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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The 26th Annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive is on Saturday, May 12.

Letter carriers’ 26th annual food drive set for Sat., May 12 throughout nation

WASHINGTON – The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) will conduct its 26th annual national food drive on Saturday, May 12. The Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive, the country’s largest single-day food drive, provides residents with an easy way to donate food to those in need in the community.

Customers simply leave their donation of non-perishable goods next to their mailbox before the delivery of the mail on Saturday, May 12. Letter carriers will collect these food donations on that day as they deliver mail along their postal routes and distribute them to local food agencies. Visit www.nalc.org/food to learn more.

The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is the nation’s largest single-day food drive and is held annually on the second Saturday in May in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.

With the economic struggles many Americans face, the Letter Carriers’ Food Drive is as critical as ever. Not only do millions of Americans go hungry, organizations that help them are in need of replenishments.

Hunger affects about 50 million people around the country, including millions of children, senior citizens and veterans. Pantry shelves filled up through winter-holiday generosity often are bare by late spring. And, with most school meal programs suspended during summer months, millions of children must find alternate sources of nutrition.

Letter carriers see these struggles in the communities they serve, and they believe it’s important to do what they can to help.

On Saturday, May 12, as they deliver mail, the nation’s 175,000 letter carriers will collect donations left by residents near their mailboxes. People are encouraged to leave a sturdy bag—paper or plastic—containing non-perishable foods, such as canned soup, canned vegetables, canned meats and fish, pasta, peanut butter, rice or cereal, next to their mailbox before the regular mail delivery on that Saturday.

Letter carriers will take that food to local food banks, pantries or shelters. Several national partners are assisting the NALC in the food drive: the U.S. Postal Service, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (NRLCA), the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), Valpak, United Way Worldwide, the AFL-CIO, the AARP Foundation and Valassis.

This year’s effort includes a public service announcement with award-winning actor and director Edward James Olmos. Television networks and stations can use this link to find and download high-quality versions of the PSA, in English and Spanish.

Since the first national Food Drive in 1993, the Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive has collected more than 1.5 billion pounds of food; last year’s drive brought in a record 80 million pounds of food.

People who have questions about the drive in their area should ask their letter carrier, contact their local post office, or go to nalc.org/food, facebook.com/StampOutHunger or twitter.com/StampOutHunger.

 

The 280,000-member National Association of Letter Carriers represents letter carriers across the country employed by the U.S. Postal Service, along with retired letter carriers. Founded by Civil War veterans in 1889, the NALC is among the country’s oldest labor unions.

This poster can be downloaded from HERE

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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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Tax Filling Season Is Here!

Vermont 2-1-1

Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl


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

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

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

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

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

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

Supporting Baby’s Brain Development


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

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

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

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

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


Emergency Housing in Vermont


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

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


Vermont 2-1-1 Web Statistics


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

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

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

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

Total Site Visits: 5126

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 2069


Tax Filling Season Is Here!


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

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


Winter Warm Up Concerns


From Department of Public Safety – Division of Fire Safety

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

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

Please follow the safety tips below:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

 

 

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Division of Fire Safety Press Release – Winter Warm Up Concerns

STATE OF VERMONT

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY

DIVISION OF FIRE SAFETY

PRESS RELEASE

 

For Immediate Release:

 

Release Date:

January 9th, 2018

Time: 12:30 p.m.

CONTACTS:

Michael Desrochers, Executive Director – 802-479-7561

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

 

 

Winter Warm Up Concerns

 

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

 

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

 

Please follow the safety tips below:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

About Vermont Division of Fire Safety

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

 

# # #

 

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

 

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Are You Looking for a Way to Help YOUR Community This Holiday Season?

Try giving to the Green Mountain United Way!

Our mission, simply put, is “Mobilizing communities to create lasting changes in local conditions that will improve lives“.

This goes a long way with your support!

There are lots of ways to give and make your donation count!

Check out our Ways to Give page for complete details and how you can choose the options that fit your needs!

Methods of giving include:

  • Direct Giving
  • Leadership Giving
  • Planned Giving

If you are shopping online this holiday season, why not give through Amazon Smile?  Simply choose Green Mountain United Way as your donation organization and a portion of your purchase goes toward GMUW!  What do you have to loose?

Come on…choose Amazon Smile when you make your online purchases today…

This is OUR community, we ALL Live United, and together we can help make a change that does last.

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Kids and Screen Time

 

 

Vermont 2-1-1

The staff and volunteers at Vermont 2-1-1 send you wishes for a happy holiday season and a reminder that you can dial 2-1-1 24 hours a day, every day of the year. 

Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl


October’s call volume of 2,540 is indicative of the changing season and 2-1-1 Contact Specialists are hunkering down for another very busy season helping those in need escape the often life-threatening cold nights. This month’s housing-related calls continue the historical trend of a significant uptick in the requests for referrals to housing resources. The Adverse Weather Conditions set forth by the Department for Children and Families started on November 1st , but the race to escape the cold weather had already begun during October. The number of referrals in the Housing/Shelter sub-category shows an 18% increase over September. This month these referrals make up 77% of the total in the Basic Needs category. October’s prelude to Vermont’s winter weather has local non-profits actively planning and preparing for the opening of their warming shelters. These mostly volunteer-run, cold weather shelters will serve the most vulnerable members of our Vermont communities and most will fill to capacity each night.

Another noteworthy increase in requests for assistance this month can be seen in the Public Assistance Programs sub-category.  These types of calls are clearly in line with the numbers we saw this past winter in January of 2017. 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” – a term that should be understood as describing individuals in need who are truly down and out. This sub-category also includes referrals to Reach Up, 3SquaresVT, WIC and other State and Federal public assistance programs.

October’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day proved to be another successful, single-day push to remove unused prescription drugs from medicine cabinets as a preventive measure against misuse of leftover medications. Once again Vermonters were encouraged to participate by turning in unused, expired and unwanted prescription drugs at specified, local collection sites. This nationwide collection effort is held twice a year, but Vermonters can drop off their prescription drugs any day of the year at numerous local sites. Governor Phil Scott is promoting Vermont 2-1-1 as the number to call for a list of collection sites and Vermont 2-1-1 is working closely with the Vermont Department of Health to keep the medication drop-off information accurate and up-to-date. Contact Specialists responded to more than 60 calls and the Vermont 2-1-1 website showed 100 hits for this information in October alone, a good sign that Vermonters are interested in properly disposing of their unused medications.

Finally, October’s data reveals 67 referrals to the Disaster Services sub-category. The referrals were in response to sheltering information requests due to the worst recorded wind storm to hit Vermont. This powerful windstorm moved into regions of Vermont during the early morning hours on Monday, October 30th, downing trees, cutting power to thousands of homes and shuttering dozens of roads. While responding to requests for storm-related information and assistance, 2-1-1 Contact Specialists were also tracking Vermonters’ needs and sharing that with Vermont Emergency Management, the Agency of Human Services, American Red Cross, and other state and local partners. The information collected at the 2-1-1 Contact Center helped to identify the regions where community emergency shelters might be needed.

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


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 203 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 October here.

Did You Know…?


You can reach us by phone 4 ways by:

  1. Simply dialing 2-1-1 – a local call from anywhere in Vermont
  2. Dialing 1-866-652-4636 – toll free in Vermont
  3. Dialing (802) 652-4636 – from outside of Vermont
  4. Texting your zip code – to 898211

The Vermont 2-1-1 Contact Center is available 24/7. Texting is only available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.


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 October:

Top Services: Homeless Motel Vouchers (310 searches); Christmas Programs (166 searches); Clothing Donation Programs (153 searches); Community Meals (144 searches); Pet Care Services (140 searches)

Top Agencies: Salvation Army (Rutland); Champlain Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO); Northeast Kingdom Community Action (NEKCA); Salvation Army (Burlington); Vermont Department for Children and Families – Economic Services Division

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

Total Site Visits: 4609

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 2013

Kids and Screen Time


Smartphones, computers and other media devices are a part of our every day lives. But research has shown that when it comes to kids, too much tech and too little face-to-face time with family and friends can delay the development of communication, language and social skills.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children 18 months and younger should not use screen media other than video-chatting with family and loved ones. For children 18 months to 5 years, parents should choose high-quality programming and apps that they view with their children and limit screen use to 1 hour or less per day. Parents should avoid letting children use media by themselves.

Here are some helpful tips for managing your family’s media use:

  • Make a family media use plan. This can help parents think about how to use media thoughtfully and make sure other important activities like sleep, outdoor-play, reading and family activities get priority. The AAP has a useful link to help families get started.
  • Set limits. In addition to limiting the amount of time your child uses media, know what platforms and apps your children are using, what sites they are visiting on the web, and what they are doing online.
  • Make unplugged playtime a daily priority. Unstructured play stimulates creativity and engaging in back-and-forth “talk time” is critical for language development and improves language skills much more than one-way interaction with a screen.
  • Be a good role model. Limiting your own media use means you will be more engaged with your child and be able to give them your full attention while setting a good example.
  • Create tech-free zones. Keep meal times and children’s bedrooms screen free. This encourages healthier eating habits and better sleep, which are critical for children’s wellness.
  • Don’t use technology as an emotional pacifier. Children need to be taught how to identify and handle strong emotions, learn how to come up with activities to manage boredom and ways to calm down and solve problems.  These are important skills for the healthy development of your child.

 

 

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

 

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It’s #GIVINGTUESDAY – Help us raise $2500 to create financial stability for families in our communities!


It’s #GIVINGTUESDAY – Help us raise $2500 to create financial stability for families in our communities!



Dear Supporter,

It’s GIVING TUESDAY! Your support throughout the year means everything to the people in our communities who need your help, so today we are asking you to help raise $2500 toward our K.E.E.P. Financial Coaching initiative to helps families in our five counties become financially stable.

We know that when a family is financially stable they are less likely to face food insecurity, they have the ability to weather life’s storms better, and their children have better access to educational opportunities that can offer a chance for a better future. This work is so important to the families in our communities and your gift could give them the help they need!

A gift of just $25 can help families in our communities get on the road to a more stable future. Give today and be of the solution our communities need!

In gratitude,
Tawnya Kristen

Executive Director

P.S. Simply donate online through our secure giving link, or send your check to Green Mountain United Way, 73 Main Street #33, Montpelier, VT 05602 and remember to put Giving Tuesday in the memo line!

Green Mountain United Way Events

 

WORKING BRIDGES LUNCH & LEARNS
Does your business struggle with employee retention and productivity, or with employees’ changing needs and have 25 or more employees? If so, join us for a Lunch & Learn to hear about how the innovative Working Bridges program could help you meet your business goals by bringing human service resources to employees at their workplace. Learn more…

  • December 12, 2017, 12:00-1:30 pm at NVDA in St. Johnsbury or
  • December 14, 2017, 12:00-1:30 pm at the Gateway Center in Newport, VT  
 

RESILIENCE COMING TO NORTHFIELD
Join Green Mountain United Way and the Northfield Promise Community for the latest showing of this ground-breaking film on Tuesday, December 5th at Northfield Middle High School Auditorium, 6:30PM – 8:00PM. Admission is FREE and open to the public. There will be a facilitated panel discussion following the film. Read more…

Volunteer Opportunities in our Communities

Check out our up-to-date listings for Volunteer Opportunities in your area on our website and give the Gift of Time this year!

Community Notes

 

FAMILYWIZE DRUG PRICE LOOKUP TOOL

Compare drug prices before you get to the pharmacy or send one of your clients or patients for a new medication. This tool can help save money and understand your options. Try it NOW!

 

Vermont 211 Resources:
SEASONAL RESOURCES

Vermont 2-1-1 has just updated their Seasonal Resources page including information about Fuel Assistance, VITA Tax Prep, and Flu Season resources for all vermonters. Learn more…

Join the #GIVINGTUESDAY Movement today!
Help us raise $2500 to help families in our community become financially stable!

 

Copyright © 2017 Green Mountain United Way, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Green Mountain United Way

73 Main Street, #33

Montpelier, VT 05602

Phone: 802-613-3989

 


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The Word Gap

 

Vermont 2-1-1

Join  ASIST —
Become A Life Saver!


Vermont 2-1-1 is hosting an ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) workshop on Wednesday, November 8th and Thursday, November 9th 2017.

ASIST is for caregivers who want to feel more comfortable, confident and competent in helping to prevent the immediate risk of suicide. Over one million caregivers have participated in this two-day, highly interactive, practical, practice-oriented workshop.

For more information on this training, please see our informational flyer or contact Cathy Nellis with questions.

Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl


This year’s “summer season” started late and lasted well into September!  This resulted in a calmer September in the 2-1-1 Contact Center, as reflected by the 1,861 contact total. Although phone lines may have been a bit quieter, September was a busy and exciting month at the contact center with the third year anniversary of Vermont 2-1-1’s participation in the Vermont Department of Health’s statewide Help Me Grow initiative!  Our Help Me Grow Specialized Information and Referral line is staffed by trained Child Development Specialists who are available to answer parent and caregiver questions about children’s behavioral and developmental needs. These specialists are providing families with tools to track development milestones and are connecting families to the appropriate resources in their communities. Parents, grandparents, service providers and doctor’s offices contacted the Help Me Grow line during its first year. Child Development Specialists responded to child development concerns and to parent and caregiver requests for help with meeting basic needs. Help Me Grow Child Development Specialists are available from 9:00am – 6:00pm Monday – Friday by dialing 2-1-1 and selecting option 6, or by texting HMGVT to 898211. You can also go to helpmegrowvt.org to learn more.

Statewide referrals to housing/shelter resources remind us of what is to come as the season changes and state parks come to close…Vermonters are beginning to prepare for the winter months. September continues the historical trend of a rise in the requests for referrals to housing resources.

September was also National Preparedness Month (NPM). NPM encourages Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools, and communities. FEMA’s Ready Campaign, the correlating public education outreach campaign, disseminates information to help the general public prepare for and respond to emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks. We should all take action to prepare! Go to ready.gov for more information. On October 21, Aaron Titus, author of How to Prepare for Everything: Empowering You to Face Disruption with Your Community and to Feel Good About the Future, will be presenting about his book in Montpelier. The first 25 registrants will receive an autographed copy of his book. For more information and to register, you can go to our website or Facebook page. You can also follow the link on the second page of this newsletter.

Read Vermont 2-1-1’s monthly contact volume report 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 September:

Top Services: Homeless Motel Vouchers (326 searches); Assistive Technology Equipment Loan (148 searches); Clothing Donation Programs (138 searches); Pet Care Services (121 searches); Christmas Programs (120 searches)

Top Agencies: Salvation Army (Rutland); Vermont Department for Children and Families – Economic Services Division; Vermont State Housing Authority; Champlain Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO); Northeast Kingdom Community Action (NEKCA)

Top Search by City: Burlington; Hancock; Brattleboro; New Haven; Saint Johnsbury

Total Site Visits: 4008

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 1815


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 145 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 September here.


How to Prepare for Anything
Workshop


Aaron Titus, Executive Director with Crisis Cleanup, is coming to Vermont to conduct a workshop to promote his latest book, How to Prepare for Anything, on Saturday, October 21, 2017, starting at 10:00 a.m.

Vermont Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VTVOAD), in conjunction with UpStreet Consulting, is proud to sponsor Aaron’s workshop to promote his new book. The event will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Montpelier Ward, 224 Hersey Road, Berlin, Vermont. This workshop will provide attendees a great opportunity to learn how to prepare for unexpected events and disasters, Please click here for more information and to register.

October Is LGBT History Month


October is LGBT History Month, which originated in the United States in 1994, celebrating the achievements of 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender “Icons” every year. Each day in October, a new LGBT Icon is featured with a video, a biography, and other resources. Vermont’s own cartoonist/author Alison Bechdel has been among the 341 Icons featured over the years.

To view the list, go to the LGBT History Month website. Searching the Vermont 2-1-1 database under the following terms will get you to the agencies that specialize in LBGT issues:

Cultural Awareness/Competencies Training* Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bisexual Issues

Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bisexual Advocacy Groups

Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bisexual Community Centers

Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bisexual Support Groups

Suicide Prevention Hotlines* Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bisexual Individuals

The Word Gap


In the 1990’s, researchers conducted a study on the number of words spoken in households of children from poor, middle-class, and wealthy families. This landmark study discovered what we now call the word gap. They found that on average poor and low-income children were hearing about 616 words per hour, the average working-class child 1,251 words per hour, and affluent children 2,153 words per hour. According to NAEYC (the National Association for the Education of Young Children), a recent study shows the word gap between children in different socioeconomic groups grows significantly from 18 months to 3 years. By the time children turn 4, children from high-income families are exposed to 30 million more words than children from low-income families.

The word gap shows us how poverty can influence the opportunities children have for learning. Language and literacy skills early in life predict future success in kindergarten and beyond. These skills aren’t just about learning words; they are also about communication and social interaction, which, in addition to improving their school readiness, builds a child’s social skills and supports healthy development.

Language and literacy skills begin at birth through everyday interactions, such as sharing books, telling stories, singing songs and talking to one another. Help Me Grow VT has resources for families looking to bolster their child’s language and literacy skills and help close the word gap with parent tip sheets and information on story times at local libraries and area playgroups. To contact a child development specialist at Help Me Grow VT, dial 2-1-1 ext. 6 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., or visit Help Me Grow VT’s website.

 

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

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Small Towns Making Big Changes to Support Healthy Lifestyles

One of the harbingers of fall at the Vermont Department of Health is the release of the latest Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance Survey data. The 2016 data related to our work includes updated obesity and overweight rates as well as the rate of leisure time physical activity among Vermont adults. (Other physical activity and nutrition questions are asked on the odd number years.) Our data is mixed this time around:

  • Adult obesity rates are at 28% up from 25% in 2015. This difference is not considered statistically significant.
  • The adult overweight rate is 34% down from 35% in 2015.
  • 18% of adults reported no leisure time activity, the same rate as in 2014, the last time this question was asked.
We know it takes a long time to change overweight and obesity rates and most experts in the field view rates staying level from one year to the next as a small victory. We also know that if we follow the evidence base and continue to encourage Vermonters to be more physically active and eat in a healthy way, we will see results. This newsletter highlights efforts to increase healthy eating and physical activity. Please share this information with others so we can all work together to see positive change soon.

Enjoy the lovely Vermont fall! 

Vermont Outdoor Economy Public Forums

The Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) is hosting Vermont Outdoor Economy Public Forums around the state in September and October. Please consider participating, as outdoor recreation has both health and economic benefits.
Almost one quarter (20%) of VT adults do not get any leisure time physical activity and over three quarters of Vermont youth (77%) do not get the recommended 1 hour of PA a day, every day. Investing in outdoor recreation will likely lead to increased physical activity, and can help change these numbers and ultimately health care costs associated with chronic conditions related to inactivity.

According to the National Association of Realtors, not only is outdoor recreation good for health, but outdoor recreation opportunities are good economic drivers for communities. People want to live in places where there are parks, trails, and all-user paths. Parks should be connected to other amenities via sidewalks, multi-use paths, and public transit where it exists. Having the ability to get to parks and other amenities (food, schools, shops, housing) by walking, biking, “rolling” or public transit encourages people to be physically active in their everyday lives and increases use of all connected facilities. More…
Small Towns Making Big Changes to Support Healthy Lifestyles
Communities can play an important role in supporting lifelong health and wellbeing for residents by offering amenities for safe and accessible walking, rolling, biking and playing, and providing access to healthy foods. Vermont is made up of hundreds of small towns, places where people often think it is not possible or practical to implement these types of strategies, yet it can be done!
The  Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends combining new or enhanced transportation systems (e.g., pedestrian and cycling paths) with new or enhanced land use design (e.g., proximity to a store, access to a public park) to promote physical activity among residents. They found that “combinations of activity-friendly built environment characteristics are associated with higher levels of transportation-related physical activity, recreational physical activity, and total walking”. More…
Be recognized! The 2018 Worksite Wellness Award Application Now Open

 

The application for the 2018 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Worksite Wellness is now open. These awards recognize employers that have a commitment to staff wellness. They will be presented by the Governor at the 2018 Worksite Wellness Conference on March 21st, 2018 at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center in Burlington. Worksites are encouraged to apply regardless of how long wellness initiatives have been in place. Wellness initiatives might include policies or changes to the built environment that support healthy choices, programs and activities that promote healthy behaviors, or other strategies that demonstrate a commitment to staff wellness.The deadline for applications is October 31st, 2017. Click here to submit your application. Registration for the conference will open in December. Contact Ashwinee.Kulkarni@vermont.gov with any questions.

Back to School: It’s that Time Again!

This is an exciting time of year for students and families. As kids head back to school, it’s important to remember that healthy students are better learners. The data published in the September 8 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report suggest that high school students reporting lower academic scores also reported greater health risk behaviors associated with substance use, violence, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, and sex.

The Vermont Department of Health promotes the use of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model. With this model, various sectors can work together to ensure that every young person in every school in every community is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) has released The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) Model: A Guide to Implementation. The guide is designed to assist schools and school districts interested in adopting and implementing the model. See how it can support your school!

Vermont Department of Health: Physical Activity and Nutrition, 108 Cherry Street, Suite 203, Burlington, VT 05401

 

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