November 25, 2015

Parent Child Centers are the Answer

Posted in Events, Parent Child Centers, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:25 am by Lund

“Being a parent is a lot of work.  At least there’s something out there for people,” said one parent at last week’s educational event for legislators about Parent Child Centers and the work that they do in the community.  Parents and staff members from each of Chittenden County’s three parent child centers gathered together at the VNA Family Room in downtown Burlington where legislators from Chittenden County were invited to join them and hear first hand the importance of these essential community resources.

Parent Child Centers are a network of non-profit organizations serving all of Vermont.  There are 15 in total and the focus of each is to provide support and education to families with young children.  The goal is to help all Vermont families get off to a healthy start, promote well being and build on family strengths.  This support and education helps to prevent problems such as school failure, poor health, welfare dependency, family violence and abuse.   A reduction in these problems helps to strengthen every community and to ultimately save the state money further on in the life of the child.  Families who are at risk for substance abuse, mental health conditions, trauma, domestic violence and poverty face significant barriers to accessing the help that they need.  Parent Child Centers offer help in ways that take these barriers into account and form trusting relationships with vulnerable families while engaging them in services.

Parents, staff members, legislators and members of the community had lively discussion about the crucial role of Parent Child Centers in the community.

Parents, staff members, legislators and members of the community had lively discussion about the crucial role of Parent Child Centers in the community.

The need for Parent Child Centers grows every year as the problems of opiate abuse, multi generational poverty and concerns for child welfare further permeate the community.  Yet state funding has remained level since 1995.  The goal of this meeting was to help legislators to understand the work of the Parent Child Centers to gain their support for the Parent Child Center Network’s legislative platform for the upcoming session which is to request additional funding – $135,000 for each center in Vermont for a total appropriation amount of $2,025,000.

Imagine that in one year that each Parent Child Center prevents one birth to a teenage mom, one woman entering the Correctional Facility, one child being placed in foster care, and one single mother receiving public assistance.  This would save the state $2,131,041 over that year which is less than the funds being asked for in the legislative session.  Of course each Parent Child Center does this critical prevention work with multiple families each year.

“I am so thankful we found Milton Community Center,” said one Mom at the meeting while her son played in the room nearby. “My son was born prematurely and has developmental delays.  I have learning difficulties too.  Without MCC he would never have come as far as he has.  Our children are the future of our world, how we raise them and the support team that we have is so important.  Milton Community Center is my second home.  I will never forget what they have done.”

Parent Child Centers are key in breaking multi-generational cycles of poverty, addiction and abuse because they work with the children and their caregivers at the same time.  “I know I’m going to be the total opposite of what I knew growing up,” said another Mom who had used multiple treatment and family support services here at Lund. “It’s hard to trust people if you grow up a certain way but Lund is like my second family and they are there for me when I need help.” The most important investment in the community needs to happen early and in a way that best supports the safe and healthy development of children.    As Vermont moves forward in developing innovative health care delivery systems, the Parent Child Centers must remain an integral home base for families.

One mom who came to participate in the meeting shared her struggles with post natal depression after the birth of her daughter and how she searched and searched to find something or someone who could help her in the way that she needed and in so doing asked the question that was at the forefront of everyone’s mind.  “I needed someone to tell me that I was doing a good job.  I needed someone to watch and learn from.  I found that here at the Parent Child Center.  But how are they going to keep doing this without the money?”

 

November 12, 2015

Jeff Small Pioneer Award Winner 2015

Posted in Adoption, Awards, Employees, Events tagged , , , , , , at 4:45 pm by Lund

The Jeff Small Pioneer Award: Jeff Small was on the Lund Board of Trustees for 16 years, including 6 years as president.  He was a dedicated and hard working board member who always was looking to the future and the continued success and security of Lund.  The recipient of this award will show similar dedication and hard work in each of the following four areas:

  •  Focus on the mission of Lund, knows what we need and is driven to achieve it.
  •  Courageousness in pursuit of what is right and what is needed.
  •  Confidence in working to secure a brighter future for Lund and its clients.
  •  Persistence in understanding all of Lund’s needs and not giving up on a project or a belief even where there is resistance or slow progress.
  • Above all, the recipient of this award is an advocate and ambassador for Lund

The 2015 winner of the Jeff Small Pioneer Award is Kate Van Wagner, Options Counselor in Lund’s adoption department.  Kate works with pregnant women and their partners and/or family members providing counseling and helping them access needed resources and supports as they plan for their future and the future of their child.  To learn more about Kate’s work, read this blog post.

Julia Conner, Kate Van Wagner, Wanda Audette and Barbara Rachelson at the All Staff Retreat on October 23, when Kate was announced as the Jeff Small Pioneer Award Winner for 2015.

Julia Conner, Kate Van Wagner, Wanda Audette and Barbara Rachelson at the All Staff Retreat on October 23, when Kate was announced as the Jeff Small Pioneer Award Winner for 2015.

Kate was commended for her clear vision, focus and determination but was especially celebrated for her courage. “I’ve intentionally saved courageousness for last,” said Kate’s supervisor Julia Conner when presenting the award. “In part, because I feel it is the most important but mostly because I feel this is the characteristic that truly sums up Kate.  It is courage, a willingness to take risks, and an unwavering dedication to this work that creates positive change. Kate radiates fierce courageousness – as a social worker, as a team member, and on behalf of her clients and her belief in everyone’s ability to grow and change.”

Since one of the definitions of ‘pioneer’ is “leading the way, trailblazing”, we’ve decided to try an innovative interview technique to learn more about this year’s pioneer.  The questions might seem a little unusual but you will see all the traits mentioned above come out in Kate’s answers.

Interviewer:  Describe the color yellow to someone who is blind.
Pioneer Kate: I feel like it smells like when you toast something perfectly and you have the perfect amount of butter melted on it.  You can smell the yeasty bread goodness plus the buttery, melty too.  Maybe that’s because butter is yellow.  It feels rich.  It’s a warm feeling obviously.  What’s the happiest key, musical key?  The saddest one is A minor, I think.  Yellow sounds likes a major chord on the piano, D major. You hear that chord and then you smell the toast.

Interviewer:  Who is your favorite pioneer?
Pioneer Kate: Jane Addams,  Louise Bourgeois, Bread & Puppet,  UVM MSW faculty Susan Roche, Brenda Solomon, JB Barna, Stan Witkin, and Suzy Comerford who are pioneers of Transformative Social Work and sparked the brave/curious parts of me that allow me to do my work.  And my great-grandmother Alice Maher, whom I didn’t get to know but had her MSW (super rare for a woman to have an advanced degree at that time!) and was a vegetarian (frowned upon as a daughter of a farmer!).

Interviewer:  If you had to unload a 747 full of jelly beans, how would you do it?
Pioneer Kate:  Oh man, I feel like you would need to construct something around the plane.  Park the plane on a platform and there is some sort of containing wall around the platform and there’s a giant spout funnel.  You could just open the door and let the jelly beans out and they would go into this funnel. You could pull up pickup trucks.  Where are you trying to bring them?  (Interviewer: Unspecified) Load them into boxes.  The platform would need to be a little tilty too to get the last ones out of the corner.  What I would really want to do is get into the plane with all those jelly beans.  That texture and sound would be amazing.  If they were all one flavor and one color, how pleasing would that be?

Interviewer:  How many cows in Canada?
Pioneer Kate:  Cows?  In Canada? I have no idea. There are farms up there.  Is this a real question?  Why would you ask that? I have no frame of reference for that.  I am horrible at number things, this is why I am a social worker.   I have no concepts of the amount of anything at any point.  A million?  Are there a million cows?  Do you know the answer?

Interviewer:  What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Pioneer Kate:  Once a week my best friend and I have breakfast club, so that was this morning.  We meet really early, she’s also a social worker.  This morning I had coffee  and this is the most hipster thing in the world, chia porridge. It’s delicious and healthy.  It’s chia and buttermilk and it has amazing hibiscus syrup and crumbled pumkpin seeds, dehydrated blueberries and some sort of dried hibiscus flower.  It goes well with coffee, it’s really good.  We go there really early and either we are the only ones there and we are the clearly too loud.  Or there are other people there with their macs and their hipster outfits and we are the only ones talking.  We talk about everything and probably everyone is just listening as entertainment.   It’s like peer supervision in a way.

Interviewer:  Tell me something inspirational from you recent work
Pioneer Kate: The people I work with are usually in the most stressful or overwhelming situations.  They are not calling me and saying how excited they are about their pregnancy.  So my good days might not look like what you think.  There was this one woman who I worked with, in a situation that was super complicated and I worked with her through all kinds of things.  She was going to have the baby any minute and she didn’t know what she was going to do.  The father got involved at the very end of it. We were all at the hospital for a really long time.  I talked with the father in the waiting room, talking with him for eight hours straight, doing therapy with him almost. Other family members were coming and going and there were lots of complex dynamics at play, everyone’s emotions were really up.  I felt like I was holding them together.  I waited for a very long time to be able to see her after the birth, I wasn’t going to leave without seeing her again.  When I saw her she was so thankful, “I knew that you were there with all those people and I knew that you would make sure it was OK and that no one would fight about everything.” It felt important to me that I was there.

Congratulations, Kate, on winning the Jeff Small Pioneer Award.  Your work for Lund is making lives better for women, children and families all across the state of Vermont.  We are so thankful for your dedication, compassion and pioneering spirit.

 

October 21, 2015

Governor Shumlin Declares Lund Day in Vermont

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Awards, Employees, Events tagged , , , , , , at 9:50 am by Lund

Governor Shumlin with Chelsea Mitchell and Megan Clogdo after signing the Proclamation and making Lund Day official

Governor Shumlin with Chelsea Mitchell and Megan Clogdo after signing the Proclamation and making Lund Day official

“Happy Anniversary,” said Governor Peter Shumlin in a speech at the Hoehl Family Building in South Burlington.   “I am the biggest cheerleader for Lund because for 125 years you have been fighting for the most vulnerable folks who actually have extraordinary potential to make a difference for Vermont and for their families and to be the great moms they want to be.”  The anniversary that Governor Shumlin was referring to was Lund’s 125 years of helping vulnerable families in the state.  In celebration of this long and important history, Governor Shumlin declared October 19, 2015 to be Lund Day in Vermont.  This was an exciting and unprecedented tribute to the organization.  As Executive Director, Barbara Rachelson said, “This is the first time in 125 years that a Governor has proclaimed a day for us.  Making Lund Day throughout the state and drawing attention to the issues that are near and dear to us is very important and we are so grateful. Even though much has changed over the last 125 years, we are still true to the heart of the mission.”

In addition to Governor Shumlin and Barbara Rachelson, Board President Sara Byers, Lund program participants Chelsea Mitchell and Megan Clogdo, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, and Secretary of State Jim Condos all offered testimony to the positive impact of Lund’s services in the community, the state and their own lives.   “I believed I was above addiction.  It wasn’t something I thought I would have to deal with.  Fast forward two years and there I was in need of somewhere or someone to help.   Newly sober and pregnant, I mustered as much courage as I could and reached out to begin my long journey with Lund.  It is a decision I never regretted.  I needed to learn how to live again,” said Megan, who gave birth to her twin sons while living at Lund’s residential treatment program for substance abuse and mental health issues.  “I cannot think of another place where I could have successfully done that.”

Governor Shumlin touched on the prevalence of opiate addiction in Vermont, the need for high quality early childhood education and every child’s right to grow up in a loving family during his remarks and implored the gathered crowd to continue to work together with Lund on these critical issues.  “Let’s use this 125th anniversary  to say as a state that we will support Lund and everything they do with all the resources that we have.  And we’re going to continue to have the honest conversation about the problems that lead too many to need the services that are provided here.  Let’s hope that 125 years from now, Lund continues to thrive.”

After signing the proclamation and being presented with cookies baked that morning by students at Lund’s New Horizons Education Program, Governor Shumlin took a tour of Lund’s Hoehl Family Building.  His first stop was the Early Childhood Education Program where he observed the youngest children in the baby room and then took a moment to talk with teachers during their lunch break.  Governor Shumlin is unendingly personable and cheerful and makes the people around him feel comfortable, never stumped for something to talk to people about.   “They’re best when you leave them. They go red and wrinkly and then they’re perfect,” he said to one teacher about the pomegranate she was eating.  “Oh goodness,” said another, relieved when she saw the pomegranate. “I thought he was talking about babies!”

The last stop was New Horizons where Govenor Shumlin strode in and asked, “Now who made those delicious cookies I just ate?” and talked to the students and teachers and inviting them to pose with him for pictures.  “Keep up the good work,” he told them all.  “I’m proud of you.”   He echoed this sentiment through all the departments at Lund and to the agency as a whole and was later heard saying to a reporter outside the building, “Lund has touched over 50,000 lives.  But you know that 50,000 is not just a number, it’s 50,000 stories of moms who want to do better for their kids.  It’s an incredible history.”

Thank you to Governor Shumlin and everyone who attended the celebration.  Happy Lund Day to all our friends, partners and supporters!

To catch up on media coverage from this event, check out these links:

 

 

October 1, 2015

“I hope she stays here forever” – Phyllis Palmer, Volunteer Extraordinaire!

Posted in Awards, Events, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP), United Way, Volunteer Spotlight tagged , , , , , at 11:51 am by Lund

Teachers and children at Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program love volunteer Phyllis Palmer. The children love that whatever she is doing with them, she makes them feel important and cared for and the teachers feel exactly the same way. Phyllis has taken on the charge of caring for the whole program. Childcare Coordinator Judy Harvey says, “Phyllis has gone above and beyond what I could ever expect from a volunteer. Her work with the children is amazing and everyone loves her. She just does what needs to be done, whatever it is. And she takes the most wonderful care of the teachers. It feels like she has been here forever. I hope she stays here forever.”

When there is something that needs to be done, Phyllis gets to it. “I hope that in the few hours I am at Lund each week I can contribute to the collective effort that makes the center so special and run so smoothly,” she says. “Sometimes that includes sweeping the floor after snack, wiping down rest mats or washing a few dishes. It also might mean rubbing the back of a restless 3 year old, or reading a book to whoever needs a lap and some one-on-one time with an adult.”

Phyllis, a retired Kindergarten and First Grade teacher, is especially dear to the older preschoolers. She brings intentional structured activities to work with the children on early literacy and math skills. She is able to bring small groups of children out of the classroom to play learning games and practice the skills that they will need in kindergarten. The children love Phyllis and look forward to their time with her. They refer to her days as “Phyllis Days” and take the “schoolwork” or “kindergarten work” they do with her very seriously.   These children would not have such focused exposure to these activities without Phyllis. She is actively improving their level of kindergarten readiness and giving them tools and experiences that will help them succeed in kindergarten from the very first day. The children are excited about school and know what to expect when they get to Kindergarten.

This genuine and considerate care does not stop with the children. She takes great care of the teachers at the program as well, knowing that the work they do is challenging but crucial for the happiness, stability and education of the children. One rainy summer day she dropped off a new copy of “Blueberries for Sal” and homemade blueberry bread for the teachers to enjoy. She accompanied her gift with an uplifting note that said, “Blueberries need the rain.” She knows and appreciates how hard it is to be stuck inside because of rain with active toddlers and preschoolers who need to run, climb and get outside in the fresh air.   She also has volunteered for two years in a row (in searing heat in 2014 and cold, windy rain in 2015) to work at the rest stop at the Charlotte Senior Center providing snacks and help to riders participating in the Lund Ride for Children.

The teachers at LECP were delighted to nominate Phyllis for a United Way Building Block Award for her outstanding commitment to the program. She was honored, along with many other community members, at the United Way’s celebration breakfast last week held at the Flynn Theater in Burlington.   “Receiving a United Way Building Block Award was quite a surprise! If somehow it sheds light on the amazing job the whole staff at Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program does every day of every week, then I am both honored and humbled.” Once again not missing the chance to celebrate and look out for the teachers who are so happy to work alongside her.

Phyllis (third from right) with the other winners of the United Way Building Blocks Awards for Education at the Flynn Theater, September 24, 2015.

Phyllis (third from right) with the other winners of the United Way Building Blocks Awards for Education at the Flynn Theater, September 24, 2015.

 

July 24, 2015

Making ‘Small Talk’ at Lund – Guest post from Let’s Grow Kids

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Events, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , , , , , , , , at 9:33 am by Lund

(This blog post appeared as an e-mail sent by Let’s Grow Kids to their supporters, partners and fans.  We’re happy spread the word on our blog too)

Last Sunday, at an event called “Circus-palooza” in Shelburne, a single dad took a deep breath and admitted on camera, “Sometimes it feels like you might as well just sit at home and not work at all. Because the expenses of child care are overwhelming. I can’t keep up.”

This hard-working dad was participating in an interview for Small Talk, a new initiative of Let’s Grow Kids and several key partners to collect the personal stories of Vermonters who have interacted with Vermont’s early childhood system.

The Circus-palooza interviews were a test run for Small Talk’s official launch event this past Tuesday at the Lund Early Childhood Education Program in South Burlington. The Small Talk team interviewed seven more Vermonters at the Lund site—including parents, providers and State Representative Barbara Rachelson, who is the Executive Director of Lund (below speaking with LGK Campaign Director Robyn Freedner-Maguire).

“We were so honored and thrilled to host Small Talk at Lund, and we’re grateful for all the work that Let’s Grow Kids is doing to spread awareness about the importance of Early Childhood Education in Vermont,” Barbara said. “The families that we work with at Lund are faced with many challenges when trying to find affordable, high quality childcare for their children so that they can work, pursue treatment or continue their education. Helping to make Vermonters aware of these issues and giving a forum for people to share these stories is so critical, and Small Talk is a great way to do that. As a child advocate, working parent, employer, director of a nonprofit organization devoted to the wellbeing of children and families in Vermont and, finally, as a legislator, I am proud to support the work of Small Talk.”

IMG_2868

Community Education Director Molly Loomis and Small Talk Coordinator Lisa Boege Loomis conducting interviews.

This summer, the Small Talk team—LGK community education director, Molly Loomis and Small Talk coordinator, Lisa Boege Loomis (left)—will be on the road, meeting Vermonters across the state and recording their stories on camera. The Small Talk van, a mobile video-editing recording studio, will visit fairs, markets and other community events for scheduled interviews. Small Talk will also visit communities on request. Click here to see a list of currently scheduled Small Talk events or to request a visit to your region.

What will Let’s Grow Kids do with the stories? “Policymakers, community leaders, and others need to hear these stories to understand why the early years are so important and how we can do a better job of giving every child a strong start and equal chance in life,” says Molly. Some of the videos will be posted on the Let’s Grow Kids website and YouTube channel, and will be available for sharing via social media and email.

In one of the Small Talk interviews at Lund a mother said, “We need so many more Lunds. I was incredibly fortunate to find it—I feel like I’ve won the childcare lottery! But if I’ve won, how many other moms have lost?” This mom was speaking to the fact that quality child care is unaffordable and inaccessible for too many families who rely on it in Vermont.

“If I want my son to go to college one day or if we want to do fun stuff like take trips, or go to the beach, or go to the zoo, I can’t afford to keep working in the job that I love,” said an early educator at Lund. Child care professionals in Vermont and across the nation often don’t earn a livable wage because the costs of offering quality care are high, and providers know they can’t fully pass those costs onto the shoulders of already financially strapped parents.

“We really believe in the need for affordable, high quality child care that is accessible to all families,” says Charlotte Blend, communications coordinator at Lund. “The work of Let’s Grow Kids is making important and needed steps in getting this message out to the public and to the agencies that can affect real change. The voices that come out of these Small Talk videos represent the reality that so many parents and teachers face and we were very happy to have this avenue to help share those voices.”

Voices from Lund on real early childhood experiences and challenges.

Voices from Lund on real early childhood experiences and challenges.

To find out how Small Talk interviews work or see a list of potential questions you might be asked, visit letgrowkids.og/small-talk. Small Talk’s next stop is at Lamoille County Field Days in Johnson this weekend. Sign up for that event here.

Let’s Grow Kids is grateful for the support of its excellent partners: Building Bright Futures, Vermont Community Access Media, and The Vermont Folklife Center.

July 1, 2015

Adoption Support Group in Brattleboro – Guest Post by Graham Kidder

Posted in Adoption, DCF, Events, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , , , , , , , at 10:25 am by Lund

In my role as Permanency Planning Counselor for Lund and Project Family, I facilitate an adoption support group for adoptive families in Brattleboro, Vermont with my colleague, Danna Bare who is a Post Permanence Specialist for Lund. The group meets from 6:30 to 8:30 on the second Monday of every month at the Brattleboro Savings and Loan community room.

I co-founded the group with Nancy Birge (formerly with Casey Family Services) in 2003. The group was called ‘Adoption Support for Families of Younger Children’, and was designed as a group to offer support and guidance for families of younger children, who might otherwise be scared by some of the stories and experiences shared by families with teenagers. While the group maintains its original name, several of the original members continue to attend the group; hence the group is no longer solely for parents with younger children.

This adoption support group is a safe and supportive environment for parents to share the joys and frustrations of parenting. The format is based on what families need.  We usually check in to see if anyone has any burning issues they need to discuss.  We split the time up depending on the number of participants, and try to allow for everyone to have equal time to talk.  Group members understand that sometimes they will need a little extra time, but there are also usually members who don’t need their full allotment.   When a participant starts, he or she can let us know whether they are looking for advice, or just need to vent. Parents know that what they share in group remains confidential, and will not circulate back into the community. Parents have expressed gratitude for having a space where they can talk about how frustrated they sometimes become, knowing that the group members recognize that they still love their children even if the stories they share don’t always convey that love.

CC Image Courtesy of Emilio P. Doiztua on Flickr

CC Image Courtesy of Emilio P. Doiztua on Flickr

Group members have truly formed a supportive environment for each other, and they come to recognize that they are not alone.  Danna and I often find ourselves observing as group members empathize with each other’s struggles, and offer advice and encouragement.  Members often talk about how in stressful situations at home they often remember some advice from the group, and are able to tap into that knowledge to help themselves through the moment.

We welcome new members, whether you have adopted internationally or locally, either through public state adoption or private agency. If you are interested in learning more about the group, please do not hesitate to contact me or Danna.

Graham Kidder – Permanency Planning Counselor for Lund and Project Family  – (802) 368-7260 – grahamk@lundvt.org
Danna Bare – Post Permanence Counselor  –  (802) 258-0308 –  dannab@lundvt.org

 

 

 

graham@lundvt.org

June 25, 2015

‘Looking Toward Tomorrow’ – Kit Stone Award Winner 2015

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Awards, Events, New Horizons Educational Program, Residential, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, Workforce Development Program tagged , , , , , , , at 12:03 pm by Lund

Smiles and surprises all around as the winner of this year’s Kit Stone Award was announced.  The recipient was completely surprised and had even been lovingly misled by a staff member in order to keep this wonderful achievement a secret. “Deb told me all week it was someone else,” said Chelsea Mitchell, 2015 honoree after she had recovered from hearing her name read out. “Oh my God, I was thinking, no way, no way, are you guys serious? I can’t believe this is happening. I was convinced it was someone else and I was getting ready to clap for her. I heard my name and was like ‘WHAT???’ Everyone had been telling me what a big deal it was and how its hard to get it. It’s amazing.  I think there’s a lot of people that do what I do so I was totally surprised and psyched.”

The Kit Stone Award is named after a former long time board member and supporter of Lund.  It is presented each year to a woman who meets the following criteria:

  • The young woman will recognize the value in using what you’ve been given to blossom in life.
  • The young woman will take the opportunities presented to her and make them work for herself, her family, her peers and her community.
  • The young woman will demonstrate a commitment to her education and/or vocational training.
  • The young woman will demonstrate compassion, kindness and goodwill for others.

Chelsea was nominated by a record 5 different staff members – Greeta Soderholm, Dinah Larsen, Deb Mayville, Jenny Labelle, and Amanda Johnson.

Chelsea currently lives at Lund’s transitional housing facility, Independence Place, with her almost 3 year old daughter.  She works in the front office with Deb, Jenny and Amanda at Lund’s Glen Road building as part of the Workforce Development program.  “I answer phones, greet people, do a lot of paperwork, copying, faxing, scanning, mail, spreadsheets.  I help the girls out with stuff and take donations in.  Wherever they need me to be, I’m there. I love it. I love helping people. I greet people and they tell me I always have a smile on my face.”

Before moving to Independence Place, Chelsea lived at Lund’s Residential treatment program for substance abuse and mental health disorders.  “I just banged the program right out. They were surprised I had such a short stay but it was good for me. My daughter came to live with me a month after I got there and I was so happy.”

Chelsea with members of the New Horizons staff and Honoring Ceremony speaker, Ryan Esbjerg.

Chelsea with members of the New Horizons staff and Honoring Ceremony speaker, Ryan Esbjerg.

In her nomination she was praised for her hard work, determination and constant commitment to doing the best thing for her daughter.  “She talks about her future, going back to school, taking the steps she needs to make, knowing things take time,” said Deb in her nomination. “What I see now in Chelsea is a woman who is determined to make the most out of her life for her daughter and herself. She’s strong, determined and presents a can do attitude. Even when she has a day when life is not easy she maintains a positive attitude, looking toward tomorrow and not concentrating on the negatives.”

“Chelsea came to Lund with a  huge uphill battle and had not been parenting her daughter for a great deal of time,” said Greeta who was Chelsea’s clinician and helped her take the important steps she needed to take before being able to come to Lund.   “Her addiction had taken a full grip on her and she had lost everything because of it. She worked so hard to do what she needed to do to get into treatment, and there were a great number of barriers. Chelsea took advantage of all Lund offered and demonstrated wonderful parenting capacities once the barriers were removed. She is getting back out in the workforce while also balancing all the busy aspects of being a single parent. She is out in the world, independent, and the future looks so much more bright for her as a result of all her hard work and dedication.”

Chelsea plans to pursue Personal Care Assistant Training through the VNA this summer and hopefully then move into a job in that field. “I’ll go to peoples’ homes, cook them dinner, do whatever they need me to do. I think I’ll be good at that. If I like it I’ll go from there and proceed to be a nurse. Right now I want to make sure I like it. It’s hard work but I’m a hard worker so I’m pretty excited,”  she said.  Though so doing would mean that she would have to leave her work placement at Lund.  “I’m debating on that at the moment.  I don’t want to go,” she admits.  “But when I leave Independence Place, I can come and sub as a residential counselor there or at Glen. I would love to work here someday. This is my ideal job.  I can start as a sub and go from there. I am 100% going to do that, no doubt in my mind. I wish I could do it now.”

Dinah’s tribute perhaps describes most succinctly the key to Chelsea’s success, “She took the opportunity given to her to take a deep breath and try to create a life that could be different and better for herself and her family.  She woke up every day with a smile on her face and a strong focus in her head to forge ahead when she easily could have given up.  She is kind, thoughtful, and a good friend to other people as well as a loving and nurturing mother to her daughter.”

Congratulations Chelsea on being the 2015 Kit Stone Award Winner.

June 16, 2015

‘Any obstacle is worth overcoming’ – Honoring Ceremony 2015

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Employees, Events, New Horizons Educational Program, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach, Workforce Development Program tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:22 pm by Lund

Today is your day,” said Executive Director of Lund, Barbara Rachelson to the students of the New Horizons Education Program. “I know the path you took to get here today was not always easy or fun, and yet, you endured.  Parenting, pregnancy and being a student, each in their own right presents challenges.  There are lots of ways for you to find to not show up – if your baby is sick, if you didn’t get sleep, if you are having a hard day but you persevered.  I hope that you are glad that you did and you feel proud.  I certainly feel proud for you.”

Six graduates were celebrated for obtaining their high school diplomas at this year’s Honoring Ceremony. Many more students were recognized for academic achievement, college studies, participation in Lund’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach Program, and attendance at Lund’s Workforce Development Program.  It was a joyful and very proud occasion.   New Horizons is Lund’s licensed education program for pregnant and parenting young women but it is so much more than just a school.  It is a place where students find acceptance, support and a community of peers and teachers committed to helping them be successful students and parents.    On a normal school day you are likely to find a teacher holding a baby while explaining how ions are made, students discussing how often their babies use pacifiers over lunchtime or a teacher helping a student follow up with a potential apartment rental during study hall.    Academic achievement and family support are weaved together through every aspect of the program.

Graduates from the Class of 2015 arrive at the Honoring Ceremony

Graduates from the Class of 2015 arrive at the Honoring Ceremony

The Honoring Ceremony is a time when students, family members, staff from NHEP and other Lund programs, community partners, members of the the Lund board, guests and friends come together to celebrate the students’ achievement and progress during the school year.  Babies and toddlers are integral members of the audience and crying (from children and proud adults alike!) is accepted and celebrated.   In addition to Barbara, this year’s ceremony saw speeches from Kim Coe, Director of Residential and Community Treatment Programs at Lund, Ryan Esbjerg from Flex Your Face and Lund Board President Sara Byers.  But the most powerful words came from the students themselves, many of whom stood up to read from speeches they had written.  Excerpts are given below:

“I would like to thank all who have pushed me to accomplish so much.  My daughter is my hope and motivation to get far in life.  Every student here has achieved so much, from doing their best to come to school every day with or without their kids to being able to ask questions when they get frustrated. ” – Brittany, 18, senior.

Mom and daughter addressing the crowd with their words of thanks and congratulation.

Mom and daughter addressing the crowd with their words of thanks and congratulation.

“I like the opportunity Lund gives us for school because it is a better place for us.  We are all teen and young adult moms and regular high school did not work for us.  High school was difficult because we all have kids.  Some of us are single moms and we don’t have people to watch our kids when we need to learn.  NHEP works for us.  When we need to learn, we can bring our kids with us.” – Fatumo, graduate.

“Three years ago I was supposed to graduate, but I put it aside.  I got pregnant and high school was no longer a priority.  With the help of Lund and my teachers I returned to school to finish my education.  They continued to push me to achieve greatness.  I have learned that any obstacle is worth overcoming.”   – Natalie, graduate.

“Every day I come to school and I’m surrounded with amazing and strong women who have struggled and been hurt but they are here choosing to change their life for themselves and for their children.  When you’re here you aren’t judged, you’re accepted and welcomed.  This program has changed my life and I couldn’t be more grateful.  Because of this program, I can watch my daughter grow into an amazing and smart girl while working hard to build our future.  Coming here was one of the best choices I have made for my daughter and myself.   I can finish school and still follow my dreams so when my daughter is older she can finish hers. ”  – Grace.  Student at NHEP since January.

The ceremony was followed by cake, photos and hugs and congratulations at every turn.  “It’s pretty much the best day of the year,” said Courtney Farrell, Assistant Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services, who couldn’t stop smiling all day.  Her feelings were shared by all, especially those students who left the ceremony with high school diplomas in their hands.

June 5, 2015

Cold, rainy, windy, awesome! – The 7th Annual Lund Ride for Children

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Donor Spotlight, Events tagged , , , , , at 10:54 am by Lund

Look at the raindrops flying from the speeding wheels of these dedicated 55 mile cyclists!

Look at the raindrops flying from the speeding wheels of these dedicated 55 mile cyclists! PHOTO: Julie Richards Photography

It takes a very dedicated cyclist to come out in the rain and unseasonable cold conditions that we saw last Sunday during the 7th Annual Ride for Children presented by NorthCountry Federal Credit Union.  This year’s ride was filled with them!  Serious cyclists who love the route, bike enthusiasts who were ready for a challenge and many dedicated friends of Lund whose enthusiasm for our work couldn’t be quashed by a few raindrops. Then a few more.  Intrepid bikers took on 55 mile, 30 mile and 16 mile routes through South Burlington, Shelburne, Charlotte and Ferrisburgh and well waterproofed families took on the 4 mile route along the South Burlington Recreation Path.  All rides ended at Lund’s Hoehl Family Building on Joy Drive in South Burlington where there was warm food, uplifting live music from teacher Collin Cope’s band Rumblecat and fun activities for children.  It really was a wet day but the big smiles and positive energy of the riders and volunteers made it great.

Here are some testimonies from riders:
“As Vermonters, we are used to inclement weather and my feeling of connection to Lund’s mission meant that I would ride regardless, but during the ride I continued to think how much more pleasant the ride would have been if it was sunny.  Having a couple days distance from the ride, I realized that having to struggle through the ride gave me a different kind of connection and a metaphor for thinking about what Lund’s clients might be experiencing with their journeys.  When utilizing Lund’s services there may not be a lot of sunny days and it takes a tremendous amount of perseverance to move forward when it is pouring rain and you are headed into the wind but there is a tremendous feeling of triumph that comes with completing the journey.”   – Stephanie

“My name is Ella Byers and I am 10 years old.  I have done the Lund Bike Ride for the past 6 years.  This year, it was raining, but my friends still came to support the Lund.   I have fun with my family and friends, but that’s not the only reason I do the ride.  I do it because I think everybody deserves a happy family, who loves and supports them.  Every time I go to the event, I am proud of myself and everyone else who is participating.” – Ella

Ella_Byers_bike_15

Ella and friends having fun despite the rain. PHOTO: Julie Richards Photography

 

“We had a blast riding for Lund on Sunday! It was cold, it was rainy, it was windy, it was AWESOME! We smiled the whole way and can’t wait for the ride next year!”  – Julia

“Will Curtis (7) made sure his dad was up and on time for the ride. Shaking off a few raindrops and a little chill was easy enough once they got going, especially when there are police cars to see, downhill stretches (and a bridge!) to speed down and even what appeared to 7-year old eyes a rainforest or Ewok village terrain (depending on your preference) on the way to Szymaski Park. Every rider had a smile on their face and these two “pedal-powered” their way right back to the start for ice cream and a burrito wrap to cap things off. All in all, a great way to spend the morning all in support of Vermont families and a terrific agency.”  – Will and Chris

Will and his Dad getting ready to take off from the Family Ride rest stop

Will and his Dad getting ready to take off from the Family Ride rest stop

All the money raised from this ride, over $83,000 so far, will go to support Lund’s education, treatment, adoption and family support services that help over 1,500 families in Vermont each year.

Here at Lund we have spent the week sorting out and putting away equipment from the ride, pulling raffle winners, returning items we borrowed from community members, writing thank yous and sharing wonderful photos and video from the event.  As we go through all of these wrapping up activities we are all filled with huge amounts of admiration and gratitude for the riders who participated and worked hard to reach their fundraising goals, the volunteers who braved the conditions to be ready for all the jobs that needed to be done and our generous sponsors who support helped to make the event possible.   Thank you to everyone for all that you did to make this year’s Ride for Children so successful and fun.   (We hope your bike shoes have dried out and the feeling is back in your fingers!)

Don’t forget to check out Lund’s Facebook page to see wonderful pictures of the event from the marvelous Julie of Julie Richards Photography.

May 7, 2015

Taking Time to Appreciate Teachers at Lund

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Employees, Events, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP), New Horizons Educational Program tagged , , , , , at 10:40 am by Lund

Lund staff members took time this week to appreciate amazing, committed and inspiring work of the teachers in our educational programs as part of Teacher Appreciation Week.  We have 3 teachers at New Horizons Education Program (NHEP) and fourteen full time and 2 part time teachers at our Early Childhood Education Program (LECP).  All of these staff members work hard every day to educate, guide, and encourage their students whether they are 2 or 32!

New Horizons Education Program is an alternative high school placement program licensed by the State of Vermont for up to 35 pregnant or parenting students from age 12 onwards.  Older students meet with Lund staff to assess whether our program can best meet their educational needs.  Students come from as many as 15 different school districts per year.  NHEP staff establishes curriculum agreements with each sending school to ensure that students receive academic credit and have the opportunity to walk with their classmates at graduation ceremonies.  Licensed teachers provide instruction in the four core subject areas, as well as art, physical education, life and parenting skills.  Babies aged up to six months can come to class with their moms.   Students at NHEP share common experiences and form a close community where they can give each other support through the challenges of being a young mom.  Last year NHEP began offering the Community College of Vermont’s Introduction to College Studies Class onsite at Lund to allow students to explore further education options after high school.

The teachers in this program work with students on all aspects of their lives.  A recent lunchtime at NHEP saw one teacher helping a student to write e-mails in response to apartment listings she had seen online, another teacher helping a student with her math homework and a group of students enjoying the presence of one of their sons who was a special guest at school that day because his daycare was closed.    Students will frequently state that if it wasn’t for New Horizons they would not be in school and would have no chance of graduation.

Thank you New Horizons teachers for all your hard work.

Ann Klinkenberg, Mary Farnsworth and Kathy Rossman - outstanding NHEP teachers

Ann Klinkenberg, Mary Farnsworth and Kathy Rossman – outstanding NHEP teachers

Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program serves 50 children from birth to aged 5 with consistent, nurturing and high quality care and education allowing their parents to engage in education, employment or treatment programs. For many of the children this program represents the only stability in lives filled with transition and uncertainty. The teachers work hard to ensure that the program is a resource for the whole family by providing connections to necessary resources both within Lund and in the community to ensure that they have what they need to be successful. Examples of these resources include assistance finding housing or food, parenting education, financial education and providing needed clothing or shoes for their children. Parenting is a partnership between the teachers and the families. The program provides the essentials of safety, food and attention and, equally as important, makes the most of this time of crucial brain formation with activities that optimize and prioritize healthy development. The play based program values curiosity, early exposure to art and music and outdoor play. Lund partners HowardCenter to provide embedded counseling and developmental services in the preschool classroom.  LECP is a 5 STAR program, the highest rating in the state’s STep Ahead Recognition System.

Every day LECP teachers sing, do art projects, play outside, work through problems together, encourage children to try new things and teach the importance of being good friends, helpful community members and joyful participants in the world. They are patient, loving and creative.  Every day they value and cherish every child.

Thank you LECP teachers for all that you do.

Some of our truly dedicated early childhood educators.  (The others were too busy to have their photos taken!)

Some of our truly dedicated early childhood educators.

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