A family was entering Belknap House for the first time. A mother and her two young boys. You could tell the boys were scared, tired and unsure of what was happening to them. Why were they going to live at Belknap House? What exactly is this place? Where is their apartment and why aren’t they going home?

These are some of the many questions that go through the minds of the children when they enter Belknap House, a cold-weather emergency shelter for families. We are not able to answer these difficult questions which are for mom and dad, however we are able to make them feel comfortable in their new surroundings.

We start by letting them choose a special pillowcase, with a design they like, that is theirs to keep. These were made for us by local quilters, with all sorts of wonderful designs for toddlers, older kids, teens and adults. They also can choose one of the many donated handmade blankets, quilts and afghans. If they require hats, mittens, scarves or a winter coat we provide those as well.

Then the fun part begins as we show them around the house. Belknap House looks like a home, not an institution. They see a washer and dryer for mom/dad to wash their clothes. A kitchen with a large table for everyone to sit around for the family meal and to tell stories. Next, they see the children’s playroom. Eyes light up with wonder as they survey the room. First, they see the bookshelf loaded with board games, books, puzzles and movies. They move on to the play kitchen area with baby dolls and the puppet theater with puppets of various kinds. They see the shelves loaded with blocks, legos, duplos and other various toys. The computers they can use to do homework. Their eyes look as if it is Christmas morning. And they look up and ask, “Are we allowed to play with all these toys?” The answer is always, “Of course.”

Next, we move onto the booknook with shelves of books surrounded by big comfy pillows to sit on or lean against.

A place to hang out and relax and perhaps have a bit of quiet time when needed.

We move to go upstairs to their bedroom and they see real beds and a room that looks like their bedroom at their home. The children quickly start claiming which bed is theirs. Usually, the top bunk is the most coveted by the children. They also find out there are so many bathrooms and they want to know which one they are supposed to use. There are so many!

This is only the start of a family’s stay with Belknap House. In addition, each family receives a Belknap House canvas bag loaded with pasta, sauce, vegetables, peanut butter, jam, canned fruit, etc. If we are fortunate to have other items on hand, we also provide them with bread, frozen meat, frozen dinners, and milk.

The staff at Belknap House help to provide stability and guidance at a time of upheaval and insecurity in a family’s life. Please help to support Belknap House this Giving Tuesday so we may continue to support homeless families in Belknap County.

Who We Are

We are a coalition of community members who help families in need.  The loss of a job, a medical situation, or a car breaking down can leave a family without a home. We provide warm beds for families and their children, a safe place to stay and hope.

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Mission Statement

Belknap House's mission is to provide families in Belknap County a safe shelter, when children are particularly at risk during homelessness, and to empower families to become self-sufficient and independent by providing opportunities of education and resources available to them.



Belknap House,
Apr 15, 2019, 12:55 PM