Graphic with red box in the center and yellow and red geometric shapes surrounding the box on a white ground

COVID-19 Resource Page

The following information is intended to help everyone in our communities get to the resources they need quickly and efficiently.

The local response to COVID-19 throughout our five-county region is rapidly changing and we will keep this page updated as we receive additional information.

Please note, we are dedicated to continuing to serve our Working Bridges sites. For employees at our Working Bridges worksites, we are still serving all of our worksites but are now using remote service systems. Please reach your resource coordinators at wbrc@gmunitedway.org or by phone. Resource coordinators will continue to be available remotely to serve all employees at our Working Bridges sites. Please see this link for contact details for Laurie or Michelle.

HEALTH

Vermont Department of Health – please use this link to connect to the most recent information distributed by the Vermont Department of Health. If you are having symptoms and you are concerned they may be COVID-19, please do not go to the ER, call your healthcare provider or primary care physician’s office to be triaged by them first.

When to call your doctor – If you believe you are having symptoms of coronavirus/COVID-19, please call your doctor’s office before seeking out treatment or going to the emergency room. Your doctor will give you the best course of action to take to protect your health and the health of others.

Vermont 211 – Dial 2-1-1 if you have questions about COVID-19 but are not seeking medical care or to find resources to deal with challenges you or community members may be experiencing due to impacts of the virus such as food insecurity, housing, etc. You can also access the 211 Database at https://vermont211.org/ (if you are a nonprofit organization whose services have changed due to COVID-19, please email 211 with changes at info@vermont211.org)

WNOC-RRCC – This Central Vermont based collaboration has organized a Community Call Center Help Line – call  (802)-636-2025

AARP – Coronavirus Resources and helpful information for Vermonters over 55 can be found here – https://states.aarp.org/vermont/coronavirus-resources-for-vermonters

Please note that People’s Health and Wellness Clinic in Barre, who serve uninsured Vermonters, has suspended in-person patient visits at PHWC. We remain committed to providing care for our patients and will offer phone triage, phone/video appointments with providers, and comprehensive case management. If you have any questions or need assistance, please call the clinic at 802-479-1229. For questions related to COVID-19, please call the helpline at 802-371-5310.

MENTAL HEALTH

Northeast Kingdom Human Services – (802) 784-3181

Parent/Grandparent Support Line through NKHS: 802-749-1111 – 8:30am – 5:00pm, M – F

Washington County Mental Health Services – (802) 229-0591 or online at  www.wcmhs.org – for information around self-care, coping with social distancing, fun activities for kids and more!


The Vermont Telephone Recovery Support Service Peer Support Helpline – (802) 808-8877, operating 24/7.

FOOD INSECURITY

Please use this link to the Vermont Foodbank’s page listing updated information to help people who need food to access it at this time. Find your local food shelf here or call the Vermont Foodbank at  1-800-585-2265.

Hunger Free Vermont is also regularly updating their resources regarding food. Click here to view their page, which includes information about WIC, School Meals, 3SquaresVT, Meal Programs for Older Vermonters, and more. Use this link to view the COVID-19 Food Resources Flyer with updated information you can use and share about access to food.

School Districts are developing their own food plans in response to school closures. Contact your local school for the most up to date information. We will be listing all of the information we receive from schools here.

Northeast Kingdom Food (and other) Resources:

Central Vermont Food Resources:

Central Vermont has organized into Washington and Northern Orange County Regional Response Command Center (WNOC-RRCC). They are currently focused on feeding the population of 200+ individuals currently housed in hotels. As that group offers more resources and information we will link to those.

TRANSPORTATION

Bus Service

GMT service is changing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Effective immediately until at least April 1, 2020, GMT will operate bus service fare free. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 updates and adjust this timeframe accordingly. Limiting the interaction on-board our buses will help us prevent the spread of COVID-19 to other passengers and to our Transit Operators. Whenever possible, Transit Operators will allow passengers to board and alight through the rear door of the bus. They ask that if passengers are able to stay home, please do so. They are working to ensure nurses, doctors, child care workers, first responders, transit workers, and anyone else who needs us where they need to go, is able to d so safely. See the latest route updates and service alerts at www.RideGMT.com

RCT Serves the NEK. Find current updates on the RCT website. Those with questions about Rural Community Transit rides should call 802-748-8170 or toll-free 1-855-811-6360.

HOUSING

Northeast Kingdom

  • Northeast Kingdom Community Action – 802-748-6040
  • RuralEdge – 800-234-0560

Central Vermont

  • Capstone Community Action – Toll-Free Barre Office 1-800-639-1053, Toll-Free Morrisville Office 1-800-639-8710, Toll-Free Orange County West/Randolph Office 1-800-846-9506, Orange County East/Bradford Office (802) 222-5419
  • Downstreet Housing and Community Development – Toll-Free 877-320-0063

CHILDCARE

Yesterday Governor Phil Scott ordered the implementation of the child care system to support personnel essential to the COVID-19 Response. This means many centers are closing but some will be making slots available to children of Vermonters responding to the crisis. Please read Governor Scott’s press release here and the full guidance document here.

FINANCIAL INSECURITY

If your employment has been impacted by the COVID-19 community response, please see the Vermont Department of Labor’s website. At this time we understand that their phone lines may be very busy.

Taxes – the IRS has extended the deadline for taxes due and the deadline for filing. This information is complex. Here is the link to the IRS language and a separate Wall Street Journal article that we found helpful.

Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital Community Connections can help with Insurance and Unemployment claims – call (802) 748-7526

HOW YOU CAN HELP

As this crisis continues to develop we can see an increasing need for volunteers – we are reaching out to our nonprofit partners to understand how they are using volunteers and what their ongoing needs will be. Many of the consistent volunteers in our community are older, retired Vermonters. These individuals are most at risk for COVID-19, so we are seeing a rapid shift in those who are able to fill volunteer roles in the community, and those who are not. Additionally, we and our nonprofit partners are preparing to serve our communities in many new ways to keep our communities and our most vulnerable Vermonters safe.

VOLUNTEERING

We are working with our nonprofit partners in the community to update volunteer opportunities on our Volunteer Connection. If you work for a nonprofit in need of support or volunteers, please reach out to Carrie at cstahler at gmunitedway.org.

If you are able to volunteer, check updated opportunities here, find local nonprofits and their volunteer coordinator contacts here to reach out to individual organizations.

WNOC-RRCC – This collaboration in the Central Vermont region is working to address food delivery and other volunteer supports. Check their website and register if you can help here https://www.communityharvestvt.org/volunteer

Northeast Kingdom Council on Aging – the NEKCOA is working with volunteers to create continuity of service for Meals on Wheels. If you are able to help, contact Karen Budde at NEKCOA. https://www.nekcouncil.org/volunteer or call (802) 751-0431.

Central Vermont Council on Aging – CVCOA is working to create continuity of support for food delivery for seniors, finding backup drivers, and other support services by volunteers. If you are able to help, contact Luke Rackers or go to https://www.cvcoa.org/volunteering.html.

Local-Level Opportunities to Give Help or Get Help (Mutual Aid)

Many local communities are rallying community members to be available as opportunities come up or become more clear. Please check out the communities that have shared their sign-up forms. (please note, we are not helping to manage these volunteers, just sharing this information with you in case you are interested in connecting with these grassroots groups).

Individual Community Groups can be found at the bottom of this resource crowd-sourced Vermont Resource List.

Read More

VDH Daily Update on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We at United Way will be sharing updates here from the Vermont Department of Health as we receive them. If you have additional questions or need information regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), please call 2-1-1 or check vermont211.org.

Daily Update on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

March 11, 2020

Current Status in Vermont

The Health Department is closely monitoring the developments in the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (“COVID-19”). Vermont is prepared to respond to protect and support Vermonters.

As of 1:00 p.m. on March 11, 2020:

Vermont cases of COVID-191
Vermont cases of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization1
Vermonters tested negative for COVID-1962
Vermonters being monitored215
Vermonters who have completed monitoring59

On March 7, 2020, health officials announced the first case of COVID-19 in Vermont.This Bennington County case is considered presumptive pending Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmation.

The State of Vermont Wednesday announced the activation of the State Emergency Operations Center to support the ongoing work of the Vermont Department of Health and expand the capacity of state government to coordinate the COVID-19 response.

The State Emergency Operations Center is working closely with health officials to develop guidance on, and answer questions about, whether large gatherings and events should be canceled. At this time, officials are not recommending these events be canceled, but that guidance is subject to change as the situation evolves.

It is reasonable for older adults and persons with underlying health conditions to consider not attending a mass gathering eventHealth Department and Agency of Education officials continue to work with colleges, universities and other educational institutions on guidance about potential closures of their facilities.

The Health Department is focused on ensuring its most vulnerable populations are protected, and is working to continuously update guidance and address emerging needs of long-term care facilities as new information becomes available.

Guidance documents are being added and updated daily as needed. These are available at healthvermont.gov/covid19.

Case Information

The adult patient is a Bennington County resident, currently hospitalized and in an airborne infection isolation room at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.

On March 8, Governor Phil Scott, along with Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith and Deputy Public Safety Commissioner Christopher Herrick held a press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center to update Vermonters about this first case and of state preparedness and response efforts. 

Public health epidemiologists are working to investigate possible travel or exposure history and to identify anyone who had close contact with the person. Those individuals will be assessed for their exposure risk and provided with guidance for their health. Where appropriate, they will receive recommendations for self-isolation or other restrictions.

We are also talking with the staff at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center to ensure they are properly cared for and protected, so that other patients are also protected.

We expect, and are prepared for, more cases in Vermont, and are taking every action to limit the spread of illness.

In addition to protecting a patient’s personal health information, state health and public safety officials are committed to ensuring that Vermonters are aware of any risk to themselves and their community. This is the essential work of public health. We will contact anyone identified as at-risk as part of any case investigation, and recommend they stay home for 14 days or follow other restrictions as needed.

Actionable information for individuals, schools, organizations, businesses and others will be shared quickly to protect the health of Vermonters and prevent the spread of disease.

Anyone who feels ill or has concerns about their health should call their health care provider.

For the most up-to-date information and guidance about COVID-19, including from the CDC, visit healthvermont.gov/covid19.

Update on Cost Sharing for Testing

Containment and Prevention Measures

  • We expect there will be more cases of COVID-19 in the state. Vermont Health Officials urge Vermonters to stay informed and take all necessary precautions.
  • Following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, returning travelers whose last day in China, Italy, South Korea or Iran was March 4 or afterwards should stay home and monitor their health for 14 days after returning to the United States. Travelers returning from Japan should monitor their health for 14 days after returning to the United States.
  • All travelers who have returned from those countries in the last 14 days should call the Health Department at 802-863-7240. The Health Department will be in regular contact with you for 14 days since the day you left the affected area to monitor you for symptoms of shortness of breath, cough or fever. If you develop these symptoms, contact your health care provider right away.
  • Vermont is currently working with New Hampshire in response to a New Hampshire case with close proximity to Vermont. Read more here: https://www.healthvermont.gov/media/newsroom/vt-and-nh-health-officials-working-together-trace-contacts-nh-covid-19-case and here: https://www.healthvermont.gov/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/HS-COVID19-March-4-update.pdf.
  • Since the virus first emerged, the Vermont Health Department has been in constant contact with CDC and other states to closely monitor developments, and work to minimize the spread of illness. State government has been advising health care providers, schools, emergency responders on the latest information and preventive measures, and providing guidance and updates on the website and through the news media. This is a quickly evolving situation with new information guiding actions on an ongoing basis. Staff across the Department of Health are working in the Health Operations Center to adjust our response as appropriate to the situation in Vermont.
  • Epidemiologists and public health nurses have been following CDC protocols for monitoring people who have recently returned from travel to affected areas (which currently includes China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, and Japan). Monitoring means checking their temperature daily, watching for symptoms, and for some people, staying home.
  • The Vermont Department of Health has compiled helpful guidance on how to help keep respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 from spreading, travel information and situation updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This can all be found at healthvermont.gov/COVID-19.
  • Last week (week of February 24), the CDC made testing kits available to the states, and this week (week of March 1), the Health Department Laboratory began testing for COVID-19.
  • At the direction of Governor Phil Scott, Vermont Emergency Management assembled an interagency task force to support the overall public health response and further prepare for the likelihood of COVID-19 cases in Vermont. This task force is focused on forward-looking, situation-specific mitigation planning, while the Vermont Department of Health continues its containment strategy in response to the current situation.
  • The Health Department is working to strengthen protections for older Vermonters, including developing screening questions for visitors to long-term care facilities to identify anyone at risk. These have been made available for hospitals or other health care facilities.
  • Health Commissioner Mark Levine is holding weekly calls with health care leadership around the state to provide updates and answer questions about the current situation.

Guidance for Vermonters

When to call?

  • If you have questions about COVID-19: Dial 2-1-1
  • If you are returning from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea or Japan: Call Health Department Epidemiology at 802-863-7240
  • If you are ill, have symptoms, or concerned about your health: Call your health care provider

Guidance for Specific Groups

These can be found on healthvermont.gov/covid19 under “Resources for schools, child care programs and colleges.”

  • Long-term care facilities: A visitor screening tool was provided to long-term care facilities, and similar one for hospitals to help protect patients and/or residents and staff these facilities. These documents have also been posted on healthvermont.gov/covid19, under “Long-Term Care Facilities” and “Health Care Professionals.”

Guidance for Travelers Returning to Vermont from an Affected Area

Following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, returning travelers whose last day in China, Italy, South Korea or Iran was March 4, 2020 or afterwards should stay home and monitor their health for 14 days after returning to the United States. Travelers returning from Japan should monitor their health for 14 days after returning to the United States.

All travelers who have returned from those countries in the last 14 days should call Health Department infectious disease and epidemiology staff at 802-863-7240 to discuss monitoring for symptoms of shortness of breath, cough or fever. If you develop these symptoms, contact your health care provider right away.

Household members who did not travel do not need to be monitored and do not need to stay home, unless that person develops symptoms.

Guidance for People in Close Contact with a Person who Tested Positive for COVID-19

People who have been identified by the Health Department as a close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 should stay home, practice social distancing and monitor their health for 14 days.

Social distancing means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.

The Health Department will be in contact with you regularly during the monitoring period. If you develop symptoms: Call your health care provider right away. Before you go to an appointment, let your health care provider know that you are being monitored for novel coronavirus. Call Health Department epidemiology and infectious disease staff at 802-863-7240. Avoid contact with others.

What does close contact mean?

“Close contact” means being within six feet of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for a long time.

This can happen when caring for, being intimate partners with, or living with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Or if you shared a health care waiting area.

If you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19: stay home, limit contact with others, and call Health Department Epidemiology at 802-863-7240 Staff will discuss whether you need to see a provider, and how you will monitor yourself for symptoms. When someone tests positive for COVID-19, the Health Department conducts outreach to close contacts of the individual.

Close contact does not mean being more than six feet away in the same indoor environment for a long period of time with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19; It also does not mean walking by, or briefly being in the same room with someone who tested positive. In these situations, you should observe yourself for symptoms. You do not need to call the Health Department.

Anyone who develops symptoms should stay home and call their health care provider.

People At Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19

Some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness, including older adults and people with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes or lung disease. According to the CDC, these people should take extra precautions including:

  • Stocking up on supplies
  • Avoiding crowds
  • Avoiding cruise travel and non-essential air travel
  • Staying away from others who are sick

Read the CDC’s full guidance on People At Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19.

Everyday Preventive Measures

Person-to-person spread of the virus is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Much is still unknown about how the virus spreads. Take these everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Additional Resources

The Vermont Department of Health website contains guidance and answers to frequently asked questions, including:

  • What does “monitoring” mean?
  • Information for people under monitoring
  • What does close contact mean?
  • How can I protect myself?
  • Should I wear a face mask when I go out in public?
  • Guidance for travelers returning to Vermont from an affected area
  • Where is it safe to travel internationally?
  • I am returning from an affected area. What should I do?
  • Who can get tested for COVID-19?
  • What should people planning large gatherings in Vermont do?
  • What is the turnaround time for testing?
  • Where can I find translated materials?
  • Can the Health Department provide documentation that I can go to work?
  • Guidance for specific groups:
    • Businesses
    • Communities
    • First Responders
    • Health care professionals
    • Long-term care facilities
    • Schools, child care programs and colleges

View these resources at healthvermont.gov/covid19

Vermonters can also dial 2-1-1 for information.

The CDC is regularly updating its guidance at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html.

Read More

Eating Healthy In The Summer

​VT’s Annual Count of Homelessness Shows Mixed Results


MONTPELIER, VT – 1,291 Vermonters were found to be literally homeless on a single night in January, an increase of 66 people, or 5%, compared to the 2017 one‐day count. The 2018 Point‐in‐Time (PIT) Count Report, released today by the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness and the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance, shows an overall increase in homelessness.

Read the full press release here

Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl


May’s contact volume of 1,737 reflects the more financially manageable period that the warmer months provide for many here in Vermont. The annual increase in contact volume that the fall and winter months always bring, with requests for home heating assistance and emergency shelter, always taper off in May. For many Vermonters the summer season means time for catching up on overdo utility bills, making much needed vehicle repairs, and setting aside whatever they can in anticipation of another long cold winter. Although all Vermonters can well appreciate the relief and relative comfort that our summer weather brings, historically, contact volume will begin to climb again after just a brief lull.  The summer months can present their own, albeit less threatening, set of issues for many Vermont families with children. The day-to-day rhythm of the school year has been broken, and with “summer vacation” can come the need for additional child care and a well-stocked pantry.

Each year, the onset of summer brings with it the types of requests for information and referral that reflect a heightened anxiety about the typical day-to-day struggles that some Vermont families continue to face. This year’s May data already reveals that for the first five months of 2018 an average of 254 referrals a month were made to Public Assistance Programs like 3SquaresVT, Medicaid, and most frequently,  the State of Vermont’s General Assistance program, which primarily provides emergency assistance in the form of temporary housing for people who are experiencing homelessness. Throughout July and August Vermont’s community food pantries, free summer lunch programs for children, locally sponsored community meals, fresh food distribution programs, and community gardens will do their best to respond to the rise in demand for supplemental food support. Thankfully, many Vermonters understand the food insecurity that summer may bring to many of their neighbors’ households, and they are volunteering to positively impact as many lives as possible through their volunteer efforts of planting, picking, rescuing, and delivering free fresh produce to food pantries, meal sites, and local distribution points.

The numbers are in! Vermont’s participation in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day was a huge success. Vermont 2-1-1’s contribution to the effort is noted by the sudden increase in Community Planning and Public Works. A total of 88 contacts were made to 2-1-1 (via phone, email, text) looking for programs that accept and safely dispose of unwanted or outdated medication. This was a thirty percent increase over 2017. Additionally, 541 searches were made in May on the Vermont 2-1-1 website for medication disposal. This represents forty-eight percent of the searches for the month of May.

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

​Eating Healthy in the Summer


Who doesn’t like to get outside, explore, and enjoy the fresh air! In the month of June, the sun is shining and the temps are rising. In Vermont, a popular and well enjoyed outside activity is to explore the farmer’s markets all over the state. Farmer’s market offer an array of locally grown produce, farm goods, savory treats, fresh flowers and handmade crafts. Some farmer’s markets even offer activities for children and musical entertainment. Look here to find a farmer’s market near you.

Refreshing Summer Snack Recipe

STRAWBERRY CHIA WATERMELON SMOOTHIE (2 servings) 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (240 g) fresh watermelon, cubed (black seeds removed)
1 cup (120 g) frozen strawberries
1/2 ripe banana (50 g), previously peeled, chopped and frozen
1/2 – 3/4 cup (120-180 ml) unsweetened plain almond milk (DIY recipe)
1 lime, juiced (~30 ml)
1 Tbsp chia or hemp seeds (optional)

Instructions

1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until creamy and smooth, adding more almond milk to thin, or more frozen strawberries or ice to thicken.

2. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more lime for acidity, banana for sweetness, or watermelon for a more intense watermelon flavor.​ Serves 2 – top with additional chia seeds to mock watermelon seeds!

Best when fresh, though leftovers keep covered in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.[Serving size: 1 smoothie (1/2 of recipe) Calories: 182 Fat: 6.2g Saturated fat: 0.8g Carbohydrates: 30g Sugar: 14g Sodium: 48mg Fiber: 9g Protein: 5g]

(From the Minimalist Baker)

​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 156 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 May 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 May:

Top Services: Medication Disposal (424 searches); Homeless Intake (formerly homeless motel vouchers) (167 searches); Pet Care Services (143 searches); Assistive Technology Equipment Loan (112 searches); Mental Health Evaluation (86 searches)

Top Agencies: Salvation Army (Rutland); Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO); Center for Restorative Justice; Vermont Department for Children and Families – Economic Services Division; Good Samaritan Network

Top Search by City: Lincoln; New Haven; Burlington; Bridport; Hancock

Total Site Visits: 6086

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 1716

 

Welcome Nanci!


Nanci Gordon, the newest Outreach Specialist for Vermont 2-1-1 in Rutland and Bennington Counties, was most recently the Director of Development and Alumni Relations for College of St. Joseph in Rutland from which she graduated summa cum laude and still serves both as an adjunct instructor in Communications and the Vice President of the Alumni Association.

She is also a graduate of the New School Center for Media in Albany, NY — which launched her nearly thirty years in broadcasting, serving stations in Middlebury, VT and Glens Falls, NY, as well as in Rutland. Because of her passion and experience, she operates a small business — Nanci Gordon Media Services — which boasts its own new studio in Middlebury.

Nanci also has fifteen years’ experience in the non-profit sector — with Housing Trust of Rutland County, Rutland County Women’s Network and Shelter, Community Care Network, Vermont Association of Business, Industry and Rehabilitation, and United Way of Rutland County.

Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month


Did you know…?

• Alzheimer’s Disease is the 6th leading cause of death in Vermont.

 More than 13,000 Vermonters are living with Alzheimer’s or related dementia.

• 6.1 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of  dementia.

• Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia will have cost the nation $277 billion in 2018.

Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. There are 10 warning signs and symptoms.

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning and solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgement
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

To find resources, search these Taxonomy Terms in the Vermont 2-1-1 database

Throughout June you will find Alzheimer’s Association — Vermont Chapter events happening across the state. Visit www.alz.org/vermont for information.

Read More

April Is National Stress Awareness Month

 

Vermont 2-1-1

Did You Know…?


In 2017, the 2-1-1 network handled over 12.9 million calls and almost 1 million contacts by text, web chat, and email (82% more than in 2016) for a total 13.8 million transacted contacts. 2-1-1 websites also saw over 16.5 million visits and searches.


Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl


March Weather Impacts 2-1-1 Contact Center Volume

Vermont’s typically unpredictable March weather and dreary 31 day slog towards spring is largely responsible for the second highest number of 2-1-1 contacts this year. Temperatures that ranged from highs in the 50s to as low as 18 degrees, along with the typical month of March precipitation in the forms of wet snow, sleet and rain, meant that this year’s need for seasonal sheltering from inclement weather remained high. The contact volume of 5,425 clearly shows that the hazards of winter responsible for pushing Vermonters experiencing homelessness to the safety of our seasonal shelters did not subside in the month of March. This month’s After Hours Emergency Housing Report, available for review in this e-newsletter and on the 2-1-1 website, shows that the majority of callers looking for emergency housing and shelter in March were single individuals and single females with children.

Our Contact Specialists provided their customary professional needs assessment, problem-solving support, and information and referrals to a wide range of services, including: homeless shelters, housing organizations, rent and security deposit assistance, food, clothing, transportation, health and mental health services, and domestic violence services.

While monthly totals continue to prove that Vermonters’ reliance on the 2-1-1 service has continued to grow, especially during the winter months, analysis of our data from previous years shows March numbers reflect the end of the winter season and the decrease in contact volume that the spring and summer months bring. An example of the seasonal impact on requests for assistance with basic needs is the demand for utility assistance. Vermonters, while still required to heat more during this colder than usual March, seemed to be able to conserve on warmer days in anticipation of those “few more cold nights.” However, the annual need for Utility Assistance does not decrease for many; it is simply temporarily eased by each April’s warmth.

The most encouraging note during this month, and fast becoming Vermont 2-1-1’s harbinger of spring, is the growing awareness of free tax filing assistance programs that help the low- and moderate-income taxpayers. This valuable resource has meant that each year more Vermonters have retained valuable discretionary income for everyday essentials, such as food and housing. In March, 568 requests for tax filing assistance and tax information were made to 2-1-1 and, in tune with the times, a growing number of Vermonters are now accessing this information by texting the zip code to 898211, an even more efficient way to receive information regarding their tax appointment.

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

2018 Help Me Grow National Forum


Since implementing Help Me Grow in Vermont in 2015, each year we have been fortunate to attend the Annual HMG National Forum. The Annual HMG National Forum, hosted by the National Center, is an opportunity for affiliates and partners to network and create new partnerships.

Each year, the event provides increasing national visibility of the Network’s collective efforts and accomplishments and solicits promising ideas and innovations from across the Network. Distinguished speakers facilitate and contribute to general sessions, panel discussions, and keynote addresses, offering insight into the direction and aspirations within the field of early childhood health and system building.

This year Help Me Grow VT staff and partners will be heading to Seattle! Help Me Grow VT will not only be attending, but also presenting four sessions at the forum:

  • Building Strategic Partnerships for System Outreach, Innovation, and Sustainability
  • Bringing Help Me Grow into State Health Care Reform Conversations
  • Enhancing Early Learning through the Dissemination of HMG Innovations
  • HMG Centralized Access Point 101

For Help Me Grow VT, the forum is an amazing opportunity for us to strengthen our work with key partners around the state. Vermont continues to show its dedication to supporting families and children from the State House to local community agencies and we are excited to continue to be part of that effort.

For more information about the Help Me Grow National Center, Help Me Grow affiliates and their work, visit the Help Me Grow National Center website.
To learn more about Help Me Grow VT, visit HMG VT’s website.


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 592 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 March 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 March:

Top Services: Homeless Intake (formerly homeless motel vouchers) (264 searches); Pet Care Services (193 searches); Community Meals (192 searches); Dental Care (150 searches); Assistive Technology Equipment Loan (147 searches)

Top Agencies: Champlain Valley Office for Economic Opportunity (CVOEO); Salvation Army (Burlington); Salvation Army (Rutland); Joint Urban Ministry Project (JUMP); Vermont Department for Children and Families – Economic Services Division

Top Search by City: Burlington; Hancock; New Haven; Rutland; Bennington

Total Site Visits: 4416

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 1619

April Is National Stress Awareness Month


Stress is a natural part of life; it keeps us on our toes, but when it takes over, it may contribute to physical and mental health issues.

Most Americans experience stress on a daily basis. In a 2017 national survey, 61% of Americans reported that they feel stress about money, and 62% said they feel stress about work.

National Stress Awareness Month seeks to bring attention to measures anyone can take to reduce stress, such as these suggestions from the American Psychological Association (APA):

  • Identify what’s causing stress and develop plans to address it
  • Build strong relationships to serve as a positive resource and buffer
  • Walk away when you’re angry by counting to 10 or getting away from the immediate situation
  • Rest your mind by taking care to get a good night’s sleep
  • Get help if you need to deal with excessive and chronic stress

You can read the complete article here, and another helpful article on stress can be found here.

Vermont 2-1-1 can help put you in touch with resources for handling stress. You can search our database for the following:

Financial Difficulties: A common source of stress – and taking action to address money problems can be one way to help.  Search for either of these terms:

Or, if your financial stress is due to the fact that you are unemployed or underemployed, search for any terms containing the words: Employment or Job. 

Exercise Away Stress: Check out recreational opportunities in your area. Vermont 2-1-1 lists town recreation departments.  Search for the term: Recreational Activities/Sports.

Mental Health Issues: When stress seems like a constant presence, it’s important to take time for yourself, and perhaps consider mental health assistance. Search for any of these terms:

Remember – for personal service you can connect with one of our professional Information & Referral Specialists by dialing 2-1-1 (24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year), or by texting your zip code to 898211 (Monday-Friday 8:00 am to 8:00 pm). Help Me Grow Vermont Child Development Specialists are available to help with stress around issues of children’s development and behavior by dialing 2-1-1 x 6 (Monday-Friday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm) or by visiting their website.

 

  Vermont 2-1-1 · PO Box 111 · Essex Junction, VT 05453 · USA

 

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March is National Nutrition Month®

 

Vermont 2-1-1

Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl


February 11, 2018 marked Vermont 2-1-1’s 13th Anniversary, and the entire 2-1-1 team would like to take this occasion to express its sincere appreciation for the United Ways of Vermont’s continued commitment to the Vermont 2-1-1 program! Over the past thirteen years, our delivery of professional information and referral services to Vermonters has grown in strength, expanded in scope, and increased in reputation, in large part due to the steadfast support of each of Vermont’s local United Way agencies! Our direct response service has been provided to over 444,961 callers and our online resource directory has assisted many more!

The beginning of our fourteenth year is prefaced by the over 11,000 requests for assistance that have come in during the first two months of 2018 5,402 of which were made in February. This means our 2-1-1 contact center averaged 193 incoming calls per day.

Each year more and more Vermonters are calling Vermont 2-1-1 to find out where they can receive free income tax preparation services. In February, referrals to Tax Organizations and Services totaled 992, showing the largest increase in contact numbers over January than any other sub-category.  All Vermonters can dial 2-1-1 to get accurate information about local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and MyFreeTaxes sites closest to them.  Individuals who live or work in Windham, Southern Windsor, and Chittenden Counties, have been able to dial 2-1-1 to get transferred directly to a tax scheduler for appointments. Contact Specialists also provide information about income eligibility guidelines to callers requesting this free service.

This winter has been milder than normal, on average, with above-normal precipitation and snowfall. This, in combination with the State of Vermont’s investment in local community shelter initiatives, may well account for the slight decrease in the number of housing/shelter referrals thus far this year. Crucial to Vermont’s ability to house so many of its most vulnerable population during the winter season is the longstanding commitment of local, volunteer-run emergency warming shelters throughout the state. In the first two months of 2018, a total of 204 callers were referred to alternate shelter (other than motel voucher) during Vermont 2-1-1’s contracted after-hours emergency housing response time.

In the sub-category of Mental Health Assessment and Treatment provision of hotline numbers ranked high. More than half of contact referrals were to Domestic Violence Hotlines, and the remainder of the referrals were to Mental Health Hotlines, including Suicide Prevention Hotlines, Gender Identity Counseling Programs and Runaway/Homeless Youth Helplines.  Vermont 2-1-1 not only responds directly to suicide calls for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline during week days, but our contact specialists also make finding appropriate shelters and resources less difficult for individuals who find themselves in extremely stressful situations.

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


Temper Tantrums


We’ve all seen it: crying, screaming, kicking, throwing things and (the sometimes dramatic) collapsing onto the floor. It’s a tantrum. They don’t happen because a child is spoiled or a parent isn’t good at their job; it’s actually a normal part of child development.

Temper tantrums or meltdowns are common for both boys and girls from the ages of 1-3 years and they are how young children express anger and frustration. They happen most often when a child is tired, hungry, overwhelmed or they can’t get something/someone to do what they want. Tantrums are most common during a point in a child’s development when they are starting to develop language skills. Children this age have big feelings and ideas but not always the words to express them. They are also starting to explore their independence and how to control their environment – they want to do things for themselves, which sometimes is harder than they think. The good news is, as their language skills grow and they gain skills to handle and express emotions the tantrums decrease.  When possible, preventing a tantrum is often the best strategy for dealing with them.  Here are a few tips:

1. Get in the habit of catching your child being good; give praise and attention for positive behavior.

2. Offer minor choices that give them some control, such as “Would you like a banana or an orange for snack?” Remember to keep options limited and simple.

3. Use distraction. Young children have short attention spans; try a change in environment or activity to avoid a meltdown.

4. When a tantrum is brewing, don’t respond with your own frustration and anger. Staying calm helps to teach your child how to calm down.

5. Know when your child has reached their limit. If they need a nap, a snack or quiet time, take care of their needs first instead of trying to get one more errand done.

6. Practice naming emotions and feelings with your child.

7. Have a schedule. Transitioning from one activity to another can be difficult for young children. Consistency and knowing what to expect and when to expect it helps.

8. After a tantrum and once your child is calm, offer praise for calming down and assurance that they are loved.

For more information on child development and parenting tips and resources, contact Help Me Grow VT.


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 February:

Top Services: Homeless Intake (formerly homeless motel vouchers) (253 searches); Community Meals (149 searches); Pet Care Services (134 searches); Assistive Technology Equipment Loan (109 searches); Dental Care (92 searches)

Top Agencies: Salvation Army (Rutland); Champlain Valley Office for Economic Opportunity (CVOEO); Vermont Department for Children and Families – Economic Services Division; Capstone Community Action; Good Samaritan Network

Top Search by City: Burlington; Bennington; Essex Junction; Hancock; New Haven

Total Site Visits: 4043

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 1592


Don’t Forget to Support Your Local United Way!


Each year we see United Way volunteers and staff put on their campaign hats and venture out to raise money for the organization. Your local United Way is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people in your local communities by addressing critical human needs in the critical cornerstone areas of education, financial stability, and health. By bringing people and organizations together around innovative solutions, our local United Ways impact thousands of lives every year. These collaborative, community-based, community-led solutions advance the common good and strive to create a good quality of life for all. The United Way delivers the solutions needed to drive change, but the change starts with each of us. Together we are stronger!

As a program of the United Ways of Vermont, Vermont 2-1-1 asks you to join us in living united! Your contributions will be working year-round building a brighter future for our children, enriching the lives of our elderly, giving hope to those who are hurting, strengthening families, and so much more.

Please join us in helping to build a better future! Thank you.


March is National Nutrition Month®


National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. On their website, you will find articles and videos specifically geared toward parents, seniors, kids, men, and women. Articles include tips on reducing “plate waste,” ensuring men’s bone health, and safe sources of Omega-3 fats for pregnant women.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a colorful and interactive website that contains a vast amount of helpful information about nutrition for kids, teens, college students, adults, families, and professionals. Included are tools and resources such as videos, songs, and activity sheets on a MyPlate Kids’ Place page, MyPlate Quizzes for teens, Resources for Healthy Eating on a Budget, and MyPlate Message Toolkit for Professionals.

Vermont 2-1-1’s database contains a large variety of food and nutrition-related resources for Vermonters of all ages. In general, you can search on the terms Food, Nutrition, or Meals. Some of the specific terms you will find are:

In addition, primary care providers in Vermont offer General Health Education Programs, which include nutrition information and resources. The Vermont Department of Health periodically runs nutrition education campaigns, and the VDH district offices and website have tons of information and often run healthier eating seminars and workshops. And did you know that Medicaid pays for three consultations with a licensed nutritionist?

Remember – you can dial 2-1-1 to reach one of our Information & Referral Specialists who will help you find health, community, government, and human services resources you need, including for nutrition, 24 hours a day 365 days a year.


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 578 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 February here.

 

 

 

 

 

Vermont 2-1-1 · PO Box 111 · Essex Junction, VT 05453 · USA

 

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What’s Going on at Help Me Grow VT?

Vermont 2-1-1

Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl


Contact volume totals in January have started the year off strong!  Over 5,500 contacts were made to the Vermont 2-1-1 contact center.  An increased need for housing and utility assistance is evidenced by the fact that these two sub-categories made up 92% of total contacts in the Basic Needs category and 25% of the total amount of contacts during this first month of 2018.

In January, the number of emergency housing calls remained high with 870 requests for emergency shelter. This total represents a 26% increase over January 2017.  Vermont 2-1-1 provides after-hours provisional housing for the Department of Children and Families and historically, the Agency of Human Services’ Cold Weather Exception Policy (now known as the Adverse Weather Conditions, or AWC) has allowed individuals who would not normally meet the eligibility criteria to be housed during the coldest winter nights. Of course, first line of defense has always been to fill the community shelters and then to fill the volunteer-run “overflow shelters” that numerous faith communities temporarily open in response to the increased need for shelter from the cold. In spite of  vigorous efforts of the shelters to house those in need, January’s extreme cold temperatures meant implementation of the State’s policy and resulted in the provision of multiple nights of temporary housing for Vermonters in need, sheltering them from the extreme cold in very basic, but warm, settings. Further, the State opened two Emergency Weather Shelters for a period of 3-4 nights — one in Rutland and one in Burlington, historically the two counties with the highest volume of people experiencing homelessness. In addition to the high number of housing requests and referrals, there were 1,709 calls (duplicated) to the automated information on the Adverse Weather Condition status for specific communities.

As always, the month of January began 2-1-1’s “tax season,” which has historically been responsible for a spike in contact volume and was the impetus for the launch of two-way texting.  More and more Vermonters are calling Vermont 2-1-1 to find out where they can receive free income tax preparation assistance. In Chittenden and Addison Counties, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., 2-1-1 Information and Referral Specialists actually schedule the appointments for individuals. Individuals who live or work in Windham and Windsor Counties can dial 2-1-1 to be directly transferred to a tax scheduler to make their appointments. All Vermonters can call 2-1-1 for accurate information about local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites closest to them or for free, online e-filing preparation assistance.  Vermonters who prefer to text can do so by texting their zip code to 898211 to receive important information regarding VITA, MyFreeTaxes, and AARP tax sites. Vermont 2-1-1 Contact Specialists can also provide information about income eligibility guidelines and screening. It is anticipated that a further increase in contact volume due to tax filing related inquiries will occur in February, as each year more and more Vermonters realize that a call to 2-1-1 provides them with the information they need to access these important services.

Referrals to Public Assistance Programs had a strong start in the new year. This is a trend we see here at 211 that historically will peak in the months of December and January and then begin to taper off. Thirty-seven percent all contacts linked to the category Income Support and Employment were realized in this two month period.

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

What’s Going on at Help Me Grow VT?


With the new year started, here are a few reminders about ways to support early childhood development and how to access Help Me Grow VT:

CDC Milestone Tracker Mobile App

The Center fro Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Have a new app that helps you track your child’s developmental milestones from age 2 months to 5 years. It provides:

  • illustrated checklists
  • tips to encourage your child’s development
  • what to do if you’re concerned about how your child is developing
  • helps you keep track of doctor appointments and reminders about recommended screenings
  • gives you a summary of your child’s milestones that you can share with your child’s doctor
  • Since more than one child can be entered into the app, early educators can use it to track the children they care for.

You can download the app from the App Store or Google Play. Get more information by visiting the CDC/Learn the Signs. Act Early website.

Website and Facebook 

Visit our website! You can learn more about Help Me Grow VT, find information on how to support your child’s physical, social and emotional development and find helpful resources. Not parenting a child birth to age 8? There’s also resources and information for child health care providers, early childhood educators and community service providers.
You can also follow us on Facebook!

Ways to Refer

On our website, you can complete a referral form for a family you work with or for yourself. The referral can be sent electronically to Help Me Grow VT Child Development Specialists or faxed. (Our email is HIPAA compliant and parent permission for being referred is required.) 

Ways to Connect

You can reach a Child Development Specialist at Help Me Grow VT Monday-Friday from 9:00-6:00 by dialing 2-1-1 ext.6 or text HMGVT to 898211. You can also contact with us by email via our website. We are here to provide referrals and information on community agencies and resources, answer parenting questions, provide information on developmental milestones and offer support.

We look forward to hearing from you!


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 870 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 January 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 January:

Top Services: Homeless Intake (formerly homeless motel vouchers) (418 searches); Cold Weather Shelters (245 searches); Community Meals (141 searches); Pet Care Services (129 searches); Dental Care (118 searches)

Top Agencies: Vermont Department for Children and Families – Economic Services; Salvation Army (Rutland); Capstone Community Action; Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO); COTS

Top Search by City: Hancock; Burlington; Brattleboro; New Haven; Rutland

Total Site Visits: 4944

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 1806


Don’t Forget to Support Your Local United Way!


Each year we see United Way volunteers and staff put on their campaign hats and venture out to raise money for the organization. Your local United Way is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people in your local communities by addressing critical human needs in the critical cornerstone areas of education, financial stability, and health. By bringing people and organizations together around innovative solutions, our local United Ways impact thousands of lives every year. These collaborative, community-based, community-led solutions advance the common good and strive to create a good quality of life for all. The United Way delivers the solutions needed to drive change, but the change starts with each of us. Together we are stronger!

As a program of the United Ways of Vermont, Vermont 2-1-1 asks you to join us in living united! Your contributions will be working year-round building a brighter future for our children, enriching the lives of our elderly, giving hope to those who are hurting, strengthening families, and so much more.

Please join us in helping to build a better future! Thank you.


February — The All-Important American Heart Month!


Along with Valentine’s Day, February marks American Heart Month, a great time to commit to a healthy lifestyle and make small changes that can lead to a lifetime of heart health.  American Heart Month, a federally designated event, is a great way to remind us all to focus on our heart health and to encourage us to get our families, friends and communities involved in heart healthy activities. In Vermont we have many organization working together to build a culture of health where making the healthy choice is the easy choice.

There are five heart healthy tips that our health care professionals tell us will go a long way toward improving are heart health:

  • Find time to be active. Aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Why not invite fitness buddies on an afternoon stroll or try an exercise class or challenge the whole family to a soccer match?
  • Make healthy eating a habit. Small changes in your eating habits can make a big difference. Try making healthier versions of your favorite recipes. How? Look for ways to lower sodium and trans fat, and add more fruits and vegetables.
  • Quit tobacco—for good. Smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products affects nearly every organ in your body, including your heart. Quitting can be tough, but it can be easier when you feel supported.  (See online support at 802 Quits or call 1-800-Quit-Now [784-8669])
  • Know your numbers. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are major risk factors for heart disease. Ask your health care team and to check your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels regularly and/or stop in at blood pressure clinics periodically offered at community meal sites, local pharmacies, and health fairs.
  • Stick to the ’script. Taking your medications can be tough, especially if you feel fine. But sticking with your medication routine is important for managing and controlling conditions that could put your heart at risk.

Vermont 2-1-1 provides Vermonters with information about the many heart health resources and programs that many organizations, including the Vermont Department of Health, the YMCA, the Area Agencies on Aging, RiseVT, and local recreation departments are offering to Vermonters throughout the year.

Search 2-1-1’s online Resource Directory using the following key words:

Or simply dial 2-1-1 (or text your zip code to 898211) and have a discussion with one of our contact specialists about programs available in your area. Then send the very best heartfelt Valentine by spreading the word about strategies for preventing heart disease and encouraging those around you to have their heart health checked and commit to heart-healthy lives.

 

 

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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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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. 

 

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

 

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Teaching the Importance of Gratitude

 

Vermont 2-1-1

Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl


Winter has definitely arrived and the rise in November’s contact volume remains a true harbinger of our cold weather season. The 5,030 contacts received at the 2-1-1 contact center make November’s total the fourth highest since March of this year. Falling temperatures during the month of November each year means the beginning of the winter spike in calls for Emergency Housing and Utility Assistance! Referrals to resources for help with emergency housing and utility assistance are the highest since February. This is an annual trend that we here at 2-1-1 have come to expect and to prepare for each fall.  All of our emergency housing partners know well that the numbers will continue to rise as winter settles in and temperatures continue to fall. The After-Hours Emergency Housing Program Report is available for your review through the link below.

Vermont’s Seasonal Fuel Assistance program, a supplemental benefit that offers assistance with payment for a portion of eligible Vermonters’ winter heating bills, undeniably makes a difference – sometimes large, sometimes small – in the lives of thousands of Vermonters who struggle under the seasonal burden of keeping their homes adequately heated.  Still, the most vulnerable of our community members are often left with the very real and often impossible challenge of keeping their heads above water through the cold winter months, and our contact center referrals will continue to reflect the difficult choices these Vermonters must make.

Another sure sign of the onset of the winter season and the anxieties it brings for many is reflected in the number of calls received for information about holiday programs. Seventy five percent of the calls for Individual and Family Support Programs this month were from Vermonters looking for assistance that would allow their families to participate in the traditions that make the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays a time of celebration. Historically, November calls begin to reflect the anxiety that the upcoming holidays provoke for many Vermonters, and it is with certainty that 2-1-1 contact specialists can state that these calls will continue to grow both in number and in desperation right up through December 24th. This November’s call volume in this sub-category shows a twenty-five percent increase over last November, and the number of referrals made to holiday programs in November has grown threefold over October.

A noteworthy increase this month is in the area of Public Assistance Programs sub-category. The total of 215 referrals is the highest amount of referrals for this category all year. Primarily, referrals were made to General Relief, an income maintenance program administered and funded entirely by each county that provides basic financial assistance for people who are indigent. Services available through the program may include cash allowances for qualifying individuals who have targeted special needs, emergency assistance in the form of temporary housing for people who are homeless, and the means to return to the state of legal residence for people who are stranded. This sub-category also includes referrals to Reach Up, 3SquaresVT, WIC and other State and Federal public assistance programs.

As we enter the “giving season” let’s do our best to remember that we grow by giving of ourselves. If you haven’t yet taken the opportunity to reach out a helping hand, consider doing so today. Our data shows that Vermont’s community food shelves, local emergency financial assistance programs, and holiday giving programs are responding to the needs of our neighbors as best they can.  You can make a difference! As this year’s November statistics show, the need continues to be great!  Consider contacting Vermont 2-1-1 for suggestions about holiday donations and volunteer opportunities in your region.

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

National Human Trafficking Awareness Month


January has been proclaimed as the Human Trafficking Awareness Month, a title that underscores the need to destigmatize important discussions about human trafficking and call attention to key facts and realities about human slavery. Following the start of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in 2010 and in collaboration with multiple national non-profit organizations, National Human Trafficking Day was established and is observed annually on January 11th.

At Vermont 2-1-1, we believe it matters that our nation directs time, energy, and resources to responding to the problem of human trafficking. We have therefore agreed to be the designated number to call to access Vermont’s Rapid Response Support System (RRSS) that works to ensure that actual and potential victims of human trafficking receive support tailored to their needs from first responders such as law enforcement and emergency medical providers.

2-1-1 also actively participates in efforts to raise public awareness about the issue of human trafficking, and we hope that our commitment assists with mobilizing our fellow Vermonters to work to end what is essentially modern day slavery that exploits people’s dreams, robs them of their dignity, and violates their basic human rights.
Victims of human trafficking can be any age, gender, race, or immigration status; they live in cities, suburbs, and rural areas. Human traffickers relentlessly canvass ways to take advantage of people who face extreme adversity, violence, discrimination, or economic vulnerability and dependence.

Dial 2-1-1 to contact Vermont’s Rapid Response Service System. You can also visit vermont211.org to learn more about services and resources available to victims or to learn more about ways to get involved with efforts to end human trafficking. Use the following terms in our database to locate resources and agencies related to human trafficking prevention/intervention.

Terms: 

– Human Trafficking Hotlines
– Human Trafficking Prevention

Agencies:

Give Way to Freedom
Polaris
Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services


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 November:

Top Services: Thanksgiving Programs (695 searches);
Christmas Programs (524 searches); Holiday Toys/Gifts (482 searches); Homeless Motel Vouchers (329 searches); Clothing Donation Programs (222 searches)

Top Agencies: Salvation Army (Rutland); United Ways of Northwest Vermont; Salvation Army (Burlington); Chances for Christmas; HOPE

Top Search by City: Burlington; Hancock; Middlebury; Saint Albans City; Rutland

Total Site Visits: 6302

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 2898


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 759 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 November here.


Teaching the Importance of Gratitude


The holiday season is the perfect time to think about the importance of gratitude. Most parents teach their children to say thank you, but being thankful and appreciative of the good things you have goes beyond manners and etiquette. Children who express and understand  what they are thankful for have less stress, a sense of belonging and are able to relate to other people’s feelings.

It’s natural for kids to be materialistic and self-serving at times. It takes time for small children to learn how to control impulsiveness, learn to share and handle strong emotions. But toddlers and preschoolers are great at modeling the behavior of the adults in their life. So start by setting a good example; show your gratitude for big and small things from gifts to a warm sunny day.

By grade school, children have a greater ability to think more deeply and can reflect on their day. Ask your child what they are grateful for each day at dinner or bedtime and share what you were grateful for today and why.
Some other ideas for teaching gratitude are; focus on the positives in your day, help children write thank you notes, make giving or volunteering a habit, have your child help you set aside toys and clothes to be donated to local charities and teach children to thank those who serve.

Most of all, remember to be patient. Kids can’t be forced into showing appreciation, but being a role model and using everyday gentle efforts can teach your child gratitude as a way of life.

 

 

 

Vermont 2-1-1 · PO Box 111 · Essex Junction, VT 05453 · USA

 

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