July 29, 2014
The sight of lots of people gathered in the hallway of Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program last Friday afternoon was probably confusing at first for the toddler looking out from the vantage point of his teacher’s arms but he soon picked up on the air of celebration and happiness amongst the crowd. His teacher and all her colleagues were being awarded Lund’s first ever team Employee of the Quarter award.
Associate Director of Residential and Community Treatment, Courtney Farrell, read out a glowing nomination about the wonderful work that the 14 full-time and one part-time teachers at LECP do every single day. “As a team, the teachers in childcare make a huge difference in the everyday lives of the children at Lund and embody our missions as an agency to help children and families thrive. Their commitment to meeting the needs of children is so commendable and we are all so impressed with their work each and every day.”
LECP serves 50 of Vermont’s most vulnerable children and every day the teachers are faced with the challenging behaviors that come from a population living lives of constant transition and turmoil. They give the children love, consistency, structure and fun and strive to spark their curiosity and imagination in every interaction. There are hard moments of course but the progress that the children make under the love and supervision of these dedicated teachers is inspirational. From playing with blue oobleck, to catching frogs, dancing, singing songs, reading the same book ten times back to back and hours of dramatic play inspired by the garbage truck that pulls up behind the playground, children are thriving at Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program thanks to the energy, love and commitment of their amazing teachers.
Congratulations to all the teachers. Thank you for bringing joy to Joy Drive.
July 14, 2014
Stand down! Not today! We are releasing this article after the fact so that we aren’t overtaken by doughnut seekers. The delicious doughnuts in the following pictures were made some weeks ago by the trainee bakers of the older toddler classroom at Lund’s Early Chidhood Education Program. They have been baking regularly on Mondays, making snack to share with the other children and trying out exciting new recipes. The doughnuts came about when older toddler teacher, Kent Huntoon, asked one of his students to choose from a recipe book. The book fell open at doughnuts and the decision was made.
The children helped to mix the ingredients together, roll out the dough and cut the ‘O’ shapes. The doughnuts were baked, not fried and mixed with spices that made the whole school smell like Thanksgiving! The bounty was shared amongst the classrooms for snack. And since I conveniently happened to be in the area right around snack time, I was invited to share some as well. They were delicious!
Cooking with children is fun and can also be a great opportunity for learning. Following a recipe encourages basic math skills – measuring ingredients, figuring out what comes first, second, third – and helps with reading and introduces new vocabulary. It is also a very sensory experience as children get to put their hands in the dough, use a rolling pin, hear the mixer whirring, smell the doughnuts baking. When everything is ready, it can be a great opportunity to boost the children’s confidence as they get to share what they’ve made with their peers and hear the excitement and compliments of others eating what they have made. Not that getting kids to eat doughnuts is usually a problem, if it was, being part of the cooking process can help picky eaters to engage with new foods.
I wonder what they’ll be making next Monday. I better clear my calendar at snack time…
June 30, 2014
“Lund has been a mainstay in caring for women and children for many decades in Vermont. Today we make a huge step forward in making these services comprehensive, more organized and more available. Today we set ourselves on a course for the 21st Century.”
The Honorable Howard Dean, Honorary Co-Chair of the 50 Joy Drive Capital Campaign.
“For me, it’s pretty simple. It’s not about a building. It’s about providing hope and opportunity for every child.”
T.J. Donovan, Capital Campaign Co-Chair.
Thursday June 26th was a day of joy and celebration at Lund as we officially dedicated the Hoehl Family Building at 50 Joy Drive. Lund’s adoption, parent child center, community treatment, early education, and high school completion programs and the business and development offices are located in this building. Lund launched a capital campaign in the early summer of 2012 and moved into the building in October of that same year. The new building allows clients to access integrated services in one location and the spaces were all custom designed to efficiently house the programs. No longer are programs and services spread out amongst various inadequate and expensive rental spaces. Everyone at Lund is very grateful to all the generous supporters of the 50 Joy Drive Capital Campaign.
Executive Director of Lund, Barbara Rachelson, gave a little history of how Lund came to Joy Drive, “Everyone worked out of Glen Road and we had a lot of people working in the basement. Our child care center frequently flooded and not always with just water. Our New Horizons Educational Program had a blue tarp that we kept over the computers because we so often had water flooding down from above. We moved out into temporary space and by temporary, I mean about seven years. When Jim [Pizzagalli] gave us a tour of this building, I was ecstatic. The timing was uncanny and as soon as I saw it I knew it would be the perfect home for the rest of Lund. I was over the moon when I realized that our address would be on Joy Drive. I cannot think of a more fitting address given the work that Lund does bringing joy to children and families, often for the first time.”
President Elect of the Lund Board of Trustees, Sara Byers, who introduced the speaking program also referred to joy and especially the joy that she personally has experienced through Lund’s programs, “Lund’s work does make a difference. By being here today, by supporting this building, by supporting Lund’s work, you too are making a difference. You too are helping to bring joy to the lives of families just like my own.”
The Co-Chairs of the 50 Joy Drive Capital Campaign, Melinda Moulton and T.J. Donovan also spoke during the ceremony. Melinda told of the 124 year history of Lund and invited the more than 100 attendees to share in this special history “that has served our community was passion, empathy, shared purpose, team work and social justice”. T.J. spoke from his position in the criminal justice system, “Folks like me and others in child protective services, we will do our part but our best hope, our best defense, is to support programs like Lund. They make the difference with early intervention and giving people who are struggling with addiction and mental health issues a chance. This is where we are going to make a difference in this state to give everybody, every child and every family the opportunity for success.”
Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott was also in attendance and spoke about the statewide reach of Lund’s services, “One fact about Lund that struck me was the number of individuals and families that you have helped over the last year. Almost 5000 people and when you consider that over the period of Lund’s history, that’s an astronomical number. How lucky we are to have a non-profit like Lund to take on this monumental task of helping so many Vermonters. I can’t imagine where we would be without them.” Congratulatory statements were read from The Honorable Howard Dean and Governor Peter Shumlin, both of whom were traveling and could not be present.
The Honorable Jim Douglas, who was also an honorary Co-Chair of the Campaign, officially dedicated the building as the Hoehl Family Building in recognition of The Hoehl Family Foundation’s generous leadership gift of $1 million to the campaign. He thanked the foundation for their generosity,”The foundation was started in 1993 by Bob and Cynthia [Hoehl] to enrich the lives of the people in our great state. They have affected the lives of so many people in Vermont and I thank them for their leadership.” He then invited the assembled guests outside the building to “destroy a perfectly good ribbon” and officially open the building.
The rain had stopped and the sun was shining as guests took tours of the building and shared in the celebration. Meanwhile behind the doors of the Early Childhood Education Program, mostly unaware of the large amount of guests milling around out front, the children were finishing their snack of apples and crackers and getting ready to play outside. Downstairs mothers were about to start work on the lab reports in science class and as the celebrations wrapped up the adoption workers, family educators, case managers, clinicians and others went back to their work helping the women, children and families of Vermont. After ribbons have been cut and the photos taken, the important, life-changing work carries on here at Lund, for another 124 years and more.
June 18, 2014
Governor Shumlin signed Vermont House Bill H.790 into law today at the O’Brien Community Center in Winooski to the applause of working families and agencies that work to support young people in becoming self sufficient. The bill makes changes to the time frame during which people previously on Reach Up can still receive benefits after becoming employed. This will ease the stress of those facing the possibility that working might leave them worse off than when they were receiving benefits – a situation referred to as the ‘benefits cliff’.
Governor Shumlin praised the bill in front of an assembled crowd which included many clients and staff members from Lund. “We need to make sure we have a system of assistance that doesn’t put barriers up for people who want to work but find that the benefits system punishes them if they take a job or a raise. What this bill really does is try to fix what we call the benefit cliff. It tries to fix the system for folks who are given a job or who are excelling at work and are offered a raise. Everyone wants to work, to succeed, to support their family and we need everyone in right now. What this bill allows is for us to remove the barriers from raises and from work for people who want to work and want their kids to go to quality child care while they do.”
The key changes are outlined below:
1. Earned Income Disregard – The amount of income that will be disregarded when discerning whether someone is eligible for benefits will increase from $200 plus 25% of wages per month to $250 a month plus 25% of wages.
2. Enhanced childcare services financial assistance program – Eligible working parents will now receive full childcare subsidy for 24 months after gaining paid employment instead of 12 months. This change is tied into the Reach Ahead program which gives assistance to families who are no longer eligible for Reach Up.
3. Transitional SNAP benefits – Eligible participants moving off Reach Up due to paid employment will receive SNAP benefits for 12 months instead of 6 months.
4. Case management – Case managers will be called on to work with families any time there is a change that will affect them to make sure that they have access to full benefits.
Chris Curtis from Vermont Legal Aid who worked on this legislation related the changes to real life for working families. “This bill is about making work pay for Vermont families and it’s all about securing a healthy future for Vermont kids. Let me tell you what this means in real terms for an average Reach Up family of a single mom with two kids. It’s going to amount to a 4% pay increase or about $40 extra a month. Working families have been falling further and further behind. This legislation puts more money in their pockets and makes it easier for them to get ahead and succeed. The goal of this legislation is successful families and a good start for kids.”
Reach-Up Case Manager at Lund, Danielle Gingue, sees the immediate benefit of these changes, “I think continuing the time that families are eligible for Reach Ahead is huge. I have many families that are scared for their grant to close, knowing that they are only eligible for a 1 year childcare subsidy. With this new bill, families will be eligible for a 2 year childcare authorization. Childcare is expensive and having a 2 year period where a participant doesn’t have to worry about their eligibility is pretty big.”
The changes in this bill will reduce the number of families facing the benefit cliff. As Lund’s Learning Together Coordinator Tammy Santamore says, “These changes provide a greater incentive to employment than the current Reach Up system, essentially providing low income families with a buffer to better plan for financial independence and self sufficiency. The passing of this bill will allow families to plan more for their futures, allowing them to develop savings plans, address emergency expenses without the need for assistance from community service providers, and look toward a brighter future for themselves and their children.”
Or as Governor Shumlin said, quite succinctly, in his opening remarks, “This is a good bill.”
June 13, 2014
Students, teachers, family and friends had reason to celebrate on Tuesday as New Horizons Educational Program held the Honoring Ceremony to honor graduates, those who made academic progress and the participants in our teen pregnancy prevention outreach program. Less than half of teen mothers graduate from high school (stayteen.org) because it’s incredibly difficult to juggle parenthood and school. Our students have worked so hard to meet the challenges they face. A high school diploma is a key step towards future success for themselves and their families. As one graduate said, “I don’t want to be the mom telling my kids to stay in school and to graduate when I didn’t do it myself.”
Barbara Rachelson, Executive Director of Lund, began the ceremony with words of welcome and advised the students to remember that they can and should learn something every day. Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce was one of the keynote speakers and she spoke about the importance of financial literacy and making plans for the future recognizing that graduation was the an essential starting step towards this future. The second keynote speaker was Lund graduate Maghon Luman who currently works at the Community Justice Center in the Offender Reentry program which provides support to people leaving prison. She spoke of how, at 23 years old, she had everything she could have wanted – a great job, nice house, car, loving husband and baby daughter – but how becoming an addict took all that from her. She credits her recovery and her current success as an employed and stable parent to her commitment to embracing every opportunity. “Take every opportunity you are presented with and if there isn’t an opportunity, make one for yourself. Work hard to create the chances you need and be persistent.” She also offered her congratulations to the students, “Whatever you have completed today, school, a grade or even a class, be very proud of yourself.”
New Horizons teacher, Kathy Rossman, presented six young women with their high school diplomas and echoed Barbara’s statement by urging them to continue their education every day and to educate their children as well. Certificates were also awarded to students who had made academic progress and to those who had participated in Lund’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outeach Program. Laura May Ackley who runs this program takes willing young mothers to schools to present the reality of teen pregnancy. It is such a powerful teaching tool for students but can also be scary and sensitive for the moms presenting. “I’ve seen your moments of weakness and I’ve seen your strengths,” said Laura May. “I’ve seen your beauty and I’ve seen your scars. Thank you for sharing your stories.”
Crystal Parent, one of the six graduates, was presented with the Kit Stone Humanitarian Award which is awarded each year to a young woman who had taken opportunities presented to her and made them work for herself, her family, her peers and her community. Crystal is a successful graduate of New Horizons and recently left Lund’s residential program where she had been living with her two children. Shes is now participating in a food services training program and learning valuable skills for future employment. Treasurer Pearce read a letter from Governor Peter Shumlin congratulating Crystal on her achievement, “Completing one’s diploma is a major milestone, but I understand that you did not stop at educating yourself; you went on to share your knowledge with others at outreach events across Vermont. I commend you for your hard work, for giving back to the community, and for you commitment to your future.”
By coming to New Horizons Educational Program and juggling the complexities of being a young mother, each of these students is showing their commitment to being in the 50% that do graduate from high school. They are doing it for their themselves, of course, but more importantly they are doing it for their children.
To see a wonderful news coverage of this event, please click here
June 9, 2014
Our Teen Pregnancy Prevention and Outreach Specialist, Laura May Ackley, was interviewed today in the Burlington Free Press about the realities of teen pregnancy in Vermont. Outreach and education initiatives are working to decrease unintended pregnancy amongst young people but open conversation in schools and at home is still key. Read the article here:
June 3, 2014
Many people said it was the best bike ride yet. Perhaps it was the beautiful weather – clear blue skies and sunshine. Perhaps it was the live band – Something with Strings featuring one of our very own preschool teachers on harmonica. Perhaps it was the more than 200 riders who came out to show their support for Vermont’s women, children and families by participating in our bike ride. Perhaps the great support of our generous sponsors. Perhaps a combination of all of those things. Whatever the reason, Sunday June 1st was a very special day for Lund and we are so thankful to everyone who rode, volunteered or sponsored this event. So far we have raised almost $52,000 and fundraising is still going until the end of June. The money raised will go directly to support our programs in adoption, treatment, family support and education.
Riders took on the 55 mile route down as far as Grosse Point in Ferrisburgh, the 30 mile route through Charlotte, 16 miles through Shelburne or the 4 mile family ride on the South Burlington bike path. They were greeted on their return to Joy Drive with a party featuring music, face painting, a bouncy house, burritos from Boloco, Ben and Jerry’s, Local Motion helmet decorating, Liz Lovely cookies, giant chutes and ladders from Let’s Grow Kids and so much more. Repeat rider and Lund Board Member Sara Byers said, “Looking back at 5 years of riding the Lund bike ride with my husband and daughter, I am overwhelmed by the importance of Lund’s work. Supporting Lund means that 170 children just last year, who were previously living in foster care, have forever families. It means that there is a place in Vermont where women can seek help for substance abuse and mental illness WITH their children. It means that more children thrive, more cycles of poverty, addiction and abuse are broken and more families experience joy. As the ride departs from Joy Drive, and you feel the pride of knowing you made a difference, you, yourself, are filled with joy.”
It was a wonderful day celebrating family, exercise, summer and an organization that has been helping Vermont families for over 120 years. Thank you to our sponsors – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, NBT Bank, PC Construction, Starbucks, Boloco, North Star Sports, Ben and Jerry’s, Local Motion, Fletcher Allen Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, General Dynamics, Northfield Savings Bank, Shelburne Supermarket, Stoner-Andrews, JB Kennedy Associates, Hannaford, Terry Bicycles, WCAX, Mix 102.3 and Free Press Media.
Enjoy the pictures below.
May 20, 2014
Friday night at Main Street Landing was bustling with people getting ready to watch Jennifer Newsom Siebel’s award winning film “Miss Representation” . There was popcorn, ice cream and …STI Twister? This wasn’t just a film showing, it was an educational event in conjunction with National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month hosted by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Lund. STI Twister was one of the activities the Planned Parenthood student peer educators developed to engage young people in learning about STI’s in a creative and fun way. As well as this informative twist on a classic game, there was a condom line up, Name the Anatomy and plenty of chances to collect information aimed at young people about preventing unintended pregnancies.
“It’s so great to see young people engaged in learning about sexual health and to feel like they can take the opportunity to do so in a safe and supportive environment,” says Andrea Nicoletta of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “While Vermont has one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the country, it’s still important for our young people to have the information and resources they need to make decisions when it comes to their reproductive health. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England is committed to helping teens make good decisions and engage in healthy behavior. We work every day to reach teens with information about healthy relationships and sexuality, as well as the importance of protecting themselves against both unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.”
Miss Representation is a film about how women are presented in the media and the distinctly prejudiced way they are shown in films, TV shows, newcasts, the realm of politics and more. The message of the film is that women must support other women in roles of leadership and power and those who consume media must challenge the prevalent model of seeing women primarily in terms of sexuality. It was thought provoking and ultimately inspiring as it showcased women who have accomplished so much despite the drawbacks of patriarchal media.
Laura May Ackley, Lund’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Specialist, said, “For me this event was about educating and empowering youth which we achieved by educating young people who attended with factual information on birth control methods, STI’s and general sexual health in a fun interactive way. The film, ‘Miss Representation’ brings up issues that we are faced with every day and for social change to take place we have to start by educating, and the best place to start this education is with young people.”
The event was also attended by Nipunika Coe and Morgan Wrigley, Youth Leaders from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. They are both high school seniors from Vermont who are part of a team of 18 young people nationwide who work with The National Campaign to provide an accurate perspective on their work. They spoke about the discussions that they have been having in Montpelier and in Washington D.C. on pregnancy prevention. They also encouraged the other young people in the audience to get involved and to stay informed about the choices
Many thanks to everyone who came to this event and to our sponsors Main Street Landing, Bedsider.org, UVM, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Burton Snowboards, The Skinny Pancake, The Peace and Justice Store, Ben and Jerry’s and Hannaford’s Supermarkets.
May 19, 2014
Our friends over at Burlington VT Mom’s Blog are featuring the bike ride on their blog and recruiting members to join their team. The 6th Annual Ride for Children is a great event for families with kids’ activities, free ice cream, bike safety tips from Local Motion, a bounce house, Joey the Clown, a live band and more. It’s a fun way to introduce kids to doing something for other people and working hard themselves to help out others. You can read more about the bike ride over at the Burlington VT Mom’s Blog.
See you on Sunday June 1st!
May 9, 2014
Staff at Lund gathered together today to surprise our teachers with treats and thanks for National Teacher Appreciation Week. Cookies, cards and African violets were delivered to the teachers at Lund’s Early Childhood Program and Lund’s New Horizons Educational Program during their lunch break and a group of staff members shared their appreciation for the work that our teachers do every day. Associate Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services, Brian Southworth, shared how important meaningful New Horizons is in the students’ lives. “You know better than any of us how many of the students wouldn’t be in school if it weren’t for you. They were done with school until they came here and now I hear all the time about how they love school,” he told NHEP teachers Mary Farnsworth and Kathy Rossman.
The teachers at LECP play a similarly crucial role in their (younger) students lives. The staff members at Joy Drive are lucky enough to see them at work every day in the playground playing, teaching, singing, loving and exploring with the children. Those who visit from our other sites vie for seats on the side of the conference room that look out of the window so they can see the playground!
Teachers at Lund have a huge impact outside the classroom. They are often family educators, cheerleaders, and the conduit for connection to community resources for our families. They find clothes and supplies for families who need them and go out of their way to help whenever they can. They do as much as possible to make sure that the children and their parents have what they need to be successful and often represent the only, and extremely important stability, in the lives of our families.
Thank you to the teachers at Lund for all that you do. We value you today and every single day.