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Give Back NH: The Friendly Kitchen

Volunteers Pam Manus and Collen Graham prepare spaghetti Bolognese for The Children's Place in Concord
Emily Quirk
/
NHPR
Volunteers Pam Manus and Collen Graham prepare spaghetti Bolognese for The Children's Place in Concord

Give Back New Hampshire is a bi-weekly segment that spotlights New Hampshire nonprofit organizations. It airs every other Monday during Morning Edition.

You can nominate a local nonprofit for Give Back NH by emailing us at giveback@nhpr.org.

For this week's Give Back New Hampshire segment, NHPR's Emily Quirk took a tour of The Friendly Kitchenhere in Concord, who've been providing warm meals to low income and un-housed people for over forty years:

Sara Curran (Office Manager): So there was one building that was Montgomery Street. It was a much smaller location. That one caught fire, which is why we built this [building] in 2012.

Emily Quirk (NHPR Producer): And this piano?

Curran: This piano is what survived it. And then there's hinges in the office that also survived it.

Quirk: Do people ever play?

Curran: Yeah. Some of the guests come in and play. Not well, but yeah, they do play. We're very lucky. We're very lucky when they play.

My name is Sara Curran. I am the office manager at the Friendly Kitchen.

I love it. I love everyone that eats here. That's part of the reason I still work here. I love the personalities. I love seeing them every day. It's really one of the highlights of my job here.

The Friendly Kitchen's dining room is a bright and sunny place for people to enjoy a warm meal.
Emily Quirk
/
NHPR
The Friendly Kitchen's dining room is a bright and sunny place for people to enjoy a warm meal.

Valerie Guy (Executive Director): So we have a beautiful building on Commercial Street with a nice bright dining room where guests are able to come in during the summer and get out of the heat, and come in during the winter to get out of the cold.

We have, I would say, over 300 plus volunteers. At one time it was higher than that. We have volunteers that have been doing this for 40 years.

Curran: So they can come in a half hour early and get coffee. And then when we open up, they get to line up for their meals over here.

Quirk: And this is the kitchen?

Curran: Yep. Coming in! Hi there. This is Emily from NHPR.

Volunteers: Hi, how are you? (My favorite radio station)!

Quirk: Can you tell me what you're cooking here?

Colleen Graham (Volunteer): Yes, I am making spaghetti and meatballs. Nice sauce with sautéed green peppers.

Sara Curran is the office manager for The Friendly Kitchen; she oversees hundreds of volunteers and the menu schedule seen here.
Emily Quirk
/
NHPR
Sara Curran is the office manager for The Friendly Kitchen; she oversees hundreds of volunteers and the menu schedule seen here.

Curran: So the guests here actually eat better than I eat at home. All the food here is completely homemade. So the meals that they eat are meals that you would grow up eating at home. So casseroles, homemade soups. American chop suey is a big thing here; Shepherd's pie, but everything here is homemade. And then lunch is usually something that we will reheat from dinner.

Volunteer chatter: Yes. And this, I believe. Pam? Is this going over to the children's place? I'm taking this. Yes? This is going to the Children's Place today. Yes, it is.

Pam Manus (Volunteer): My name is Pam Manis and I've been volunteering... forever. I do breakfasts in the winter. I do the family friendly meals. I help out in the back if I can. And people go, 'Where are you going today?' I'm like, down to the friendly kitchen of course!

Curran: The community is a big part of why we're still running. A lot of our donations are based on community donations, so big businesses help us out and then local individual donors are why that we still get by.

Guy: Some of us take some things for granted in our lives. And when you see the need in the community and how pleased people are when they get to eat here or the surveys that we get back and people are describing what it means to them to to receive prepared meals at their home when they're struggling to put food on the table and pay their bills. That is why I continue to work here.

Before becoming Program Director, Quirk served as NHPR's production manager. During that time she's voiced and crafted the 'sound of the station,' coordinated countless on-air fundraisers, produced segments for Give Back NH, Something Wild, New Hampshire Calling, and developed NHPR's own NHPR Music vertical with features such as Live from Studio D, and long-loved favorites like Holidays By Request.
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