EXETER, N.H. – A lot can happen in 20 years. For Exeter-Hampton Cooperative, much of the last two decades has been full of successes.
Successes worth celebrating, which community leaders did in September to mark the anniversary. Everyone in the community was invited to come together with those who worked with the community over the years, including the first Board President who helped with the conversion.
“This was really important to talk about our story and talk about how far we’ve come,” said ROC Member Jeanee Wright, who helped organize the celebration. “Never miss an opportunity to bring people together and celebrate, especially the pioneers who were here at the time of acquisition. To bring people back to that is really empowering.”
Chuck Curtis has lived in Exeter-Hampton since 1967 and is proud to call the co-op home.
“I have raised three children here, seen many faces come and go, witnessed neighbors helping the elderly and the sick, and attended yearly meetings that allow for face-to-face discussions and voting on crucial issues and critical matters,” he said. “My wife and myself love our home here and are proud to be a part of this co-op and what it has accomplished in just 20 years. Julia and myself have experienced 52 years here as residents, and witnessed endless changes and progress.
“We as a group, have ruled and governed ourselves during the past 240 months, and should be very proud and ready to exercise our ‘bragging rights.’”
Angela Romeo, National Acquisitions and Project Manager for ROC USA® Network, worked with the community as Technical Assistance Provider while on the ROC-NH team. ROC-NH is a program of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund.
To see them all come together to celebrate was amazing, Romeo said.
One of the projects was upgrading all the utilities in the community after noticing deficiencies in their water system in order to create more savings and efficiency for the residents.
“They did the full gamut of utility work, which no community in New Hampshire had done before,” Romeo said.
That $1.2 million project was paid for with partially with grants, and the rest with only a $20 rent increase for the community. There hasn’t been another increase since. Having the coaching of a technical assistance provider like Romeo helped set the community up for success.
“That was invaluable to give us the support we needed to head in the right direction,” Wright said. “It’s amazing when you tackle a problem one step at a time how things fall into place.”
That support is something Wright not only appreciates as a community leader, but also now provides. She now works as a Cooperative Development Specialist for Cooperative Development Institute, helping manufactured home communities in Maine get the same chance at resident ownership as Exeter-Hampton.
Tara Reardon, Director of ROC-NH, said the event was very well done and made her think every ROC should have a historian.
“It was evident that the residents were invested in always improving their community,” she said. “It was an uplifting night, and I’d love to see this serve as a blueprint for other ROCs to celebrate their own milestones and success stories.”