AHEAD Housing celebrates resilience at annual meeting
AHEAD Executive Director Mike Claflin (left) presented the Frederick W. Griffin Award to Mar Lou Krambeer (right) of Bethlehem for her ongoing support at the nonprofit’s annual meeting last week. (Photo by Angel Larcom) (click for larger version)
August 18, 2021
LITTLETON — AHEAD’s return to in-person annual meetings drew a large crowd as nearly 130 people celebrated the nonprofit at the Mount Washington hotel on Aug. 12. Perseverance and resilience were a common theme for several keynote speakers during the nearly four-hour event.
Executive Director Mike Claflin opened the dinner with a note about COVID and the unique challenges it delivered to the affordable housing leader.
“To say that we’re all exhausted would certainly be an understatement. It’s been an incredible challenge for us all, but we couldn’t do it without all of the other people in this room. There’s been an incredible heartwarming outpouring of support during this past moment with COVID,” stated Claflin.
Claflin also noted the increased importance of affordable housing in today’s climate. While the phrase may have applied to poverty-stricken people in the past, he acknowledged the impacts of limited affordable housing on a much broader demographic in recent years.
Board Chair Martha McLeod echoed Claflin’s sentiment, noting that consistent business donations helped the organization stay buoyant.
“We wondered at the beginning if we would make it through the pandemic, how we were going to make it through, what we would look like at the end, and most of all, what would we do for the folks that we support. We’ve been very fortunate to be able to continue to do our services and provide for folks during this time,” stated McLeod.
Founding Executive Director David Wood spoke of the organization’s history. Several banks collapsed nationwide in AHEAD’s founding year, which led to a deep recession. Wood said the federal government seized approximately 25 percent of the New Hampshire banks in 1991 and the local real estate market collapsed.
“As condominium developments failed and small rental housing speculators lost their properties to foreclosure, it left municipalities and small businesses holding the bag for unpaid taxes and unpaid invoices for goods and services. Many of those small businesses failed as a result. Yet, amidst this chaos, the fledgling community nonprofit affordable housing industry in New Hampshire and the country was grown. AHEAD was founded in October of that year, and by the summer of 1992, had been awarded federal and state funding to acquire foreclosed properties,” noted Wood.
As with each annual meeting, AHEAD also honored three award recipients for their charitable contributions. Mascoma Bank CEO Clay Adams accepted the Partner of the Year Award, while Housing Action NH Director Elissa Margolin was this year’s recipient of the Olivia Chase Beleau Award. In addition, Bethlehem Town Moderator Mary Lou Krambeer received the 2021 Frederick W. Griffin Award for her assistance with nonprofit strategic development, governance and fundraising support.
Representatives from Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen were also on-hand to read congratulatory letters from both officials as the organization celebrated 30 years of operations. Executive Councilor Joe Kenney and Coos County State Rep. Troy Merner also attended the event.
In 1993, AHEAD acquired Bethlehem’s Pine Manor and property in Franconia. Four years later, the nonprofit developed affordable housing in Groveton, Lisbon, Lancaster, Berlin, Whitefield and Woodsville.
Since then, AHEAD added nine additional properties, including a substance abuse treatment facility and the new Lloyd’s Hill property in Bethlehem. In addition, a 58-unit housing development called Peeling Village at Gordon Pond is underway in Woodstock, with availability slated for summer 2023.