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.

 

April 22, 2014

Elsa Tietje Wins Kidsafe Collaborative’s “Outstanding Promising Professional Award”

Posted in Awards, Events, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP), Residential, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 2:26 pm by Lund

Elsa's colleagues (from L to R)  Ginny Prentiss, Collin Cope and Jadranka Gubic joined her to celebrate.

Elsa’s colleagues (from L to R) Ginny Prentiss, Collin Cope and Jadranka Gubic joined her to celebrate.

The room was packed at the 25th KidSafe Collaborative Awards Luncheon and everyone was there to celebrate the achievements of six fantastic individuals and organizations whose work exemplifies the mission of KidSafe to work together to improve the community’s response to child abuse and neglect.   One of the honorees was Elsa Tietje of Lund’s preschool who won the ‘Outstanding Promising Professional Award’.  Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services, Kim Coe, introduced Elsa. ” She shows exceptional commitment and focus on being the best teacher she can be.  Elsa’s creativity and love of play is evident in the glitter and paint that covers the walls  – and sometimes the children – in the classroom.  Elsa understands the importance and the power that relationships play in the power of healing.   She truly is an example of excellence in the field of early childhood education and we are grateful for the inspiration and hope that she brings to her work every day.”  Elsa has worked at Lund for two and a half years but was also involved with the organization while a student at UVM.

Excutive Director of KidSafe, Sally Borden, presented Elsa with the award,  ” Your kind and nurturing approach and your inspiring dedication to reaching the children that need you most have increased the safety and well being of children  in our community.”

Kim Coe introduces Elsa (center in white) with Judy Harvey, Childcare Coordinator at Lund.  Sally Borden of KidSafe Collaborative listens from the far left.

Kim Coe introduces Elsa (center in white) with Judy Harvey, Childcare Coordinator at Lund. Sally Borden of KidSafe Collaborative listens from the far left.

Elsa is a quiet but powerful leader in the classroom and can effortlessly move from light moments to challenging situations, always with the well being of the children at the heart of her interactions.  One recent morning, the children in her classroom were enjoying free playtime before the routine of the day.  One little girl was hanging around Elsa’s neck and she was pretending not to be able to find her and asking her delighted friends where she was.  “Has anyone seen Tina?  I don’t know where she is, can anyone see her?”  The children were laughing and commenting that Elsa seemed to have extra hands and feet on her body.  Elsa followed their lead and seamlessly integrated mathematics and basic biology into the game, “How many feet should I have, Bryce?  2?  Well I seem to have 4.  That’s 2 too many.”  All the while holding a 25lb weight on her back without missing a beat.  The child on her back didn’t say a word but her smile said it all.  Another girl approached Elsa and her attached friend and tried to push her way into having a turn.  Elsa defused the situation and explained calmly to the second girl that her behavior wasn’t appropriate and helped her to find a different way to ask for a turn.  Another child arrived having fallen over on the path on the way in and needing some extra love as her mom departed for the day.  Elsa scooped her up in a big hug all the while taking a headcount to make sure she was still in ratio with the number of children in the classroom.  It was a feat of love, education and multi-tasking all before 9am!

Elsa understands that her role extends far beyond the classroom and she works intensively with parents outside the classroom to ensure that they have the resources and information that they need to build strong families and help their children to succeed.  One parents says, “Because of Elsa, my family is stronger, less stressed and more creative.”  Elsa also works closely with the staff at Lund’s residential treatment center to ensure a family-centered team approach to helping the families who live there.

Upon receiving the award, Elsa immediately turned the focus away from herself and thanked Lund, especially Kim and Childcare Coordinator, Judy Harvey, “Lund has really taught me everything I know about how to be a good teacher.  We really can change children’s lives one day at a time.”

Governor Peter Shumlin, Senator Bernie Sanders, Secretary of the Agency of Human Services Doug Racine and Attorney General Bill Sorrell all attended the luncheon and gave speeches thanking the honorees for their hard work. “There are all kinds of great people out there and great things that help,” said Senator Sanders in his speech.  “So my job, and the job I think of the congress, is to get our priorities right and recognize that the future of this country is with the children and we have got to do everything we can to protect those kids. I just want to thank of you for the work that you do every single day, thank all of the recipients who are being recognized today and thank them for all that they do and let’s keep going together.”

Governor Shumlin made reference to the problems of opiate addiction faced by so many families in this state, ” One of the things when I started talking to Vermonters about our opiate challenges and the many other challenges, was a number of people who are struggling with addictions, moms, would say to me, ‘You know when I was finally ready to face my addiction, when I bottomed out, when the blue lights were flashing, when I got taken away to go and choose between treatment and incarceration in many cases, it was my kids that suffered the most because they had no one there for them when they came home from school that day.'”  It is those kids who are being helped, loved and cared for by Elsa and the many other wonderful staff members at Lund who are doing the difficult but extremely important work of helping families in Vermont to break cycles of poverty, abuse and addiction.

The luncheon celebrated 25 years of the work of KidSafe Collaborative in the state and the important partnerships that have occurred under their umbrella. It was a gathering of many important people who dedicate their professional lives to the safety and wellbeing of children and to making Vermont a wonderful state in which to grow up.  From Elsa making the difference in a child’s morning to Senator Sanders preparing to run for the U.S. Presidency in 2016, people in Vermont should be enormously proud of the work happening here.

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Governor Shumlin with all the honorees.

 

 

December 6, 2012

Lund Receives Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s “All Children – All Families” Seal of Recognition for its Work with LGBT Families

Posted in Adoption tagged , , , , , , , , , at 5:24 pm by Lund

ACAF

BURLINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, announced on Friday that Lund has become the first adoption agency in Vermont to earn the All Children—All Families seal of recognition.

The agency earned the honor by meeting the required criteria for fully inclusive policies and practices in working with the LGBT community. The Human Rights Campaign’s All Children—All Families initiative provides a comprehensive framework for agencies to establish policies and practices that welcome, support and affirm LGBT foster and adoptive parents. The seal was presented to Heather Simmons, Lund’s Associate Director of Adoption, on Friday, November 30.

“It is an honor to be recognized by an organization of such caliber as the Human Rights Campaign,” said Simmons. “For over 120 years, Lund has focused on providing the highest quality of services to children and families throughout Vermont. Inherent to this focus is the recruitment and retention of an array of foster care providers, to include qualified applicants from the LGBT community. It is our goal to help all children in need, so it is nice to be recognized as a leader in serving diverse groups.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Lund into the community of child welfare organizations that are truly committed to creating more loving families by removing barriers to qualified LGBT adoptive parents. It is wonderful that LGBT individuals and couples in Vermont have a trusted resource to turn to when pursuing adoption,” added Ellen Kahn, HRC’s Family Project Director.

Founded as a maternity home in 1890, Lund has evolved over the years to meet the changing needs of society, yet never straying from its mission of helping children thrive. Today, Lund is a comprehensive treatment center and family support agency, offering an array of integrated services in response to the needs of pregnant or parenting teens and women, adoptive families, and families with children.

The “All Children – All Families” initiative, launched in 2007, promotes policies and practices that welcome LGBT foster and adoptive parents. The program seeks to enhance LGBT cultural competence among child welfare professionals and educate LGBT people about opportunities to become foster or adoptive parents to waiting children. To date, ACAF has over 50 participating agencies across the country, and has awarded 27 seals of recognition. In 2011, HRC launched a “50 state strategy,” with the goal of securing at least one ACAF-recognized adoption agency dedicated to working with LGBT families in every state. More information about the initiative can be found at www.hrc.org/acaf.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.