Tatum’s Totes 2020 Holiday Drive a Success

Thank you to our incredible community partners, our Department for Childre & Families partners, and the intrepid GMUW staff for making this joy a reality for over 210 children this year! 2020 had its challenges but you met them all with an hope hard and that extra level of effort that this year has demanded of all of us, please know this made a difference for so many foster children and their foster families!

Thank you to our business & community group partners:

  • Union Mutual Insurance
  • VSECU
  • Edward Jones offices
  • Noyle Johnson Insurance
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont
  • Hickok Boardman Insurance
  • The Barre Rotary Club
  • The Montpelier Rotary Club
  • The Northfield Rotary Club
  • The First Congregational Church of Berlin
  • Warren United Church
  • Bible Baptist Church, Barre
  • And many individual donors who supported this work this year

Special thanks to the Resource Coordinators and Caseworkers at the Department for Children and Families for being part of our Elf Corps, and to Granite Group in Barre for sending a van to be our delivery sleigh! And thanks to the folks at Hunger Mountain Coop for their contribution to our gift boxes!

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Kickoff 2020

Thanks to those who joined us for our 2020 Kickoff: The Silver Lining

Here is the video of the event in case you missed it. Please feel free to share this with those you know who might be interested in our work or what Dr. Levine had to say – his talk was fascinating!

New this year, we have an Online Auction as part of our Kickoff Event! This Auction is a way to support your community and take home fabulous items donated by our incredible community supporters, partners, and businesses.


Join us online on Thursday, October 1 from 8:30 am – 9:30 am for our annual Kickoff celebration. This year’s virtual event allows us to feature a very special speaker, Dr. Mark Levine, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health. You may be familiar with Dr. Levine from his frequent appearances on Governor Scott’s COVID press conferences. Dr. Levine’s leadership has been steady and has helped Vermont and Vermonters to stay safe, support one another, value the community spirit of doing difficult things during the pandemic.

In addition to hearing from Dr. Levine, we will have our Annual Directors Address with Executive Director Tawnya Kristen giving our supporters and partners an update on what United Way was able to do thanks to our incredible partners, supporters, and collaborators in 2019 & particularly since March 2020, as well as inspire us to keep the spirit of finding the shining Silver Lining in difficult times alive for each of us as we move forward into 2020 and 2021 – and our annual awards. New this year, we will be hosting an online Auction! Stay tuned for more details!

Please register here and you’ll receive a Zoom link the week before the event. We are so thrilled to see you and to share this celebration with you!

A HUGE Thank you to our 2020 Bronze Sponsors:





Featured Auction Items:

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Tatum’s Totes Back-to-School Item Drive

We are taking the opportunity of the delay in the start of school to hold a back-to-school drive for foster children and children experiencing homelessness. Please see the list of the items we need below. All items can be dropped off in the drop box at our new office located in the Green Mountain Community Fitness building, 652 Granger Road, Barre, first floor. Ideally we would like to have items delivered by September 8 so we can get them to children across our five-county region.

Thanks to Bear Pond Books in Montpelier. You can purchase age-appropriate books through their website and leave them at Bear Pond for our staff to pick up! Support a local business by supporting children in our community, win-win!

Items needed for Back-to-School Drive

  • Child-sized masks
  • Backpacks – child and teen sized, gender-neutral and all colors
  • School Supplies:
    • Markers
    • Pens
    • Pencils
    • Pencil Sharpeners
    • Pocket Folders
    • Spiral Notebooks
    • Composition Books
    • Erasers
    • Calculators
  • Age-Appropriate Books – list available to buy at bearpondbooks/tatumstotes
  • Arts and Crafts Items:
    • Colored Pencils
    • Watercolor Pencils
    • Brushes and Watercolors
    • Sketchbooks
    • Journals
    • Origami Paper
  • Playing Cards
  • Games
  • Puzzels
  • Mad Libs
  • Maze Books
  • Activity Books
    • Math Activities
    • Literacy/Spelling
    • Map Activities
    • Other activity books

Questions about the back-to-school drive? Email Carrie at cstahler@gmunitedway.org.

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K.E.E.P. Financial Coaches Fall Networking and Forum Opportunities

Join us! This fall we are holding two virtual meetings for our KEEP Financial Coaches to provide chances to connect, learn, share, and shape the future of our KEEP Financial Coaching program. We want to hear from you!

1. “Networking and Story Sharing Event” – Thursday, September 17th – 10:00am – 11:30am

How has your experience been? How have things changed for you as a financial coach? Bring your experience with your role, changes to your work, and how you’ve been able to use your financial coaching skills and knowledge during the pandemic with clients and your community.
This has also been a time of amazing opportunity for growth and creativity. Bring your COVID-19 struggles, triumphs and innovations – we want to hear all about your experiences as pandemic Financial Coaches and connect you with other coaches as well.

2. “Shaping the Future” – Thursday, September 24th – 10:00am – 11:30am

This second meeting is centered around the ways financial coaching intersects with YOUR work and focus areas. We are offering the opportunity to participate in smaller group discussions facilitated in breakout sessions. Your breakout session topic will be based on your survey responses and direct feedback about what you’d most like to talk about with fellow coaches in a facilitated discussion format. Our goal is to understand how this program can successfully translate to a virtual space and how we can continue to support you and your work with clients.

Questions? Email Julia Davis at jdavis@gmunitedway.org

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Orleans-Northern Essex County Mask Project

In partnership with the Orleans Northern Essex County Response Team, we are working to supply the community in our region with masks for free. We have been generously supported by Vermont Teddy Bear Company & many community volunteer stitchers. Masks are currently being distributed at locations throughout the region and we are doing the best to continue to supply these locations with masks for patrons or community members who need them.

If you need a face covering, the BEST place to contact is one of the towns on the Vermont Emergency Management list of municipalities who are working with the State of Vermont to distribute thousands of donated face coverings – sizes are good for smaller adult faces or larger adult faces:

Local locations where you can get free face coverings:

  • The Glover Store, Newport Center
  • Shaws, Derby
  • Hillikers Store, Newport Center
  • Hoagies, Newport & Derby locations
  • Helmersons Restuarant, Newport
  • Boutin’s, Troy
  • Newport Jewelers, Newport
  • Hobo’s, Island Pond
  • Dollar Tree, Newport
  • Troy Country Store, Troy
  • West Main Deli, Newport
  • Vista Foods, Newport
  • The Brown Cow, Newport
  • Wendy’s, Newport/Derby
  • West Side Deli, Newport
  • Domino’s Pizza, Newport/Derby
  • NEKCA Youth Services, Newport
  • NEKCA – Main Street, Newport

Hoagies Newport

Hoagies Derby

Helmersons Restaurant Newport

Hillikers Store Newport Center

Glovers Store Newport Center

Wendys Newport

Dominos Newport

Hobos Island Pond

Newport Jewelers Newport

Dollar Tree Newport

West Side Deli Newport

Brown Cow Newport

Seniors in the NEK in need of masks can contact the NEK Council on Aging’s helpline to get a mask: 802-748-5182 or 800-642-5119

We are always looking for stitchers to join our project.

If you are interested in stitching masks, please use the form linked below to volunteer and we will be in touch to get you kits to sew!

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Internet Connectivity

Resources, Updates, and Suggestions for staying connected during COVID-19

Since March, the internet has become a new “Basic Need” for almost everyone in our communities. Whether you’ve worked or schooled from home, tried to order groceries from the local store, Zoomed into your local Select Board meeting, met friends for “Virtual Coffee”, or accessed telehealthcare services, you likely now depending on reliable, high-enough-speed internet to help life go on during the pandemic.

Our work with the Central Vermont Family Connectivity Project has brought us face to face with what happens when the lack of reliable internet does not offer the continuity that most of us enjoy from regular internet access. It means that kids can’t get the care they need, expecting moms can’t get the healthcare they, kids in foster care can’t see their biological parents… it means that life is even more drastically different than it is for those of us who have internet access (like you do if you’re reading this blog!).

Knowing this struggle is not going away, I’ve put together a list of potential resources anyone can use to bridge the internet gap. Let’s be clear, this information is meant to give you options if you can’t afford cable, or the DSL line ends right before your house, or the back road you live on is nowhere near high-speed internet territory. These are temporary solutions at best, and it is our hope that the many projects currently in the works in our rural region are able to help solve these problems in the long term! For now, try these:

There’s no high-speed internet at my house

We hear you, and the Department of Public Service want to know where you are, so put yourself on the map! https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/interactive-broadband-map

Try a public wifi hot spots near you: https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/wi-fi-hot-spot-project

If the lines are close, the Line Assistance Customer Assistance Program (LECAP) provides funding to extend broadband to homes (there are limits) https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/vermont-covid-19-line-extension-customer-assistance-program

Do you get cell service? If so, find a cell provider who supports using your phone as an internet hotspot (we’ve tried Visible but there are others out there)

Affordability

If it is difficult for you to afford high-speed internet, check out these programs to see if you might qualify. If you are not sure, call them anyway:

Lifeline Telecommunications Program https://publicservice.vermont.gov/publications-resources/consumers/lifeline

Comcast Internet Essentials https://www.internetessentials.com/

Spectrum Internet Assist https://www.spectrum.com/browse/content/spectrum-internet-assist

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