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.

 

May 5, 2015

Employee (s!) of the Quarter

Posted in Adoption, Awards, Employees, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , , , , at 4:08 pm by Lund

Lund staff members are dedicated, energetic, hard working and passionate. The work that we do is often challenging or difficult. Lund’s leadership team is committed to celebrating the hard work and the amazing efforts of staff members to help the children and families we serve. The Employee of the Quarter award is a way of showing appreciation for this work. This quarter there were two individuals and one team who won the award. So many wonderful staff members, it was impossible to narrow down to one recipient! Meet them here:

Deb Mayville and Director of Operations, Bob Robinson

Deb Mayville and Director of Operations, Bob Robinson

Deb Mayville – Office Administrator
Deb works in the front office at Glen Road and Joy Drive and makes sure that everything runs like clockwork. Deb is often the first face that people see when they arrive at Lund and she immediately makes them feel welcome and supported whatever the reason for their visit. “Deb continues to maximize her role and the impact it has on the agency overall. She does so because she genuinely cares about Lund and wants it to be the best place it can be for all,” says Bob Robinson, Director of Operations. “She continues to grow as a ‘go to’ person and wants to help those she can, when she can. She delivers on her word and with a smile. Every day she takes time to appreciate people she interacts with – both staff and clients. This has had a positive impact on her direct staff and on the culture of the front office.” When asked what her favorite part of her work was, Deb replied, “What I find the most rewarding is watching our clients grow, seeing how open & strong they are to share their life experiences, watching their relationships with their children grow and seeing them transition successfully. I love being able to spend my days working with such caring staff who give so much of themselves and being part of the Lund team.”

Judy Harvey, Childcare Coordinator and Kristin

Judy Harvey, Childcare Coordinator and Kristin McClary

Kristin McClary – Toddler Teacher
Kristin works with the younger toddlers at Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program and can often be found engaged in art projects, reading, playing outside, and taking every advantage to help the children she works with follow their interests and discover new things about the world. “Kristin is the ultimate team player, in that she truly makes sure that she understands the perspectives of others before moving into problem-solving or decision-making,” says Judy Harvey, Childcare Coordinator. “Kristin exemplifies the best of what Lund represents; she’s compassionate and insightful, educated and experienced and very intentional in everything she does. Her quiet unprepossessing place of truly simply wanting to do what’s best for children, families, the program, and the agency shines through everything she does.” Kristin truly loves being with the children and cites sharing in their joy everyday as being the best part of her job.

Julia Connor and Kate Van Wagner, Private Adoption Team

Julia Conner and Kate Van Wagner, Private Adoption Team

Julia Conner and Kate Van Wagner – Private Adoption Team
Julia is Lund’s Private Adoption Coordinator working with families who want to adopt an infant through Lund. Kate Van Wagner is Lund’s Options Counselor and works with pregnant women as they explore the choices they have and provides lifelong support whatever decision they make. It has been a busy start to 2015 for Julia and Kate and they both have faced difficult situations where they have had to think in new and innovative ways to make sure that every client was able to get the support they needed. Julia and Kate are both exceptional collaborators, working well with each other and with the Department of Children and Families and other agencies that Lund works with. Director of Adoption, Wanda Audette, says, “It is a honor and a privilege to be able to work with such professional, thoughtful, ethical, caring and strong social workers who every day go above and beyond for the betterment of our clients.” Both Julia and Kate refer to the excellent members of the adoption department as great support and inspiration in their work.

Thank you to these wonderful Lund employees for the work that they do every single day to help children and families thrive.

November 18, 2014

Lund Celebrates National Adoption Month

Posted in Adoption, DCF, Events, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , , , , , , , at 12:04 pm by Lund

Every November, a Presidential Proclamation launches activities and celebrations to help build awareness of adoption throughout the nation. Thousands of community organizations arrange and host programs, events, and activities to share positive adoption stories, challenge the myths, and draw attention to the thousands of children in foster care who are waiting for permanent families.  At this time, there are 68 children in Vermont who need forever families and permanent homes.   Lund’s partnership with the Department of Children and Families, Project Family, is working hard to find homes for these children.  Last year Project Family found homes for 169 children who had been living in foster care or in residential treatment environments.

To celebrate National Adoption Month, Lund in partnership with  the Department of Children and Families  will finalize 29 adoptions this coming Thursday, November 20th, at three court houses across the state.  This is a record for Lund and the Department of Children and Families and a record for Vermont.  29 children will go to bed on Thursday night knowing that they never again have to wonder where they belong or who will look out for them when they need help.

Also in celebration of National Adoption Month, we are sharing some micro interviews with our adoption staff.  Get to know these fabulous people and their work to make sure that every child has a home, below:  (Click on the picture to view it larger)

julia#human

 

 

donna#humanKarisa#human

 

kate#human

christina#human

 

September 2, 2014

Angel in Adoption – Judge Susan Fowler

Posted in Adoption, Awards tagged , , , , , at 7:39 am by Lund

Lund is so pleased to congratulate Judge Susan Fowler on winning an Angel in Adoption Award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.  The award is given to an individual, family or organization who has made an exceptional difference in the lives of children looking for families.  Judge Fowler has overseen the finalization of over 1000 adoptions in the state and has worked with Lund for many years.  “We are very lucky to have a judge that is so passionate about adoption and the importance of belonging and family. Judge Fowler makes every adoption unique and special,” says Wanda Audette, Director of Adoption at Lund.   Judge Fowler’s most special duty is to pound the gavel and sign the paperwork and in so doing, create forever families.

“Judge Fowler is a huge part of our adoption community,” says Julia Conner, Private Adoption Coordinator at Lund. “She treats birth parents with dignity, respect, fairness, and understanding. She helps our adoptive families commemorate an incredibly important moment in their lives and approaches adoption finalizations with humor, music and joy; putting families at ease and creating a lasting and memorable experience.”

While a joyful situation, the finalization can also be nerve wracking for families and as an adoptive parent herself as well as a judge with such extensive experience, Judge Fowler does everything she can to help ease the situation.  Lund’s Case Finalization Manager, Karisa Thompson, has seen this first hand during the eight years she has worked with Judge Fowler.  “When adoptive families arrive at court, they are generally nervous, excited, and relieved all at the same time.  Judge Fowler plays jazz music so when families enter the courtroom, they are reminded that they are there to celebrate their family and the music puts them at ease.   She is a ray of sunshine at the end of a long, difficult process for our foster children and adoptive families.  She is personable, happy, and takes each hearing in stride based on how the child is reacting.  I have seen her stop talking and sit back with a smile on her face as a toddler spun and danced in circles in the court room and if a child was fearful or screaming, she just talks faster so the family can move on with the celebration.  Judge Fowler makes every adoption a special celebration.”

Judge Susan Fowler, Vermont's 2014 Angel In Adoption.

Judge Susan Fowler, Vermont’s 2014 Angel In Adoption – “A ray of sunshine”

Judge Fowler’s top priority is always to ensure permanency for children as soon as possible. “She is extremely flexible and consistently works in the best interest of children.  She maintains open communication with Lund and has scheduled extra hearings for children to be adopted before Christmas and even arranged for a last minute hearing so a child could be adopted the day before her eighteenth birthday.  Judge Fowler does not hesitate to call and ask a question about an adoption packet and is always willing to help advocate on behalf of Lund when confronted with issues regarding other probate courts,” says Karisa.

Judge Fowler will be recognized at the Angel in Adoption Gala on Wednesday, September 17 in Washington, D.C.

For more information about adoption in Vermont and Judge Fowler’s award, please watch the following news coverage from WCAX.

http://www.wcax.com/category/166239/video-landing-page?clipId=10517653&autostart=true

http://www.wcax.com/story/26377101/meet-a-real-life-angel-in-adoption