Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Berthoud HNS provides a wide range of services

By: Shelley Widhalm | The Surveyor | November 24, 2021 | Local News

One phrase Jinger Tomassi frequently hears when someone first comes to Berthoud House of Neighborly Service is “I now have hope.”

“Hope is powerful in the midst of crisis or being a single parent and never having enough to pay the bills or a senior that needs the extra help when their benefits don’t cover the needs,” said Tomassi, Berthoud manager of House of Neighborly Service. “We come alongside with hope that they can get through this crisis, that there is help navigating the hurdles of life and they that are not in this alone.”

Berthoud HNS offers hand-up services to those needing physical and financial assistance, covering basic needs like food, clothing and utilities and providing vouchers for gas and prescriptions. The services are similar to those of the main office in Loveland where there is a life center with partner agencies located in the same building.

Berthoud HNS, founded in 1989, operated out of First Presbyterian Church of Berthoud until 2017, then moved to Grace Place with space for other nonprofit use. A capital campaign underway since October will allow Berthoud HNS to move into its own building to become the Berthoud Life Center.

“We continue to grow year after year as the community becomes more and more aware of our services and that we are here to serve the whole community, as many of our programs have no income guidelines to access,” Tomassi said.

So far this year, Berthoud HNS has had more than 1,550 visits, compared to 1,400 last year. By December, growth is anticipated to be a 25 to 30% increase over last year, Tomassi said.

The nonprofit provides a long list of other services beyond basic needs, including Family Navigation, Parents As Teachers and HomeWork Helpers.

Courtesy photo – Volunteers Elizabeth Parker and Bonnie Beard stand inside a food storage area at HNS.

Family Navigation provides support for families to meet their basic needs, as well as educational resources and connections to employment, home budgeting advice and access to other community resources.

Parents As Teachers is for families with children up to five years old and includes personalized home visits. Parents can receive age-appropriate development and parenting information, address their parenting concerns and receive periodic screenings for their children for general development, language, hearing and vision.

HomeWork Helpers is an afterschool homework assistance program for students in grades 3-12 that provides help with homework, tutoring and socialization through a variety of activities.

“Our homework and tutoring programs … help provide a safe place for kids to go to after school and is available for any family in Berthoud to access at no charge,” Tomassi said.

Berthoud HNS offers a few holiday programs, such as Thanksgiving food baskets with turkeys and all the trimmings and Christmas baskets with turkey or ham and the trimmings, along with a toy shop for parents to pick out presents for their children. There also is a birthday program featuring a birthday kit with a cake mix and party decorations, along with gifts parents can pick out for their children.

Two additional programs are only at the Loveland HNS office. Family Promise of Larimer County, geared to children and their families experiencing homelessness, identifies and addresses barriers to stability through case management and advocacy. 137 Homeless Connection provides case management, mentoring, mental health counseling, showers, laundry, substance abuse help and other resources.

“If someone in our community is in crisis, they don’t have to search in Longmont, Loveland or Fort Collins to get the help they need to make it through,” Tomassi said.  “Many of their immediate needs we can provide through one of our programs or get them connected to the right resource right away.”

Berthoud HNS provides an avenue where other organizations can offer their services or have a place to meet with their Berthoud clients. One such partner is Martinez Mobile Dentistry, which meets the first Tuesday of the month to offer examinations, cleanings, minor extractions, X-rays and oral health education. Berthoud HNS’s other partners went virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some are waiting for the nonprofit to have its building completed.

Berthoud HNS is able to support its partners and the larger community through its support from individuals, businesses, churches, grants, donor-advised funds, toy drives, food donations and food drives. Currently, there are 17 volunteers and a staff of three that includes Tomassi, an assistant and a family navigator.

“We have very few staff and rely on our team of volunteers that work with us to serve the community by packing food baskets, helping set up and tear down, working with our children’s programs and (doing) anything else that comes up along the way,” Tomassi said.

Nancy Bronson, a volunteer since 2018, works in the food pantry.

“By volunteering at HNS, I see the faces of individuals light up due to what might be a small action to me but is a meaningful action for them. … I realized this was the perfect opportunity for me to show less fortunate families that there are individuals in our society willing to spend time helping them,” Bronson said. “I have also now become a part of a huge, loving group of staff and volunteers who share the same purpose and goal.”

To donate, visit and designate “Berthoud HNS” for the donation or drop a financial or food donation off during HNS’s open hours.

“We are able to provide the services, support and offer hope to those in need because we have a community standing with us and giving of their time and finances to make it possible,” Tomassi said.

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