April 25, 2018WOLFEBORO — Maureen Beauregard, co-founder and president of Families in Transition (FIT), lived in substandard housing with her mom and four siblings until age five, when she was placed into foster care. They never lived together again.
Her early hardships instilled a drive to help others avoid that same fate. Her efforts to provide transitional apartments for homeless families over the last 27 years led to a shining night on April 19, when she was named the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year.
Chamber President and CEO Michael Skelton said Beauregard is the ultimate New Hampshire success story.
"It truly is our honor to recognize a special person of boundless energy and generosity, a nonprofit leader who is a shining example, a rare leader who through her own special journey brings so much compassion and joy to people who have faced such challenges," Skelton said.
The award follows a year in which FIT merged with the New Horizons shelter and has taken over the transitional housing aspects of Serenity Place, an alcoholism treatment center, following its financial hardships.
Beauregard has dedicated her life to others, starting with a small agency in charge of five transitional apartments, which has grown to more than two dozen projects with 200 housing units serving 600 people a year.
Don Holm, an early supporter who helped launch the effort to bring FIT's services to the aid of homeless families within the Governor Wentworth Regional School District in the form of Hope House, located on Lehner Street in Wolfeboro, said of her recent award, "Maureen is one of those people who not only speaks from the heart but also has the organizational ability to turn her dreams into reality. In Wolfeboro, she found a group of people that were inspired by her dreams and stuck with her through the long process of creating a safe place for families in transition to get back to a good life."
The project of converting the top two floors of the Professional Arts building into apartments and office and meeting space is expected to come to completion in May, according to Michele Talwani, FIT's Vice President, Economic Development & Marketing. A new shelter manager is starting at the end of April/early May and will be training at the family shelter in Manchester. Talwani says the goal is to have families move into Hope House in June.
"I have never met a woman who is so passionate about what she does. She is an inspiration to all women but mostly to those who have struggled and succeeded. She is an example of that old saying, 'Where there is a will, there is a way.' Maureen has lived that," says Jane Batchelder, a long time L.I.F.E. Ministries volunteer who recognized the need for transitional housing and has persevered along with others to bring the enterprise to fruition.