive from them has dramatically increased. In response, we have launched the Mellon Program – a new residential initiative to serve the very young children who are now coming to us in the wake of the substance abuse epidemic. We refer to these children as our “Littles.”

The Littles are between 3 and 12 years old. They arrive on campus with few possessions; many come with just the clothes on their back. Some came in December and January without coats, hats, mittens or boots. They have no dolls, no toys, no stuffed animals or “blankies” to sleep with. Staff members go to Walmart to buy these items and a wardrobe of appropriate clothing for each child as he or she arrives.

Unlike our traditional school population – students aged 10 to 22 with a range of neurological and cognitive disabilities – the challenges the Littles face are far less visible. Many have suffered lives of neglect and abuse and have witnessed or been the victims of domestic violence. Some have experienced food insecurity, suffered with untreated medical problems, or attended school only sporadically, if at all. Some have been homeless or living in a car. Some come directly from hospital emergency rooms. All show developmental and educational delays. All have been traumatized in one form or another.

As a Board member, I’m proud that Crotched Mountain has stepped up to begin the process of healing these little lives. Our plan is to assess the extent of their emotional, physical, and educational needs, stabilize them in these areas, and bring them to a place where they can trust adults again. Our goal is to reunite them with parents or relatives, if possible, or find them homes in foster care. We have already redeployed a number of our teachers, social workers, school and residential staff and provided them with immersive childhood trauma training in order accomplish these goals.

We have also completed the renovation of what was previously adult residential space in our Mellon building to adapt it to the needs of small children. We have furnished and decorated bright, colorful new bedrooms and baths, welcoming indoor play areas, a child-friendly reading room, and a safe, fenced outdoor play structure.

The pressing need now is to create four new classrooms, close to their new residential space and specifically designed for these special children. Approximately $500,000 is needed to build and equip these classrooms by September. Your donation to the Mellon Program will help make this construction happen.
We don’t have the luxury of building a long-term campaign and raising the money slowly – the kids are here already – and more are expected to arrive through the summer.

I often find myself worrying about problems like this that carry such devastating human and societal costs, but I have often felt helpless to do much about them. For me (and Robin), this program has presented an opportunity to take positive action that can literally change the path forward for some of the youngest victims of the substance abuse crisis.

If you are willing to join us, you can donate online at crotchedmountain.org/littles or send a check to the attention of:

Kevin Harte Crotched Mountain Foundation
1 Verney Drive
Greenfield, NH 03047

(Please indicate “for the Littles” on the memo line.)

With all my gratitude for anything you can do to help,

Love,

Leslie Kenney

Dear friend…

I’m a little out of my comfort zone here, but I’m writing ask for your support for a program that began last fall at Crotched Mountain because I believe it is as urgent and compelling as anything we have ever undertaken on our campus.

As you probably know, New Hampshire has one of the worst opioid problems in the country. The extent of the crisis here has played a huge role in the number of child abuse and neglect cases seen by the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). In 2018 alone, they investigated 12,000 reports in our small-population state.

DCYF has always had a relationship with the Crotched Mountain School, but the number of referrals we receive from them has dramatically increased. In response, we have launched the Mellon Program – a new residential initiative to serve the very young children who are now coming to us in the wake of the substance abuse epidemic. We refer to these children as our “Littles.”

The Littles are between 3 and 12 years old. They arrive on campus with few possessions; many come with just the clothes on their back. Some came in December and January without coats, hats, mittens or boots. They have no dolls, no toys, no stuffed animals or “blankies” to sleep with. Staff members go to Walmart to buy these items and a wardrobe of appropriate clothing for each child as he or she arrives.

Unlike our traditional school population – students aged 10 to 22 with a range of neurological and cognitive disabilities – the challenges the Littles face are far less visible. Many have suffered lives of neglect and abuse and have witnessed or been the victims of domestic violence. Some have experienced food insecurity, suffered with untreated medical problems, or attended school only sporadically, if at all. Some have been homeless or living in a car. Some come directly from hospital emergency rooms. All show developmental and educational delays. All have been traumatized in one form or another.

As a Board member, I’m proud that Crotched Mountain has stepped up to begin the process of healing these little lives. Our plan is to assess the extent of their emotional, physical, and educational needs, stabilize them in these areas, and bring them to a place where they can trust adults again. Our goal is to reunite them with parents or relatives, if possible, or find them homes in foster care. We have already redeployed a number of our teachers, social workers, school and residential staff and provided them with immersive childhood trauma training in order accomplish these goals.

We have also completed the renovation of what was previously adult residential space in our Mellon building to adapt it to the needs of small children. We have furnished and decorated bright, colorful new bedrooms and baths, welcoming indoor play areas, a child-friendly reading room, and a safe, fenced outdoor play structure.

The pressing need now is to create four new classrooms, close to their new residential space and specifically designed for these special children. Approximately $500,000 is needed to build and equip these classrooms by September. Your donation to the Mellon Program will help make this construction happen.
We don’t have the luxury of building a long-term campaign and raising the money slowly – the kids are here already – and more are expected to arrive through the summer.

I often find myself worrying about problems like this that carry such devastating human and societal costs, but I have often felt helpless to do much about them. For me (and Robin), this program has presented an opportunity to take positive action that can literally change the path forward for some of the youngest victims of the substance abuse crisis.

If you are willing to join us, you can donate online at crotchedmountain.org/littles or send a check to the attention of:

Kevin Harte Crotched Mountain Foundation
1 Verney Drive
Greenfield, NH 03047

(Please indicate “for the Littles” on the memo line.)

With all my gratitude for anything you can do to help,

Love,

Leslie Kenney

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