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Chamber of Commerce names 2021 Nonprofit of the Year

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The Non-Profit of the Year award presented by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce is one of the Chamber’s most prestigious business awards. This award is bestowed upon a nonprofit that demonstrates excellence in their organization and in their community.  It also recognizes a Chamber member that has provided a significant impact to the betterment of the greater Rochester area.

At the Chamber’s Annual Dinner & Awards Banquet held on Saturday evening, November 6, 2021, at The Oaks Grand Ballroom, the Chamber presented its 2021 Nonprofit of the Year to the Monarch School of New England.

For over 40 years, the Monarch School of New England (MSNE) has provided unlimited possibilities for students with special needs. Originally known as the Child Development Center of Strafford County, the organization began as a volunteer-run playgroup in the late 1960’s to meet a growing need to provide opportunities for children with disabilities and their families. As the organization evolved into a school in the mid-1970’s, the school’s founder, Carrie Foss, continued to provide opportunities for children with special needs. Today, MSNE continues as a non-profit, specialized, day school for students with significant development, physical, medical, behavioral, and emotional disabilities, ages 5-21, located in Rochester, NH. Since its founding, over 300 students have graduated from the school.

The mission of the Monarch School of New England is to support individuals with special needs to they can realize their greatest potential. A comprehensively trained staff works one-on-one with each individual, uniquely integrating both education and therapy, to ensure successful transitions to school and to the community.

MSNE also offers an array of prevocational/vocational training programs in different career sectors. MSNE has been a leader in the state for preparing students for rewarding employment opportunities. Vocational program students gain hands-on, meaningful employment experience at over 30 local businesses in the greater Rochester area. These partnerships are beneficial for both MSNE and the businesses.

Day students are involved and engaged in the area, learning life skills while shopping at local retailers to volunteering with city programs, participating in a meaningful way to the community.

MSNE is recognized across New England for excellence in academic, therapeutic, functional life skills, and vocational programming for students with complex disabilities. Curriculum is based on the NH Educational Frameworks and Common Core Standards. Students have the opportunity to develop healthy habits and life-long leisure skills, through inclusion in MSNE’s innovative therapeutic and adaptive recreation programs in the community. 

Students are valued for their abilities and are seen for what they can do, not what they cannot. According to Jean Parsons, Board President of MSNE, “perhaps what speaks most clearly to what MSNE provides is mirrored on the faces of our students, the pure joy of newfound confidence, and enthusiasm for learning”. And according to Mary Henderson, VP at Bank of New Hampshire, “within this nurturing environment, each students’ unique abilities, interests and strengths are supported, to ensure successful transitions to school, the community, and everyday life”.

MSNE employees are also active in the community. Executive Director, Diane Bessey, is an active member of the Rochester Rotary Club and is a member of Frisbie Memorial Hospital’s board of directors. Staff members have also been recognized with various statewide awards including Champion Award by the NH Council for Youths with Chronic Health Conditions, Emerging Leader in Special Education by the NH Special Education Administrators and Distinguished Clinical Educators Award by the University of New England. 

The Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce was honored to recognize the mission, programs and valuable opportunities offered by presenting its 2021 Nonprofit of the Year award to the Monarch School of New England.

Presenting the Nonprofit of the Year award to MSNE Executive Director, Diane Bessey, was Kathy Beebe of HAVEN, last year’s recipient.

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