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.”

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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.

October 21, 2013

Business Leaders Learn about Lund

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Capital Campaign, Employees, Events, Project Family, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services tagged , , , , , , , at 8:06 am by Lund

What better way to spend a morning than taking some time to admire the view from the Great Room at Main Street Landing, enjoy a Skinny Pancake breakfast and learn about one of the oldest non-profit organizations in Burlington?  Surely many of the guests a recent event hosted by Melinda Moulton couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend their time.  Business leaders from across Burlington were invited to hear Melinda, Rick Davis of the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s children, Governor Jim Douglas, State’s Attorney for Chittenden County T.J. Donovan and Lund’s Executive Director Barbara Rachelson speak about why it is crucial that they support the work of Lund.

Melinda introduced the event by making reference to Lund’s 123 year history as an organization that provides comprehensive treatment, education and support services to women, children and families as well being Vermont’s oldest and largest adoption agency.  All of the speakers spoke of how investment in Lund’s programs makes economic sense as to put money into treatment of substance abuse disorders, early childhood education and support towards self sufficiency now significantly saves the tax payer later on.  T.J. Donovan spoke of how it costs $79,000 a year to pay for one woman’s incarceration and that the state spends more money on corrections than it does on higher education.  By making strategic investments in substance abuse treatment programs and focussing on finding homes for young people before they age out of the foster care system the number of women incarcerated will decrease.

T.J. also spoke about the huge saving, around $4.8 million in 2013, that was a result of the 183 foster care adoptions that took place between July 1st 2011 and June 30th 2012.  Finding forever families for every child in foster care is the number one priority for Project Family, Lund’s innovative partnership with the Vermont Department for Children and Families.  This of course benefits the children by providing the loving security of a permanent home but it also has a hugely positive financial impact.  Governor Douglas spoke of an conversation that he had with foster children during his tenure as governor and he asked them what was the most helpful thing he could so for them.  “Stop bouncing us around from home to home, ” came the answer.  Children need the consistency  of a forever family and that is what Lund is striving for.  Barbara Rachelson brought to tears to more than just a few eyes a she read from a letter from a foster child who had recently been adopted.

The point of this event was to introduce Lund to people who had not heard of the organization before or had only vague or inaccurate ideas about the programs.  Benjy Adler, CEO of the Skinny Pancake, was quick to admit that he knew little about Lund before attending this event, “I had no idea that Lund was so old or, frankly, what the organization did.  Everything I learned about Lund surprised me.”  Operating a business in the heart of Old North End, one of the most economically troubled areas of town, Benjy says that he sees first hand the effects that drug abuse, child neglect and poverty can have on a community.  “I see the destructive forces of addiction & generational poverty fully on display every day. It is frustrating & bewildering and frankly, seems like it has been getting worse in the last 1 – 2 years.  At the Chubby Muffin, we have had several attempted burglary and a few successful ones. One time, they broke in the door and destroyed the cash register before the alarm scared them off. Most recently, we had a neighbor addicted to pills routinely stealing our tips.”    These are problems faced by everyone in the community and all the attendees were invited to participate in the 50 Joy Drive Capital Campaign and help Lund to provide support, help and treatment to women,children and families as they seek to break the cycles of abuse, addiction and poverty.

Thank you to everyone who attended this event and our generous hostess and true friend to Lund, Melinda Moulton. To learn more about the 50 Joy Drive Campaign.  Please watch our campaign video.

Governor Jim Douglas speaks about the need to invest in children in Vermont so that they stay here and themselves invest in the future of the state.

Governor Jim Douglas speaks about the need to invest in children in Vermont so that they stay here and themselves invest in the future of the state.