For years, Waltham House, The Home’s Massachusetts-based group home designed expressly for LGBTQ+ youth, has served clients from New Hampshire. The program was among the first of its kind in the nation when it opened over 20 years ago, and the only in Massachusetts. Teens experiencing discrimination and difficulty due to their gender identity, expression and sexual orientation would travel miles, across state lines, to find the safety and acceptance of this supportive living environment. They no longer have to.
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
This fall, Unity House, a family and youth-driven, community-based group home serving youth ages 14–18, will open its doors in Keene, New Hampshire, to welcome youth who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. Contracted by the New Hampshire Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and modeled after Waltham House, Unity House again makes history. The program is a Granite State first and a safe haven for up to eight youths preparing for family reunification, independent living, secondary education and future self-sufficiency.
MEETING KIDS WHERE THEY ARE
“The opening of Unity House will allow us to support New Hampshire kids in New Hampshire, keeping them closer to their connections, families and their future surroundings for their adult lives,” explains Vice President of Community Services Matthew McCall, LCSW. The trauma-informed program mirrors the high-quality, community-based care of Waltham House, offering an array of educational, vocational and mental health services that support residents now and prepare them for future success.
…AND MEETING A NEED
Statistically, New Hampshire sees high rates of discrimination, harassment and violence towards youth in the LGBTQ+ communities. Teens entering Unity House will have experienced difficulty—at home, in school, in placement or within their neighborhoods. In Keene, they will find instead a program built on the belief that all youth deserve to live in a setting in which they feel safe, respected and cared for. The expansion comes just in time, says a former resident of Waltham House. “If even one or two places like Unity House can open, it could really help the community. Right now, LGBTQ+ people need more support than ever.”