August 4, 2015

Introduction to College Studies at Lund

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, New Horizons Educational Program tagged , , , , , , , , at 4:00 pm by Lund

For many people around the country, August means ‘back to school’.  While Lund’s education programs are year round and do not break for summer,  we cannot help but join in with the excitement of this time of year.  Our preschoolers transition to Kindergarten, backpacks full of school supplies are donated for foster children, and across the agency there is a sense of new beginning that comes with the autumnal tinge of this time of year.   One of the most exciting ‘back to school’ things happening at Lund is the first meeting of the Introduction to College Studies class (ICS) that the Community College of Vermont teaches on site at Lund’s Hoehl Family Building in South Burlington.  The class is open to students at New Horizons, Lund’s high school completion program for pregnant and parenting young women, and women living at our residential treatment facility.

The class runs for 13 weeks and offers pre college coursework that helps students to develop the foundational academic skills that they need to be successful in college and beyond.  The goal is to help students develop strategies for college and career success focusing on study skills, the financial aid process, goal-setting, and career exploration and planning.  Data from CCV shows that students who complete this class are 18% more likely to enroll in college.  Last year, 600 students were served by this class statewide at CCV’s 12 campuses as well as other locations, such as Lund.

College work at Lund

Clients from Lund had previously enrolled in this class at CCV locations in downtown Burlington or Winooski but had not often been successful due to the difficulties  of securing transportation and finding childcare.  Many of them also found it hard to coordinate the class schedule with the demands of their schedule at Lund.   It was also hard to complete the work required without additional support.  The solution was simple – bring the class to the students.  “Many of our clients are not ready to attend class in a college environment,” says Tammy Santamore, Learning Together Coordinator, “It can bring up a lot of anxiety for clients or cause them to feel too pressured.  The partnership with CCV has been invaluable in supporting our students in engaging in college level work, in a supportive and familiar environment, by allowing their focus on higher education to compliment their treatment and parenting responsibilities.”

Last fall 15 students from Lund completed the ICS class.  Two of them went on to enroll in another class at CCV in the spring semester and two more took a class over the summer using the tuition voucher that all students who complete the ICS class receive.  The voucher provides the next step in their college journey and can be used up to a year after completion of the class.   Continuing at college is not the path that all of our moms will take but the skills learned in this class are relevant and applicable to high school completion, vocational training or employment.  “The ICS course is a great first step not only for high school students but also adult learners who want to explore post secondary education, those who want to build their resume or explore vocational training and future career choices and build upon their academic skills,” says Tammy.

“We partner with Lund and other non-profits across the state to increase access to the class for our most vulnerable students.  The young moms at Lund certainly fall into this category and we’re happy to help them start the path towards college and career success,” says Katie Mobley, Director of Outreach and Development at CCV.  “As the faculty member who had the privilege of teaching the ICS course offered at Lund, I can speak to the high quality of support that students received in order to make attending ICS a possibility while juggling many other priorities, including motherhood.”

“We are excited to have CCV  back with us this fall, and hope that the collaboration between Lund and CCV continues to improve post secondary enrollment and retention for our families both current and future generations,” says Tammy.

September 5, 2014

United Way Building Block Awards – Celebrating the Powerful Connection Between Individual and Community

Posted in Awards, Board of Trustees Spotlight, Employees, Events, United Way, Volunteer Spotlight tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 11:31 am by Lund

The large ballroom at the Sheraton Hotel was full yesterday morning as volunteers, community members, representatives of the local non-profits and supporters of the United Way gathered to celebrate the Building Block Awards and officially launch the United Way’s 2014 campaign.   The Building Block Awards are given to volunteers at local non-profits who have made a difference in the United Way’s target areas of income, education and health.  Lund celebrated volunteers who have made a huge difference in our organization – Ann Klinkenberg and Paulette Thabault and Peter Gunther and their family.  Ann volunteers in the New Horizons Educational Program tutoring students one on one and providing assistance to the teachers in the classroom.   Since the students are all at different stages in their education, having Ann’s support to provide individual assistance is absolutely key in the students’ success.  Paulette and her husband Peter and their children have done many different things at Lund from helping at the bike ride, representing Lund at events and panels, hosting fundraising events and recruiting their children to play Santa and his elves at the very last minute and saving the Glen Road Holiday Party!  Paulette has also been a board member since 2007 and chairs our strategic planning committee.

Director of Development Beth Knox with Paulette Thabault and Peter Gunther

Director of Development Beth Knox with Paulette Thabault and Peter Gunther

Learning Together Coordinator Tammy Santamore and NHEP teacher Kathy Rossman with Ann Klinkenberg (center)

Learning Together Coordinator Tammy Santamore and NHEP teacher Kathy Rossman with Ann Klinkenberg (center)

United Way Volunteer Coordinator Amy Carmola referred to the volunteers in the room as “treasures” and said, “Volunteering represents the powerful connection between individual and community. When we volunteer we go beyond taking care of our families and ourselves.  When we volunteer we give our time and our attention, which is such an important part of ourselves, we give that to someone else, to something else.”  Our volunteers make a active difference in the lives of our children and families and we are so grateful for their time, attention and commitment.

The Sisters of Mercy were honored for their work in Vermont with the 2014 Advocate Award.  United Way Director Martha Maksym referred to them as “walking sermons” and congratulated them on the breadth and scope of their work in the state.  Sister Lindora Cabral accepted the award on behalf of the sisters, “Advocacy is such an important part of who we are.  We advocate for those who are poor. For us service and advocacy go hand in hand.”  The Sisters of Mercy founded Mater Christi School, Trinity College, the Women’s Small Business Program, Mercy Connections and other important service intiatives.  Lund is proud to partner them in their work to support women and children in need.

The breakfast was also the kick off of the United Way’s 2014 community campaign to raise $3,850,000 to allow the United way to support the work of it’s 29 member agencies as they tackle the most pressing societal problems and ensure that the most vulnerable members of our community have what they need to be successful.  This year’s campaign is chaired by Robert DiPalma, an attorney at Paul Frank and Collins.    You can watch this year’s campaign video here.

Thank you to the United Way of Chittenden County for allowing us this opportunity to celebrate volunteers both here at Lund and in the wider community.

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.

May 9, 2014

Teacher Appreciation Week!

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Employees, Events, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP), New Horizons Educational Program tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:40 pm by Lund

Staff at Lund gathered together today to surprise our teachers with treats and thanks for National Teacher Appreciation Week.  Cookies, cards and African violets were delivered to the teachers at Lund’s Early Childhood Program and Lund’s New Horizons Educational Program during their lunch break and a group of staff members shared their appreciation for the work that our teachers do every day.  Associate Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services, Brian Southworth, shared how important meaningful New Horizons is in the students’ lives.  “You know better than any of us how many of the students wouldn’t be in school if it weren’t for you.  They were done with school until they came here and now I hear all the time about how they love school,” he told NHEP teachers Mary Farnsworth and Kathy Rossman.

Mary Farnsworth, Learning Together Coordinator Tammy Santamore and Kathy Rossman display their appreciation cards.

Mary Farnsworth, Learning Together Coordinator Tammy Santamore and Kathy Rossman display their appreciation cards.

The teachers at LECP play a similarly crucial role in their (younger) students lives.  The staff members at Joy Drive are lucky enough to see them at work every day in the playground playing, teaching, singing, loving and exploring with the children.  Those who visit from our other sites vie for seats on the side of the conference room that look out of the window so they can see the playground!

Lund's preschool teachers Ginny Prentiss and Colin Cope with their flowers of appreciation

Lund’s preschool teachers Ginny Prentiss and Colin Cope with their flowers of appreciation

Teachers at Lund have a huge impact outside the classroom.  They are often family educators, cheerleaders, and the conduit for connection to community resources for our families.  They find clothes and supplies for families who need them and go out of their way to help whenever they can.  They do as much as possible to make sure that the children and their parents have what they need to be successful and often represent the only, and extremely important stability, in the lives of our families.

Thank you to the teachers at Lund for all that you do.  We value you today and every single day.

August 30, 2012

Merchants Bank Moneysmart Program Teaches Much More Than Finance

Posted in Donor Spotlight, Independence Place, New Horizons Educational Program, Residential, Volunteer Spotlight tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:49 pm by Lund

Story and Photos by Cat Cutillo/Lund
*Client name has been changed to protect anonymity

Bad credit is a problem many people face, but for clients at Lund financial problems are often rooted in some painful memories.

“It could have been tied to criminal activity, substance abuse or a really controlling relationship,” says Tammy Santamore, Lund’s Learning Together Coordinator.

Santamore explains a client’s poor credit can also be the result of a parent or partner ruthlessly putting a phone or utility bill in the client’s name without consent.

“[In some cases] they never even really started out with good credit because when they were 12 somebody put a phone bill in their name and they never even knew about it,” says Santamore.

(l to r) Ben Irish, Lund’s New Horizons Education Program Teacher, Tammy Santamore, Lund’s Learning Together Coordinator, Maryann Russell, Merchants Bank Community Banking Manager, Nate Mackee, Merchants Bank Personal Banker, Christine Auriemma, Merchants Bank Regional Banking Manager

But Merchants Bank Moneysmart Program through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is trying to change this. The statewide program, which consists of 10-week rotations, recruits Merchants Bank employees to teach people how to achieve financial success. The classes taught at Lund are small and tailored to fit the personal financial barriers of each client.

“We want to be able to empower them because their success is our success,” says Christine Auriemma, Regional Banking Manager at Merchants Bank. Read the rest of this entry »

July 10, 2012

Employee of the Quarter: Tammy Santamore

Posted in Employees tagged , , , , at 3:41 pm by Lund

Photo by Cat Cutillo/Lund

Lund recently honored Tammy Santamore, Learning Together Coordinator, as the Employee of the Quarter for her outstanding work at Lund.

“[Tammy] has seen nominations from across departments for her outstanding work and her commitment to Lund as a whole. Her passion, loyalty and dedication are revered by all of us,” said Residential Director Kimberly Coe at the presentation.

Tammy supervises Independence Place and the Learning Together program. She’s volunteered at several Lund events including representing Lund at the Green Mountain Derby Dames Roller Derby, making calls at the Phonathon and staffing the registration table at the Annual Mother’s Day Bike Ride. She is also a frequent contributor to Lund’s blog, is regularly interviewed about Lund’s services and supervises interns and volunteers.

“Tammy is a resource of knowledge—she knows pretty much everything offered to the population we serve and makes sure those services are offered to staff and tenants alike. Tammy keeps us informed, is attentive to the needs of tenants and staff, is pleasant, and is always on her game,” said one Independence Place staff member.

Tammy’s nominations were far-reaching and she received cross-departmental praise for her dedication.

“Tammy is an incredible team-player, always making others feel comfortable, and she’s a lot of fun to be around. She is one of the most articulate people I’ve ever met and has an enormous strength at seeing how all the pieces of Lund fit together,” said another co-worker. “Lund is lucky to have such a fantastic leader and team-player.”

This is the second time Tammy has received the Employee of the Quarter Award since she began working at Lund in 2003, but that didn’t make this nomination any less meaningful.

“It’s really an honor to be a part of this organization and to be a part of the lives of all of these wonderful women—employees and clients, volunteers and interns,” said Tammy at the presentation. “I am very honored.”