Tara Reardon

NH co-ops show visiting students what community is all about

By Tara Reardon

Students from 22 states got a close-up and personal look at life in New Hampshire's resident-owned manufactured-home communities.

When you converted your manufactured-home park to resident-ownership, did you ever dream that your work would be studied by a college class?

I'm guessing that was the last thing on your mind.

But that's exactly what happened recently when the 40 students in the Fundamentals of Opportunity Finance class at the University of New Hampshire visited four resident-owned communities (ROCs) in Lee and Barrington.

The students, from 22 states, visited Sandy Pines in Lee, and Emerald Acres, Barrington Oaks and Pepperidge Woods in Barrington. Sarah Black and Sheryl Hallahan of Pepperidge Woods hosted the group, and Anne Garceau and Pat Wilson from Barrington Oaks Cooperative joined them to discuss ROC life.

The class had so many questions that it stayed for the full afternoon. Many were interested in day-to-day operations, budgeting and reserve accounts for future improvements. Others explored residents' feelings about having borrowed the million-plus dollars to buy the park, and a lively discussion followed about whether they would consider selling the park if the opportunity arose (they wouldn't!).

Anne's and Pat shared stories that perfectly illustrated the benefits of resident ownership and how a cooperative works. They told about a recent clean-up day in which kids and adults, including a tenacious 7-year-old girl, worked side-by-side to clean a vacant lot so the co-op could market it for a new home. They took great pride in their work, and celebrated with a pizza party when finished. Later, Anne and Pat sent thank-you notes to all volunteers.

Having an additional revenue-producing lot would boost any co-op's budget. That was impressive enough. Beyond that, though, the community-building, role-modeling, shared success and even the display of good manners by sending thank you notes sent a message to the class that this ROC is a wonderful and affordable place to live and raise a family.

Our thanks to Anne and Pat for being great ambassadors for the ROC movement, and to the Opportunity Finance Network and the Carsey Institute for sponsoring the class. Once again, the people in N.H.'s ROCs are showing the rest of the country the way.

Tara Reardon is Director of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund's ROC-NH™ program.

ROC-NH™ is a program of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, Inc. and a ROC USA® Certified Technical Assistance Provider.
ROC-NH is a registered service mark of ROC USA, LLC.