February 12, 2015
“Because everyone knows that it’s not OK to take food from the fridge and use your body to smear it all over the floor, right?” Asked Gail Rafferty during her recent TED talk at the Burlington TEDx Ed put on by Building Bright Futures and Let’s Grow Kids. Gail, a Parent-Child Interaction Therapy Coordinator at Howard Center in Burlington, was recounting a moment from her children’s early years when her inattention and distraction led to an extremely joyful session of ‘yogurt skiing’ while her back was turned. Her talk titled, “Parenting: A Completely Natural and Improbable Undertaking” spoke about the need for all parents to connect to each other, to support each other and to have help in parenting so that moments of inadvisable food use become happy memories and not triggers for anger and regretful snap decisions.
Gail’s was one of 8 TED talks from local educators, consultants, and medical professionals all themed around growing up. Hosted and emceed by Jane Lindholm, the talks took us from the power of play to basic brain development to parenting advice. All were sprinkled with compassion, humor and genuine amazement at the power and limitless potential of children. Some were more scientific and presented hard data about brain development and the current pattern of investment in educational systems and some used rubber chicken feet. Lisa Guerrero of ‘Serious About Play’ waved them provocatively at the audience trying to find out who had lost their play instinct and who was ready to dive right in and allow themselves to remember and revel in the power of play. And some of the talks called a little upon on the magic of childhood. Tracey Girdich, an interventionist in the Early Childhood Program of the Child, Youth and Family Services division of Howard Center, described how she entices children into connection, social thinking, early literacy and therapeutic play by telling stories with fairies who come out of her sparkly story box.
All of these ideas, theory and scientific insight was translated into practical advice that anyone who spends time with children could take away and apply. Read, tell stories often, model the behavior you want to see, listen, play without inhibition. Mark Redmond, Director of Spectrum Youth and Family Services made this concrete in his talk entitled, “What Advice Would you Give a Room Full of Parents?” There was a furious shuffle of note taking as Mark gave insights from his own parenting journey and his work as Director of an Organization that works with young people battling homelessness and substance abuse. His bulleted list of advice can be boiled down to this – be there, love unabashedly, and hold kids accountable.
With conversation and opinion sharing well facilitated by Jane, a welcome musical break from A2VT with their irrepressible hit ‘Winooski My Town’ and several videos of talks from the National TED stage, the day was filled with the vibrant exchange of information and inspiration. The talks were filmed by RETN and will be added to the TED website in March so they can be shared widely and enjoyed by those who couldn’t get tickets to this sell out event.
Now since I have finished putting up a picture of Jackie Robinson (share stories of inspirational people with children) while enjoying yet another viewing of ‘Winooski My Town’ on Youtube (connect with people from different cultures and embrace community), I think I might go and see if the Preschoolers want to do some yogurt skiing…
January 30, 2015
Access to the Statehouse in Montpelier and the politicians who work in Vermont’s beautiful capital is very easy. You have to go around to the side doors in winter as the impressive front entrance has too many steps to easily shovel, but no one will question you about your identity or your business there. If you happen to be carrying a large, unwieldy box it’s even quite likely that a friendly security officer or a passing legislator will hold the door open for you. State government in Vermont is accessible and open to hearing what the people have to say. Lund took the opportunity on Friday, January 23 to connect with legislators by inviting them to an informational coffee hour to learn about Lund’s programs that are designed to help Vermont’s children and families. For, decades Lund has worked with the state of Vermont to provide education, treatment, adoption and family support services to Vermont families through contracts and grant agreements with the Vermont Agency of Human Services and the Agency of Education. Through these and other collaborative partnerships, Lund has been able to reach over 3,400 individuals from over 1,500 families last year. The time that Lund staff and board of trustee members spent at the Statehouse was a chance to share the scope and depth of its work with elected officials from all over Vermont.
Lund’s Executive Director, Barbara Rachelson has been the representative for Burlington’s Chittenden 6-6 district since 2012 and brings her extensive experience working for and running various nonprofit organizations to her work in state government. “It’s important that our legislature hear about the challenges that the children and families we work with have, so that we can work to make Vermont a place where every child and family can be safe and successful,” says Barbara. “Being able to talk about the plight of the poor, homeless, addicted, or abused is important, as is being able to talk about human services systems and work of the nonprofit sector. This is the first hand experience that I can bring to the legislature.” Barbara was able to introduce many fellow members in the Vermont House of Representatives and members of the Vermont State Senate to her colleagues at Lund and connect them over pressing current issues such as child protection, early education, the experience of incarcerated women and other aspects of Lund’s work.
Lund’s focus at this event was Results Based Accountability (RBA). Over the past year all Lund staff were trained in the Results Based Accountability framework and then participated in establishing performance measures for each Lund program that focus on outcomes that will answer the most vital question, ‘Are People Better Off?’ Lund strongly values continuous improvement of all its programs and reviews are conducted regularly. Lund staff have also worked with contract managers of department areas of the Agency of Human Services to use Results Based Accountability to look at performance measures across contracts/grants in an effort find efficiencies and improvements. Lund is a leader in Vermont in using RBA and is committed to statewide efforts to promote the use of the system among other non-profits. The state is similarly committed to Results Based Accountability to ensure that it is getting the data driven results that it expects from its investments. Legislators were interested in the results of our recent programreview of New Horizons Education Program based on our newly established performance measures, and were appreciative of Lund’s reports and handouts which they will be able to use in committee discussions.
Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services, Kim Coe, spent much of her time at the coffee hour talking with people she has known and interacted with during her almost 30 years working in the human services arena in Vermont. Kim and many Lund staff are advocates for the families Lund serves and therefore look for opportunities to be a resource and voice whenever relevant to the issue at hand. “The Vermont Legislature is an extension of ourselves, it is our neighbors, our friends, our business partners. These are real people that are directly connected to what is happening for all Vermonters,” says Kim. “We are so fortunate to live in a state that affords citizens the opportunity to shake the hand of policy makers and to have direct discussions about issues most important to Vermonters. Our citizen legislature prioritizes the voice of its constituents.”
After the coffee hour, Lund staff and board members went to the floor of the House of Representatives to be introduced by Rep. Rachelson and to be recognized by the members of the House. It is a wonderful privilege to sit in the antique red velvet chairs under a portrait of George Washington and see the workings of state government first hand. The formality of the setting and the procedures are made friendly and welcoming by the smiles and whispered greetings of the legislators sitting near the front.
As you prepare to leave Montpelier, it is hard not to take one last look at the golden dome of the State House with its statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, standing guard on top, without feeling that actually everyone in Vermont part of what is happening inside.
December 19, 2014
The residential counselors at Lund are on the front lines of looking after the women and children living at Glen Road in so many meaningful and important ways. But they also take time to bring the fun to holidays, activities, meetings and sometimes, just to the every day. Thank you to a wonderful team who put the well being, success and happiness of the residents at the forefront of everything they do.
December 18, 2014
One afternoon last week the dining room at Lund’s Glen Road Residential Treatment Center was alive with activity as residential counselors and residents were making paper snowflakes together to celebrate the season and make their rooms and common spaces look festive. The counselor leading the activity was in and out of the room looking for more scissors and tape to make sure everyone had what they needed. The residents were quick to ask whether they could take their creations away to hang where they wanted. Everyone was engaged in completing the activity until it was time for transports to leave to bring the moms to childcare to pick up their children and transition everyone into dinner time and evening activities. Upstairs in one of the counselor’s offices, two counselors were chatting with a resident who had her baby in the office with her lying in a bassinet happily listening to the goings on and gumming on a teething toy. Further down the hall another counselor, with a toddler balanced on her hip, was discussing a problem with the washing machine in one of the pods with another resident. This normal afternoon scene demonstrates the diversity of the requirements of the counselor’s jobs. There is always something that needs to be done and it could be arts and crafts, parenting support, driving, companionship or even washing machine repair. This team stays on their toes and does what needs to be done to support the moms and children living at the facility, whatever that might be.
When asked what their favorite part of their job was, celebrating holidays came to forefront for many of the counselors. “I loved spending time with the few residents who were here over Thanksgiving,” said Audrey Rose. “It felt so special to spend the family day with them and relax with the clients who were present.” Lauren Ozzella, Residential Shift Supervisor, seconded this appreciation for spending holidays with the clients, “One of my favorite memories is working at Lund on Mother’s Day. Since it can be a bittersweet day for some of our clients we do lots of fun things to make them feel special and appreciated. Last Mother’s Day was great; clients and staff alike had a great time! One of the mom’s actually wished me a Happy Mother’s Day as well. She explained that she believes that counselors are sort of like mothers to them and their children, too, and that she thinks that we also deserve to be appreciated on Mother’s Day. That was so unexpected and touching; it’s something that I will always remember.”
Keep reading to meet some more of Lund’s wonderful residential counselors.
Lauren is a fantastic and strong leader on the team. She is understanding, empathic, positive and motivating. Lauren takes charge and is confident in her abilities. She promotes team morale and cohesiveness.
Ashley ensures that all runs smoothly on her shift and she is a strong advocate for her staff. Ashley balances compassion with boundary setting and limits with our clients. She has a witty sense of humor that keeps us all in good spirits!
Sarah has worked for several years as a counselor in the residential program and at IP. Currently Sarah works part-time as a daytime counselor while she completes her BSW/MSW program. Sarah has a huge heart, which is evident through the work that she does with our clients and their children.
After working as an overnight counselor and then as a full-time evening counselor, Anna has recently transitioned into a part-time shift while she completes her MSW program. She is fun and creative and is always the first to volunteer to play with the toddlers in the play lab during dinner chores.
Michaela is part of our weekend evening and overnight team. She is a great team player and always takes the initiative to get things done with a smile on her face. Michaela is kind and compassionate; she is a great support to our clients and does not shy away from challenges.
Audrey has been working at Lund for two and a half years. She is well known in the counseling department for planning and facilitating our weekend trips and activities. She is kind, caring, patient and is very dedicated to her work.
Danielle always goes the extra mile and can be counted on to get things done. Danielle is thorough in everything she does and we never have to worry that something won’t get completed. Danielle is also very very funny. She has a great sense of humor which is appreciated in her work with staff and clients.
Heidi is the newest member of the counseling team, working weekend mornings. Heidi has great knowledge and skills and jumped into her new position with two feet. Heidi has very quickly become comfortable in her position and is already working with our clients with confidence.
December 16, 2014
Lund’s residential treatment program is the only place in Vermont where women can receive treatment for substance abuse or mental health issues while living with their children. 26 women pregnant or parenting women can live with one or two children up to age 5 at Lund’s Glen Road facility. The program is staffed 24 hours a day to support these women and their families as they manage their own recovery, learn parenting and life skills and work towards self sufficiency. The residential counselors who work daytime, evening, overnight and weekend shifts are an absolutely essential part of the program and provide all manner of support to the women and children from providing respite during the night, giving parenting support, planning family activities, doing chores, driving to appointments and helping moms deal with all the challenges that arise from parenting or pregnancy. The counselors have been called the ‘glue that holds the program together.’
Last Friday the counselors held their holiday party sharing treats and exchanging ‘Secret Snowflake’ gifts. It was unusual for so many of them to be in the same place at the same time as their shifts are often opposite and rarely can everyone be in a room at the same time as someone is usually needed on the residential floors or to accompany clients to appointments. It was fun to see everyone celebrating and sharing the season together. By necessity the counselors work closely together and you can see it in the way they interact with each other. It is clear that this is a passionate, dedicated and hard working team which of course is hugely beneficial to the families they work with.
Please read on for ‘Meet the Counselors: Part 1′ and learn more about their work helping children and families to thrive.
Jamie works the morning shift. She is eager to be involved with resident’s treatment and is gracious in holding limits with them . Jamie is particularly enthusiastic for Saturday morning activities with clients.
Katelynn is a big fan of arts and crafts and she really enjoys engaging clients in art projects to make their time at Lund feel special. Katelynn in quietly determined with clients and supports consistently through challenging times.
Kelsey is a fantastic team player and has worked all different shifts with consistency and reliability. She is now working as a sub while she is in grad school. Kelsey presents herself with such a calm demeanor and radiates positivity throughout residents and staff member.
Laura is always helping out clients either one on one or in a group setting. Laura brings strength in play therapy to the evening team which is evident in her work with our kiddos! Laura is extremely patient and kind and is always willing to go the extra mile for any client.
Liz is a team player and is often seen at L&D in her favorite spot overlooking Burlington. Liz brings strength in child development to the evening team and is able to help moms in any tricky situation. Liz often has a “can do” attitude that becomes contagious to other staff.
December 8, 2014
Kristi Provost, Billing Support Specialist, was awarded the Jeff Small Pioneer Award at the All Staff Retreat last month. The Jeff Small Pioneer Award is given to a Lund employee who shows focus on the mission of Lund, courageousness in doing what needs to be done, confidence in working to secure a brighter future for Lund and its clients and persistence in not giving up on a project even if the going is slow. These were all qualities shown by former Lund board president Jeff Small, in whose honor the award is named.
Kristi has worked at Lund for almost 5 years. First as an administrative assistant and receptionist in the front office at Glen Road, and now as the first employee in this newly created position where she is responsible for quality assurance of client records and billing across multiple programs as well as data collection and reporting. In her new position, Kristi has also been helping to prepare Lund for the implementation of our new electronic data base and has helped streamline processes for obtaining information to adhere to our many reporting requirements. “This was a role that was very much needed to support the growth of our programs, but did not yet have a lot of structure built into it,” said Courtney Farrell, Associate Director of Residential and Community Treatment. “Kristi took what she already knew and identified what she needed to learn to meet the demands of the new position, often taking responsibility for her own learning and focusing on what she needed to do this job to the best of her ability. Kristi quickly learned so much about what each of our programs required and set up systems to manage an incredible amount of data in a way that decreased the burden for staff, and provided the management team new program information that we had never had before. Kristi often knows what is needed by each individual to do our jobs well (sometimes when we don’t even know!) and takes responsibility to provide us each with what we need.”
Kristi was surprised but pleased at being given this award, “It was a very unexpected surprise, but I was so moved by the recognition I received from the agency. Working in the background, so to speak, you become accustomed to applauding the hard work that is being done for families on the front-line. It is a very pleasant moment when it is brought to your attention that the work you do as an administrator to support all of the direct service providers really is making a difference in the way they are able to help support the children and families that we serve.”
In her free time Kristi enjoys spending time with her family hiking, baking, drawing and reading.
December 4, 2014
Melissa Appleton, Post Permancy Worker in Lund’s adoption department, was awarded the Elizabeth Lund Employee of the Year Award at the all staff retreat last month. Melissa provides specialized support services for families after they have finalized their adoptions or guardianships. Her focus is to help families manage the joys and challenges of adoption and guardianship and grow stronger by offering support, education and information. Having worked for 8 years at Lund, Melissa felt honored and grateful to receive the Elizabeth Lund Employee of the Year Award, “I know how special the Elizabeth Lund award is. Lund is a great place to work with committed and skilled staff. I am grateful to receive this award-especially knowing that I work with other Lund staff who are equally deserving. Knowing these peers nominated me is very special. I could not do this job without the support and encouragement of an amazing team and co-workers. I am also grateful to the Lund families who have taught me about being a social worker and have helped shape my work here at Lund.”
Christina Shuma, Post Permanency Services Coordinator, presented Melissa with the award referring to her as a “very special and extremely skilled social worker.” She also remarked on her admirable commitment to professional development and her role as a go to person for post permanency issues not just at Lund but at other organizations she works with. Everything Melissa does is driven by her commitment to the families, “At the core of her work with families she believes that families want the absolute best for their children and are doing the best they can with what they already know. She sees it as her mission to help these families, who are parenting children not born to them, learn as much as they can about this unique role that they have with their children, how they can parent their children at the child’s developmental level, how parents can learn more about their own parenting style, stress and coping skills; and to ensure that the community of providers involved with the families are sensitive to the adoption or guardianship needs of the child and family,” said Christina.
Doing work that can be frustrating and sometimes difficult, Melissa takes time to focus on the positives, “One of my favorite parts of being a Post Permanence Service Provider is being able to sit with an adoptive or guardianship family and celebrate the successes. These may not be considered huge successes in general terms: it may be a month at school free of write-ups for behavior or a parent finally getting nightly hugs from their child. To many these may not seem that substantial but to some of our Post Permanence families these small successes are so important. These children and families have not always traveled the easiest road and being able to recognize these celebrations reminds me how important this work is.”
In her free time Melissa enjoys getting outside as much as possible – skiing, mountain biking, swimming, horseback riding. Activities which she uses to refuel herself to face the considerable demands of her job. Thank you, Melissa, for your dedication and hard work for families who need you. We are all very lucky to have you at Lund. Congratulations on this well deserved award.
November 25, 2014
We know that this Thursday is a day for giving thanks and being grateful for all wonderful people and situations we have in our lives. Advertising makes sure that we know that the following day is a day for getting deals on our holiday shopping and increasingly we are encouraged to consider the following Monday as a day for getting those same deals online. But there is also a growing movement to recognize the next day as Giving Tuesday, a day for celebrating generosity and giving back. Started in 2012 by the 92nd St Y and the United Nations Foundation as response to the consumerism and commercialism in the days immediately following Thanksgiving, the idea has gained traction nationwide and is now supported by millions of people around the world and many large commercial enterprises such as Ebay, Discover and Google.
In 2012, $10 million was donated online with an average donation of $101 on Giving Tuesday. In 2013, $19million was donated with an average donation of $142. Let’s review that again – $29 million over two days of giving! Giving Tuesday is powerful and shows that people want to give back and want to celebrate and participate in philanthropy in the U.S. What a fitting conclusion to Thanksgiving.
In 2013, over 7000 nonprofits actively participated in Giving Tuesday and encouraged their friends and donors to make gifts to their cause. This year it is expected that over 10,000 organizations will officially register with Giving Tuesday and conduct campaigns encouraging people to support them. Lund will be participating in Giving Tuesday this year and invite all of our supporters to participate in the work that we do to help families break cycles of poverty, addiction and abuse by making a donation to Lund on Tuesday, December 2. It easy and completely secure to make a donation on our website at www.give.lundvt.org.
If you would to, you can then share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter that you supported Lund and supported Giving Tuesday by using the #GivingTuesday tag.
During this season of thanksgiving, we are so grateful to our friends in the community who support women, children and families at Lund through financial contributions, volunteer hours, gifts of essential items for our families and by being advocates for our organization and the work we do. Thank you.
To learn more about Giving Tuesday, click on this video:
November 20, 2014
“He’s finally my brother!” Said one little girl as the adoption of her brother was finalized this morning at the Chittenden County Probate Court in Burlington. This finalization was one of 12 happening in Burlington which, when combined with 10 in St. Albans and seven in Woodstock, makes a record breaking 29 adoption finalizations in one day. 29 new families were created today through the work of Lund’s partnership with the Department of Children and Families – Project Family and Lund’s adoption program.
There were balloons, stuffed animals, flowers and cookies for every adopted child and the waiting area outside the court room was packed with an ever rotating crew of friends, relatives, Lund employees and DCF employees as adoption finalizations happened every 15 minutes. In the courtroom, the prodigious Judge Susan Fowler presided over the adoptions and made every one a party with music, balloons and letting the children bang the gavel. “I’ll let you off making the speech we were expecting from you,” she said to one 19 month old. “Let’s make this official.” She handed him the gavel and waited patiently while he put it in his mouth before encouraging him to bang it on the table. “Give me my baby brother,” an older sister cried the minute the gavel hit the table, scooping her new little brother off his mom’s lap and lifting him high into the air.
The children adopted this morning were aged between 6 months and twelve years. There was a little girl who was celebrating her birthday on the same day as her adoption, a little boy flanked by the proudest grandparents in a 100 mile radius, “He’s such a joy, such a blessing,” his grandmother said to me, another boy so excited he couldn’t stop jumping up and down and a family who were adopting their seventh child after fostering more than 100 children. Everywhere you looked were smiles, happy tears, and hugs. Even the security guard was getting into the swing of things clapping as the families came out of the courtroom and handing out chocolate. ‘It’s going to be boring here tomorrow,” he said regretfully.
The scene will be repeated this afternoon at the courthouse in St. Albans and at different times of the day in Woodstock. “Love builds a family,” said one Dad. “Adoption is that love.”
Watch news coverage of the days events from Fox 44 here
November 18, 2014
Every November, a Presidential Proclamation launches activities and celebrations to help build awareness of adoption throughout the nation. Thousands of community organizations arrange and host programs, events, and activities to share positive adoption stories, challenge the myths, and draw attention to the thousands of children in foster care who are waiting for permanent families. At this time, there are 68 children in Vermont who need forever families and permanent homes. Lund’s partnership with the Department of Children and Families, Project Family, is working hard to find homes for these children. Last year Project Family found homes for 169 children who had been living in foster care or in residential treatment environments.
To celebrate National Adoption Month, Lund in partnership with the Department of Children and Families will finalize 29 adoptions this coming Thursday, November 20th, at three court houses across the state. This is a record for Lund and the Department of Children and Families and a record for Vermont. 29 children will go to bed on Thursday night knowing that they never again have to wonder where they belong or who will look out for them when they need help.
Also in celebration of National Adoption Month, we are sharing some micro interviews with our adoption staff. Get to know these fabulous people and their work to make sure that every child has a home, below: (Click on the picture to view it larger)