August 14, 2015

Vermont’s children and families need people like Lara Sobel

Posted in Commentary, DCF tagged , , , , at 10:04 am by Lund

The recent murder of Vermont Department of Children and Families social worker Lara Sobel outside the Barre State Office Building where she worked was a senseless tragedy that has affected the entire State of Vermont profoundly. For those that work in human services, the impact weighs heavily on the hearts and minds of those charged with continuing the work of keeping children safe and helping families thrive.  With the loss of Lara, we have lost an passionate advocate and dedicated professional.  We know that she improved the lives of so many people in her short time on earth.

The business of helping families is challenging and for social workers within the Department for Children and Families even more so.   Their work is frequently challenged and critiqued without the public knowing the full information.  We are facing increasingly challenging times in our State with the prevalence of addiction and mental illness and the lack of adequate capacity to serve the children and families that need our help.  Now, more than ever, Vermont’s children and families need people like Lara Sobel.  Lund’s Director of Residential and Community Treatment, Kim Coe, states, “At Lund we are proud to work closely with DCF and to support them in their work to make life safer, healthier and happier for Vermont’s children and their families. We honor Lara’s life by continuing to carry forward the mission that she lived by and believed in, all children deserve the right to live safe and healthy lives.”

Lund is committed to the safety of our staff who work in the community teaching family education, providing adoption support services, conducting substance abuse screening and assessment, and supporting clients in their recovery. The security of our workers is key as we support them in delivering the best possible services to men, women and children safely, with confidence and without fear or excessive worry.  We have taken immediate steps to review our safety protocols and provide opportunities for staff members to discuss their concerns.

We are firmly committed to our shared mission with DCF of helping to make life better for children in Vermont. We will support them and stand in solidarity at this very sad and frightening time.  In honor of Lara and all the people that dedicate their lives to improving others, we shall remain steadfast in our pursuit of safety and well-being for all children.

Flowers

November 25, 2014

What is “Giving Tuesday”?

Posted in Commentary, Donor Spotlight, Foster Care Program tagged , , at 11:46 am by Lund

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:

Giving Tuesday

 

 

May 20, 2014

Lund and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Host Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month Event

Posted in Commentary, Events, Family Education, New Horizons Educational Program, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach tagged , , , , , at 8:40 am by Lund

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.”

Nipu Coe and Morgan Wrigley from The National Campaign, Andrea Nicoletta from PPNNE and Laura May Ackley from Lund

Nipu Coe and Morgan Wrigley from The National Campaign, Andrea Nicoletta from PPNNE and Laura May Ackley from Lund

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.

 

 

 

April 10, 2014

Piper Kerman Goes Back to Prison

Posted in Commentary, Events, Kids-A-Part, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services tagged , , , , , , at 7:27 am by Lund

When Piper Kerman came to Vermont last month to speak at UVM about her book ‘Orange is the New Black’ and her experience of incarceration she didn’t just swing on to campus and leave four hours later and she also didn’t spend her time shopping on Church Street and eating Ben and Jerry’s, she visited the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility not just once, but twice.  Piper’s life might be very different than many of the women at CRCF but she really is putting her words about being a spokesperson for women in prison into action.   It must be hard to walk back into a facility after you have been incarcerated but it seems as if this is quite a common occurrence for Piper.  While in the facility she spoke to around 100 women about her experience and offered advice.   “She told them to really form an alternative story in their minds of their return home and to hold on to it.  To be prepared for people to pull you back into the lifetsyle that led to incarceration but to have concrete plans in place so the temptation to fall back into life as it was is decreased,”  says Jo Berger of Kids-A-Part who attended the talk.    Kids-A-Part is Lund’s program that works with incarcerated mothers and their children and caregivers in the community.

Women in the facility had heard of the book and of Piper Kerman though few had seen the TV show as Netflix is not shown inside the facility.   One woman spoke up and told Piper that she had had a copy of the book when she was in segregation and that it had really helped her, that she felt like Piper was in the cell with her.  Perhaps this was why Piper returned to CRCF the next morning with a tall stacks of copies of ‘Orange is the New Black’ to distribute.

Piper Kerman’s talk at UVM did little to address the larger problems leading to women’s incarceration – poverty, abuse, the position of women in society, addiction – but that wasn’t really her purpose.  She wanted to tell her story and to remind everyone listening to her in that privileged academic setting that they themselves were only one or two steps away from a very different life.  In the correctional facility she wanted to show the same thing.   She was once in the shoes of the women she was talking to and that they also were only one or two steps away from a very different life.  One that they could reach if they had firm goals and took advantage of resources available.  Piper has a foot in both worlds and she is using that unique position for good inside and out.

Crystal Fisher and Jess Kell of Kids-A-Part with Piper Kerman in the Kids-A-Part space at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility

Crystal Fisher and Jess Kell of Kids-A-Part with Piper Kerman in the Kids-A-Part space at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility

 

 

April 9, 2014

A Review of HBO and The Shriver Report’s “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert”

Posted in Commentary, Review tagged , , , , , at 7:18 am by Lund

Katrina Gilbert allowed cameras into her life for a year and the result is a thought provoking and heart wrenching documentary produced by The Shriver Report and HBO intended to show what life is like for one of the 42 million single mothers living in poverty in this country. 42 million women with 28 million children.  Katrina Gilbert is employed, she cares deeply about her kids and their future and she is trying all the time to make her situation better.  But she continually faces agonizing choices and setbacks from a system that at times seems to be actively preventing her from succeeding.  In order to attend her job as a certified nursing assistant she sends her three children to a daycare that is open 24 hours a day and can accommodate her early starts and late nights.  She spends a lot of time in the car, picking up children, dropping off children and running from errand to errand paying bills and picking up groceries.  This is a woman who does not often sit down.  She is exhausted and constantly stressed but she finds the energy to be a steadfast support to the elderly inmates at the care home where she works.  “You’re my buddy,” says one with an anxious quiver of questioning in his voice. “Always,” she replies.  For this physically and emotionally draining work, she is paid $9.49 an hour and after taxes takes home $730 biweekly which is eaten up instantly by rent, daycare fees, phone bills, storage rental.  She cannot afford the medication that she needs and in one sad scene at the beginning of the documentary sells the family puppy for $40 to buy food.   Despite all this work and worry, she is still an engaged and loving mom to her three kids.  She makes them pancakes, takes them to feed the ducks in the local park, brings them to the beach in the summer and helps them overcome their fears when their feet don’t touch the ground.  But she also has to take them with her to do her taxes in an insalubrious neighborhood long after bedtime, drive them for four hours to meet up with their father who is unemployed out of state, drop them off at 6am for a 12 hour stretch at daycare while she looks after the family of other people.  Katrina’s life is hard and she struggles and her kids know it.

One of her biggest struggles is trying to get out this situation.  She applies for college but is denied funding, she moves in a with a boyfriend so that her ex-husband can move into her previous residence and take a job he has secured nearby but the boyfriend’s house promptly floods and large parts of it are unlivable, she gets a raise but it’s only 11c an hour.  The more she works, the more her foodstamps are cut, it is a situation that seems destined to grind her into the ground.  No matter what she tries, she cannot seem to get ahead.  Her life is a serious of tradeoffs and tenuous, temporary situations.  There is no security, no guarantees for the future. It is hard to imagine anything changing.  It is hard to imagine that the life of her kids will be much different from her own.  Yet Kristina is doing all that she can.  The film constantly questions a society where a hard working woman is barely keeping her head above water and does not know from one week to the next how her life is going to be.  There is no light at the end of the tunnel.  This woman is barely surviving.

At the preschool graduation, the speaker promotes time and time again the importance of education.  The preschoolers are lined up in their red and yellow gowns holding their diplomas and you cannot help but wonder for how many of them this will be the only graduation they attend. Katrina’s young daughter, Lydia aged 5, poses with her brother and sister , her messy blond hair falling out from under her graduation cap, and smiles a gap toothed smile for her mom who snaps a picture with her cellphone.  This is a scene played out all over the U.S. but when Lydia walks out of the door of that gymnasium she is already walking a path divergent from many other kids.

The graduation scene is one of the few bright spots of this documentary which in so many ways just leaps from disaster to disaster.  Katrina is the one holding it all together – her life, her kids’ lives, her ex-husband’s life, her new boyfriend’s life, the kittens who have inexplicably shown up on their doorstep their lives too – but she is rapidly become unstuck.  Watch this film and think about this woman and the 41,999,999 others like her.

At Lund we help women to break these cycles of poverty, abuse and addiction with our integrated, family-centered treatment, education, family support and adoption services.  Each of them, like Katrina, has her own story of struggle and hardship to tell.  We are full of hope that when women leave Lund they are leaving with a strong chance to move beyond this paycheck to paycheck existence and to build bright futures for themselves and their children.

HCProg