November 25, 2015

Parent Child Centers are the Answer

Posted in Events, Parent Child Centers, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:25 am by Lund

“Being a parent is a lot of work.  At least there’s something out there for people,” said one parent at last week’s educational event for legislators about Parent Child Centers and the work that they do in the community.  Parents and staff members from each of Chittenden County’s three parent child centers gathered together at the VNA Family Room in downtown Burlington where legislators from Chittenden County were invited to join them and hear first hand the importance of these essential community resources.

Parent Child Centers are a network of non-profit organizations serving all of Vermont.  There are 15 in total and the focus of each is to provide support and education to families with young children.  The goal is to help all Vermont families get off to a healthy start, promote well being and build on family strengths.  This support and education helps to prevent problems such as school failure, poor health, welfare dependency, family violence and abuse.   A reduction in these problems helps to strengthen every community and to ultimately save the state money further on in the life of the child.  Families who are at risk for substance abuse, mental health conditions, trauma, domestic violence and poverty face significant barriers to accessing the help that they need.  Parent Child Centers offer help in ways that take these barriers into account and form trusting relationships with vulnerable families while engaging them in services.

Parents, staff members, legislators and members of the community had lively discussion about the crucial role of Parent Child Centers in the community.

Parents, staff members, legislators and members of the community had lively discussion about the crucial role of Parent Child Centers in the community.

The need for Parent Child Centers grows every year as the problems of opiate abuse, multi generational poverty and concerns for child welfare further permeate the community.  Yet state funding has remained level since 1995.  The goal of this meeting was to help legislators to understand the work of the Parent Child Centers to gain their support for the Parent Child Center Network’s legislative platform for the upcoming session which is to request additional funding – $135,000 for each center in Vermont for a total appropriation amount of $2,025,000.

Imagine that in one year that each Parent Child Center prevents one birth to a teenage mom, one woman entering the Correctional Facility, one child being placed in foster care, and one single mother receiving public assistance.  This would save the state $2,131,041 over that year which is less than the funds being asked for in the legislative session.  Of course each Parent Child Center does this critical prevention work with multiple families each year.

“I am so thankful we found Milton Community Center,” said one Mom at the meeting while her son played in the room nearby. “My son was born prematurely and has developmental delays.  I have learning difficulties too.  Without MCC he would never have come as far as he has.  Our children are the future of our world, how we raise them and the support team that we have is so important.  Milton Community Center is my second home.  I will never forget what they have done.”

Parent Child Centers are key in breaking multi-generational cycles of poverty, addiction and abuse because they work with the children and their caregivers at the same time.  “I know I’m going to be the total opposite of what I knew growing up,” said another Mom who had used multiple treatment and family support services here at Lund. “It’s hard to trust people if you grow up a certain way but Lund is like my second family and they are there for me when I need help.” The most important investment in the community needs to happen early and in a way that best supports the safe and healthy development of children.    As Vermont moves forward in developing innovative health care delivery systems, the Parent Child Centers must remain an integral home base for families.

One mom who came to participate in the meeting shared her struggles with post natal depression after the birth of her daughter and how she searched and searched to find something or someone who could help her in the way that she needed and in so doing asked the question that was at the forefront of everyone’s mind.  “I needed someone to tell me that I was doing a good job.  I needed someone to watch and learn from.  I found that here at the Parent Child Center.  But how are they going to keep doing this without the money?”

 

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

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.

July 1, 2015

Adoption Support Group in Brattleboro – Guest Post by Graham Kidder

Posted in Adoption, DCF, Events, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , , , , , , , at 10:25 am by Lund

In my role as Permanency Planning Counselor for Lund and Project Family, I facilitate an adoption support group for adoptive families in Brattleboro, Vermont with my colleague, Danna Bare who is a Post Permanence Specialist for Lund. The group meets from 6:30 to 8:30 on the second Monday of every month at the Brattleboro Savings and Loan community room.

I co-founded the group with Nancy Birge (formerly with Casey Family Services) in 2003. The group was called ‘Adoption Support for Families of Younger Children’, and was designed as a group to offer support and guidance for families of younger children, who might otherwise be scared by some of the stories and experiences shared by families with teenagers. While the group maintains its original name, several of the original members continue to attend the group; hence the group is no longer solely for parents with younger children.

This adoption support group is a safe and supportive environment for parents to share the joys and frustrations of parenting. The format is based on what families need.  We usually check in to see if anyone has any burning issues they need to discuss.  We split the time up depending on the number of participants, and try to allow for everyone to have equal time to talk.  Group members understand that sometimes they will need a little extra time, but there are also usually members who don’t need their full allotment.   When a participant starts, he or she can let us know whether they are looking for advice, or just need to vent. Parents know that what they share in group remains confidential, and will not circulate back into the community. Parents have expressed gratitude for having a space where they can talk about how frustrated they sometimes become, knowing that the group members recognize that they still love their children even if the stories they share don’t always convey that love.

CC Image Courtesy of Emilio P. Doiztua on Flickr

CC Image Courtesy of Emilio P. Doiztua on Flickr

Group members have truly formed a supportive environment for each other, and they come to recognize that they are not alone.  Danna and I often find ourselves observing as group members empathize with each other’s struggles, and offer advice and encouragement.  Members often talk about how in stressful situations at home they often remember some advice from the group, and are able to tap into that knowledge to help themselves through the moment.

We welcome new members, whether you have adopted internationally or locally, either through public state adoption or private agency. If you are interested in learning more about the group, please do not hesitate to contact me or Danna.

Graham Kidder – Permanency Planning Counselor for Lund and Project Family  – (802) 368-7260 – grahamk@lundvt.org
Danna Bare – Post Permanence Counselor  –  (802) 258-0308 –  dannab@lundvt.org

 

 

 

graham@lundvt.org

April 23, 2015

Lund’s 125 years of helping families in Vermont celebrated at the Statehouse

Posted in Events tagged , , , , , at 10:58 am by Lund

Click the link below to read about Lund’s recent trip to the Statehouse to celebrate 125 years of helping children and families thrive. (We’re trying out a new type of blog)

https://medium.com/@LundVT/celebrating-125-years-of-helping-children-and-families-to-thrive-6ea6cae81676

125logo

March 31, 2014

“The New Face of Heroin” – Rolling Stone comes to Vermont

Posted in Residential, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 1:33 pm by Lund

There is much discussion this morning about an article in Rolling Stone magazine focusing on heroin use in Vermont.  It’s an eight page spread delving deep into the story of a female addict, now in recovery, as she speaks about her descent from a fully functional, independent life using her considerable talent working with horses, to the craven, hollow existence of an addict sleeping in the back of her car.  The article features interviews with Peter Shumlin, T.J. Donovan, Bob Bick from the Howard Center, and Matthew Birmingham of the Vermont Drug Task Force.  While not offering much in terms of how the problem of heroin and opiate addiction can be solved, the article is well written, relevant and heart wrenching.   It ends with the positive notes in the life of the young woman featured, who is now living at Lund, awaiting the birth of her baby in July.  “I just want to give this baby a home.  My goal is to be a normal, boring person,”  she says.

But the discussion happening is not really about the problem of addiction in Vermont and what the solutions might be, or commenting on the bravery of this young woman as she struggles hard with her disease.  People are almost exclusively talking about the use of the image below on the second page of the article.

Rolling Stone April 2014

Comments on Facebook have called the picture offensive, distasteful, misleading and “an insult to the hard working sugar makers in Vermont”.  Two local TV news stations are running pieces on the picture and the reactions it is provoking.  Their facebook newsfeeds are alive with outrage and argument.  Sadly, it seems that the words of the article and the problems of heroin addiction in Vermont are being largely ignored.

There are so many things in Vermont to be proud of and the tradition of maple syrup production is one of them but people in Vermont reading this article should be proud of the work that Lund is doing as well.   136 women in the community and 80 women and their 93 children  at our residential treatment center benefited last year from integrated family-centered treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues.  Lund has been serving Vermont’s most vulnerable children and families since 1890.  That is a tradition to be proud of as well.  Let the discussion be about more than this image.

 

January 31, 2014

“One of the Greatest Privileges of My Life” by Sara Byers, Vice President of Lund’s Board of Trustees.

Posted in Board of Trustees Spotlight, Events, Residential, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services tagged , , , , , , at 12:10 pm by Lund

Waking up at 4:55am this morning to meet my board colleagues for our ride to Montpelier, it felt early.  The sun was beginning to rise over the mountains as we made our way south along I-89.  The frigid temperatures were evident as my toes curled inside my boot for warmth.  However, the trip was worthwhile.  We were headed to the Vermont State House to represent Lund.

Opening the broad, heavy doors, we experienced the peace and beauty of the State House during the early morning hours.  As a former page in the legislature, I was immediately transformed to my days in a green jacket, feeling a pull to the Sergeant at Arms office to receive my daily tasks.  However, this time, as a grown up, I headed to the empty coat room to hang my jacket.  One of the most wonderful things about our State House is the ability to just walk in.  It truly does belong to the people.

Making our way up the stairs and into the cafeteria, there wasn’t a whole lot of activity.  Cleaning crews were apparent throughout, and the hustle and bustle of the day’s work was soon to begin.  We got to our destination and waited for a few minutes when our Lund staff team arrived.  They quickly focused on setting up our display, paperwork outlining our work, pins with our Lund logo.  As board members, we stood in awe – it was apparent they were used to this work and very committed to it.  A few other Board members joined us, along with more staff and our executive director, Barbara Rachelson, who was doing double duty as a legislator from Burlington.  As legislators, lobbyists and administration officials began to filter in, they were welcomed with free coffee, desserts and smiling faces.

The room quickly filled up with people eager for their caffeine infusion.  As they engaged in conversation, they were immediately drawn in by our amazing staff.  These dedicated people were able to answer any questions directed to them.  Their passion and dedication was infectious.  They were superstars, dedicating their lives to improving the lives of others.  It is no wonder that Lund is able to achieve the outcomes they do with these individuals working at it day in and day out.  It got me thinking about my own family.  These staff members are one of the reasons two of my young relatives are thriving today.  If there was ever a question about their work, I could validate it.  With a drug problem and nowhere to go, Lund took in a close relative when she was pregnant.  The Lund program was incredibly comprehensive, teaching life skills along with parenting skills, helping her see the light at the end of a long tunnel.  Months later, her children were born free of illicit substances and ready to take on the world.  Today, they are almost eleven.  I can’t imagine our family without their smiles, life and humor.  If it wasn’t for Lund taking her in when she needed it, I’m not sure where these beautiful children would be today…..I shudder thinking about it.  These compassionate Lund professionals cared enough to make a difference.  The individuals who supported Lund with financial help made a difference.  The State who supported many of Lund’s programs made a difference.

As I looked at the crowd of legislators around our table, I was overcome by the attention and dedication shown by our elected leaders.  These individuals truly cared about Vermont and its people, and were genuinely interested in hearing about Lund’s work.  Many legislators were eager to stop by and visit our facilities, others spoke of their personal connection with Lund and some were looking forward to joining us at our Heart of the Community celebration.  The people working under the Golden Dome understood the value of Lund’s work and its place in our greater community.

As the Board Vice President, I was incredibly humbled this morning; humbled to be surrounded by so many people doing amazing work; humbled by our Lund team and their passion for improving the lives of families; humbled to be able to give back to an organization that had given me so much; humbled for the opportunity to represent this almost 125 year old institution.  When the legislative day was called to order, the Speaker recognized Barbara Rachelson, who in turn welcomed the Lund team to the House Chamber.  As I stood to be recognized, the applause was overwhelming.   I was honored, filled with pride and emotion.   The opportunity to work with Lund’s incredible board and talented staff in this wonderful state is one of the greatest privileges of my life.

Sara (second from right) at the Statehouse with board colleagues and staff members.

Sara (second from right) at the Statehouse with board colleagues and staff members.

October 24, 2013

Hope Works Clothesline Project at Lund

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, New Horizons Educational Program tagged , , , , at 8:25 am by Lund

Hope Works is an organization based in Burlington that is dedicated to ending all forms of sexual violence.  They work to be a leading voice in Vermont advocating for meaningful and effective change in law and society that will help them achieve that goal.  THey provide  a wide range of services to help and support  those whose lives have been affected by sexual violence.  Through education and outreach they spread their message to both women and men in order to keep the conversation about how to end sexual violence current in society.  It is far too prevalent and far too important for these discussions to be ignored.

One of the most moving and effective methods that they have to keep visible is ‘The Clothesline Project’.  This is a national outreach and awareness campaign which displays t-shirts  that holding messages of hurt, healing, and courage.  They are pinned onto  clotheslines for visibility and so a topic which is often silenced in society becomes very public.  It is an obvious “airing out of dirty laundry” in a way that makes the passerby stop to read and absorb the messages. The messages on the T-shirts are sometimes poignant and upsetting but at the same time show the seething strength of women who are not willing to be silent victims any longer.

Last week, visitors came from Hope Works to visit New Horizons Education Program to talk to the students about their work and to help them inscribe T shirts to hang up at Lund on our own clothesline.  It was a chance for the students to learn about the services and supports offered by Hope Works and to engage in conversations about sexual violence in the community.    “The students came together around the issue of domestic abuse towards women and shared stories,” says Ben Irish, teacher at NHEP.  “I could see from sitting at the same table that each student felt more empowered as we worked through The Clothesline Project. One student dedicated her t-shirt to Melissa Jenkins, her friend’s teacher at St. Johnsbury Academy who was murdered last year. Another student wrote the message on her t-shirt that read, ‘Don’t just stand there, do something’. I believe this project gave students an outlet to speak out against violence towards women in and safe and comfortable way.”

The Lund clothesline is hanging in the front lobby at 50 Joy Drive and is one of the first things that visitors see when they enter the building.  It is a powerful statement and we are proud at Lund to be able to participate in this very important community conversation.

Hanging out and visible, messages of hope and help at 50 Joy Drive as part of The Clothesline Project.

Hanging out and visible, messages of hope and help at 50 Joy Drive as part of The Clothesline Project.

April 1, 2013

Supporting hope and changing lives: tireless volunteers honored by Lund

Posted in Awards, Volunteer Spotlight tagged , , , , , at 2:12 pm by Lund

Ann Bielawski, James Pizzagalli and Theresa Tomasi receive Heart of the Community Awards

“Great organizations make great communities,” said James Pizzagalli, one of Lund’s 2013 Heart of the Community Award winners at the awards dinner on March 28th and he made it clear that he sees Lund as one of these great organizations.  Lund feels strongly about Pizzagalli too.  His niece, Lisa Pizzagalli, who is  President of Lund’s Board of Trustees introduced him as a “tremendous leader with a  continued focus on children and families.”  James  Pizzagalli, of Shelburne, served on the Lund board for nine years from 1982 to 1991 and has continued to be a generous supporter and advisor as Lund has grown and changed over the years.  He played an especially important role in helping Lund to secure a new building at 50 Joy Drive, the former home of Pizzagalli Properties.  “Lund has developed into a tremendous organization,” said Pizzagalli, “and it’s great to be a part of it.”

Pizzagalli was not the only community member honored at the ceremony last Thursday night.  Ann Bielawski and Theresa Tomasi were also celebrated for the impact that they have had on the women and children at Lund over the years.

Bielawski, of Charlotte, began by baking cookies for volunteers at a Lund phonathon and hasn’t looked back since.  She has worked tirelessly on many projects varying from serving on the archives committee preserving Lund’s history, engaging members of Charlotte Congregational Church to also support Lund, putting together Back-to-School backpacks to filling in for the nurse at the residential treatment facility.  “I am so grateful to be here,” says Bielawski, “and grateful to be a volunteer at Lund.”

“Theresa is Lund,” said Wanda Audette, Director of Adoption at Lund, as she introduced Theresa Tomasi mother of 27 children and recipient of a Heart of the Community Award.  “I am inspired by her dedication to the growth and potential of her children and her family,” continued Audette.   Tomasi, of Williston, served as Executive Director at Lund and was the one who hired Audette.   “Lund has been very important to me, professionally and personally.  I am so grateful to Lund and so grateful for all my children,”  said Tomasi who was joined at the awards dinner by five of her children all of whom had been adopted.

The dinner was held at the Burlington Country Club and the delicious meal was augmented by chocolates donated by Lake Champlain Chocolates and cupcakes from My Little Cupcake that well very well received by the guests.  Thank you to both of these businesses for their support.

Ann Bielawski with friends from Charlotte Congregational Church

Ann Bielawski with friends from Charlotte Congregational Church

Lund is so grateful for the support of all three of these wonderful honorees and the many and varied ways in which they uphold the mission of Lund to help children and families thrive.   Their vision, perseverance and love is felt through every aspect of the organization.

March 15, 2013

Exciting Days at Lund–50 Joy Drive Capital Campaign Video

Posted in Capital Campaign tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:20 pm by Lund

Produced by Cat Cutillo
We are halfway to our goal of $3,500,000.

Your support will enable us to continue to help children thrive–contributions of $250 and up will be recognized within the building.

For 122 years Lund has been a stalwart supporter of Vermont’s children and families, helping break cycles of abuse, poverty and addiction. Our new facility at 50 Joy Drive, South Burlington, is home to nationally-acclaimed programs in adoption, early childhood and parent education, and life skills and job training programs.

CONTACT: David Huntington, Associate Campaign Director
(802) 861-2571 or davidh@lundvt.org

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