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Lowe's partners with CHAT to do good things

August 24, 2011
TILTON — Caring Hands Assisting Tilton received a generous boost in its endeavor to help seniors and those with disabilities in the town when a locally based national chain showed they do indeed think outside their "big box" stores and reach out to their surrounding communities.

Lowe's Home Improvement Store, in conjunction with manufacturer DeLonghi Air Conditioners, stepped up this summer to donate 11 special stand alone air conditioners, which would meet fire code regulations while keeping seniors with medical conditions comfortable when summer temperatures rise. CHAT committee leaders said they are most grateful for all of the assistance.

"We got a wonderful vote of confidence from Lowe's for what we are doing for seniors in town and we're most appreciative," said Pat Consentino, one of the founders of CHAT.

Chairman and co-founder Tom Gallant and Police Chief Robert Cormier took time from their daily schedules to thank store manager Michael Laviere for all Lowe's has done to date and for all they have offered in the future.

"Lowe's has been a great, great assistance to people in our town. Even a cooling center on the really hot days wouldn't have been enough for many of our seniors. All of these people (who were loaned the air conditioning units) have letters from their doctors saying there is a medical need and Lowe's helped us meet that need," said Gallant.

Beyond that, Lowe's also has a national grant program to assist noteworthy nonprofit organizations in local communities.

Gallant said CHAT has applied to the program and hopes to have a continuing relationship with the company as work is underway to rehabilitate the old Tilton Grange Hall to create a senior center for local residents to enjoy.

The project, backed with $20,000 at Tilton's Town Meeting last March, has also received other funds through the U.S. Rural Development Agricultural grant program. USRDA grants award 15 percent of any money contributed by the town toward such eligible projects. CHAT recently received $3,000 for expenses in the senior center's reconstruction.

Consentino said other donations have been coming in, including a handicapped toilet and sink, donated by Granite Group, a plumbing company in Concord. The committee also raised $2,600 through a spaghetti dinner fundraising event at Lochmere Country Club and Gallant said there are other grant applications they are awaiting word on. Community donations of time, resources and energy have meant the most though.

"Things are progressing well. We have a good nucleus of people helping us and Lowe's has been overly generous to us in their support," Gallant said.

The reconstruction of the Grange Hall has also received backing from Northway Bank, which recently donated computers for the senior center so elderly residents can learn to send email to friends and family and navigate the world wide web for news and other information.

Gallant said there are several phases slated for the project, and Phase 1 is nearing completion.

"We've got plumbers and electricians in there now, and the sheetrocking will be started soon. Under Phase 2, we hope to rebuild the kitchen but we fully expect to start using the building for meetings by the end of 2011," Gallant said.

He said he optimistically foresees the entire project being complete sometime in 2012.

Beyond the reconstruction project, Gallant and Consentino said the past two years have seen many good-hearted people coming forward to volunteer their time to drive elderly and disabled people to appointments, shopping trips and help with other daily chores. On any given day, Gallant said, someone is on the road helping our seniors. CHAT has also stockpiled numerous pieces of durable medical goods, which are available for loan to anyone in need of a wheelchair, cane, shower chair, walker and many other items.

Michael Laviere, manager of the Tilton Lowe's store, said the company's participation is part of their culture, in which they look to give back to local organizations as much as possible. While Lowe's get many requests for assistance from many agencies in towns where their stores are located, he said they especially like to assist in projects that involve youth and the elderly.

"Helping senior citizens seems like such a sensible thing for us to do," Laviere said. "Senior citizens are important to us, and we're glad to help out in any way we can."

Tilton's Lowe's store has also contributed to many local Eagle Scout projects, community centers, and other endeavors they feel will have a lasting impact on the community.

"Chief Cormier was instrumental in bringing the air conditioning problem to our attention initially, and since then, it has been a pleasure for myself and my company to work with the CHAT committee. We hope to be able to help assist them in all ways that we can in the future as they work to get the new Tilton senior center built," said Laviere.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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