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:

 

 

March 18, 2015

Kim Coe appointed to Building Bright Futures Council

Posted in Awards, Employees, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , , , , at 10:56 am by Lund

Kim Coe, in her office at Lund's Glen Road Residential Treatment Facility, Spring 2015

Kim Coe, in her office at Lund’s Glen Road Residential Treatment Facility, Spring 2015

Kim Coe, Lund’s Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services, has been appointed by Governor Peter Shumlin to Vermont’s Building Bright Futures Council for a two year term.  Kim sits on the council as a representative of the Vermont Parent Child Center Network.

Of her appointment, Kim says, “I am honored to be appointed to the council. Its membership includes many dedicated and inspirational people who have committed their career to early childhood issues and it’s great to be a part of that environment.  It is exciting to be on the front end of the activity as Vermont is rolling out all of our Early Learning Challenge – Race to the Top Grant activities.”

Kim has been working at Lund since 1996 after seven years experience working at Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) in Burlington, VT as an investigative social worker.  As the Director of Residential and Community Treatment Programs, Kim oversees Residential Services including our 26 bed residential treatment facility and our transitional housing program, Substance Abuse Treatment Programs, Children’s Services, Transitional Services and Education.   Kim’s wealth of experience and unending commitment to vulnerable families has led her to receive many awards and recognitions. Her work has been recognized in Vermont by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association in appreciation of efforts to advance the substance abuse treatment field to support women and children.  Kim received the Outstanding Professional Award from the KidSafe Collaborative in 2011.  She has served as President of the Vermont Foster and Adoptive Family Association for six years and also President of the Vermont Coalition of Residential Providers.

The Building Bright Futures Early Childhood Advisory Council was created in 2006 by Governor Douglas and then in 2010, Building Bright Futures was established in Vermont statute, Act 104, protecting it from changing political climates. In July 2011, Building Bright Futures became a nonprofit organization that now serves the dual role as the State Early Childhood Advisory Council and the governance structure for the early childhood system, aligning the work at the State level with the work of 12 regional councils across Vermont to promote improvements in access, quality and affordability of prevention and intervention services for families and young children birth to eight. This work includes maintaining a formal system for planning, coordinating and integrating early childhood programs, policies, information and resources that are recognized, consistent and supported at the State and regional levels. ( http://www.buildingbrightfutures.org)

Lund is a Parent Child Center and works with Building Bright Futures in all of our early childhood work – our Early Childhood Education program, Children’s Integrated Services, Home Visiting and Supervised Visitation.   We fully support their goal that all Vermont’s children by healthy and successful.

 

 

August 8, 2014

“Creating an Intentional Community of Health”- United Way brings people together to talk about substance abuse

Posted in Events, Residential, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, United Way tagged , , , , at 11:15 am by Lund

We know that opiate addiction is a problem in Vermont that now affects every single part of the community.  The state has seen a nearly 800% increase in opiate use in the last 14 years and a concurrent increase in crime and rates of incarceration.  Governor Shumlin dedicated his entire State of the State address this spring to the omnipresence of this issue, “It doesn’t affect just one class of people, it affects rich and poor,” Shumlin says. “It knows no party lines, it knows no economic lines.”   Bringing this issue to light in such a prominent way has forced people in the state to confront the problem and begin to talk about solutions.

This week the United Way of Chittenden County held a community forum to discuss the problem of opiate addiction and to allow for concerned community members to offer their ideas for solutions.  The event attracted over 120 people from all different backgrounds – medical professionals, law enforcement, social workers, academics, school administrators, parents, community activists, politicians.  It was an interactive meeting with plenty of time allowed for discussion and questions.  There were people in the room for whose lives had never been touched by drug use and people in the room in recovery.  There were people whose political and social backgrounds were so widely different that no other situation would have brought them together.  The common thread was concern for people in Vermont battling this illness.  There was an air of understanding and willingness in the room.  One lady advised the crowd to look around.  “We’ve got the right people in this room,” she said, “open your hearts and see the potential.”

United Way on Opiates

When the crowd broke out into groups for smaller discussions many people could be heard sharing how addiction had touched their lives, “It’s a sad, sad diseases,” said one medical professional, “and we mustn’t forget that it’s a disease.  This is not a choice people are making.  They get stuck in a hole and they can’t get out.”  In a later session of break out groups, the room was posed with questions to discuss – What is the state of treatment facilities in Vermont, what does prevention really look like, how can we provide the tools people need when they are in recovery so that they don’t slip back into the same lifestyle, how can we create an intentional culture of health instead of an unintentional culture of addiction?

Courtney Farrell, Associate Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services at Lund, who attended the meeting found the open discussion time to be most useful as it allowed people to connect the problem of addiction in the state with other issues.  “We had good conversations about how as a community we can be more proactive in working effectively together to support child protection as it relates to addiction in families, rather than just see it as one agency’s problem to fix.”  Collaboration and the interconnectedness of social issues were two themes that underlined the entire forum.  Brian Southworth from Lund, also an Associate Director of Residential and COmmunity Treatment Services, noted, “Participants were energized by the prospect of finding more effective ways to improve communication and more collaboratively address opiate addiction. There were a number of commitments made to facilitate forums in Burlington, and adjoining towns, for the purpose of expanding the conversation and planning.”

Attendees were encouraged to leave the discussion with an idea for one thing that they themselves could do to help address the problem.  One way that you can help is to support Lund which is the only treatment facility for substance abuse and mental health issues in Vermont where women can receive treatment while staying with their child.   Our residential treatment center serves 26 pregnant or parenting women and their children as they work towards an independent, successful life in recovery.  We also provide integrated, wraparound family support and education services to support the whole family in breaking cycles of poverty, abuse and addiction.  Lund works closely with other community organizations to ensure that we have a collaborative approach and a comprehensive understanding of the complex nature of addiction.   To learn more about Lund, click here.   To make a donation, click here

“Lund has shown me a life I didn’t even know existed. Lund has shown me how much more of a person I can be, and what it really means to live, not just to stay alive. Lund has given my daughter, Sienna,  the chance to break the multi- generational cycle of addiction, by helping her to have a mom who doesn’t use drugs.  My mom, my grandmother and my great grandmother are all addicts.  Who knows how far back it goes”  Tina, 26.

 

June 18, 2014

Removing barriers for working families – H.790 becomes law

Posted in Events, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP), Reach Up tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:31 pm by Lund

Governor Shumlin signed Vermont House Bill H.790 into law today at the O’Brien Community Center in Winooski to the applause of working families and agencies that work to support young people in becoming self sufficient.  The bill makes changes to the time frame during which people previously on Reach Up can still receive benefits after becoming employed.  This will ease the stress of those facing the possibility that working might leave them worse off than when they were receiving benefits – a situation referred to as the ‘benefits cliff’.

Governor Shumlin praised the bill in front of an assembled crowd which included many clients and staff members from Lund.  “We need to make sure we have a system of assistance that doesn’t put barriers up for people who want to work but find that the benefits system punishes them if they take a job or a raise.  What this bill really does is try to fix what we call the benefit cliff.  It tries to fix the system for folks who are given a job or who are excelling at work and are offered a raise.   Everyone wants to work, to succeed, to support their family and we need everyone in right now.  What this bill allows is for us to remove the barriers from raises and from work for people who want to work and want their kids to go to quality child care while they do.”

Governor Shumlin addresses the crowd

Governor Shumlin addresses the crowd, “Everyone wants to work, to succeed, to support their family.”

The key changes are outlined below:

1.  Earned Income Disregard – The amount of income that will be disregarded  when discerning whether someone is eligible for benefits will increase from $200 plus 25% of wages per month to $250 a month plus 25% of wages.

2. Enhanced childcare services financial assistance program – Eligible working parents will now receive full childcare subsidy for 24 months after gaining paid employment instead of 12 months.  This change is tied into the Reach Ahead program which gives assistance to families who are no longer eligible for Reach Up.

3.  Transitional SNAP benefits – Eligible participants moving off Reach Up due to paid employment will receive SNAP benefits for 12 months instead of 6 months.

4.  Case management – Case managers will be called on to work with families any time there is a change that will affect them to make sure that they have access to full benefits.

Chris Curtis from Vermont Legal Aid who worked on this legislation related the changes to real life for working families.   “This bill is about making work pay for Vermont families and it’s all about securing a healthy future for Vermont kids.  Let me tell you what this means in real terms for an average Reach Up family of a single mom with two kids.  It’s going to amount to a 4% pay increase or about $40 extra a month.  Working families have been falling further and further behind.  This legislation puts more money in their pockets and makes it easier for them to get ahead and succeed.  The goal of this legislation is successful families and a good start for kids.”

Reach-Up Case Manager at Lund, Danielle Gingue, sees the immediate benefit of these changes,  “I think continuing the time that families are eligible for Reach Ahead is huge.  I have many families that are scared for their grant to close, knowing that they are only eligible for a 1 year childcare subsidy.  With this new bill, families will be eligible for a 2 year childcare authorization.  Childcare is expensive and having a 2 year period where a participant doesn’t have to worry about their eligibility is pretty big.”

The changes in this bill will reduce the number of families facing the benefit cliff.  As Lund’s Learning Together Coordinator Tammy Santamore says, “These changes provide a greater incentive to employment than the current Reach Up system, essentially providing low income families with a buffer to better plan for financial independence and self sufficiency. The passing of this bill will allow families to plan more for their futures, allowing them to develop savings plans, address emergency expenses without the need for assistance from community service providers, and look toward a brighter future for themselves and their children.”

Or as Governor Shumlin said, quite succinctly, in his opening remarks, “This is a good bill.”

Catch up on media coverage here:  Pete Hirschfeld on VPR      FOX 44

Executive Director of Vermont Works for Women, Tiff Bluemle, Governor Shumlin, Barbara Rachelson - Executive Director of Lund and Chris Curtis of Vermont Legal Aid.

Executive Director of Vermont Works for Women – Tiff Bluemle, Governor Shumlin, Barbara Rachelson – Executive Director of Lund and Chris Curtis of Vermont Legal Aid.

June 13, 2014

“Take every opportunity you are presented with.” – Honoring Ceremony at New Horizons

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Events, New Horizons Educational Program, Residential, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:54 am by Lund

Students, teachers, family and friends had reason to celebrate on Tuesday as New Horizons Educational Program held the Honoring Ceremony to honor graduates, those who made academic progress and the participants in our teen pregnancy prevention outreach program.  Less than half of teen mothers graduate from high school  (stayteen.org) because it’s incredibly difficult to juggle parenthood and school.  Our students have worked so hard to meet the challenges they face.  A high school diploma is a key step towards future success for themselves and their families.  As one graduate said, “I don’t want to be the mom telling my kids to stay in school and to graduate when I didn’t do it myself.”

Barbara Rachelson, Executive Director of Lund, began the ceremony with words of welcome and advised the students to remember that they can and should learn something every day.  Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce was one of the keynote speakers and she spoke about the importance of financial literacy and making plans for the future recognizing that graduation was the an essential starting step towards this future.  The second keynote speaker was Lund graduate Maghon Luman who currently works at the Community Justice Center in the Offender Reentry program which provides support to people leaving prison.  She spoke of how, at 23 years old, she had everything she could have wanted – a great job, nice house, car, loving husband and baby daughter – but how becoming an addict took all that from her.  She credits her recovery and her current success as an employed and stable parent to her commitment to embracing every opportunity.  “Take every opportunity you are presented with and if there isn’t an opportunity, make one for yourself.  Work hard to create the chances you need and be persistent.”  She also offered her congratulations to the students, “Whatever you have completed today, school, a grade or even a class, be very proud of yourself.”

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Maghon addresses the crowd.

New Horizons teacher, Kathy Rossman, presented six young women with their high school diplomas and echoed Barbara’s statement by urging them to continue their education every day and to educate their children as well.  Certificates were also awarded to students who had made academic progress and to those who had participated in Lund’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outeach Program.  Laura May Ackley who runs this program takes willing young mothers to schools to present the reality of teen pregnancy.  It is such a powerful teaching tool for students but can also be scary and sensitive for the moms presenting.  “I’ve seen your moments of weakness and I’ve seen your strengths,” said Laura May.  “I’ve seen your beauty and I’ve seen your scars.  Thank you for sharing your stories.”

Crystal Parent, one of the six graduates, was presented with the Kit Stone Humanitarian Award which is awarded each year to a young woman who had taken opportunities presented to her and made them work for herself, her family, her peers and her community.  Crystal is a successful graduate of New Horizons and recently left Lund’s residential program where she had been living with her two children.  Shes is now participating in a food services training program and learning valuable skills for future employment.  Treasurer Pearce read a letter from Governor Peter Shumlin congratulating Crystal on her achievement, “Completing one’s diploma is a major milestone, but I understand that you did not stop at educating yourself; you went on to share your knowledge with others at outreach events across Vermont.  I commend you for your hard work, for giving back to the community, and for you commitment to your future.”

Crystal with Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce as she reads a letter from Governor Shumlin.

Crystal with Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce as she reads a letter from Governor Shumlin.

By coming to New Horizons Educational Program and juggling the complexities of being a young mother, each of these students is showing their commitment to being in the 50% that do graduate from high school.  They are doing it for their themselves, of course, but more importantly they are doing it for their children.

Graduation Day for one hard working student, seen here with NHEP teacher Kathy Rossman.

Graduation Day for one hard working student, seen here with NHEP teacher Kathy Rossman.

To see a wonderful news coverage of this event, please click here

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.