Nancy Dubow Kanell in her happy place
Nancy Dubow Kanell, Founder
Project Home Again started, quite by accident, in September of 2003.
When an acquaintance who was down on her luck came to me and said her stove was broken and she had no money to fix it or buy a new one, I had an idea. I put a notice in our temple bulletin to see if anyone was remodeling their kitchen and had a stove they no longer needed. I was not only offered a stove, but several other appliances. Not wanting to turn them down, I made some phone calls and found new homes for all the appliances. Now aware of the need, I repeated the notice in our next bulletin, but this time was offered furniture. I made some more phone calls and found some more families who could benefit from furniture no longer needed by the donors. I repeated the notice for several months and was now receiving not only furniture and appliances, but other household goods such as blankets, lamps, and dishes.
My garage overflowed and it became obvious that not only was there a great need in the area for this kind of agency, but that I could no longer run it out of my house. Ozzy Properties offered to donate some warehouse space and Temple Emanuel gave me an office, and Project Home Again was born. I began making appointments with social service agencies all over the Merrimack Valley to let them know that PHA was there to help their clients. I met with local clergy to ask their help spreading the word to their congregations about what we were trying to do. Good luck led to newspaper articles that helped spread the word.
Over the last 14 years, PHA has grown from a one woman operation to a staff of dozens of volunteers serving hundreds of families a year. In 2014, we became a 501 (c)(3) and began being governed by a Board of Directors. Another landmark year in our history was 2016, when we hired our very first paid employee – Alyssa Kevlahan, our compassionate and energetic Executive Director. Alyssa has brought a whole new energy and heightened sense of purpose to PHA and we have soared under her leadership.
When I reflect on Project Home Again’s past, I can clearly see that it has grown because of the generosity of our donors, the efforts of our volunteers, and the relationships we have forged with hundreds of social/case workers.All these relationships have allowed us the privilege of serving those in need. Not only does PHA help the most needy people in the area, it also helps to reduce the waste going into our landfills and incinerators.
Our mission, first and foremost, will always be to make sure that everyone who walks through our door is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve and walks out with whatever furniture and household goods they need to turn their house into a home. I hope you choose to join us, in any way you can, in achieving this goal.
Alyssa Kevlahan, Executive Director
After earning her bachelor’s degree in communication from Southern New Hampshire University in 2009, Alyssa jumped into hospitality, where she focused her career for the next seven and a half years. Alyssa had the privilege of leading her team in all fundraising and philanthropic endeavors throughout her time at Marriott. Alyssa soon realized she was in the wrong field of work.
In October of 2015, Alyssa left hospitality to volunteer full-time with multiple agencies and nonprofits, including PHA. During the day she was a serial volunteer, and in the evening she was a student, studying nonprofit management. In April of 2016 she earned her certificate from Northern Essex Community College.
A love between Alyssa and Nancy developed fairly quickly, and a true connection with PHA, the clients, the social workers, the volunteers, and the community cultivated. In October of 2016, Alyssa accepted the honor and position of Executive Director.
In her spare time, Alyssa fights the stigma of mental illness while fostering her passion for writing; she writes in her personal blog and openly discusses her journey with depression and anxiety. If you see Alyssa outside of PHA, she’s probably with her dog, Burrito, in the drive-thru at McDonald’s ordering a hot, black coffee, or perusing the clearance racks at Marshall’s or HomeGoods.