September 19, 2014
What better way to celebrate the start of fall than with a delicious community dinner outside complete with musical entertainment and lots of friends to play with? This was scene on Wednesday night at Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program at the Hoehl Family Building. Kirtani Mathauer, teacher in the young toddler room, led the event inspired by community cooking classes and dinners she had helped with at other early childhood programs. She was looking for a way for families to connect and spend some time together getting to know each other. Parents drop off their children at different times and so their paths may never cross despite their children spending all day together. This event was a chance to meet and eat together.
The sun even made an appearance after a day of clouds and it was still warm enough to eat, play and dance outside. The menu consisted of pasta, meatballs, eggplant parm, salad, garlic bread, and dessert provided by LECP and also dishes brought by families. There were even enough leftovers to enjoy for lunch the next day. After dinner LECP teacher, Collin and his friend Kyle played music. There’s nothing like toddlers dancing with their friends to a John Prine cover in the waning light of an early fall evening to make you feel pretty good about the state of the world. The play structure built last Spring by volunteers from dealer.com served as great front row seating for the show and also provided the usual jumping and climbing entertainment for the children.
“I’m proud of the turnout,” said Kirtani, “one parent told me it was the best community dinner he’d been to at an education program because it was so relaxed and gave everyone the time to eat, have fun and talk.”
Healthy eating is a key priority at LECP as many of the children come from families struggling with food insecurity or limited access to nutritious food. The children eat meals and snacks family style and learn how to behave considerately at the table while they enjoy a wide variety of dishes cooked on site in the school kitchen. Lund is planning expand the food program to run parent-child cooking workshops. This will be helped by a recent generous grant from Seventh Generation that will provide the needed equipment to set the kitchen up efficiently and safely for the children.
Kirtani plans to organize another family dinner next year and attract even more families to share a meal together. Thank you to all the teachers who worked hard to make this event come together and to all the families who attended and brought food to share.
September 12, 2014
“I believe that philanthropy is a good thing. It’s hard to go wrong when you’re acting out of a place of generosity. We shouldn’t fret so much about philanthropy. We shouldn’t let the joy of giving be muddied by the intellectual pursuit of the best, most effective and perfect giving,” said Stuart Comstock-Gay, President and CEO of the Vermont Community Foundation at their Annual Meeting on Wednesday September 10, at the Basin Harbor Club. His speech began, as so many things do these days, with the ice bucket challenge and he quotes from a Maclean’s article on it, “The marketing gimmick is very clever, it’s short, immediately understandable and like the most clever forms of slacktivism, it’s easy to do, entertaining to watch and narcisstically self promoting. It’s a great way to raise money but a horrible reason to donate.” But then spent the rest of this speech advising the assembled crowd of grantees, supporters, donors, board members and friends not to be caught up in criticism and cynicism around popular philanthropy. Stuart warned us all not to let our David Letterman-ness (thinking constant critique and close mindnessness is the height of intelligent cool) get in the way of our ice-bucketness. He’s right. $100 million raised for ALS reseach is a good thing, however is happened.
It was obvious at this meeting that Vermont is a unique and special place, not just because it took place at the spot where Benedict Arnold launched the USS Philadelphia in 1776 and then went on to trounce the British at the Battle of Valcour Island, but also because of the people present. Underneath the tent on a warm early fall afternoon were some of the state’s most influential philanthropists, business people and representatives of non-profits doing important work. These people are the true power of community. “I see collaboration, passion, creative problem solving by many philanthropists. All of them working on complicated issues, all of them working on new ideas and visions, all of them with belief even though it’s hard and sometimes the issues are so complex you could cry,” described Stuart as he looked out over the crowd.
As well as this inspiring speech from the CEO, the meeting also included financial overviews, a humorous report from the audit committee (yes, that’s correct, humorous, I did say these people were special) and the presentation of the Community Impact Award to the Addison County Parent Child Center and their long time supporters Michael and Cindy Seligmann. This award honors the relationship between a donor and the organization that they support. The Addison County Parent Child Center provides support, education and resources to young families. Lund is a Parent Child Center for Chittenden County. It was a privilege to watch a video about the great work that this organization does for parents and children in Addison County and to witness the incredible support given to them by the Seligmanns.
Stuart’s last assertion from the podium was that we all need to believe, “Believe. Believe in people, in ideas, in Vermont. Believe in yourselves, believe in each other. Allow a little wonderment to creep into your lives. Don’t be so quick to shoot down someone’s idea. Snarkiness is not something to be proud of. It’s certainly ok to have questions but don’t let that get in the way of other people’s enthusiasm. It doesn’t mean you have to believe everything but it does mean that you cannot disbelieve everything . Don’t rain on the belief parade of others.”
It was easy to believe in Vermont when you look at the important, effective and widespread work of the Vermont Community Foundation. We thank them for their support of Lund in so many ways over the years and for their leadership in our state.
September 2, 2014
Lund is so pleased to congratulate Judge Susan Fowler on winning an Angel in Adoption Award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. The award is given to an individual, family or organization who has made an exceptional difference in the lives of children looking for families. Judge Fowler has overseen the finalization of over 1000 adoptions in the state and has worked with Lund for many years. “We are very lucky to have a judge that is so passionate about adoption and the importance of belonging and family. Judge Fowler makes every adoption unique and special,” says Wanda Audette, Director of Adoption at Lund. Judge Fowler’s most special duty is to pound the gavel and sign the paperwork and in so doing, create forever families.
“Judge Fowler is a huge part of our adoption community,” says Julia Conner, Private Adoption Coordinator at Lund. “She treats birth parents with dignity, respect, fairness, and understanding. She helps our adoptive families commemorate an incredibly important moment in their lives and approaches adoption finalizations with humor, music and joy; putting families at ease and creating a lasting and memorable experience.”
While a joyful situation, the finalization can also be nerve wracking for families and as an adoptive parent herself as well as a judge with such extensive experience, Judge Fowler does everything she can to help ease the situation. Lund’s Case Finalization Manager, Karisa Thompson, has seen this first hand during the eight years she has worked with Judge Fowler. “When adoptive families arrive at court, they are generally nervous, excited, and relieved all at the same time. Judge Fowler plays jazz music so when families enter the courtroom, they are reminded that they are there to celebrate their family and the music puts them at ease. She is a ray of sunshine at the end of a long, difficult process for our foster children and adoptive families. She is personable, happy, and takes each hearing in stride based on how the child is reacting. I have seen her stop talking and sit back with a smile on her face as a toddler spun and danced in circles in the court room and if a child was fearful or screaming, she just talks faster so the family can move on with the celebration. Judge Fowler makes every adoption a special celebration.”
Judge Fowler’s top priority is always to ensure permanency for children as soon as possible. “She is extremely flexible and consistently works in the best interest of children. She maintains open communication with Lund and has scheduled extra hearings for children to be adopted before Christmas and even arranged for a last minute hearing so a child could be adopted the day before her eighteenth birthday. Judge Fowler does not hesitate to call and ask a question about an adoption packet and is always willing to help advocate on behalf of Lund when confronted with issues regarding other probate courts,” says Karisa.
Judge Fowler will be recognized at the Angel in Adoption Gala on Wednesday, September 17 in Washington, D.C.
For more information about adoption in Vermont and Judge Fowler’s award, please watch the following news coverage from WCAX.
August 28, 2014
When Lisa Carter turned 11, she asked her friends and family to make a donation to Lund instead of buying her birthday presents. She raised $96.20 to support Lund’s education, treatment, adoption and family support services. Lisa came with her parents to the Hoehl Family Building at the end of the summer to present her donation and take a tour so that she could see the work that her gift would support. Lisa’s father Matt has been on the Board of Lund in his current term since 2010 and was also a member prior to that.
We are so grateful to our many donors, supporters and friends who make gifts to Lund throughout the year but it is especially meaningful when the gifts come from young people who recognize the need of other children and families. Lisa’s parents report that this was all her own idea. Lisa said, ” It just makes me feel good to do it.” Thank you Lisa for thinking of others on your birthday and for making a generous gift to Lund.
Every single dollar we receive helps families to break cycles of poverty, abuse and addiction. There are many ways that community members can support Lund:
1. Make a donation CLICK HERE
2. Volunteer. VIEW CURRENT OPENINGS
3. Tell your Lund story. Share with friends, family and colleagues how Lund has helped you or someone you know and how the organization has made a difference in the community.
August 12, 2014
The Lund Ride for Children on Sunday June 1, kicked off a beautiful summer for biking. Two of our riders will now be enjoying new bikes courtesy of North Star Sports, a long time friend of the Ride for Children. Barb Hughes won a children’s bike in the raffle and plans to give it to her two year old granddaughter. She hopes that she will practice her technique riding it around the basement during the winter months and be ready next Spring to hit the bike path.
Lund board member and dedicated supporter of the Lund Ride for Children, Katie Halsey, won her bike by rasing the most money through the Ride for Children for the women, children and families of Lund. Katie raised $3455 herself which helped her team, the Bisby Bikers, to a total of $4755. Katie plans to spend some time riding by the ocean this summer.
North Star Sports have been involved in the Lund Ride for Children since it began six years ago. Not only have they donated bikes but they run an onsite bike clinic on the morning of the ride and drive the all important SAG van that makes sure our riders stay safe on the course. We are so grateful to J.P. and Pat and all our friends at North Star Sports for helping make our Ride for Children a success.
Thank you to these riders and to everyone who participated in the ride, donated or volunteered. You raised $62,466 to provide hope, opportunity and family for women and children in Vermont.
August 8, 2014
“Creating an Intentional Community of Health”- United Way brings people together to talk about substance abuse
We know that opiate addiction is a problem in Vermont that now affects every single part of the community. The state has seen a nearly 800% increase in opiate use in the last 14 years and a concurrent increase in crime and rates of incarceration. Governor Shumlin dedicated his entire State of the State address this spring to the omnipresence of this issue, “It doesn’t affect just one class of people, it affects rich and poor,” Shumlin says. “It knows no party lines, it knows no economic lines.” Bringing this issue to light in such a prominent way has forced people in the state to confront the problem and begin to talk about solutions.
This week the United Way of Chittenden County held a community forum to discuss the problem of opiate addiction and to allow for concerned community members to offer their ideas for solutions. The event attracted over 120 people from all different backgrounds – medical professionals, law enforcement, social workers, academics, school administrators, parents, community activists, politicians. It was an interactive meeting with plenty of time allowed for discussion and questions. There were people in the room for whose lives had never been touched by drug use and people in the room in recovery. There were people whose political and social backgrounds were so widely different that no other situation would have brought them together. The common thread was concern for people in Vermont battling this illness. There was an air of understanding and willingness in the room. One lady advised the crowd to look around. “We’ve got the right people in this room,” she said, “open your hearts and see the potential.”
When the crowd broke out into groups for smaller discussions many people could be heard sharing how addiction had touched their lives, “It’s a sad, sad diseases,” said one medical professional, “and we mustn’t forget that it’s a disease. This is not a choice people are making. They get stuck in a hole and they can’t get out.” In a later session of break out groups, the room was posed with questions to discuss – What is the state of treatment facilities in Vermont, what does prevention really look like, how can we provide the tools people need when they are in recovery so that they don’t slip back into the same lifestyle, how can we create an intentional culture of health instead of an unintentional culture of addiction?
Courtney Farrell, Associate Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services at Lund, who attended the meeting found the open discussion time to be most useful as it allowed people to connect the problem of addiction in the state with other issues. “We had good conversations about how as a community we can be more proactive in working effectively together to support child protection as it relates to addiction in families, rather than just see it as one agency’s problem to fix.” Collaboration and the interconnectedness of social issues were two themes that underlined the entire forum. Brian Southworth from Lund, also an Associate Director of Residential and COmmunity Treatment Services, noted, “Participants were energized by the prospect of finding more effective ways to improve communication and more collaboratively address opiate addiction. There were a number of commitments made to facilitate forums in Burlington, and adjoining towns, for the purpose of expanding the conversation and planning.”
Attendees were encouraged to leave the discussion with an idea for one thing that they themselves could do to help address the problem. One way that you can help is to support Lund which is the only treatment facility for substance abuse and mental health issues in Vermont where women can receive treatment while staying with their child. Our residential treatment center serves 26 pregnant or parenting women and their children as they work towards an independent, successful life in recovery. We also provide integrated, wraparound family support and education services to support the whole family in breaking cycles of poverty, abuse and addiction. Lund works closely with other community organizations to ensure that we have a collaborative approach and a comprehensive understanding of the complex nature of addiction. To learn more about Lund, click here. To make a donation, click here
“Lund has shown me a life I didn’t even know existed. Lund has shown me how much more of a person I can be, and what it really means to live, not just to stay alive. Lund has given my daughter, Sienna, the chance to break the multi- generational cycle of addiction, by helping her to have a mom who doesn’t use drugs. My mom, my grandmother and my great grandmother are all addicts. Who knows how far back it goes” Tina, 26.
August 4, 2014
August 1st to August 7th is World Breastfeeding Week coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action with the goal to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF says in support of this event, “Giving all children the best start in life begins with breastfeeding – one of the simplest, smartest and cost effective ways we have of supporting healthy children, stronger families and sustainable growth.”
Lund is working hard to support the moms in our programs who choose to breastfeed by making sure that they have access to the resources, education and equipment that they need in order to be successful at breastfeeding. Jessilyn Dolan, nurse at Lund’s Glen Road Residential Treatment Center, says, “It has been one of my goals to increase breastfeeding here and to change the culture and face of breastfeeding. I have been doing this by talking about it more, putting up posters, having a weekly support groups and trying to make it the norm. We definitely have more people trying breastfeeding now.”
The group that Jessilyn refers to is run by a peer counselor from WIC (a state program that helps young families to eat well and stay healthy) who comes to Glen Road on Monday evenings to provide support, answer questions and provide information about breastfeeding. The group is consistently attended by a number of clients who are active participants. This group is not the only way that women who are breastfeeding or interested in breastfeeding have support at Lund. Through a grant prepared by a pediatric resident of Lund’s visiting pediatrician, Dr. Molly, Lund was able to acquire five high quality multi user breastpumps. Jessilyn also made an arrangement with WIC to get pumps for moms who want them and secured a freezer dedicated solely to breastmilk. Residential counselors attended a series of six trainings last fall about breastfeeding featuring presentations from local lactation consultants and medical professionals. Each new residential counselor is required to watch a video about breast feeding before they begin working with the moms so that they are more familiar and can be supportive. Jessilyn openly refers to breastfeeding in her parenting classes without trying to influence moms, “When they bottle feed I tell them to feed one way and then switch because that’s what babies do when breastfeeding. You want both arms to have that reach and both eyes to have that gaze, not just one sided all the time. I encourage all the norms of breastfeeding without discouraging bottle feeding.” She meets with all the moms and makes sure that they feel informed about all the options and watches a video with them about breastfeeding that is aimed specifically at young moms and teenagers. Jessilyn is striving hard to make breastfeeding an accepted and normal part of the parenting culture at Lund.
Lund’s residential treatment clients often have complex medical needs due to the effects of substance use and mental health disorders. Jessilyn works with Lund’s Medical Director and the client’s outside medical providers to ensure that moms can access medications that are effective and also allow them to continue to breastfeed, “When the psychiatrist wants to prescribe something, I work with the pediatrician as well to weigh the pros and cons because there is some of the medication that gets though the milk but the benefits can be so much more for the mom then it’s worth that little bit getting through breast milk. We talk to the pediatrician and get their OK on it. You just have to connect everyone around it.”
Collaboration and communication, both amongst the clients’ treatment teams and within the community are key in supporting breastfeeding moms in treatment at Lund. Jessilyn feels that there has been a definite change in the culture around breastfeeding at Lund in the last 18months, “We’ve networked with the community to get more support in here and to increase the breastfeeding culture so it’s more comfortable and is becoming normal for people here.”
Happy World Breastfeeding Week to all our friends and supporters!
August 1, 2014
Lund is very lucky to have a hardworking, dedicated, supportive Board of Trustees who are entirely committed to helping the women, children and families of Vermont. We could not do the work that we do without them. As of the beginning of our new fiscal year in July, we are pleased to welcome five new board members. We also have a new Board President, Sara Byers. Former President Lisa Pizzagalli will remain on the board. Thank you to all our board members for their hard work. Please read about our new members below.
Lucy had worked with Lund for many years in her role at the Department for Children and Families where she worked for over 40 years. She is pleased to now have the opportunity to become directly involved by joining the board. Having lived in Burlington all her life, Lucy sees Lund as “contributing enormously to the fabric of the town”. Lucy is also on the board of the Champlain Senior Center. In her free time she enjoys walking, gardening, tai chi, boating on the lake and spending time with her four grandchildren.
As a former beneficiary of Lund’s services, Heidi was looking for an opportunity to give back to the organization. “Over the years, I have often wondered how I could ever repay Lund’s generosity. As a board member I will have the opportunity to say thank you for all that you have done for me and my family,” she says. Heidi lives in Milton and is an active volunteer for the Recreation Department and the library while also studying full time for a legal studies degree.
Susan has been a Lund volunteer since 2011, helping with Lund’s Ride for Children, serving on the Development Committee, and working with the Kids-A-Part program. Susan has an extensive background in education and has taught in schools in Marin County, California and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Susan also helps women reach their educational goals as a member of Champlain College’s Single Parents Program Advisory Committee which helps students obtain scholarships to attend school full time. Susan is an active volunteer at her children’s school and is currently a Chittenden South Supervisory Union School Board member. Susan is excited to learn more about the many ways Lund strengthens families throughout Vermont. Susan lives in Charlotte with her husband, Ben, and two children, Elizabeth and Sam.
Chris has worked with Lund in his role as an attorney at Vermont Legal Aid where his practice primarily relates to housing, public benefits and family law cases brought on behalf of low income Vermonters. Chris is extremely active in his community serving local organizations in a variety of volunteer roles. He also currently serves as Co-Chair of the Governor’s Council on Pathways from Poverty.
Stephanie Miller Reiskin
Although new to Lund, Stephanie is a long time supporter of organizations that help women and children, such as the Single Parents Program at Champlain College, and “believes that all children deserve a good start in life”. Stephanie is experienced in all aspects of running a small business and looks forward to applying her skills to help Lund. She works at her family’s real estate business, R.E.M. Development, in Williston and currently sits on the boards of the Burlington Business Association and the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce. Stephanie lives in Warren.
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.