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.
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: