Take Advantage of Free Filing This Tax Season

Gladys understands the importance of making wise financial decisions. For years, she has helped countless people create a strong financial foundation as a financial coach. In 2016, she decided to help herself. She filed her taxes through MyFreeTaxes™.

It all started with a dental issue. Gladys, the 30-year-old manager of the Guadalupe Centers Financial Opportunity Center in Kansas City, Missouri, needed to visit a dentist, but she couldn’t afford it.

“I was going to do what most individuals do: File my taxes and put off going to the dentist,” said Gladys. “But then I heard from my employer about MyFreeTaxes, and that night I logged on.”

MyFreeTaxes is filing software powered by H&R Block, a United Way partner. It is a free, safe and easy way for individuals earning less than $66,000 to file their state and federal taxes. Gladys admits she was skeptical about the service at first, but she warmed up to the idea.

“It’s that old thing of it’s just too good to be true, but then I read about the benefits,” said Gladys, who was able to file her taxes within 30 minutes. “I was shocked at how easy and user-friendly the process was. With the money I saved, I was able to visit the dentist.”

As the only free, online, national tax-filing product offered by a nonprofit, MyFreeTaxes has helped nearly one million individuals like Gladys receive their maximum refunds by claiming all eligible tax credits—like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC)—saving users $180 million in filing fees. Since 2009, MyFreeTaxes has brought more than $1 billion in refunds back to communities.

How does it work? Simply upload a photo of your W-2 and MyFreeTaxes will automatically fill in your information. Most filers complete their taxes in under an hour. The filing software guarantees that all tax returns are 100 percent accurate, and that the filer receives their biggest refund. Users can:

  • File their federal taxes—and up to three state returns—for free.
  • Utilize error checkers, online chats to navigate the process, and Refund Reveal™ to understand how and why the refund amount is changing.
  • Access the software from their computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • Get free customer support from IRS-certified specialists from MyFreeTaxes.com.

Are you ready to file your 2017 taxes? Visit MyFreeTaxes today to complete your tax return. The IRS begins accepting electronic returns on January 29, and H&R Block will automatically submit your return when e-filing opens. Please note that as part of the PATH Act, tax refunds claiming the EITC and CTC will be held until February 15. Filers claiming those credits should expect to receive their refund no earlier than February 27.

Have questions about how tax reform might affect you? Read this helpful article. While you’re filing your taxes, call our free helpline at 1-855-My-TX-Help to be connected to an IRS-certified specialist who can answer your tax filing questions. If you prefer to file your taxes in person this year, visit a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site in your community. You can also contact 2-1-1 for additional tax support services.

Originally posted by Laura Scherler, January 25, 2018

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Setting Goals For A Healthier 2018!

 

Happy New Year!

As 2018 dawns, we are happy to provide a newsletter full of tips to help your colleagues and clients stick to their resolutions and work toward a healthier lifestyle.

One way to encourage healthy behaviors is through 3-4-50. We have tip sheets and sign-on sheets for worksites, schools, early childhood programs, communities and new this month, faith communities. Consider bringing the 3-4-50 message to the organizations you are close to, and ask them to sign on. Your Office of Local Health can assist, by meeting with your organization and explaining how 3-4-50 can work for them and people they reach.

To date we have over 40 organizations signed on to 3-4-50. Join them in working toward a healthier Vermont.

 

 

Setting Goals for a Healthier

2018!

It seems that each January brings a flood of well-intended resolutions. “This year, I am going to lose weight.” “This year I’m going to exercise more.” It’s no surprise that gym attendance and health related Google searches spike in the month of January and then rapidly decline. Let’s face it, there‘s nothing like an indulgent season of holiday food and drink accompanied by a hearty dose of stress to fuel the desire to make a change for health’s sake. In that sense, January is a great time to start down the road toward better health. The challenge becomes, how do we help our clients and staff implement lifestyle changes that are sustainable and might actually lead to better health? More…
Worksite Wellness Conference Banner

2018 Worksite Wellness Conference

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018, DoubleTree by Hilton in Burlington, VT (formerly the Sheraton)

Registration for the 2018 Worksite Wellness Conference is open! The conference will take place on Wednesday, March 21st, 2018 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Burlington, VT (previously the Sheraton). We invite you to join hundreds of Vermont business owners, human resources professionals and wellness experts to learn strategies and best practices in worksite wellness, share your experiences and expand your professional network. This year we will have a keynote speaker from the leading worksite wellness organization WELCOA, twelve breakout session options, presentation of the 2018 Worksite Wellness Awards and an all new Ask-the-Expert session! We are also pleased to announce that we are now an approved re-certification provider for the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) and the HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®). Register before March 1st, 2018 to get an early bird rate.

Looking to start a worksite wellness initiative or integrate new strategies for 2018? Check out our website for tips and tools on getting started with a comprehensive worksite wellness program and recommended wellness strategies. You can also find sample policies, templates and other resources to help you develop or expand your program.
Group of children walking and rolling to school in the winter.

Winter Walk to School Day
February 7, 2018

Children spend a large part of their day at school, and it is important for them to have ample opportunities for physical activity while they are there. It’s also important to consider out of school time and active transportation, like walking and biking to and from school. Winter has arrived, but that doesn’t mean an end to children walking to school. With the right preparation, walking to school in the winter can be fun. This is Vermont after all, the land of cross-country skiing, ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and fat biking – so why not consider hosting a Walk (and Bike) to School Day celebration in the middle of the winter? Dig out your hats and gloves, organize your volunteers and get stepping for Winter Walk to School Day 


SMART Goals at School
New Year’s resolutions are in full effect and this month’s newsletter is all about setting goals. Goals are not just for individuals though, schools across Vermont are actively working on addressing goals through their Local School Wellness Policies.
Setting goals does require some thought about your school’s vision for a culture of wellness. Consider setting SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound. The SMART criteria help ensure that the goals are within reason and attainable. A detailed, well-stated goal has the best chance of being achieved. It provides direction for schools and supervisory unions in meeting health and wellness objectives. Check out the Vermont Wellness Policy Implementation Tool to help organize your School Wellness Policy Goals.
Winter hiking.
Get Active and Eat Well Throughout the Winter Months

 

January is when many people decide to make changes to be healthier, yet winter in Vermont can be a very challenging time to be physically active and to eat healthy. Here are free or low cost ways to help people stick to those resolutions this time of year. Share these with partners, on social media sites, or in newsletters. Make the information specific to your local resources with dates, times and directions to locations. Consider offering informal events or outings for the community to encourage people to take advantage of what is available: family skating, fort building, winter walks in the woods, (healthy) winter soup or chili contest! More…

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Tax Filling Season Is Here!

Vermont 2-1-1

Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl


Another very busy December has come to a close with contact specialists responding to 5,795 calls.This one month total is only 100 calls shy of the total call volume for the entire third quarter of 2017 and is a twenty-five percent increase in calls over the month of November. The onset of winter traditionally begins a busier time of year for the 2-1-1 Contact Center, and this trend is reflected, once again, in this month’s report. The types of requests for information and referral represent the heightened day-to-day struggles that some Vermont families annually face during the cold weather season. The annual upward trend of requests for shelter from the cold and financial assistance with utility costs were in full swing as we closed out 2017.

Year-end totals show that Information and Referral Specialists provided direct personal responses to 28,948 calls in 2017. During those same twelve months, Vermont 2-1-1 received close to 34,351 visitors to our website. In addition, 9,895 calls were received from Vermonters inquiring specifically about the State’s Emergency Housing Adverse Weather Conditions (formerly known as the Cold Weather Exception), periods when temperatures drop and the General Assistance Emergency Housing rules are relaxed in order to keep our most vulnerable warm and dry on the coldest Vermont winter nights.

This winter, there were nine cold weather shelters in place to help respond to the increased need and two extreme cold weather emergency shelters opened for the first time over the last weekend in 2017, providing  additional shelter space in Rutland and Burlington where motel vacancies were scarce and requests for motel vouchers continued to rise due to sub-zero temperatures. The collaborative efforts of state and non-profit organizations in response to winter housing emergencies exemplify successful system coordination, and our collective efforts on many fronts will continue to improve the health and well-being of every member of our Vermont communities. Vermont 2-1-1 Information and Referral Specialists made more referrals to housing/shelter related resources in 2017 than in any other year.

Referrals to public assistance programs peaked in December. The majority of the referrals were to General Relief, an income maintenance program administered and funded by the State of Vermont that provides basic financial assistance for individuals and families to meet their emergency basic needs.

In 2018, Vermont 2-1-1 will continue to fulfill its founding mission of connecting all people in Vermont to the agencies, organizations, services, and resources that provide the help they need. Our Information and Referral Specialists, trained to respond with compassion, are answering calls 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. As always, the Vermont 2-1-1 database is available at vermont211.org. Look for a new and improved way to search for resources coming in 2018!

Read Vermont 2-1-1’s monthly contact volume report here.

Supporting Baby’s Brain Development


Did you know when a baby cries or babbles and the adult caring for them consistently responds with eye contact, words, appropriate facial expression and touch, they are helping to build the baby’s brain? It’s called serve and return, and these everyday back-and-forth interactions are essential experiences that affect a baby’s development.

Infants and young children reach out for social interaction by “serving” an attempt at attention, (like babbling). When caregivers “return” consistently in a direct and meaningful way (like eye contact and smiling), they provide an environment for the baby’s healthy emotional, social and cognitive development. These interactions help to build what is called “brain architecture”; they help to create neural connections in the brain.  These interactions become more complex as the child grows and they begin to use serve and return with adults to develop language and literacy skills.

On the other hand, if a caregiver’s responses are unreliable, inappropriate or absent, this disrupts the brain’s development and how the child processes information.  The negative effects can include an increased risk for emotional, behavioral and cognitive disorders. It can also alter the brain’s stress response system, creating greater risk of developing anxiety, depression and other chronic health problems. A breakdown in serve and return interaction is often due to the caregiver experiencing significant stresses, such as financial problems, chronic health and/or mental health issues and a lack of supportive social connections.

Genes and experiences play a part in the developing brain, and input from a child’s senses is the foundation the brain depends on. These serve and return interactions set the stage by providing positive stimulation and social interaction and reduce stress when the baby knows their need will be met. Building these neural pathways affects different areas of growth in the brain at a time when a child’s brain is experiencing the biggest amount of development. According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, more than 1 million new neural connections form every second in the first few years of a child’s life.

Help Me Grow VT Child Development Specialists can help you learn ways to support your child’s development and find community resources to support your family in stressful times. Visit our website or contact a Child Development Specialist by dialing 2-1-1 ext. 6 or by texting HMGVT to 898211.


Emergency Housing in Vermont


Through a partnership with the State of Vermont’s Economic Services Division, Vermont 2-1-1 administers the After Hours Emergency Housing Program beginning at 4:30pm weekdays, throughout weekends and on state/federal holidays. Housing in Vermont has reached a critical need.

Vermont 2-1-1 Information and Referral (I&R) Specialists responded to 877 calls regarding housing needs. I&R specialists provide needs assessment, problem-solving support, and information and referrals to a wide range of services to each caller. Review Vermont 2-1-1’s Emergency Housing Report for December here.


Vermont 2-1-1 Web Statistics


In addition to the contact statistics, the following data is from the 2-1-1 website and shows how the public used the database search engine during the month of December:

Top Services: Holiday Gifts/Toys (569 searches); Christmas Programs (409 searches); Homeless Motel Vouchers (380 searches); Community Meals (153 searches); Clothing Donation Programs (148 searches)

Top Agencies: United Way of Northwest Vermont; Salvation Army (Rutland); Salvation (Burlington); Chances for Christmas; Vermont Department for Children and Families – Economic Services Division

Top Search by City: Burlington; Hancock; Brattleboro; New Haven; East Fairfield

Total Site Visits: 5126

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 2069


Tax Filling Season Is Here!


Vermont 2-1-1 partners with our local United Ways, many Community Action Agencies, and private non-profits to help connect Vermonters to free tax preparation across the state. Individuals must meet income eligibility guidelines to access the services offered by the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which serves thousands of Vermonters annually, but there are resources for everyone in the 2-1-1 database.

Whether you need information about Vermont Renters Rebate, Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Federal IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers in VT, or where to find online tax preparation programs, simply dial 2-1-1, text your zip code to 898211, or search our database using the following terms:


Winter Warm Up Concerns


From Department of Public Safety – Division of Fire Safety

The National Weather has forecast a considerable warm-up through the first part of this weekend.

Recent extreme cold temperatures with snow accumulation has contributed to ice and snow buildup on roofs. With warmer temperatures and rain in the forecast- falling ice and heavy snow loads on roofs may present a hazard.

Please follow the safety tips below:

1. Keep all chimneys and fuel fired appliance vents clear to prevent carbon monoxide from backing up into the building. Some vents, such as gas, oil, and pellet stove vents, may vent directly out of the building through a wall and are susceptible to being blocked by excessive snow buildup on the outside of the building.

2. Keep all exits clear of snow, so that occupants can escape quickly if a fire, or other emergency should occur. Keep in mind windows should be cleared to allow a secondary means of escape in case the primary means of escape is blocked by fire. Keeping exits clear also allows emergency workers quick and easy access to your building.

3. Be alert when approaching buildings for overhanging ice and snow, with the warming weather and forecast of rain, the ice and snow could fall from the roofs at any time.

4. Monitor your roof drainage systems for blockage to ensure that your roofs are displacing the water as designed. Clear any ice, snow or debris as needed to assist with proper drainage.

5. Please check on your neighbors and assist them when you can, especially our most vulnerable, the elderly and those with restricted mobility.

6. Ensure your home is equipped with working smoke and CO alarms.


From Vermont 2-1-1’s New Staff Member, Stacy!


Vermont has always been my home. I earned a degree in Education, Human Services, and Professional Studies all at Vermont State Colleges. I have worked for the State of Vermont for the past 4 years, and before that I ran an after school program at Meeting Waters YMCA for 7. I love all that my tiny state has to offer. I enjoy hiking, kayaking, snowmobiling, dirt biking, camping, and all of the wonderful outdoor activities I can do in the area. I also am a powerlifter, dancer, and traveler, and I play volleyball year-round. I currently serve on the Meeting Waters YMCA Board of Directors, and I also am the Community College of Vermont Representative on the Vermont State Colleges Alumni Council. I am happy that I am able to still serve in a Human Services position, and I am excited about my new venture as Outreach Specialist with Vermont 2-1-1!

 

 

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Division of Fire Safety Press Release – Winter Warm Up Concerns

STATE OF VERMONT

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY

DIVISION OF FIRE SAFETY

PRESS RELEASE

 

For Immediate Release:

 

Release Date:

January 9th, 2018

Time: 12:30 p.m.

CONTACTS:

Michael Desrochers, Executive Director – 802-479-7561

Division of Fire Safety – 1-800-640-2106 – or firesafety.vermont.gov

 

 

Winter Warm Up Concerns

 

The National Weather has forecast a considerable warm-up through the first part of this weekend.

 

Recent extreme cold temperatures with snow accumulation has contributed to ice and snow buildup on roofs. With warmer temperatures and rain in the forecast- falling ice and heavy snow loads on roofs may present a hazard.

 

Please follow the safety tips below:

 

1.     Keep all chimneys and fuel fired appliance vents clear to prevent carbon monoxide from backing up into the building. Some vents, such as gas, oil, and pellet stove vents, may vent directly out of the building through a wall and are susceptible to being blocked by excessive snow buildup on the outside of the building.

 

2.    Keep all exits clear of snow, so that occupants can escape quickly if a fire, or other emergency should occur. Keep in mind windows should be cleared to allow a secondary means of escape in case the primary means of escape is blocked by fire. Keeping exits clear also allows emergency workers quick and easy access to your building.

 

3.     Be alert when approaching buildings for overhanging ice and snow, with the warming weather and forecast of rain, the ice and snow could fall from the roofs at any time.

 

4.     Monitor your roof drainage systems for blockage to ensure that your roofs are displacing the water as designed. Clear any ice, snow or debris as needed to assist with proper drainage.

 

5.     Please check on your neighbors and assist them when you can, especially our most vulnerable, the elderly and those with restricted mobility.

 

6.     Ensure your home is equipped with working smoke and CO alarms.

 

About Vermont Division of Fire Safety

Vermont Division of Fire Safety’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders with coordinated efforts in code enforcement, fire service training, public education, hazardous materials and incident investigation to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the devastating effects of fires and other disasters and emergencies in the state. 

 

# # #

 

Update VT-Alert Profile – Click Here.  For info on VT-Alert, E-Mail: dps.vtalert@vermont.gov

 

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2018 Worksite Wellness Conference

2018 Worksite Wellness Conference

2018 Worksite Wellness Conference

2018 Worksite Wellness Conference: Worksite Wellness Essentials for a Thriving Workplace

Wednesday March 21, 2018
Burlington Hotel & Conference Center
870 Williston Road
Burlington, VT 05403
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Join hundreds of Vermont business owners, human resources professionals and wellness experts to learn strategies and best practices in worksite wellness, share your experiences, and expand your professional network. This year we will have a keynote speaker from leading Worksite Wellness Organization WELCOA, twelve breakout session options, and an all new Ask-the-Expert session!

register now (link is external)

Registration fees and deadlines

Deadline to register: March 10th

$78.00 for award winners
$104.00 per person before March 1st
$128.00 per person after March 1st
Information on Exhibiting

Green up your commute!

The Department of Health is partnering with Go! Vermont (link is external) to provide greener commuting options for the 2018 Worksite Wellness Conference. Any worksite sending six or more employees to the conference is eligible to rent a van at their local Enterprise car rental for only $25.00! Any adult employee can pick up the van the night before the conference and return it the evening after the conference. If you are sending fewer than six employees, or some of your employees commute a significant distance to work, please let us know and we can do a match with employers in your area for a vanpool from your town or region! Please email ashwinee.kulkarni@vermont.gov if you are interested in a vanpool.

Rather take the bus? Every attendee that takes a vanpool or commutes to the venue by bus will enter a raffle to win one of five free gas cards!

Conference Agenda

7:30 a.m. – Registration

8:30 a.m. Welcome

Janet Franz – Chair, Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
Mark Levine, MD – Commissioner, Vermont Department of Health
Governor Phil Scott (invited)
Worksite Wellness Awards and Poster Session

10:00 – Keynote Address with Q&A

Sara Rauch – WELCOA

11:00 a.m. – Break

Exhibits & Networking

11:15 a.m. – Concurrent Workshops

  1. Engaging Management and Wellness Teams in the Creation of Supportive Environments – Judd Allen, Human Resources Institute, LLC
  2. Improving Productivity, Profits, and Opportunity Through an Innovative Co-Generational Workplace–  Liz Vogel, Dots, Inc.
  3. Advancing Your Employee Wellness Program: Strategies and tools for evaluation (part 1) – Lindsay Simpson, The Richards Group
  4. Working Recovery :Supporting Vermont’s Vulnerable Workforce – Multiple Speakers, Chittenden County Opioid Alliance
  5. Health and Emotional Wellbeing in the Workplace: Behavior Screening and Intervention as an Effective Approach to Wellness – Steven Dickens, InvestEAP
  6. Successful Program Planning: Meeting Employees at their Level of Readiness Multiple – Speakers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont

12:15 p.m. – Lunch

Exhibits & Networking

1:30 p.m. – Concurrent Workshops

  1. Aligning People, Place and Purpose for Meaningful Wellness Interventions – Sara Rauch, WELCOA
  2. Harness the Power of Play – Lizzy Pope, University of Vermont & Marguerite Dibble, Game Theory
  3. Advancing Your Employee Wellness Program: Strategies and tools for evaluation (part 2) –Lindsay Simpson, The Richards Group
  4. Best Practices When Launching a Continuous Incentive Wellness Challenge –Nick Patel, Wellable, Inc.
  5. Physical Activity in the Workplace for  Strength, Vitality and Injury Prevention –Michael Hughes, Injury & Health Management Solutions, Inc., Seth Rebeor, Injury & Health Management Solutions, Inc. & Heather Main, Main Wellness
  6. Promising Practices in Population Health – Speakers, Rise VT & Central Vermont Medical Center

2:35 p.m. – Fitness Intermission

3:00 p.m.

 – Ask the Experts Session

4:00 p.m. – Adjourn

View Session Descriptions

View Speaker Bios

View The Flyer Here

The 2018 Worksite Wellness Conference is sponsored by:

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Lift Up! Fundraiser is January 20th

Event rescheduled for Saturday, January 20 due to weather! Don’t miss it!

Join Green Mountain CrossFit and Green Mountain United Way for a day of weightlifting to raise funds for Green Mountain United Way on Saturday, January 20. Fifty percent of all proceeds go straight to Green Mountain United Way to support the fantastic work they do in and around our local community. Come try for a new personal record and support a great cause. Green Mountain United Way supports communities in Caledonia, Essex, Orange, Orleans, and Washington Counties through work in the areas of health, education and financial stability.

“Green Mountain CrossFit is clearly committed to a healthy community, both through their work to help people become fit, but also in their dedication to supporting Green Mountain United Way’s work in our region” says Tawnya Kristen, Executive Director of Green Mountain United Way. “This event provides the opportunity to share the load in lifting up the health, education and financial stability of all in our communities through the joy of lifting your personal best!” Tawnya Kristen is also a participant in the Lift Up! Benefit.

Format will be a single registration at $50. Registration allows you to establish a one rep max in any or all of six lifts: Shoulder Press, Bench Press, Back Squat, Deadlift, Snatch, and Clean & Jerk. This is a non-sanctioned, family-friendly lifting event and is open to all ages and abilities. During last year’s event many personal bests were reached, and we expect more of the same this year with support from an enthusiastic crowd of lifters, CrossFit athletes, and the local community. Lifting is not required to attend, and we encourage the general public to show up and cheer on regular folks from the local community doing extraordinary lifts for a great cause.

For more information about the competition go to www.facebook.com/greenmountaincrossfit. Register online at www.greenmountaincrossfit.com. For more information about the event, contact Green Mountain CrossFit at their Berlin location at 802-229-4131 or at nick@greenmountaincrossfit.com

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 info@gmunitedway.org

About Green Mountain CrossFit: GMCF is community fitness facility with locations at 645 Granger Road in Berlin, VT and at 735 Brooklyn Street in Morrisville, VT. Green Mountain CrossFit hosts a variety of movement classes every day in their multi-use spaces including CrossFit, yoga, kettlebells, personal fitness instruction and more in partnership with local and in-house instructors. Their goal is to change the lives of members through the constant pursuit of quality movement within a supportive community. They believe that the key to a healthy population is a multi-dimensional fitness environment that provides opportunities for a social and family experience, skill building through sports, and sustainable pursuit of fitness or athletic performance goals and tailor their programs to support this vision.
Contact Green Mountain CrossFit, 645 Granger Road, Berlin, Vermont, 802-229-4131 or nick@greenmountaincrossfit.com

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