Manchester, NH – Child and Family Services (CFS) of NH hosted its fourth annual SleepOut to raise community awareness and funds for homeless and at-risk youth. The CFS team was joined by state and local business leaders, advocates, and supporters on March 23, at the Stanton Plaza in Manchester. Among the attendees were N.H. Governor Chris Sununu, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, and 30-year CFS corporate sponsors Mark and Sally Stebbins, owners of PROCON.
The SleepOut is an annual event that raises crucial funds and awareness about youth homelessness by engaging community leaders and advocates. SleepOut participants experience a single night on the cold ground in solidarity to raise funds for life-transforming services.
More than 120 sleepers participated in this year’s SleepOut and raised over $300,000, surpassing their original $250,000 goal.
During the evening, the Stebbins family presented CFS with a check for $20,000 to help continue their work combatting youth homelessness. Mark Stebbins said, “The staff at Child and Family Services truly cares about the city’s homeless youth and goes to great lengths to not only reach out to them but also to provide the programs and services they need to get off the streets and get their lives on track for a great future.”
PROCON team members turned out in force for the event, demonstrating their commitment to aiding at-risk youth, and raised an additional $8,000 towards the cause. Stebbins added, “That is why we believe in their hard work and feel privileged to continue supporting their labors to end youth homelessness.”
For more than three decades the Stebbins family has supported the programs championed by Child and Family Services in Manchester. Mark Stebbins grew up in the city, and over 80 years’ ago, his grandfather Blanchard opened the family business on Lincoln Street. That building was adjacent to the one that houses the current CFS Youth Resource Center. History came full circle in 2016 when the Stebbins Family donated $200,000 that enabled CFS to update the facility into a modern resource hub for their youth programs and services. The family’s legacy continues with Mark and Sally’s daughter Jennifer Stebbins, who is a CFS Board Member.
This year Governor Sununu took up the CFS SleepOut challenge and ‘lost sleep’ over the problem. He and a contingency of NH State Commissioners rolled out their own sleeping bags under the stars. In a stirring response to the issue, he stated “I don’t think a lot of people realize that this is a crisis, but this is the type of stuff we have to be relentless about. Even if we get a good reduction in the numbers, one is still too many. But, we will keep on prioritizing, managing well, advocating, focusing – whatever it takes and saying that one is too many until hopefully, one is a foregone dream.”
Youth homelessness is a nationwide issue. A study done by the University of Chicago News showed that nationally 1 in 30 adolescent minors ages 13 to 17 endures some form of homelessness in a year. These types of local and national statistics are the impetus for Child and Family Services. Their crucial work serves as a lifeline to over 1,500 runaway, homeless and at-risk youth per year throughout the Granite State by providing a continuum of services from survival aid to independent living support.