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It Starts with the Family

The Critical Building Block

Karen and Jay take a moment to share thoughts on the importance of the family as the critical building block in our society.

As we celebrate this long Thanksgiving weekend – enjoying time together with our families, let’s savor these moments – knowing that the family is the essential building block of our society. That strong families make strong communities – and strong communities make a strong nation. There is nothing more important for us as Americans than to invest our time, our resources, and our love – in developing and nurturing our precious families.

By focusing on our families, we have a positive impact that resonates throughout our community, our state and truly at a national level, shaping the character and resilience of our entire nation. When families are nurtured with care, love, and a shared sense of responsibility, they become the catalysts for positive change.

Moreover, beyond their immediate impact on communities and our nation, families play a pivotal role in shaping the future by influencing the development of the next generation. In investing our time, resources, and love in our families, we are, in essence, investing in the architects of tomorrow's society. By prioritizing family values and fostering a supportive atmosphere, we demonstrate how the family unit becomes the fertile ground from which future leaders, innovators, and contributors to society emerge.

In essence, families are not only the cornerstone of our society but also the guardians of our cultural, moral, and ethical foundations. In our own families, we pass down cherished traditions, instilling a deep sense of identity and belonging in each successive generation. These traditions, rooted in the family unit, serve as a compass guiding individuals through the complexities of modern life. In preserving and transmitting these values, families contribute to the resilience of our societal fabric, ensuring that the principles that bind us endure through time.

As we cherish the moments spent with our families during this Thanksgiving weekend, let us recognize that our investment in these foundational units transcends personal satisfaction; it is an investment in the very essence of our society. Through the lens of families, we glimpse a roadmap to building strong communities, a robust nation, and a future that thrives on the values cultivated within the sanctity of our homes.

Putting the ‘Family’ in Family-owned Businesses

New Hampshire is home to numerous family businesses that have been operating for multiple generations, passing down traditions and values through the years. Here in the Granite State, we have a rich tapestry of family-owned businesses that add to our unique economic landscape. According to a business report posted on WMUR earlier this year, around 85 percent of businesses in New Hampshire are family owned. Moreover, these family-owned businesses make up an estimated two-thirds of our entire workforce.

Not surprisingly, each family business in New Hampshire has its unique story, stemming from the passions, hard work, and dedication of its founders and subsequent generations. These businesses span various industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, retail, hospitality, and services. They showcase the diversity and resilience of family entrepreneurship in the state.

As someone who comes from a small business family, I know the joys as well as the challenges of navigating the family business dynamic. I suspect I speak for all the family businesses out there when I say that despite the challenges, the opportunity to build something and turn it over to the next generation is one of the most rewarding feelings a person can have.

Interestingly, over the course of the five plus years of the Sunshine Report, we have highlighted a number of family businesses across New Hampshire. Here are a few that I especially admire for their rich traditions, upholding of the family dynamic, and truly making all their employees feel like they are members of the family.

A well-known and highly respected business, the Grappone Automotive Group is a prominent family-owned business with a rich history in New Hampshire's automotive industry that dates back to 1924 when Rocco and Emilia Grappone opened a service garage in Concord, New Hampshire. Over time, their business expanded, establishing a reputation for quality service and dedication to customer satisfaction. In 1950, Alfred took over the business, and their company became the first Ford dealership in the capital city. Fast forward today, and the business is operated by Amanda Grappone (who took it over from Bob Grappone), and the company employs hundreds of people and is one of the most recognized auto companies in the Granite State featuring the industry’s top brands. Amanda has done an outstanding job of leadership, imbuing the organization with important values, and continuing to foster a true sense of family.

Another great business owned and operated by a strong New Hampshire family is Bellman’s Jewelers in Manchester New Hampshire. It was founded by our good friend, David Bellman,

and their motto is ‘It’s a matter of trust’. They are located in the heart of the Queen City and are not only known locally but world renowned. David started the business and along the way crafted a company that is a remarkable jewelry company as well as a jewelry service company. During the pandemic, David’s invention was featured on ABC’s nationally acclaimed Shark Tank. Today Bellman’s Jewelers is run by his son Alex, who just like his father, has nothing less than one hundred percent dedication and focus on creating and supplying an amazing product. They are also committed to the principle that as a family-owned jewelry store, everyone who works there is considered part of the family!

And here’s one more great example that I am sure you can relate to – a truly iconic brand, frequented and loved by many in the greater Manchester Area, Nadeau’s Sub Shop. Some years back, when our kids were active in sports and we were living in the Bedford/Manchester area, we spent many nights ordering, picking up, and enjoying their subs and sandwiches. Back in 1969, founder Bob Nadeau established their flagship location on Mast Road in Manchester. Today, the family and its partners have grown this multi-generational family business into a successful company with locations across Southern New Hampshire.

I could go on and on listing family businesses throughout New Hampshire – they really do form the backbone of our state’s economy. The spirit they have, the drive that keeps them going, and the family strength that keeps them going – all so remarkable. And beyond the economics, these businesses foster social connections and bonds – within families, amongst employees, and with customers and the community that transcend the core commercial aspects of the operations.

As a continuing tribute to the family business, I invite you to post about a family business you run, work for, or know of. I know so many of these hard-working entrepreneurs and am so blessed to call them my friends.

Nurturing Families in the Granite State: The Vital Role of Nonprofits

We in the Granite State are among the most generous and giving people you will ever meet. Not surprisingly, New Hampshire is home to an amazing group of non-profit organizations dedicated to strengthening families and fostering a sense of community. These are values that lie at the very core of The Sunshine Initiative – revitalizing our wonderful small towns and communities – with a recognition that it all starts with the family. These are also the values that are central to a number of other important organizations that are truly making a difference – among these, Catholic Charities, Greater Seacoast Community Health (now including Families First), and Families in Transition stand out as pillars of support, embodying the essence of compassion and commitment to the well-being of families across the state.

Catholic Charities, whose motto is “Serving All, One Person or Family at a Time,” has a longstanding tradition of taking care of the most vulnerable members of society. Their goal is to set children and families up for success through three key areas: emergency shelter and transitional housing, parenting and life skills education, and special education services for students with severe emotional and behavioral impairments.

In New Hampshire, their family-focused initiatives encompass a wide range of services, including adoption support, counseling, and affordable housing solutions. By recognizing the unique challenges that families face, Catholic Charities strives to create a nurturing environment where individuals can flourish. Through their commitment to strengthening family bonds, they contribute significantly to building a more compassionate and resilient society. And the results are amazing – 98 percent of parents in the Our Place program became more confident in their parenting skills, developing positive discipline techniques to create safe environments and prevent neglect.

Greater Seacoast Community Health, which now includes Families First, is another key player in New Hampshire's non-profit landscape, offering a variety of services aimed at promoting family health and well-being. The Family Resource Center offers information and inspiration for parents, grandparents, and caregivers. Their classes, groups, and one-on-one programs help build a network of support, connecting participants to local resources, and expanding their parenting toolbox.

Parents, guardians, and children are warmly welcomed at all of their programs. Most programs are free, there are virtual and in-person options at both day and evening times, and childcare is provided at no charge during some in-person classes. As part of the Kinship Navigator Program, they also provide Grandparent and Caregiver Support by guiding them to services that help families thrive.

Another exciting program is Home Visitors, which can help with a variety of family issues from meeting basic needs to building a better relationship with children; advocating for them along with navigating school, insurance, and medical systems plus getting the support needed if pregnant or with a newborn.

Families in Transition (FIT) is a beacon of hope for those facing homelessness and instability. With a focus on providing comprehensive services to families in need, FIT addresses not only immediate housing concerns but also the root causes of homelessness. Housing First is an approach focused on prioritizing housing in the delivery of homelessness support. Putting permanent housing first in the development of programs and services for families and individuals creates a platform for them to achieve an improved overall quality of life. Finding employment, addressing health and wellness issues, and recovering from the traumatic impacts of homelessness are made possible with a stable home. In addition, by offering counseling, job training, and educational programs, FIT empowers families to break the cycle of poverty and build a stable foundation for the future. Their holistic approach recognizes the importance of family stability in creating thriving communities.

The importance of family in our society cannot be overstated. Strong family bonds serve as the foundation for personal growth, emotional well-being, and community resilience. Nonprofits like the ones noted above, as well as numerous others, recognize that investing in families pays dividends that extend far beyond individual households. Stable and empowered families contribute to safer neighborhoods, more engaged communities, and a society that values the well-being of all its members. As we navigate the challenges of the present and look toward the future, these organizations serve as beacons of hope, guiding families toward brighter and more secure tomorrows.

Positive Profile of the Week: Neil Hubacker and Focus on the Family

This week we are delighted to highlight a leader in our state who is thoroughly devoted to the nurturing of strong families - Neil Hubacker, the director of the Church Ambassador Network for Cornerstone Policy, a role he assumed in 2018. Cornerstone Policy is a non-partisan, non-profit Christian advocacy organization of caring, passionate individuals working for the people of New Hampshire.

As a former pastor himself, Neil truly understands and has dealt with the challenging questions surrounding the 'why' and 'how' of cultural engagement. He served for nearly a decade as founder and leading pastor at the Antioch Community Church in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Today, not only does he travel throughout our state collaborating with churches to encourage civic engagement on vital and sensitive topics, including family matters, but you can also find him in the halls of the New Hampshire State House, engaging with our lawmakers. He dedicates his time to ministering to state legislators and addressing questions about family issues. His contagious passion for the family is evident, and he approaches his work with compassion and grace. Neil is committed to his powerful mission, as he states: Accelerating your connection to the right resources so you can flourish!

Neil holds a master’s degree in education, and he, along with his wife Kelsey of twelve years, resides in Hollis with their four children. We thank Neil for his tireless efforts and heartfelt dedication to families throughout New Hampshire and beyond.

Quotes of the Week: Families are the Building Block

"The family is the nucleus of civilization."

Will Durant

"The family is the cornerstone of our society. More than any other force, it shapes the attitudes, the hopes, the ambitions, and the values of the child. And when the family collapses, it is the children that are usually damaged."

James Dobson

"Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family."

Anthony Brandt

"The family is the first essential cell of human society."

Pope John XXIII

"In every conceivable manner, the family is a link to our past, bridge to our future."

Alex Haley


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