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Rise Above the Noise

Making a Difference at the Local Level

With all the noise in our national discourse – the news media, politics and more – it’s understandable that many Americans are asking ‘what can I do to make a positive impact?’ The good news is that the answer may well be right in front of you.  Taking action at the local level.  Each one of us has a golden opportunity to seize control of our own destiny and make an impact ‘right where we live.’ 

In last week’s Sunshine Report, we discussed the need for a return to civility in daily life, most notably our politics. Knowing how to find that civility isn’t always easy.  Given the 24-hour news cycles and social media just a button or click away, it can be hard to ‘rise above the noise.’  What I mean is – we can’t give in to the narratives that promote negativity.  We need to remind ourselves that we have a choice. We can disagree on issues without being disagreeable.  And we can begin – right where we are – to make a difference in our local community. There is nothing that fosters positivity better than taking action and seeing progress.

So, when you have the urge to turn on the TV or scroll through your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, it’s OK to take look every now and then.  But, it’s far better to focus on a mission.  Find an opportunity to help someone in your own community.  Make a difference and improve a life! 

The Remarkable Story of Elliot Perry and his Playgrounds

Elliot Perry is nine years old.  He is the son of our great friends, B.J. and Carrie Perry of Bedford, and he is making a huge difference in his local community. 

As you may recall, we have highlighted Elliot before in the Sunshine Report. But, what he and his family are doing now deserves a special mention and the story behind it is incredible. It all begins back when Elliot was born as a micro preemie at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH.  Weighing only 1 pound, 10.5 ounces, his chances of surviving were slim, but he made it through after 121 days in the hospital.

We flash forward and today Elliot is a vibrant 9-year-old with a personality much bigger than himself.  And, Elliot is on a mission to ‘give back’ to the wonderful facility that saved his life – and contribute to other young children in a very meaningful way.  Specifically, his latest undertaking is to build two fully accessible playgrounds in Lebanon and Manchester, two of the principal locations of CHaD (Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth.) These playgrounds will cost $121,000 which is a large undertaking for sure.  And, this is where Divine Intervention enters into the picture.

A while back, Elliot’s dad, B.J. and I made a trip out to Iowa and while there got to know the Mitchell family of Wayland, Iowa, who have a company that makes a very specialized type of foot brace.  And, by a crazy coincidence, it turns out that their family company happened to make the actual brace that Elliot wore growing up allowing him to walk today. The Mitchells are an amazing family, their son is a State Representative and their Dad is a man of deep faith who constantly gives back, and they have done it again! The Mitchell family, having never met Elliot, have agreed to make a “small” donation of $12,100 to Elliot’s playground!  And with this ‘kickstart,’ along with numerous other contributions from New Hampshire and across the country, Elliot’s Playgrounds are well on their way to becoming a reality.

Please take a moment to enjoy the full story as profiled on WMUR here: I highly encourage everyone to be a part of this big endeavor by a small kid. If you would like to donate you can do so here:

Brew Pubs in NH: Where Everybody Knows Your Name! 

We all remember the sitcom Cheers! Norm sitting in his normal spot, Frazier reciting a passage from a novel, and a reminder that this Boston based local establishment was home to so many. That too can now be said for the many Community Brew Pubs that are thriving throughout the Granite State.

Whether it’s the Flying Goose Brew Pub in New London, the well-known Henniker Brewing Co., the Portsmouth Brewery in the heart of downtown or the many other spots across the state, these brew pubs have become the new local gathering spot – where communities can come together, ideas are spawned and friendships flourish.  They are providing yet another venue – in in a similar spirit to the old coffee shop, the karaoke bar, or even the local diner.

A Brew pub allows for local craft brewers to serve their product directly from their containers to the patron. In parts the country you will find a brew pub that also is a library, promoting local authors and top issues of the day. In Colorado, there is a local brew pub that is attached to a butcher shop and patrons have the opportunity to pair meats with hops.

And, let’s not forget – the brew pub is so very consistent with the American tradition. During the Revolutionary War, pubs like the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston played a vital role as a meeting spot for the Colonialists as they shared ideas and hatched their plans. 

Today, the brew pub is a place of creativity, compassion, and place where everyone knows your name. 

Positive Profile of the Week: Dr. Brendan Minnihan

As we continue reopening and rebuilding in the wake of the recent pandemic, some of the true leaders on the frontlines are our educators – charting a path for our local schools.  In this week’s Profile, we are honored to celebrate one of those educators, Superintendent of Newport Schools, Brendan Minnihan. With his doctorate in education from Indiana University, Dr. Minnihan has spent his entire career committed to the education of our ‘next generation,’ first as a teacher, and then an administrator across the State of New Hampshire.

We are so very fortunate that his career has recently brought him to my hometown of Newport, where for the past year he’s been working diligently - ushering our school system into an exciting new era.  Creating programs that will help provide students a wide array of opportunities to succeed and an offer a bright future.

Moreover, during the pandemic, Brendan has shown exemplary leadership.  This past spring, he helped lead a ‘quick and effective pivot – completing a remarkable shift to online learning – equipping the entire student population with Chromebooks to facilitate at home learning. 

More recently, he has led Newport Schools to a successful reopening this past month – effectively and safely – with broad support.  Always cheerful, even mannered and calm in crisis, Brendan Minnihan is a true Newport treasure and a vital contributor the revitalization of this wonderful small town.

Quotes of the Week: Making a Difference

Regardless of whatever I do, I know what my purpose is: to make a difference in people's lives.

Tim Tebow

My own American Dream was to serve my country as best I could and make a difference in America - and in the world.

Buzz Aldrin

What is Apple, after all? Apple is about people who think 'outside the box,' people who want to use computers to help them change the world, to help them create things that make a difference, and not just to get a job done.

Steve Jobs

When you encourage others, you in the process are encouraged because you're making a commitment and difference in that person's life. Encouragement really does make a difference.

Zig Ziglar

I think that passion is the secret ingredient that drives hard work and excellence. My passion is to serve the public: to be in the arena of public policy, to have the opportunity to solve problems for our country, to be in a position where I can make a difference.

Kelly Ayotte


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