More Donations for Tatum’s Totes

The donations of new clothes, toys, toiletries, blankets, school supplies and more keep coming in for our Tatum’s Totes Program for area foster kids.

The Westmore Church Ladies Group that we told you about a couple months ago have come through with two big boxes of essential items and a comment that more donations are forthcoming.  Two other individuals recently came in with stuffed animals, backpacks and boxes of baby items.

Each donor is struck with wanting to help these children who having to enter foster care making Tatum’s Totes such an important element of their well being.  Many thanks go out to all who contribute and recognize the need to make life better for these kids.

To see the full list of suggested items to donate, visit or call one of our offices in Montpelier at 802-613-3989, in Derby Line at 802-647-2148, or Beth, the Tatum’s Totes contact for Caledonia County at 802-735-8278.

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Introducing our Campaign Chairperson

karenwardGMUW is very happy to introduce Karen Ward as this year’s Campaign Chair.  Karen is a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones in the Newport area and has had extensive experience in the past volunteering for the United Way.  She loves working with women to help them achieve career goals and is passionate about helping others gain their long-term goals.  She strongly believes in the Collective Impact Model employed by GMUW and looks forward to introducing it with GMUW staff to local businesses over the next year.

“No one organization has the resources or the skills that are required to address the most pressing issues in our community today.  Whether it is opiate addiction, children living in poverty or access to health care, I believe community involvement through the Collective Impact Model is the key to unlocking the door to progress.  That is why I chose to join the GMUW Campaign this year.  I want to help mobilize those in our community, especially business leaders to participate in this model.  People working together can achieve more than they can if working separately,” states Ward.

You can meet Karen at our annual Campaign Kickoff Breakfast on September 20 at The Steak House on the Barre-Montpelier Road.  She is a dynamic advocate for the United Way who you will want to meet and talk with.

The breakfast begins at 7:30 am and will include inspiring stories from people who have been directly impacted by the work of the local United Way, and feel the campaign enthusiasm of the near hundred people who usually attend.  You will also have the opportunity to hear about the new direction being taken by Green Mountain United Way for improved service to its people and communities.  Awards for excellence in last year’s campaign will also be presented.

Send your reservation today to Laurie Kelty at or call the GMUW Montpelier office at 802-613-3989.

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GMUW’s Tatum’s Totes Program Benefits from the Monday Girls

Recently, the Monday Girls, a group of the North Country Quilters in Orleans County, heard about the Tatum’s Totes Program for foster children and were impressed with its mission.  They immediately decided to donate some quilts for children moving into foster care.

Tatum’s Totes is a statewide program that provides backpacks of essential items for foster children and teens who many times arrive at foster homes with just the clothes on their backs.  The backpacks are filled with age and gender appropriate items such as basic clothing, hygiene items, a fuzzy blanket and stuffed animal, activity and reading books and a game.

In its five-county service area, Green Mountain United Way is the coordinator of this program and collaborates with the State of Vermont’s Dept. for Children and Families (DCF) to make sure they have the necessary backpacks needed.

Betsy McDonald of Derby Line, a member of the Monday Girls, earlier this month presented 13 beautiful handmade quilts to Tammy Lalime, Resource Coordinator for the Newport DCF office, to be given to foster kids.

For more information about the Tatum’s Totes Program and to see a list of items needed to fill backpacks, please visit or email any one of the GMUW offices in central Vermont at, in St. Johnsbury at, or in Derby Line at



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GMUW Participating in FEED Leadership Program

GMUW is proud to be a key member of the Cal-Essex Accountable Health Community team which is committed to working collectively towards improving the health and well-being of the people in Caledonia and southern Essex Counties with emphasis on reducing poverty in our region. As a member of CAHC, GMUW Executive Director Tawnya Kristen has been asked to participate in the FEED Leadership Program through Feeding America and The Annie E. Casey Foundation. This 15-month leadership program is designed to accelerate improved outcomes for communities working to improve outcomes for families with children through a collective impact model. The FEED Leadership Program will support teams with leadership skills necessary to move from talk to action to advance progress on a locally-identified result, including: Developing and executing an action plan with clearly identified strategies; addressing adaptive and technical leadership challenges that arise when managing the competing interests among diverse, cross-sector partners; building the capacity of leaders to use data for continuous improvement of action plan strategies; making mid-course corrections as the landscape shifts and new priorities emerge; and building the organizational and community capacity needed for sustaining results work over the long-term.

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GMUW Holds Budgeting Workshop for BAART

Green Mountain United Way continues its efforts to present Financial Literacy Workshops within its service area. We are in the process of branding our presentations so that they are consistent regardless of where we go and who is delivering the information.

On July 26, 2016, GMUW presented a workshop on “Budgeting” to the staff and participants at BAART in St. Johnsbury. Also present were staff members from the Vermont Department of Health. BAART stands for Bay Area Addiction Research Treatment, which is where the treatment centers across the country began. In our region BAART has facilities in both St. Johnsbury and Newport.

The GMUW budgeting packet was distributed to all attendees and included a Financial Management Questionnaire, a Budget Tool where one can enter monthly income and expenses; a Balance Sheet Tool where the bottom line is one’s Net Worth; a Cash Flow Budget Tool where one can break down income and expenses by the number of weeks in a month; and a tracking sheet for breaking down different expenses. Discussion followed concerning strategies to increase income and reduce expenses.

Future Financial Literacy Workshops are planned for St. Johnsbury Academy’s Adult Education Program and for the faculty and staff of Norwich University.

For more information about the GMUW Financial Literacy program, contact Nelson at 802-745-0101 or by email at

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Tip of the Month

Dr. Harry Chen, Vermont’s Health Commissioner, recently stated that many Vermonters engage in three negative behaviors:

  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Tobacco use

He went on to say that these behaviors lead to four major illnesses:

  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Pulmonary conditions
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer

And, these four illnesses account for half of the deaths in Vermont, a staggering statistic to say the least.

Make it a point in your life to change whatever negative behavior you might be practicing.  Start changing your diet, get out there and walk, or try to quit smoking.  Any baby step you take will result in a longer, more enjoyable life.

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It’s the Way to Go Challenge

logoHere’s your chance to make a dent in the amount of carbon pollution in Vermont’s air.  Join the Way to Go Challenge in Vermont that will take place between Sept. 27th and Oct. 7th.

What do you do?  It’s easy.  Just go to and sign up.  Instead of using your vehicle, commit to walking to work or to school, or anywhere for that matter, as often as possible during those ten days and do your part in reducing carbon pollution.  Each day, go this website and record the approximate number of miles you’ve walked and they do the rest. They calculate the amount pollution that is avoided.  You might even win a prize!

Encourage your friends and family to also sign up.  Maybe you could even start a team at work to walk together during break time, or possibly form more than one team and create a little competition amongst yourselves.

It’s fun and, at the same time, you will be keeping the air you breathe a little cleaner and getting a little exercise.  Sign up today!

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Tatum’s Totes Gains Momentum in Orleans & No. Essex Counties

Volunteer at Newport DCF OfficeAfter including an article in our June issue about Tatum’s Totes expanding to the Newport area, plus several press releases in newspapers in that area and some social media posts, lots of positive activity continues to take place.  It’s all for the benefit of foster children and youth moving into new homes.

Just a few days after an article appeared in the Barton Chronicle, a women’s church group in Westmore contacted our Derby Line office and were excited to offer their services in providing some of the items needed to fill the backpacks.  They just happened to be looking for a worthy project for their group to be involved in and this immediately piqued their interest.

Another call was received from a couple in Newport after they saw a letter to the editor about Tatum’s Totes in the Newport Daily Express.  They stated that they often donate to projects that appear to be the kind that will really make a difference in the community.  Tatum’s Totes fit that bill for them and they promised to contact GMUW just as soon as their shopping for backpacks and essential items for the backpacks was complete.

Unfortunately, the issue of children being placed in foster homes for one reason or another will probably never go away.  GMUW is pleased to help these kids and teens gain a little security in their lives through the Tatum’s Totes Program.

For more information and to see a list of suggested items for the backpacks, please visit  Or, call any one of our offices at 802-622-8056 in Barre, at 802-745-0101 in St. Johnsbury, or at 802-647-2148 in Derby Line.

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GMUW Expands Tatum’s Totes to Newport Area

Tatums Donation_LauraThis is an exciting time for GMUW as, effective immediately, we are partnering with the Department of Children & Families to expand the Tatum’s Totes Program to the Newport District.  This is in addition to our collaboration with DCF in the Barre District.


Conversations with the DCF Resource Coordinator in the Newport office have indicated to both of us that children and youth in foster care in that area are in just as desperate need of personal items as in the rest of the state.  Many are placed in foster homes without advance warning, arriving with only the clothes on their backs.


Newport Tatums Delivery_May 2016To provide just a bit of security and self-confidence for these children and youth, the Tatum’s Totes Program was born in Rutland by a couple who lost a baby son to SIDS and then decided to become foster parents.  Seeing firsthand how little the foster child they took in arrived with, they took it upon themselves to work with the Rutland District DCF office and start the program.  Backpacks, tote bags or diaper bags are filled with personal hygiene items, age-appropriate clothing, a fuzzy blanket, and stuffed animal, diapers and some games and given to the child before being moved to a new home – something he can call his own.


Donations of money and new items to put in the backpacks are being accepted for this expanded program in the Northeast Kingdom.  GMUW is eager to help children transition into foster homes with as little fear and worry as possible.  We welcome your support and calls to our Derby Line office at 802-647-2148 or our Barre office at 802-745-0101.  A full description of this program and the items being collected for the backpacks can be found at


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Letter Carriers 24th Annual Food Drive

The National Association of Letter Carriers 24th Annual Food Drive on May 14, 2016 was a huge success for our local food shelves.  A phenomenal 19,518 pounds of food were donated by people in our five counties, which were then distributed to 24 different food shelves.  This is approximately 600 pounds more food than was donated last year.  The receiving food shelves are St. Monica’s Catholic Church and the Hedding Methodist Church in Barre, Montpelier Food Pantry at Trinity Church and Christ Church Food Pantry in Montpelier, CERV in Northfield, Marshfield Food Shelf, Middlesex Food Shelf, Twin Valley Senior Center in East Montpelier, Randolph Area Food Shelf, Duxbury Elf Shelf, Waterbury Food Shelf, Williamstown Food Shelf, Worcester Food Shelf, Hardwick Food Pantry, Kingdom Community Services in St. Johnsbury, Lyndon Area Food Shelf, NEKCA in the Northeast Kingdom, Orleans Food Shelf, United Church of Newport, and the Jay Food Shelf.
This NALC drive is the largest one-day event for the benefit of food shelves across our nation bringing in over 71 million pounds of food for the hungry.  The need is critical.  According to Steve Doherty of the U. S. Postal Service, “One in six Americans is unsure where their next meal is coming from.  Nearly 16 million children feel the impact of hunger on their overall health and ability to perform in school, and 5 million seniors over age 60 have to decide between daily meals or paying for rent or needed medications.”
Thank you to all who supported this very important food drive and helped to Stamp Out Hunger.  Green Mountain United Way is happy to assist the postal workers in coordinating the food drive each year, especially when we see how generous our neighbors are.  Stay tuned for information on next year’s drive scheduled for May 13, 2017.

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