When you enter the lobby of Lakes Region Community Services in downtown Laconia you may well find yourself enveloped in a swirl of activity. The LRCS main office occupies the former Federal Building and although it’s a formable and rugged structure, it has become a warm welcoming center for the greater community.

Spring is on the walls with colorfully painted murals adorned with flowers, birds and butterflies. Meeting rooms are named after many local businesses that helped to fund LRCS’ relocation and building renovations. And depending on the time of day, excited young children occupy child sized chairs and couches while waiting for one of the many free early childhood activities to begin- Giggles n’ Grins Playgroup, Happy Sounds or the Raising Reader’s group.

All day long adults with developmental disabilities, some in wheelchairs, most accompanied by a caregiver or a family member, check in for appointments, meetings, trainings or to touch base on job schedules or volunteer activities. Parents of children being evaluated for services wait for appointments. LRCS employees who work out in the community stop in to complete paperwork, check for mail, use the office machines and regroup. And the 70+ administrative staff who work in the building, cycle in and out of the lobby on their way to meetings, appointments and to help those who arrive in need of services.

From morning into the evening people of all ages and backgrounds are in and out – attending meetings often hosted by another business or organization, or participating in a parent education class or other activity. And with this hubbub of activity, you may not notice a ‘Hat Tree’ set in a corner with a sign that says ‘Please Stay Warm and Help Yourself to what you need.’

During the holiday season the LRCS Family Resource Center receives generous donations which include children’s hats, scarves and mittens for families.  But as we know all too well, after the holidays are over,  a long winter lays ahead. So for a second year, donated hats and gloves, etc. are displayed in the corner of the lobby offering something new and warm to help combat the winter chills.

The lobby ‘Hat Tree’ has quietly attracted ongoing donations – knitters in the community now regularly create lovely items for the tree. And while many items are sized for infants and children, the tree offerings include a variety of sizes fit for everyone. The warmth of the corner ‘Hat Tree’ gives us all hope that we can endure the cold days and that spring is coming!

Comments, questions, and ideas for future blog posts can be sent to:
Joanne Piper Lang, LRCS VP Development joanne.lang@lrcs.org