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 24, 2013

Jadranka Gubic named Early Childhood Educator of the Year

Posted in Awards, Employees, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:35 pm by Lund

“The biggest reward is seeing a baby’s face light up,” said Jadranka Gubic of Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program at the Building Bright Futures of Chittenden County award ceremony where she was celebrated as Center Based Early Childhood Educator of the Year.  To an audience of colleagues, friends, and of course some of her young charges, Jadranka smiled and was visibly moved as Judy Harvey, Childcare Coordinator at Lund, spoke to her skill, patience and true dedication as a care giver to young children.

Jadranka with one of her young friends at LECP

“Sometimes when I walk in the infant room and see her sitting on the floor, quite literally covered with children – some crying, some laughing, some eating – my hair stands on end. In the middle of it all, no matter what, Jadranka will say “Isn’t she wonderful?” or “Look how he’s developing”. And I think to myself, what greater security can a caregiver provide a parent who leaves their child during the day, and what greater gift can someone give a child as they develop attachments and a sense of worthiness?” Said Judy.

Both Judy and Jadranka were holding back tears as she continued, “Every baby and parent she works with knows that she truly loves and respects everyone around her. Every baby and every parent also feels they are her “favorite”, her most beloved charge.  I know it time to recognize this outstanding woman for her invaluable contributions to colleagues, children and families in Chittenden County. A woman known as the ‘baby-whisperer’ though I argue that she’s really a ‘people-whisperer’. We’re truly blessed to be in the presence of her unassuming greatness.”

Also honored at the ceremony was Penny Blanchette of Hinesburg as Family Care Provider of the Year and Laurie Redel of the Essex School District as EEE Provider of the Year.    Blanchette was commended for her commitment to her own constant education in order to improve her practices and provide the best possible experience for the children in her care.  Redel was celebrated as having worked extremely hard to serve the youngest children with the highest needs in the Essex public school system and making the EEE program there, according to written testimony by Tom Bochanski of Hiawatha Elementary, “one of the best in the state.”  A special lifelong achievement award was given to Nancy Savoy, who, though now retired, worked with Headstart for 43 years serving countless numbers of children and families in the Champlain Valley.

Jadranka and Lund colleagues at the Awards Presentation

Julianne Nickerson of Building Bright Futures was keen to also promote the council’s latest project to write a new strategic plan based, in part, on the granting of Project Launch funds by the SAMHSA to Vermont.  The goal of Project Launch is for all children to reach social, emotional, behavioral, physical, and cognitive milestones.  Healthy growth in each of these areas builds the foundation for children to thrive in school and beyond. (Project Launch Briefing Sheet,  projectlaunch.promoteprevent.org.  Retrieved June 21st 2013 from projectlaunch.promoteprevent.org)

The awards ceremony was a celebration of professionals who make a difference in the lives of children every single day.  It was obvious that the statement made by Judy Harvey in her nomination of Gubic, could be applied to all in the room.  “By example, she has taught us all the difference between ‘taking care of a child’ and ‘caring for a child’.”

April 1, 2013

Supporting hope and changing lives: tireless volunteers honored by Lund

Posted in Awards, Volunteer Spotlight tagged , , , , , at 2:12 pm by Lund

Ann Bielawski, James Pizzagalli and Theresa Tomasi receive Heart of the Community Awards

“Great organizations make great communities,” said James Pizzagalli, one of Lund’s 2013 Heart of the Community Award winners at the awards dinner on March 28th and he made it clear that he sees Lund as one of these great organizations.  Lund feels strongly about Pizzagalli too.  His niece, Lisa Pizzagalli, who is  President of Lund’s Board of Trustees introduced him as a “tremendous leader with a  continued focus on children and families.”  James  Pizzagalli, of Shelburne, served on the Lund board for nine years from 1982 to 1991 and has continued to be a generous supporter and advisor as Lund has grown and changed over the years.  He played an especially important role in helping Lund to secure a new building at 50 Joy Drive, the former home of Pizzagalli Properties.  “Lund has developed into a tremendous organization,” said Pizzagalli, “and it’s great to be a part of it.”

Pizzagalli was not the only community member honored at the ceremony last Thursday night.  Ann Bielawski and Theresa Tomasi were also celebrated for the impact that they have had on the women and children at Lund over the years.

Bielawski, of Charlotte, began by baking cookies for volunteers at a Lund phonathon and hasn’t looked back since.  She has worked tirelessly on many projects varying from serving on the archives committee preserving Lund’s history, engaging members of Charlotte Congregational Church to also support Lund, putting together Back-to-School backpacks to filling in for the nurse at the residential treatment facility.  “I am so grateful to be here,” says Bielawski, “and grateful to be a volunteer at Lund.”

“Theresa is Lund,” said Wanda Audette, Director of Adoption at Lund, as she introduced Theresa Tomasi mother of 27 children and recipient of a Heart of the Community Award.  “I am inspired by her dedication to the growth and potential of her children and her family,” continued Audette.   Tomasi, of Williston, served as Executive Director at Lund and was the one who hired Audette.   “Lund has been very important to me, professionally and personally.  I am so grateful to Lund and so grateful for all my children,”  said Tomasi who was joined at the awards dinner by five of her children all of whom had been adopted.

The dinner was held at the Burlington Country Club and the delicious meal was augmented by chocolates donated by Lake Champlain Chocolates and cupcakes from My Little Cupcake that well very well received by the guests.  Thank you to both of these businesses for their support.

Ann Bielawski with friends from Charlotte Congregational Church

Ann Bielawski with friends from Charlotte Congregational Church

Lund is so grateful for the support of all three of these wonderful honorees and the many and varied ways in which they uphold the mission of Lund to help children and families thrive.   Their vision, perseverance and love is felt through every aspect of the organization.

September 17, 2011

Hampton Direct wins Hometown Hero Award

Posted in Events, Volunteer Spotlight tagged , , , , , , at 10:57 am by Lund

Photos by Cat Cutillo/ Lund Family Center

How can we forget the first time we met Hampton Direct: It was during our holiday gift giving two winters ago when Hampton Direct came up with the idea to sponsor Lund families in need. They dropped off three carloads of neatly wrapped gifts, sponsored not 1 but 6 families, and apologized for going over-board with the wish lists.

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