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, sponsored by First Seacoast Bank, is bestowed upon a nonprofit that demonstrates excellence in the community. It also recognizes a Chamber member that has provided a significant impact on the betterment of the greater Rochester area. At the Chamber’s Annual Awards Celebration held on Wednesday evening, June 1, 2022, the Chamber presented the 2022 Nonprofit of the Year to the Homeless Center for Strafford County.
The Homeless Center for Strafford County, now located at 202 Washington Street in Rochester, has a mission to provide community members and families with shelter, case management, and educational programs that lead to self-sufficiency and permanent housing. Their vision is to provide the best evidence-based, two-generational approach to eliminating community homelessness in a dignified and respectful manner. Their values are built on compassion and inclusivity; this enables them to provide a safe environment that is home-like, secure, clean, and communal, a community connection, and a goal-oriented and family-focused educational programming.
The Homeless Center for Strafford County, under the leadership of Tracy Hardekopf, has a retention rate of better than 94% at the one, two, and three-year mark of housing placement.
Every year the demographic of the clients they serve changes. The season they are just coming out of saw a preponderance of elderly people needing shelter. The two years prior they were full of families with very young and school-aged children. The organization’s ability to pivot, and to develop its staff so they can pivot has contributed to more than a few changed lives, and a number of clients leave the shelter with genuine friendships formed with fellow clients. “To see people come to us with virtually nothing, and by partnering with us, leave with a new home, new skills, often a new job, and the potential to never again be part of the homeless population is something that never gets old. Delivering Christmastime gifts and seeing former clients thriving in their new apartments is also personally rewarding”, according to Executive Director Tracy Hardekopf.
In her time with the organization, Tracy has become a respected voice in her field; she is always willing to offer solutions and material help. As an organization, HCSC supports other area homeless outreaches such as Manna Ministries with food, clothing, blankets, solar batteries for cell phones, etc.
According to board member Troy Dillow of Bernier Insurance, Executive Director Tracy Hardekopf, with the active support of her Board of Directors, has developed a solid program designed to equip people experiencing homelessness with the critical life skills they’ll need to succeed in permanent housing. With its innovative approach, the “Home for Now” Shelter provides the kind of after-care and community support that has placed 43 families, into permanent housing in as many months.
The Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce is proud to recognize the efforts, programs, and selfless service that is consistently provided to individuals and families and was delighted to present its 2022 Non-Profit of the Year award to the Homeless Center for Strafford County.
Pictured: Diane Bessey of the Monarch Schoof of New England, last year’s recipient of this award, presented this year’s award to Homeless Center for Strafford County’s Executive Director, Tracy Hardekopf.