Though it’s far from perfect, the Monadnock Region is a special area, for its natural beauty and the quality of its residents.
From Temple Mountain to the far shore of the Connecticut River, the area’s forests and fields, hills and streams offer recreational opportunities, but also just the chance to get away from the pace and stress of more urban settings. Even the centers of local towns, and Keene itself, offer picturesque settings filled with old New England architecture.
It’s no wonder we get so many visitors. And when those visitors arrive, they’ve often found the people just as welcoming.
For decades, Monadnock Region families have embraced inner-city children through the Fresh Air Fund, opening space in their homes for kids who’ve rarely experienced life outside the city.
High school students from foreign lands have been welcomed as well, through several student-exchange programs. Even those who don’t have children going abroad have stepped up to help students experience this region.
Delegations from Keene’s sister city of Einbeck, Germany, traditionally stay with host families when they travel here.
Many conferences, educational functions and other events also call upon locals to open their homes to attendees and participants.
And, of course, the success of the Keene SwampBats has relied upon the generosity of families willing to house college-age players for two months each June and July. While many people do so repeatedly, even annually, there’s always a scramble to make sure there are enough homes.
This year, according to host family director Pauline Dionne, homes have been found for about half of the 29 needed. Anyone interested can find out more at https://bit.ly/2Ue7eFC.
Even as that need is being filled, another, even larger, demand looms this June. The city is playing host to a four-day festival — the Keene Walldogs Magical History Tour — in which about 200 artists will spend four days painting murals around the city’s downtown.
While food is being provided, places to stay are up to the area’s residents. A good many of the artists will stay at Keene State College, which is one of two underwriters of the festival. Others have booked hotels or plan to arrive in their own RVs. But according to Susan Newcomer, a volunteer organizer of the festival, roughly 50 still need somewhere to stay from June 19-23.
She notes since the “Walldogs” will be painting throughout the days, what they really need is a bedroom and bathroom, basically. Anyone interested, or willing to help with supplies or other needs, can visit the festival’s website at www.walldogsinkeene.com and click on “Help Us.”
The festival has been several years in the making, relying on private donations and volunteers (disclosure: The Sentinel is among 10 steward-level donors). The hope is it will not only be a fun four days, but will also leave the city brighter and more interesting visually in its wake.
The biggest need now is something this region has shown a great enthusiasm for: A willingness to be welcoming.