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

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.

December 31, 2013

Happy New Year from all at Lund!

Posted in Events, Residential, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services tagged , , , , , , , at 12:52 pm by Lund

The end of one year and beginning of another is, in a very basic way, nothing more than the turning of the hands of the clock representing another episode of the perpetual cycle of the sun rising and setting.  But this particular episode is heavily weighted. It is a sunrise that heralds an important new start or a time to begin again with new resolve.

But before the new beginning there is the natural time of introspection and looking back at the accomplishments of the past year.   Lund’s Annual Report recounts these accomplishments in statistics and the stories of four of our families.  Only four stories because we cannot tell all the stories of the 4,839 individuals that we worked with last year.   But please know that every number represents a woman, child or family whose lives were positively impacted by the work of this organization.   You can read the Annual Report here.

Many of these 4,839 individuals are mothers in our programs who are resolved every day to be the best they can be for their children.  Mothers who are battling substance abuse disorders or mental health issues or coming to terms with their own traumatic pasts.  They are brave, determined and resilient.   It doesn’t matter that this is the last day of the year or the first day of a new year or any other day in between.  They struggle every day with challenges and obstacles that they need to meet with resolve and sometimes yet another new beginning.

As you celebrate New Year’s Eve please remember the women, children and families at Lund who take stock of their past and make new resolutions every day.  Their achievements in the past year are monumental.  Women change their lives with Lund’s help.

Hope.  Opportunity.  Family.

To all our friends, partners, and supporters – Happy New Year.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

November 15, 2013

November is National Adoption Month!

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Adoption, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , , , , , , , at 1:32 pm by Lund

Join the adoption staff at Lund to celebrate on November 25th from 4pm to 7pm at our 50 Joy Drive building.  We will be serving refreshments and taking family photos.  And having a lot of fun of course as we celebrate families coming together and children finding permanent homes.

Who wouldn't want to celebrate adoption with these cool ladies?

Who wouldn’t want to celebrate adoption with these cool ladies?

Did you know these adoption facts?

1.   Lund finalized 188 adoptions last year.  170 children were adopted from foster care and 18 infants were placed with forever families!
2.  The adoption staff at Lund have over 114 years of experience between them.
3.  Lund staff members have been involved with 4 Angel in Adoption Awards.
4.  Then Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis instituted Adoption Week in 1976 to promote the need for homes for children waiting in foster care.  In 1995, President Bill Clinton expanded it to a whole month.
5.   There are over 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S right now, as you read this sentence.

Every year the President addresses the nation on adoption during the month of November.  Here is an excerpt from his 2013 speech:

“Every young person deserves the chance to learn and grow under the care of a loving family. Across our Nation, adoptive families give that chance to over a million children and teenagers. During National Adoption Month, we celebrate these  families and stand alongside every child still looking for the warmth and stability of a permanent home.”

This is what National Adoption Month is really about – finding homes for children who need them.   As we approach a time of year when family and tradition are so important and so present in our lives, it is really important to remember that there are many children in Vermont and across the country who cannot yet count on the security of a forever family.  If you would like more information on pursuing foster care adoption in Vermont, please click here.

Happy National Adoption Month and we look forward to seeing you to celebrate on the 25th!

August 2, 2013

Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Employees, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , , , , at 4:34 pm by Lund

Friday is pizza day at Lund’s Early Childhood Education program.  The older toddlers make pizza every week to share with the entire center for lunch.  This process starts the night before when the children learn how to mix together yeast, salt, sugar, flour and water to make the dough.  They then check in on their work on Friday morning and are able to see how the dough has changed over night.  This is a practical opportunity for the teachers to talk to the children about the chemical reactions between the acid and alkaline ingredients that cause the dough to rise and also a lesson in patience as they need to wait until the next day to get to the fruition of the project.

On Friday morning, the cooking process starts as the children get to work spreading the sauce on the dough.  This usually takes hands, not spoons or any other sort of kitchen implement and so can get a little messy.  The teachers are unperturbed and simply put plastic sheeting down on the floor and let the children get to work.  They experiment with different flavor combinations and really try to incorporate as many local and fresh ingredients as possible.  Past specials have featured cauliflower and parmesan crust with sauce and cheese, quinoa maple crust with avocado cream sauce, pizza with zucchini crust and toppings such as apples, pineapples, olives and peppers.

Sometimes they need to go to the store to pick up ingredients for these creative specials and so the whole class takes a field trip down the hill to the grocery store to pick up what they need.  This often results in an excited announcement from the chefs to the other shoppers, “We’re making pizza today!”  This is a chance for the children to practice the social skills needed to ask for assistance at the deli counter and to wait in line.  It also allows the opportunity for conversation around where food comes from and what represents healthy choices.

This week the Pizza Day Special was pesto, chicken, mozzarella, ricotta (Broccoli and cauliflower….shhh, the children didn’t even notice). 

The pizza is shared by everyone for lunch and has become a beloved weekly tradition at LECP.   The children feel directly engaged in the process and as a result often eat more of this meal than others as they feel pride in their work.  And who doesn’t love pizza?

PIZZA

June 19, 2013

Plants for Lemonade – Basic Economy and Ecology in Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , , , , , , at 1:46 pm by Lund

What do you get when you mix lemon juice + water + sugar + Lund employees?  Tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, onions, beans and flowers, of course!

Lemonade3

Lemonade1  lemonade2

How does this all add up?

The older toddlers and their teachers recently pursued a novel way to acquire plants for their newly established raised beds by running a homemade lemonade stand where the refreshing treat was handed over in exchange for a plant for their garden.  Setting up outside Lund’s new building at 50 Joy Drive, the children encouraged staff members to stop by and try their lemonade.  They had plenty of willing customers who handed over tomato plants, strawberry plants, carrot seeds and more.

Early childhood educator, Laura Murphy, explained that there was also a strong educational component behind this exercise as well as it being a great way to fill their garden beds.  “It’s about social interactions for the children and it is also about responsibility and following through on the commitment that we made to the community.  They might not necessarily want to be making lemonade all day but we said that we would be here so we need to follow through on that.  There is also a lot of science involved.  We experimented with lemonade recipes and the children practiced measuring and adapting the quantities to make the lemonade taste good.”

The children were enthusiastic in greeting their customers, handing over lemonade with fancy straws and receiving the plants for their garden.  Having a firm connection to the food that they eat is an important aspect of the nutrition program at LECP.

December 30, 2012

These Children Deserve a Childhood

Posted in Employees, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:01 pm by Lund

Produced by Cat Cutillo/Lund

Watch this 30 second video.

There is still time to make a donation to Lund before the end of the year. Your gift helps families break the cycles of abuse, poverty and addiction. Lund must raise $850,000 this year to provide crucial services building hope, opportunity and healthy families for Vermont’s children. Please make a donation to Lund before the end of the year. Your gift helps ensure children have the childhood they deserve.

Donate now to Lund at give.lundvt.org