By Chelsea Catherine, Green Mountain United Way volunteer
Sheila McLean, United Way’s Volunteer of the Month, is a woman who radiates warmth and kindness. It’s clear from the moment I meet her, seated at a table in a restaurant in downtown Montpelier, that the welcoming presence she emits is part of what makes her an excellent volunteer. Sheila volunteers for Good Beginnings of Central VT, which provides free resources and support for expectant parents and families with new babies.
Since 2012, Sheila has volunteered with the program for two to three hours once a week, visiting the homes of new parents and assisting them with a variety of tasks. Most often, Sheila helps take care of the newborn while the new mom catches up on household tasks, takes a nap, or allows herself a brief break to relax. Sometimes she reads or plays with an older sibling, so the new mom can focus on her infant. Her volunteer work constantly changes to fit the needs of her clients. Her support even helped one new mom complete her school work at the local community college, enabling her to graduate! For some moms, the hours Sheila provides are the only respite they get throughout the week.
Working with infants comes naturally to Sheila. Originally from Ottawa, Canada, Sheila became an RN at a diploma school in Montreal, where she worked side by side with doctors and nurses every day. After moving to Vermont with her husband, she began a twenty-five-year stint on staff at the Women and Children’s Unit at CVMC. For the past five years, she’s worked per diem. This is when she began volunteering, spending time at the Benefit Shop in Barre, and with a knitting group at the hospital where she makes prayer shawls to help comfort terminal patients and their families.
Sheila loves the work she does with Good Beginnings, and it’s clear from the excitement in her voice that the work is deeply rewarding to her. She says the biggest thing she’s learned from volunteering there with Good Beginnings is how hard some new moms have to work to make ends meet. “It was a wake-up call,” she says. She realized how much she has to be thankful for, and how many people really struggle in Central Vermont.
Part of her longevity as a volunteer comes from the amazing support she gets from the staff at Good Beginnings. Along with praise and consistent encouragement from the program coordinator, Good Beginnings also holds monthly “purple coffee hours” where volunteers can sit down and talk about the challenges and successes they’ve faced, while seeking advice from each other and staff. Sheila also receives lots of reinforcement from the moms. “I know after two hours, I’ve made a real difference in that mom’s life.” Truly, having support from a trained professional after having a new baby can mean a world of difference.
Good Beginnings commits to helping families at many levels. With a mission to, “bring community to families and their babies,” the organization provides any families expecting an infant with much needed respite service. Their primary Postpartum Angel service matches families with community volunteers who provide respite, companionship, and community connections during the postpartum period. Other Good Beginnings services include free early parenting workshops, a parent drop-in space with peer support groups, reduced-price baby carriers, and baby wearing support for new parents, a financial assistance fund for families in crisis, and the In Loving Arms cuddling program for vulnerable newborns at the UVM Health Network-CVMC Campus.
The medical profession runs in Sheila’s family. One of her daughters is a nurse and the other is a physical therapist. She says her years working as a nurse have greatly informed her volunteer work. She was even introduced to the Good Beginnings program by the founder and President of the program while at the hospital!
With over twenty percent of children being born to single mothers, the work of Good Beginnings volunteers is crucial to providing mothers with the support they need through the first twelve weeks of their children’s lives. Green Mountain United Way is proud to support the work of Good Beginnings and is incredibly proud to name Sheila as their Volunteer of the Month this January.
For more information on the work of Good Beginnings of Central Vermont visit http://www.goodbeginningscentralvt.org/ and to find out more about the work Green Mountain Untied way supports in the community, visit http://www.gmunitedway.org/.
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
STATE OF VERMONT
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
DIVISION OF FIRE SAFETY
For Immediate Release:
January 9th, 2018
Time: 12:30 p.m.
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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2018 Worksite Wellness Conference
2018 Worksite Wellness Conference: Worksite Wellness Essentials for a Thriving Workplace
Wednesday March 21, 2018
Burlington Hotel & Conference Center
870 Williston Road
Burlington, VT 05403
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Join hundreds of Vermont business owners, human resources professionals and wellness experts to learn strategies and best practices in worksite wellness, share your experiences, and expand your professional network. This year we will have a keynote speaker from leading Worksite Wellness Organization WELCOA, twelve breakout session options, and an all new Ask-the-Expert session!
Registration fees and deadlines
Deadline to register: March 10th
$78.00 for award winners
$104.00 per person before March 1st
$128.00 per person after March 1st
Information on Exhibiting
Green up your commute!
The Department of Health is partnering with Go! Vermont (link is external) to provide greener commuting options for the 2018 Worksite Wellness Conference. Any worksite sending six or more employees to the conference is eligible to rent a van at their local Enterprise car rental for only $25.00! Any adult employee can pick up the van the night before the conference and return it the evening after the conference. If you are sending fewer than six employees, or some of your employees commute a significant distance to work, please let us know and we can do a match with employers in your area for a vanpool from your town or region! Please email email@example.com if you are interested in a vanpool.
Rather take the bus? Every attendee that takes a vanpool or commutes to the venue by bus will enter a raffle to win one of five free gas cards!
7:30 a.m. – Registration
8:30 a.m. – Welcome
Janet Franz – Chair, Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
Mark Levine, MD – Commissioner, Vermont Department of Health
Governor Phil Scott (invited)
Worksite Wellness Awards and Poster Session
10:00 – Keynote Address with Q&A
Sara Rauch – WELCOA
11:00 a.m. – Break
Exhibits & Networking
11:15 a.m. – Concurrent Workshops
- Engaging Management and Wellness Teams in the Creation of Supportive Environments – Judd Allen, Human Resources Institute, LLC
- Improving Productivity, Profits, and Opportunity Through an Innovative Co-Generational Workplace– Liz Vogel, Dots, Inc.
- Advancing Your Employee Wellness Program: Strategies and tools for evaluation (part 1) – Lindsay Simpson, The Richards Group
- Working Recovery :Supporting Vermont’s Vulnerable Workforce – Multiple Speakers, Chittenden County Opioid Alliance
- Health and Emotional Wellbeing in the Workplace: Behavior Screening and Intervention as an Effective Approach to Wellness – Steven Dickens, InvestEAP
- Successful Program Planning: Meeting Employees at their Level of Readiness Multiple – Speakers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont
12:15 p.m. – Lunch
Exhibits & Networking
1:30 p.m. – Concurrent Workshops
- Aligning People, Place and Purpose for Meaningful Wellness Interventions – Sara Rauch, WELCOA
- Harness the Power of Play – Lizzy Pope, University of Vermont & Marguerite Dibble, Game Theory
- Advancing Your Employee Wellness Program: Strategies and tools for evaluation (part 2) –Lindsay Simpson, The Richards Group
- Best Practices When Launching a Continuous Incentive Wellness Challenge –Nick Patel, Wellable, Inc.
- Physical Activity in the Workplace for Strength, Vitality and Injury Prevention –Michael Hughes, Injury & Health Management Solutions, Inc., Seth Rebeor, Injury & Health Management Solutions, Inc. & Heather Main, Main Wellness
- Promising Practices in Population Health – Speakers, Rise VT & Central Vermont Medical Center
2:35 p.m. – Fitness Intermission
– Ask the Experts Session
4:00 p.m. – Adjourn