The Friends Program is a non-profit agency that recruits, trains and manages volunteers to meet community needs.

Our mission is to strengthen communities by building relationships that empower people, encourage community service and restore faith in the human spirit.

We accomplish this by providing youth mentoring, emergency housing and fulfilling the need of seniors and retired people to actively contribute to the community.

The Friends Program's Legacy Society is a dedicated group of friends who have made planned gifts to the program to ensure and strengthen its future. Planned giving opportunities include the following:

Bequests and Estate Plan Gifts

You may make a bequest or gift through your estate by including a provision in your will or living trust, or by naming the Friends Program as a beneficiary of a retirement plan or life insurance policy.  The amount left to the Friends Program can be expressed as a dollar amount or as a percentage of the assets to be given.

Life Income Gifts

A life income gift allows you to give assets to the Friends Program while providing yourself or others with income for a period of time before the Friends Program is permitted to use your gift.  You many make a life income gift by trnasferring securities, cash, or other property to the Friends Program.  The Friends Program then manages the investment of the assets and pays an income to you, your designated beneficiaries, or both.  Income payments continue for the beneficiaries' lives or, in some cases, for a fixed term.
Charitable Gift Annuity - In exchange for an outright gift, the Friends Program agrees by contract to pay a fixed amount each year to you and/or another beneficiary for life.

Charitable Remainder Trust - You establish a trust form which you and/or other beneficiaries receive annual payments for life and/or a term of years.  At the end of the term, the remainder of the trust assets go to the Friends Program for the purposes you designate.
As part of the Legacy Society, you can establish a named fund within the Friends Program Endowment to recoginize your support of the organization and to direct how your want your gift to be used.
The Friends Program Legacy Society Members
  • Evelyn Arell

  • Robert & Robyn Cotton
  • William Kneut
  • Adelma E. Lajoie

  • Robert & Senator Sylvia Larsen

  • Jerome & Susan Madden
  • Polly (Pauline) Perry
  • Laura Scott
Please consider this important means of helping to continue the work of the Friends Program in your community.  For more information on becoming a Legacy Society Member, please contact Laura Scott at (603) 228-7604 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Joanne Gagnon - President

Joanne Gagnon

Vice President - Commercial Banker, Bank of New Hampshire; Secretary and Treasurer of New Hampshire Home Builder's Associate Council; Secretary of New Hampshire Regional Development Corporation; Community Development Finance Authority Investment Committee Member; Committee Member for Concord Hospital "En Blanc" fundraiser; Graduate of Leadership Concord 'Class of 2010-2011"; Member Steering Committee for Leadership Concord; Member of the Chamber of Commerce; Vocalist for a Women's A Cappella Ensemble; Aksara; Vocalist for a Christian Musical Ensemble; Friends Program President; Friends Program Trustee since 2011; Resident of Manchester.

Catherine Devaney - Vice President

Catherine Devaney

Marist College, M.P.A.; Boston University, B.S.; Chief Executive Officer, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Concord; Former Chief Operating Officer, Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital; Former Executive Vice President, Fairlawn Rehabilitation Hospital; Recipient of HealthSouth Hospital of the Year in 2009; Volunteer for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer; Friends Program Trustee since 2012; Resident of Bow.

Allen Desbiens - Treasurer

A Desbiens web
Graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics. Allen is currently acting in the position of Regulatory Affairs Manager for Eversource Energy and is directly involved as the primary liaison with the NH Public Utilities Commission on a wide range of issues. He has served on the Board of Directors of Granite State Credit Union for more than 10 years and serves on the Asset/Liability Risk, Budget, and Executive Compensation Committees. He is the past Co-President of the Concord Friends for the Performing Arts. He is a 2009 graduate of the Leadership Greater Concord Program, a Resident of Concord and a Friends Program Trustee since October 2014.

Elizabeth McCormack - Secretary

Liz McCormack

Suffolk University Law School, J.D.; Wake Forest University, B.S.; Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Bureau of the NH Department of Justice; former Operational Vice President and Corporate Counsel at Brookstone, Inc.; Friends Program Secretary; Friends Program Trustee since 2008; Resident of Concord.

Kathleen Ames

K. Ames

Graduate of Augustana College with a degree in history and political science; MBA, DePaul University. Also a CPA with a background in human resources. Past board experience has included serving as past chair of the Concord Regional VNA and numerous volunteer roles with the Junior Service League. Since 2007, Ames has also served as the Treasurer of the Concord Hospital Association.

Celia Chase


Celia is Vice President of Marketing at OrionX Consulting focused on the technology industry. Previously, she was a Director of Marketing at Oracle.  She served as Chair of HEAR in New Hampshire, has been a Board member Child and Family Services as well as the Junior Service League , and is a 2017 gradúate of Leadership of Greater Concord. Celia has an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and a BA from UC Berkeley.  She has lived in Concord with her family since 1996.

Erin Corcoran


Graduate of Montana State University with a B.A. in Philosophy/Religious Studies. J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. Worked in a variety of legal capacities from 1999 to 2017, including serving as counsel to Senator Barbara A. Mikulski and professional staff for the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations; Director, Social Justice Institute;  Executive Director, Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy; Associate Professor of Law at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Resident of Concord. Friends Program Trustee since October 2014.

Lindsay Gonzalez


Lindsay is a lifelong resident of New Hampshire and has worked at Granite Ledges, an assisted living facility, since 2008.  She is currently the Director of Community Relations and focuses on using her local connections, communication skills and team-building experience to benefit the residents.  Lindsay graduated with an Associate Degree in Human Services from NH Technical Institute in 2008 and is currently pursuing a BS in Healthcare Management from Southern NH University. Lindsay is a graduate of 2012 Leadership Greater Concord and is involved with the Concord Regional VNA Passion for Caring Committee.  Lindsay is no stranger to the Friends Program as she was a Senior Friend in our Youth Mentoring Program from 2008-2012.

Michael Gfroerer

Michael Gfroerer

The State University of New York Buffalo Law School, J.D.; Dartmouth College, B.A.; Practicing lawyer in Concord, New Hampshire since 1978; Former Member Concord City Council; Friends Program Trustee since 2008; Resident of Concord.

Jason LaCombe

Jason Cropped

Jason is a Principal at Sheerr McCrystal Palson Architecture, Inc.  dba SMP Architecture. He graduated from Philadelphia Universityin 1998 and has 17 years in working in architecture and construction management. He has served on the board of the Capital Region Habitat for Humanity since 2013 and is an active member of Christ Church PCA in Pembroke.  Jason lives in Hopkinton with his wife and 4 daughters.

Laura Miller

Laura Miller

Laura is the Founder and President of Marketplace New England, Inc., an omnichannel retail operation that features locally made products from NH and New England, as well as Lead Consultant for Customer Service Solutions, a small business consulting group.  She was formerly the Founder and President of Imagination Village, Inc., serving the community through educational toys and teaching supplies.  Laura has a B.S. in Business Administration through NH College.  Current community involvement includes: Board Member, past Treasurer and past Vice-President for the Zonta Club of Concord, the local chapter of an international NGO working to improve the status of women worldwide; member of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce, founding member of the Merchant's Round Table Network. In her spare time, she volunteers as a foster parent for rescue dogs and social justice causes, particularly advocacy for people with disabilities and to improve opportunities for New Americans. Laura has lived in the Concord area for 22 years and currently resides in Contoocook.

Friedrich Moeckel


Attorney – Tarbell & Brodich Professional Association; B.A., Arizona State University; J.D., University of New Hampshire School of Law; Bar Admissions include New Hampshire and Massachusetts State and Federal District Courts. Moeckel also was an adjunct at UNH for a year and a half. Hailing from Bethesda, Md., Moeckel devotes his free time to outdoor activities.

Merrie Beth Moore

Beth, as she likes to be known, is a resident of Hopkinton and has been a School Social worker since 1997 in the Kearsarge School District. Her work as a therapist has included serving as a counselor at Cornerstone in Concord, Associates for Psychotherapy of Wickford (R.I.), and Project HOPE in Grenada. Beth earned a Master of Social Work degree from Columbia, an M.A. in Psychology from New York University, and a B.A. in the same field from Wheaton College. She is licensed as a Certified Independent Social Worker in R.I., and N.H.

Donna Rice


Commercial Realtor and business manager at Premiere Properties. Current member of NH Commercial Investment Board of Realtors; National Association of Realtors; Member of Concord Chamber of Commerce; past member of the Concord Business Group; founding member of Downtown Concord, Inc.; past president, vice president and member of Concord School District PTO’s; past president and board member of Concord High School booster clubs; past volunteer for Capital Region Food Program-Holiday Food Basket Project. Donna accepted a position on the Friends Program Board of Trustees in October 2013. Resident of Concord.

Ilene Stern


Originally from New York, Ilene received her Master’s degree in Audiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which is where she began her career as a Clinical Audiologist, developing the Audiology Department for Ear, Nose and Throat physicians. From 1981 to 2003, she was the sole Audiologist at Easter Seals in Manchester, NH, where she further developed the program for the hearing health needs of children and adults in the community. She segued into her private practice, Hearing Improvement Center, LLC, in 2003 which afforded her the opportunity to combine business skills with her experience in health care. Since selling her practice in 2013 and retiring, Ilene has been spending her time volunteering in our Youth Mentoring Program and in the 3rd grade at Bow Elementery School.

Ilene lives with her husband, Ken (and dog, Chevy) in the Canterbury home that they built in 1981.

Angela Strozewski


Angela is Senior Vice President, Operations Officer at New Hampshire Mutual Bancorp. She possesses 25 years of experience in the organization. She joined Merrimack County Savings Bank in 1990 as a bookkeeper and assumed roles with increasing levels of responsibility. A graduate of Frankin Pierce University, Angela's past community service includes mentoring a youth in our mentoring program, as well as preparing meas at the Friendly Kitchen, managing the finances of Cub Scout Pack 86, and serving on the facilities committee of Riverbend Community Mental Health.

The Friends Program
202 North State Street
Concord, NH 03301
Telephone: 603-228-1193
All New Hampshire: 800-536-1193
Fax: 603-226-3884
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Emergency Housing Program
Telephone: 603-228-1462
Fax: 603-415-0054
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Foster Grandparent Program
Concord: 603-228-1193
All New Hampshire: 800-536-1193
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Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)
Merrimack County: 603-228-1193
Rockingham and Strafford Counties: 800-536-1193
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RSVP-Caregivers Program
Telephone: 603-228-7615
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Youth Mentoring Program
Merrimack County: 603-228-1193
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Who are the children benefiting?

Girls and boys ages 6-17 who are referred by parents, educators and others from Merrimack County.

Why should I become a mentor?

At a time when services are being cut, the needs of the youth in our area are still very real. These children could truly benefit from creative, interesting and committed volunteers. Many children just need a little leg up. You might be the one to make the difference for that special, deserved child on our wait list.

As a parent, how do I refer my child to the program?

Please contact a Youth Mentoring Program Coordinator by calling 603-228-0108 to discuss referring a child.

Who are our volunteer mentors?

Mentors are caring, trusted volunteers who provide one-to-one support to the children in the program. Mentors, age 16 or older, help encourage the characteristics and capabilities of a young person in fun and meaningful ways, generally through a weekly commitment of time.

How much does it cost a parent/guardian for their child to participate?

There is a modest fee we ask of client families for mentor screening & training, case management services, and ongoing group activities. Call 228-0108 for details. No child will be turned away for an inability to pay.

How does the program match a child for me as a volunteer mentor and vice versa?

Our professional staff members assess each volunteer mentor candidate to identify skills, talents, and interests that could be complementary to those of a child on our waiting list. The children are interviewed to ascertain their strengths, needs, and interests to maximize successful outcomes.

How much time per week do I need to invest?

Between 1-3 hours minimum, depending on the program service option.

What kinds of activities can we do?

We encourage 1:1 volunteer mentors to start with interests they have in common with the child; such as music, sports, food, and animals without making it a costly undertaking. The program also has local resources for free and discounted activities and regularly hosts group activities for participants to enjoy.

As a mentor, can I include family/friends in mentoring time?

We encourage mentors to prioritize one-to-one time with the child, especially when the relationship is new. This offers the opportunity for the child you are mentoring to get to know and trust you before introducing others. It is appropriate for the child to interact with your family/friends once you know they are ready.

How do I apply to become a volunteer mentor and what kind of support will I receive?

If interested, please call 603-228-0108. It is notable that the mentoring relationship is monitored and supported by a youth mentoring professional throughout. In addition, the program offers opportunities for on-going training sessions for mentors.