Does your organization have an incredible volunteer? Nominate them to be a Volunteer of the Month with Green Mountain United Way!
Every month we feature a local volunteer at Green Mountain United Way or one of our agency partners to feature on our blog and an article in the Times Argus. Do you have a new volunteer who you appreciate, a long-time volunteer who deserves some recognition, an individual who has made an exceptional difference for the work your organization does?
GREAT! Nominate them here:
After we receive your nomination, we will contact your volunteer for an interview. Volunteer of the Month articles appear monthly in the Times Argus. Read about all of our past Volunteers of the Month here!
Thank you to you and to all of the incredible volunteers that make our community a better place!
In Vermont, transportation is a lifeline. A car is often the only option people have to get to the grocery store, to the doctor’s office, and to work. Buying a car can be a stressful and complex process filled with research, negotiations, and decisions. Adding to the complex process of buying a used car, English is Jean’s second language. Jean was thrilled to have found a late-model used car – his credit was good, he was able to get a loan, and the payments seemed affordable. So, Jean signed the papers, climbed in his car, and was on his way!
Until the engine blew up a few short months later.
Jean thought the dealership would fix his car. So he paid to have the car towed back to where he had bought it just a few months earlier. What Jean didn’t realize was that his car was sold “As-Is” and there was no warranty. The $2000+ repair would be Jean’s responsibility, and now his car was stuck at the dealership. Jean was devastated. Because of his shifts, public transportation was not an option.
Without a car, Jean struggled to get to work on time, and sometimes it was hard to get to work at all.
Jean’s supervisor talked to him. As a good, reliable employee, his supervisor wanted Jean to be at work doing his job, but Jean needed to get there on time. If Jean continued to be late, he would get points against him which could result in him losing his job. But Jean was running out of option.
Until Jean’s supervisor referred him to the Working Bridges Resource Coordinator, who is on-site at Jean’s workplace, to see if she could help him get to work on time and navigate his complicated car situation…
Jean met with the Working Bridges Resource Coordinator after his shift was over and they talked about his options. Jean had access to the Income Advance Loan program through Working Bridges. The loan could help him pay for part of the repair. But that loan alone was not enough. Jean figured that he could, “stop paying the car loan now that the car was not working – then he could put that amount into his savings each month to pay for the repair.”
Fortunately, the Resource Coordinator was there to help Jean understand his choices – and their potential outcomes. She explained that by signing that loan paperwork he had agreed to pay the full amount of the loan – whether the car was working, or not. If he didn’t continue his car loan payments, he risked losing the car!
Jean and the Resource Coordinator worked together to coordinate temporary rides with co-workers so he could get to work on time and keep his job.
Then they tackled his budget to figure out how he could save the money he needed to pay for his car repair. The Resource Coordinator is also a trained Financial Coach and helped Jean outline a savings plan and spending plan. She also discovered that Jean had a tax return coming back – that money could be put into his savings to put toward his car repair!
Today, they are still working together to make sure Jean stays on track. With his hard work building savings, continued employment, and a few rides from his co-workers, Jean hopes to have his car repaired and ready to drive in the New Year! But until then, Jean continues to need your help. As a supporter of Green Mountain United Way, you’re making sure that Jean keeps his stable employment and does not fall into poverty because of something as simple as a loss in reliable transportation.
Because sometimes a solution is as simple as having a reliable way to get to work on time.
Join us – together, we are the UNITED WAY. You are the neighbors caring for neighbors. You are the reason working Vermonters have somewhere to turn when they struggle – because UNITED, you are making a difference. We thank you and recognize that without you, this important support would not be available to people when they need it most!
Help Jean with a #GivingTuesday gift to Green Mountain United Way!
Already given through your workplace campaign or directly to United Way? Thank you!
We’ve made the tough choice to cancel this event tomorrow, November 31, 2019, due to the weather and other logistical concerns. But we will be taking this great idea and working with our committee and volunteers to bring this into the future and create a fun opportunity to celebrate the great work happening in our communities.
Stay tuned to our website & Facebook, or email us to be added to the list for future event information.
In the meantime, stay warm and be careful on the roads!
Financial coaching is an emerging practice that helps clients learn to set and achieve their financial goals.
Green Mountain United Way, in partnership with Capstone Community Action, presents Introduction to Financial Coaching. This interactive 4-day training is open to agency staff, peers, and volunteers and is a prerequisite to becoming a Financial Coach with Green Mountain United Way’s K.E.E.P. Financial Coaching Program. This program provides additional supports for coaches including one-on-one Master Coaching sessions, peer-to-peer support, and ongoing training by local and regional experts in finance and coaching practices, along with access to all course materials. This program builds an individual coach’s skills while helping clients.
DATES: October 8-10, 2019 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm with a follow-up class on Dec 5, 2019 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
All four training dates take place in Capstone Community Action in Barre.
In this training, we will define financial coaching, provide financial capability content and demonstrate the benefits of using coaching in helping people to achieve financial success. This program uses the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s “Your Money, Your Goals,” a comprehensive financial empowerment toolkit created for financial coaches, caseworkers, and other human service professionals in various roles to support the integration of financial education into their one-on-one work with clients.
Join us for coffee, doors open at 8:45 am, and the training starts promptly at 9:00 am. Lunch will be provided. The $100 fee covers instruction, materials, and food for all four days of the course.
The Fall 2019 Cohort of Financial Coaches is limited to 18 people – we expect this cohort to fill, please register for Intro to Financial Coaching early if you would like to join this program. Participation in this training is required to become a K.E.E.P. Financial Coach. For information about how K.E.E.P. Financial Coaching can impact your client-facing work, please read more here.
October 8-10, 2019
9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Follow up class on Dec 5, 2019
9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Capstone Community Action
Main Training Room, First Floor
20 Gable Place
Cost: $100 includes materials, light breakfast, and lunch for all four days of the training. Please pay by check to Green Mountain United Way, 73 Main Street #33, Montpelier, VT 05602 after you register using this link or the form below.
ACCOMMODATION REQUESTS RELATED TO A DISABILITY AND SPECIAL DIETARY NEEDS SHOULD BE MADE AT LEAST TWO WEEKS PRIOR TO THE EVENT BY CONTACTING BECKIE BLOUIN AT RBLOUIN@GMUNITEDWAY.ORG OR 802.613.3989.
written by Green Mountain United Way Volunteer Writer Robert Barossi
Volunteer Susie Turner has known about gleaning since childhood, when her grandparents had a print of a painting called “The Gleaners.” For her and other Community Harvest of Central Vermont (CHCV) volunteers, gleaning means spending time on farms, gathering surplus food from the fields after the farmers have completed their harvesting. This is often slow, steady work, on their hands and knees in the dirt, both a learning experience and a satisfying bit of physical labor with impactful end result.
In the past five years, CHCV has donated 175,800 pounds of food that would have otherwise gone to waste. This program, run by Executive Director Allison Levin, provides gleaned foods to community members who might not otherwise have access to healthy, fresh, local food. Last year, the organization delivered food to 9,000 residents of Central Vermont, and accomplished that through an impressive web of collaborations, working alongside farmers, recipient organizations, and the dedicated, passionate volunteers who do a lot of the on-the-ground and in-the-dirt work of gleaning. Susie and her husband, Jim, have been involved with the organization and its work for about two years.
“Susie’s brother is a dairyman, and when they first moved to Vermont and got started farming, we got very involved in helping them get going, so we had a preview of that sort of thing,” Jim notes. “With CHCV, we grew to appreciate even more the kind of non-stop effort it takes to put produce on our tables.”
“One of the things I love about gleaning and being involved with this organization is the fact that, even by its name, Community Harvest, it creates and nurtures a sense of community that is much broader than in many other interests. It connects us back to the rural environment, it connects us to the farmers, and it connects us to the recipients. It’s good for the farmers, and it’s good for the recipients. That is community,” says Susie.
Their work has also provided them a chance to directly observe the impact they’ve having. “The time that I think Jim and I feel it is when we’re delivering,” she says. “Going to the Senior Center in Waitsfield, when we went in with our first big bags of corn, people were sitting at the tables and were like, ‘We love everything you bring. This is wonderful!’ That is the other thing that I like about the sense of community, I think a lot of people who are food insecure, sometimes they feel separate from the rest of us. I think it’s good for them to know that not only do we care, but we consider them a part of our community. I think it closes a gap there that is often left a little open. Not that no one cares, but this is a way to make it happen.”
Susie adds that this work has actually changed her perception of issues of food and food insecurity in our region, noting, “I think I always felt the food insecure were really destitute, but they are not. They are people like you and I who have run into a hard time somewhere along the way and need that lift. They need to not have to worry about their food security, so to speak. If they are not worried about that, maybe they are able to get back into a situation they are more comfortable with. I love that feeling of being able to help them.”
CHCV’s work is a win for everyone involved, the farmers, the recipients, and the clients of those recipients, who receive the food gleaned by these volunteers and many others like them. Jim recalls one special moment that he considers among his favorites. “Susie and I were delivering to Capstone, and we had put all the stuff on the dock and were driving away. I looked in the rearview mirror, and some young guy working there walked up and saw all the stuff, and he raised his arms and shouted ‘Yes!’ It was not to us; it was an unguarded moment. I get goosebumps thinking about it; it was so cool.”
VSECU, the credit union for all Vermonters recently held a back-to-school drive to support children Vermont’s foster care system and donated over $800 worth of back-to-school supplies. Items included backpacks, notebooks, binders and paper, folders, pencils, and water bottles and were distributed through Tatum’s Totes coordinated by Green Mountain United Way in partnership with the Department for Children and Families Barre and St. Johnsbury districts. This generous donation is part of VSECU’s commitment to give back to the local community.
“When I heard there was an opportunity to support children in foster care with something as simple as back-to-school supplies, I knew the team at VSECU could make a difference for these kids. Children in foster care can sometimes feel unseen and unheard by our community. Doing a drive like this gives us the chance to show these kids that their community does care deeply about them,” offered Ann Hodgdon, employee and back-to-school drive organizer at VSECU.
The Drawing Board, Montpelier’s local Art Supply and Framing Store, recently donated $1000 worth of art supplies to Green Mountain United Way. Items included markers, paints, sketch pads, origami kits, drawing pencils, and coloring books and will be distributed through Tatum’s Totes coordinated by Green Mountain United Way in the Barre, St. Johnsbury, and Newport Department for Children and Families districts. This generous donation is part of The Drawing Board’s commitment to give back to the local community.
“Growing up, art was something that helped me discover who I was. I imagine that these children, like many of us, need an outlet for creativity and a positive way to express themselves. If we can help give these children an opportunity to have a creative break, to enjoy making their own art, or coloring a picture to help relieve the stress they are experiencing, I’m so happy to be a small part of that positive experience for these kids,” said Drawing Board owner Liz Walsh.
Tatum’s Totes is a program that provides backpacks to children transitioning into foster care. Tatum’s Totes was founded by Liz and Alex Grimes when they began fostering children after their son Tatum died of SIDS at 5 months old. They found an independent organization to honor Tatum’s memory and to serve children in their home area of Rutland County after they realized that many foster children enter their new homes with little more than a plastic shopping bag with a few personal items. Green Mountain United Way brought Tatum’s Totes to the Barre and Newport DCF districts in 2016 and took over coordination of the St. Johnsbury DCF region 2017. Children entering foster care are given a backpack of their own filled with age-appropriate, caring items including blankets, books, toys, toothbrushes, and other hygiene items, games, a water bottle, school supplies, and art supplies.
“VSECU & the Drawing Board both embody the Vermont ethic of taking care of the community that takes care of you,” said Carrie Stahler, Director of Community Engagement at Green Mountain United Way. “These items will help children in foster care be able to go back to school with the items they need and help foster families, who generously open their homes to children in the community. It is always our goal to show children in foster care that their community loves, supports, and values them. The support of companies like VSECU and The Drawing Board demonstrates that so clearly.”
In the past 12 months, Green Mountain United Way has supported over 74 children entering foster care. For a complete list of items to support Tatum’s Totes, go to www.gmunitedway.org/tatumstotes.
Green Mountain United Way is pleased to announce that Michelle Clark has joined the Working Bridges Program Staff. She will serve Working Bridges worksite locations as the full-time Northeast Kingdom Resource Coordinator.
A graduate of Lyndon State College (now NVU), Michelle began her career as a dental hygienist outside of Vermont but upon her return discovered a passion for social work and went back to LSC to get her degree. Michelle has held a variety of roles assisting Vermonters in the Northeast Kingdom and Central Vermont prior to this role. Before joining Green Mountain United Way, she worked for Umbrella helping survivors of domestic and sexual violence find safe and stable housing.
“Michelle brings a great depth of experience to our team and in her short time here has demonstrated a gift for connecting the employees Working Bridges serves with resources in the community. She has an unmatched depth of knowledge that is needed to help our clients address their needs so they can stay employed, focused at work, and continue to create stable lives for themselves and their family,” said United Way’s Executive Director Tawnya Kristen.
“I see myself as a travel agent for community resources. I’m excited to bring my skills and knowledge to connect working families in the Northeast Kingdom to the resources they need to address a life challenge, or to have the opportunity to make their life or their family’s life better. Asking for help is hard, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to care for my community’s caretakers through our work,” offered Clark, who lives on her family’s farm in Lyndonville with her son. She is a member of the Lyndon Outing Club board.
Working Bridges is an employee-service and workforce development program offered to business partners in the Green Mountain United Way service area covering the Northeast Kingdom and Central Vermont. Since launching the program in their service region in 2016, Green Mountain United Way’s Working Bridges program has expanded to serve five large employers and one small employer with a combined workforce of over 3000 individuals throughout United Way’s service region. Participating employers in the Northeast Kingdom include Northern Counties Health Care, Northeast Kingdom Human Services, ABC-LOL Daycare, and Weidmann Electrical Technology.
About Green Mountain United Way: Green Mountain United Way is a Vermont not-for-profit organization in operation since 1976. They work to improve the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community in Caledonia, Essex, Orange, Orleans and Washington Counties by mobilizing the caring power of communities around our region to advance the common good. No other single organization has the scope and influence to bring together human service agencies, government, businesses, private foundations and dedicated volunteers around a common vision of creating maximum impact and achieving long-lasting results.
Contact Green Mountain United Way, 73 Main Street, Montpelier, Vermont, 802-613-3989 or email@example.com
About Working Bridges™: Working Bridges™ is a United Way led Employer Collaborative founded 10 years ago in Chittenden County by The United Way of Northwest Vermont. Since 2016, Green Mountain United Way’s Working Bridges program, led by Pam Bailey, has expanded to businesses in the Green Mountain United Way service area of Caledonia Essex, Orange, Orleans, and Washington Counties. More information at www.gmunitedway.org/workingbridges
The Barre Cub Scouts recently held an item drive for Tatum’s Totes to support backpacks for kids transitioning into emergency foster care. That drive turned into an incredible opportunity for the scouts to help put together backpacks for kids their ages, imagining what a child might help to comfort a child who is going to a new home.
In the end, they put together 75 backpacks filled with items for children, and built with a lot of love. They presented a backpack to United Way Board President Linda Winter at halftime on the football field at Spaulding on Friday, September 20th.
This week our partners at The State of Vermont and Northfield Savings Bank kicked off campaign season with events for their employees.
The State of Vermont held their event at the State House and started with breakfast then speeches in the House Chambers from Campaign Chair Melissa Mazza-Paquette, Secretary of Administration Suzanne Young, Green Mountain United Way’s Carrie Stahler, and Governor Phil Scott. An award ceremony for State Employees followed.
Northfield Savings Bank encouraged their team with a Superhero Theme led by their own HR Superheroes. The weeklong campaign culminated with a Superhero Celebratory Lunch for all who participated!
Below are resources for Nonprofit Volunteer Coordinators to use in order to learn how the United Way Volunteer Connection works, to sign up for the Volunteer Connection, or to trouble-shoot challenges on the Volunteer Connection. If you need more help than these resources offer, reach out to Carrie or Beckie at 802-613-3989 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quick Start Guide (START HERE! Use this guide to sign up, set up, and update all of your nonprofit’s info and volunteer opportunities)
Login to the GMUW Volunteer Connection
Video Resources from our partners at Galaxy Digital, the folks who support our Volunteer Connection database:
- Nonprofit Volunteer Coordinator (Agency Manager) Training: The Experience
- Nonprofit Volunteer Coordinator (Agency Manager) Training: Opportunity Scheduling
- Nonprofit Volunteer Coordinator (Agency Manager Training: Check-In
- Nonprofit Volunteer Coordinator (Agency Manager) Training: User Experience
- Nonprofit Volunteer Coordinator (Agency Manager) Training: Volunteer Self Check-In
We hold periodic trainings to help our nonprofit partners train new staff, stay up to date, learn new tips and tricks, and make the most efficient use of the Volunteer Connection. Stay tuned for the next training date – we try to combine these with peer meetings you can learn from your fellow Volunteer Coordinators!