Thursday, February 05, 2009

Who Knew Shopping Could Be Philanthropic?

Introducing the new Squamscott Community Commons Pendant . . .

The Commons' vision for a community center and YMCA has long been inspiring community members to offer their support. From architects to environmentalists calling to offer their expertise, to local residents interested in hosting a house party, community members are just plain excited about this project. Now, jewelers and artists Lisa Cochran, of Lily Designs in Exeter, and Laurie Farrell, of Keith O'Connor Pottery Beads, have collaborated to design and produce a necklace featuring the Squamscott Community Commons logo.

"I can't wait until the new community center and YMCA is open," said Lisa Cochran. "Creating a unique piece of jewelry to benefit the project is a way I can share my excitement and offer my support."

The porcelain pendant, handcrafted by Laurie Farrell, is finished with a hand-died silk cord. All profits will be donated to Squamscott Community Commons to benefit the campaign to build a Seacoast community center and YMCA. The necklace retails for $28.

"It feels good to give a gift and get a gift, knowing that there's meaning behind it," said Lisa. "Not all of us can write a big check, but we can buy a pendant and support this great cause."

Limited quantities will be available at Water Street Books and at the Squamscott Community Commons office at 56 Linden Street in Exeter. Please call 778-4722 or email for more information.

Monday, November 03, 2008

RiverWoods Auction Raises $50,000 for Squamscott Community Commons

A record-breaking crowd of nearly 400 friends, supporters and volunteers gathered at the RiverWoods Auction on October 4th. The event raised $50,000 in support of Squamscott Community Commons -- the largest amount yet raised in RiverWoods' many year history of hosting auctions for area nonprofits.

Ever the gracious host, RiverWoods delighted everyone with a festive atmosphere, delicious food and a wealth of items for viewing and bidding. The spirit of community and philanthropy were palpable as friends and neighbors gathered to talk about The Commons and the future community center. "A lot of it has to do with the fact that it benefits something that touches everyone in the community from young to old," said Laura Sckaal, a volunteer for The Commons. "It's more than just a building; it's something that's going to change the emotional landscape of the community."

Guests bid on items from a Bill Childs pen and ink drawing, to a Sunday River ski vacation and a shirt signed by Celtics forward Brian Scalabrine, with several items selling in the thousands of dollars. "The outflow of support is tremendous," said Robin Drunsic, Executive Director of The Commons. "The Commons is working to fill a great need in the community. We owe so much to RiverWoods and everyone who attended this event for helping us bring a community center to the Seacoast."

"I think this is one of the better parties I've seen in Exeter," said Sal Guidice, RiverWoods resident and event guest. "The other thing we found very delightful is the number of friends from around town who are here supporting this effort, because this is terribly important to our community to have this (community center)."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Squamscott Community Commons Welcomes New Board Members

Squamscott Community Commons welcomes Thom Kraus, Tim Phoenix and Richard (Dick) Ingram to its Board of Directors. Thom Kraus is President of the Exeter Area Chamber of Commerce and has served on various boards and advisory committees, including the United Way of Niagara, NY. Tim Phoenix is founding Vice President, Managing Director and general law practitioner at Hoefle, Phoenix & Gormley, P.A. in Portsmouth. He has been actively engaged with local nonprofits and is a former board member of the Seacoast Family YMCA in Portsmouth. Dick Ingram is Executive Director of The Housing Partnership and Chair of the Board of Directors of SeaCare Health Services in Exeter. He has extensive experience leading nonprofits, including the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Seacoast. Dick has served on various nonprofit boards throughout New Hampshire.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Celebrating Good Times

On July 1st, nearly 100 donors and volunteers gathered at the beautifully refurbished Exeter Inn to celebrated the purchase of the Exeter Area Junior High School property. From top, left to right: Patrick Spearman, Carter Siegel (Board Secretary and Past Chair) and Liz Thompson; Doug Nelson, Steve Leonard and project architect, Joel Bargmann; John Haederle chats with Executive Director, Robin Drunsic and Communications Team member, Cathleen Toomey; Board members Fred Doane and Davis Farmer.

Celebrating Good Times

Squamscott Community Commons Board of Directors, pictured from left to right: Kathy Crompton (SeaCare Health Services), Peggy Small-Porter (Richie MacFarland Children’s Center), Karen Desrosiers (Exeter Center for Creative Arts), Karen Moyer (Rockingham Community Action), Davis Farmer (Board Chair), Pam Cameron, Cara Siegel, Bob Greene (Treasurer), Carter Siegel (Secretary) and Fred Doane. Not pictured are: Don Briseldon, Dick Ingram, Thom Kraus , Rob McGregor (Southern District YMCA/Camp Lincoln), Wendy Monroe (Great Bay Kids’ Company), Tim Phoenix, Nancy Pierce, Julie Quinn, Paula Ruggles.

Donors and Supporters Gather to Celebrate Land Purchase

On July 1st, nearly 100 donors and volunteers for Squamscott Community Commons gathered at the beautifully refurbished Exeter Inn to celebrate the acquisition of the Exeter AREA Junior High School property. The land purchase represents a milestone in the organization’s progress to build a community center for Seacoast NH. The center will house six nonprofit agencies, including a full-service YMCA facility.

Squamscott Community Commons was born nearly ten years ago as the brainchild of several area nonprofit agencies. Realizing the need to expand their outreach to families, youth and seniors throughout the region, they conceived the idea of creating a community-oriented facility, serving as their home and allowing them to work together to deliver important and much-needed services to the community. Affordable childcare, health and wellness programs, creative arts classes, walking trails and opportunities for education about the environment and the Exeter River Watershed – these are just of few of the services that will be available at The Commons. The high-performance facility will be sustainably built to LEED certification standards. “After ten years of great ideas, ten years of vision, ten years of good hard work . . . we stand here together with the most tangible proof yet that this vision is real and realizable,” said Farmer, as he congratulated the project’s supporters on their land purchase achievement.

Squamscott Community Commons continues to make strides toward the development and construction of the community center that is so eagerly anticipated by the community. Just a few days ago, on the site of the old junior high building, a boy named Lucas stopped one of The Commons’ staff members to ask, “What are you doing here?” She explained that Squamscott Community Commons was working hard to build a community center and YMCA right over where the empty school building sat. “Wow!” said Lucas, “That will really change my life!”

Indeed, Lucas. Indeed.

Proud New Landowners!

On June 30th, Squamscott Community Commons became the owners of the Exeter Area Junior High School property. This 10 acre parcel, located on Linden Street in Exeter will be the site of a new regional community center providing social, health, recreational, cultural and educational opportunities for the community. The Commons will raise the funds to construct the 80,000 square foot intergenerational center, to house six nonprofit agencies including a YMCA facility. The center will be a vital community resource, offering a multitude of services by helping families and individuals develop their fullest potential in mind, body and spirit. Participating agencies include Exeter Center for Creative Arts, Great Bay Kids' Company, Richie MacFarland Children's Center, Rockingham Community Action, SeaCare Health Services and Southern District YMCA/Camp Lincoln.

Friday, June 06, 2008


EXETER, NH: A major milestone has been reached by Squamscott Community Commons (The Commons). On June 30 The Commons will receive title to the Exeter AREA Junior High building (old high school “Annex”) from the Exeter Region Cooperative School District.

Squamscott Community Commons is a multi-tenant non-profit “green” community center to be built on Linden Street in Exeter, New Hampshire. The Commons will house a full-facility YMCA and agencies that provide programs and services in health and wellness, arts, culture, nutrition, childcare and recreation, and will function as a community focal point for residents of all ages and economic levels throughout the seacoast region. The participating agencies include Exeter Center for Creative Arts (ECCA), Great Bay Kids Company, Richie McFarland Children’s Center, Rockingham Community Action, SeaCare Health Services, and Southern District/YMCA Camp Lincoln.

With this chapter of the project completed, Carol Walker Aten has announced that she will be moving to a new position with The Commons as a member of the Advisory Council and leaving her post as Executive Director. Davis Farmer, Chair of the Board of Directors remarked, “Carol’s contributions have been enormous: the full magnitude of her achievements and dedication will be appreciated not only as the project moves into its building phase, but also well into the future.”

Since Carol joined The Commons in January 2005, her accomplishments include building the organizational infrastructure with a new community board, committee volunteers and professional staff; establishing the website; completing a successful six-town vote to acquire the property; securing the seed funding; completing the conceptual and design development of the facility; and acquiring the municipal and state regulatory permits needed for construction. “Working together,” Davis continued, “we have made very real progress in this first-of-its-kind effort and the foundations that have been laid, in very large part by Carol and her staff, have positioned us to make this community center a reality.”

Exeter resident Robin Drunsic has been promoted from Director of Finance, a position she has held since August 2006, to Executive Director. Robin brings to The Commons a strong academic background in business management, a keen entrepreneurial spirit, and the experience of working in the development office of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, one of the most highly visible and successful fundraising organizations in New England. Prior to moving to Exeter, Robin and her husband operated a successful 70-seat café in Vermont for which Robin was responsible for all aspects of business administration. Robin holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of New Hampshire as well as an M.B.A. from Simmons College School of Management.

A private celebration is scheduled for July 1 at the newly-renovated Exeter Inn to honor the hundreds of volunteers and major contributors who have brought The Commons from vision to reality. For more information, please contact Carol Aten at or 603-778-4722.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Enjoy Irish Folk Music, Stories and Laughter with Makem & Spain Brothers

The Award Winning Makem and Spain Brothers will be performing a 2nd annual concert to benefit the Exeter Center for Creative Arts. Enjoy Irish folk music, stories, and laughter -- it's a night of fun for the whole family! The Makem and Spain Brothers perform around the world and continue a long history of traditional Irish folk music passed down through generations. The NY Chronicle has called them the “definitive Irish folk singers of their generation.”
Saturday June 7, 2008, 7:00pm, at the Winnacunnet High School Auditorium, 1 Alumni Drive, Hampton, NH. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. For more information or to purchase tickets please contact ECCA at (603) 778-8441, via email at, or at

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Making the Seacoast Cleaner, Healthier, Better

Local community members and students from Seacoast School of Technology and Phillips Exeter Academy gathered on April 8th for Squamscott Community Common's first Little River Clean-Up. The day opened with an informal presentation by Pete Richardson, of the Exeter River Local Advisory Committee and Conservation Commission, introducing students to the unique ecosystem of the Exeter River Watershed and its interrelationship with the Little River. The Exeter River connects the Little River to the Great Bay, the Piscataqua River and, eventually, the Gulf of Maine. "They are all interconnected to the Little River in Exeter," he said. "All this stuff gets transported down the river . . . today we'll discover how human behavior impacts our water bodies." Volunteers teamed up to remove trash and minor brush from the banks from the banks of the river and the walking trails. Students from Seacoast School of Technology's digital communications class documented the project and intend to produce a documentary to raise awareness. Romeo's Pizza and Squamscott Beverages generously donated pizza and soda for a post-clean-up lunch. "This was a great project," said Kate Donald, Sustainability Coordinator at The Commons. "All the students were interested in learning about the Little River. They worked hard, and it's made a big difference already. We will definitely plan to host more clean-ups in the future."