Athletes stand in 3 rows after a workout

Local Hero: Troy Lawson for The Phoenix-Vermont

by Green Mountain United Way Volunteer Writer Robert Barossi

Coach Troy, second from the right, chats with athletes before a Pheonix workout in Barre.

An estimated 20.7 million adults in the United States needed treatment for drug or substance abuse in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. One national nonprofit working to provide a unique approach to recovery support is The Phoenix. Founded in 2006, the organization works to provide a sober active community for people in recovery and now offers free activity programs in many states, where it has served over 26,000 people since it’s inception.

Arriving here in 2018, The Phoenix has a number of programs in central Vermont, including one led by CrossFit coach, and volunteer of the month, Troy Lawson.

“I’ve been a personal trainer for a lot of years,” he says. “It was back in 2012 when I started doing CrossFit and I fell l in love with the idea of class participation and having an instructor and having somebody oversee your movement and oversee how you are moving. I was just drawn to it and I went and got certified and started coaching at Green Mountain CrossFit.”

Troy heard about The Phoenix program through Tawnya Kristen, of Green Mountain United Way, who was one of the driving forces behind bringing it to Vermont. “Tawnya started hosting the first class in Vermont at Green Mountain CrossFit and she was encouraging people to help out and volunteer,” he says. “She wasn’t really sure what the impact was going to be on the community but it’s been huge.”

He notes that one of the requirements to take part in the program while in recovery is that participants have to have 48 hours of continuous sobriety. “The goal was to try to set up something in the central Vermont area that would keep their interest peaked at least every 48 hours. When Tawnya started reaching out to try to find another location to host The Phoenix, she reached out to me cause I have a relationship with Washington County Mental Health. She knew I had some space down there to host another one of the programs. She drew me in that way and it’s been amazing.”

While he wasn’t necessarily looking for volunteer opportunities, Troy comments that everything fell into place really well. “It wasn’t a hard decision,” he adds. “I had to think about it for a little while, of course, but I was willing to do it. To participate in The Phoenix and see what Tawnya and Shannon Brennan [a mental health counselor at Central Vermont Substance Abuse] have brought to the central Vermont area, it’s pretty amazing, it’s really hard to say no to them.”

“It isn’t a replacement for the meetings and it’s not a replacement for the 12-step program,’ Troy says. “There’s a lot of stigma around recovery, so The Phoenix gives them a positive way to interact with each other that maybe was lacking. So that’s one piece. There’s the fitness piece, giving them the opportunity to experience something that’s going to benefit them in the long run. Another piece is that these people are in a pretty vulnerable spot in their lives and Tawnya is really gentle and kind and she’s very welcoming. That definitely made it more appealing for me to be a part of something that was bigger than myself.”

On Saturdays, you may find Troy helping Tawnya at Green Mountain CrossFit, but his Wednesday night programs happen at Washington County Mental Health’s WellSpace in Barre. He calls the diversity of people who participate in the program fascinating, noting the wide variety. “One thing I’ve learned is addiction is across the board. Men and women. Older and younger. It doesn’t matter how much income you have or any of that stuff. It’s really amazing to see the folks that come there and allow themselves to be vulnerable and put themselves out there and they’re trying something new.”

And while CrossFit can seem a little intimidating at first to some, the program is also open to anyone, regardless of their fitness level. Nobody is turned away. At the same time, Troy notes, CrossFit provides an amazing sense of community because everyone works together as a group.

“It’s definitely bigger than yourself. Your giving back to something that’s really a big deal,” Troy says, adding that there are moments of true vulnerability and sharing of personal stories which he says can be powerful, difficult and inspiring. “To just be a part of something like that and to give that to my community is pretty cool. It’s hard to put into words exactly how it feels. I just feel grateful that they allow me to be a part of their recovery.”

Local Heroes is a feature compiled by the Green Mountain United Way focusing on the contributions of local volunteers whose gift of time benefits local nonprofit organizations in Green Mountain United Way’s five-county service territory. For more information, or to nominate a volunteer to be featured here, go to www.gmunitedway.org/volunteer-of-the-month.

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The Phoenix-Vermont and Partners Launch New Fitness Program

Saturday, December 8th a line of new athletes reached out the door and into the stairwell at Green Mountain CrossFit. These new athletes were there to take part in a CrossFit class for the inaugural launch of The Phoenix – Vermont. What looked like any Saturday at the gym for some looked new and very different than their typical Saturday to others. Each of the athletes in line was there because they are in recovery from substance misuse disorder. This event was a new step in their recovery journey.

The Phoenix is a national nonprofit organization founded by Scott Strode, an athlete and leader who found recovery through fitness and discipline in a boxing gym in Boston. Based on his personal experience, Strode founded The Phoenix Multisport in Denver in 2006. Since then Strode and his team have been steadily expanding the reach of their program to include many different sports and locations in 20 states. “We have built a community of people in recovery across the country that are committed to helping individuals overcome substance use disorders by providing a nurturing atmosphere and support through the intrinsic power of physical activities,” said Scott Strode, Founder and Executive Director of The Phoenix. “By bringing The Phoenix to Vermont, we are providing a proven program to help build a safe, welcoming, nurturing and healing environment that is full of hope for people who have suffered from a substance use disorder and to those who choose to live sober.”

Their philosophy is simple: offer free fitness classes to those in recovery who have been sober for the last 48 hours. But the focus is not solely on fitness. As participants work out, they begin to build new connections with others who are living in recovery and sobriety. These connections are a powerful way for participants to build a new support network to continue their success in recovery.

For several years, Shannon Brennan, a licensed clinical mental health counselor at Central Vermont Substance Abuse, had contacted The Phoenix Multisport asking that they expand to Central Vermont. She “was tired of seeing her clients die” because they did not have the support systems to sustain their recovery and often fell back on old, unhealthy relationships. Brennan saw the potential that the Phoenix could bring to her clients. It wasn’t until she found partners at Green Mountain United Way and Green Mountain CrossFit that it became possible to bring The Phoenix to Central Vermont.

Tawnya Kristen of Green Mountain United Way met with Brennan and not only saw how this could be life-changing for Brennan’s clients, she saw how The Phoenix had the potential to change the recovery landscape in Vermont. As a key member of several Accountable Communities for Health in the Green Mountain United Way service region, Kristen was very familiar with data demonstrating the value of building healthy community and the impact on population health. She called a meeting with Nick Petterssen, the co-owner of Green Mountain CrossFit, who she knew would be supportive.

Together, these three community partners worked with The Phoenix to plan, train, and prepare for the launch of this first event on December 8th.

More than 25 athletes and half a dozen volunteers showed up to launch The Phoenix-Vermont. According to The Phoenix’s national office, attendance at this inaugural event was one of the two largest they have seen since expanding this programing nationwide.

Athletes who attended Saturday’s event were from many walks of life; some were experienced with CrossFit, many were not, but all showed up ready and willing to tackle a new challenge. In the opening circle just as many people responded to Kristen’s introductory question of “What are you looking forward to this week?” with “celebrating 2 months sober” or “10 years sober” as did those who were looking forward to family time or holiday shopping. The pride with which they spoke reinforced one of the main goals of The Phoenix – to eliminate the stigma of being in recovery. In the Phoenix, recovery is not something to hidden; by stepping into a Phoenix Event, athletes are not only joining a new, supportive community, but they are part of sharing and creating that community themselves.

Phoenix events will continue to happen every Saturday from noon – 1:30 pm at Green Mountain CrossFit. Those interested should go to www.thephoenix.org/participate/ to enroll prior to attending. Sign in opens at 11:30 am each Saturday. Those interested in volunteering to support events can go to Green Mountain United Way’s Volunteer Connection to sign up for dates and times at www.gmunitedway.org/volunteer.

This article was originally published in The World on Wednesday, December 19, 2018

 

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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.

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Introducing our NEW Volunteer Connection!


We’ve just launched our new Volunteer Connection and are working harder than ever to connect volunteers with their passion to help our community!



Hello,

In the past few weeks we have launched our brand NEW Volunteer Connection platform through our website! Check it out to learn more about the many volunteer opportunities in our communities and find a way to give back that engages your passion and helps your community! There are tons of incredible ways to help, so take a look at our nonprofit partners, the new opportunities, and some of the incredible events that these organizations put on to help them accomplish their mission! This is the best and easiest way to be part of the change that makes our communities thrive!
And, TODAY is Vermont Gives Day! This is the perfect time to support us or your favorite Vermont nonprofit organizations. Check out more about VT Gives Day or donate now

In gratitude,
Carrie Stahler

Director of Funding and Program Development

Green Mountain United Way Updates & Events

 

United Way Day of Caring 2018 
Join us to help clean-up, paint, and landscape at Heaton Woods Senior Residence in Montpelier. There are just a few spots left – Learn more or Register for Day of Caring Now!
 

Congratulations to our NEW K.E.E.P. Financial Coaches!
On May 2 our second class of Financial Coaches completed Intro to Financial Coaching and they are now working with clients in the community. We congratulate each of them for their hard work and thank them for joining us to improve the financial stability of our communities! Read more…

 

Diaper Drive, Saturday, May 19 at The Family Center of Washington County

Did you know that 1 in 3 Vermont families struggle with diaper needs? Support families in the community by dropping off diapers between May 7 – 20.

  • Diaper drop-boxes can be found at Montpelier Shaw’s, Berlin Shaw’s, and at the Green Mountain Transit Office (6088 VT Route 12).
  • If you are unable to donate at these locations, consider a one-time or recurring donation on-line at: fcwcvt.org/donate/
  • Stop by The Family Center of Washington County on Saturday, May 19 to drop off your diapers and enjoy the Family Flea Market!

Nonprofit Partners: Join us for our Quarterly Volunter Coordinator Meeting on Wednesday, May 23 in Barre – RSVP Now!

We are holding a series of quarterly meetings to help share best practices for volunteerism, resources, and encourage networking among volunteer coordinators in our communities. Meetings will alternate between Central VT and the Northeast Kingdom. Please RSVP if you are able to attend.

Community Updates

 

14th Annual Golf Classic
Registration Now Open!

Come golf with us at the Barre Country Club on Friday, August 24 from 10:00am – 5:00 pm. Registration includes cart, meal, and greens fees! Register Now!
Or, consider sponsoring and get complimentary registrations with certain sponsorship levels!

 

Vermont Gives Day 2018 is May 17
All Day TODAY, until midnight tonight, you can support your favorite nonprofit organizations as part of Vermont Gives. Green Mountain United Way is hoping to raise $1000 for our K.E.E.P. Financial Coaching Program to help more families get financial knowledge and support they need to thrive! Learn more about VT Gives here or donate now!

Upcoming Courses for Financial Coaches

 

Advanced Financial Coaching

June 7, 2018 from 8am – 4pm at Capstone Community Action. Find the details and Register now.

Please NOTE – This Course is open to current FINANCIAL COACHES ONLY. If you have not yet taken Intro to Financial Coaching you will not be able to attend this course.

 

Debt Management &
Credit as an Asset

June 19, 2018 from 9am – 4pm at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital. Find the details and Register now.

Please NOTE – This Course is open to current FINANCIAL COACHES ONLY. If you have not yet taken Intro to Financial Coaching you will not be able to attend this course.

The Community Campaign closes in June, help us hit our goal of $500,000!
We are so close and need your help to make our goal! Help those in your community and make a lasting impact in health, education, and financial stability!

 

Copyright © 2018 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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Spring Worksite Wellness Activities

 

Happy Spring!

This spring feels particularly hard earned. Fortunately, there are several activities coming up that will get us outside. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • May is National Bike Month which features an ever-expanding diversity of events in communities nationwide, including:
  • Vermont State Parks open May. Many open Memorial Day weekend, but this schedule has the opening date for each park.
  • May is also when the outdoor Farmer’s Markets open. Find the Market closest to you on the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont website.

Spring Worksite Wellness Activities

~ Ashwinee Kulkarni, MPH 

The warm weather has finally arrived! Spring is a great time to get started with a worksite wellness program or re-energize an existing one. Check out the Health Department’s Worksite Wellness Page for tips and resources on how to get started or to get new ideas. We also have new section with resources specific to several different occupations. Here are five worksite wellness activities that you can try this summer to promote healthy eating and an active lifestyle:

  • Partner with a local farm or food hub to have Community Supported Agriculture shares (CSAs) delivered on-site.
  • Promote walking meetings or walking groups.
  • Plant a worksite garden.
  • Support active commuting to work.
  • Don’t forget about sun safety.

More…. 


Unraveling the Mystery of the

Farmer’s Market

~Rebecca O’Reilly, MS, RD

As the weather begins to warm and the landscape begins to green, our thoughts inevitably turn toward spring and summer and taking in all that these seasons have to offer. For me (and I don’t think I’m alone here), food is among the greatest assets that warm weather brings. Fresh produce is available, the grill is fired up, and I am more than happy to set aside my arsenal of warm winter favorites to embrace the cool flavors of summer. Along with great flavor, comes opportunity for great nutrition. Fruits and vegetables that are picked fresh not only taste better, but they pack more key nutrients than those that have been trucked from thousands of miles away. Community farmer’s markets are a great place to support local growers while taking advantage of fresh, flavorful, nutritious fruits and vegetables.

For many of the consumers we see in our daily work, farmer’s markets are a new concept and shopping at one may not be entirely comfortable prospect. Do you remember the last time you tried out a new market? Every time I’m in an unfamiliar shopping environment, I am so overwhelmed by finding what I need and learning the norms of the new space, I forget to buy half of the items on my list (once again, I don’t think I’m alone here). The good news is, we can help make the new experience more enjoyable for individuals and families. Here are some helpful tips and resources for successfully navigating the farmer’s market and getting the most out of a tight food budget.

More…

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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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New Financial Coaching Class, United Way Day at the Wayside, and More!

 


Spring has sprung – don’t miss Financial Coaching classes, United Way Day at the Wayside and much more!



Hello,

Although February is nearly over, it feels like Spring, so what better time to launch right into our Spring updates! Check out the information below to learn more about our Spring 2018 Financial Coaching offerings – nonprofit staff and volunteers are eligible to join our second cohort of Financial Coaches now! Also for our nonprofit partners, we’re launching a BRAND NEW Volunteer Connection platform, and you have three chances to join us for a training.
And for those in Central Vermont, we have the best excuse you never needed to get to the Wayside Restaurant, Bakery and Creamery for a meal – United Way Day on March 27

In gratitude,
Carrie Stahler

Director of Funding and Program Development

Green Mountain United Way Events

 

K.E.E.P. FINANCIAL COACHING 
Could your staff or client-facing volunteers improve their work by knowing more about financial literacy and individual coaching? Of course – finances are the taboo topic that impacts nearly every individual’s life and there is so much to learn! Join the second cohort of K.E.E.P. Financial Coaches and gain the knowledge needed to help your clients (and even yourself)! Learn more…

  • Intro to Financial Coaching: March 29 – 29 and May 2 at NVDA in St. Johnsbury REGISTER NOW
 

UNITED WAY DAY AT THE WAYSIDE
March 27th – all day long!

We know that no one needs an excuse to eat at the Wayside Restaurant, Bakery, and Creamery on the Barre-Montpelier Road, so mark your calendar and join us for a meal to celebrate The Wayside’s 100th Anniversary & United Way’s commitment to the community!
Come for breakfast, lunch or dinner – a generous portion of the proceeds from the Entire Day’s Sales will go to support the community through the work of Green Mountain United Way, so invite all of your friends & family!
NEW VOLUNTEER CONNECTION PLATFORM COMING SOON!

Green Mountain United Way is getting ready launch a NEW Volunteer Connection platform for an easier and more effective way to match your volunteer needs to the right volunteers who are passionate about your cause to effect positive change right here in our communities! Join us for an introductory training to learn more! RSVP to save your spot at one of the three regional trainings: 

  • Central Vermont Volunteer Connection Training – Tuesday, March 13 from 8:30 am – 10:00 am at the Community National Bank Community Room, Barre
  • St. Johnsbury Volunteer Connection Training – Wednesday, March 21 from 9:30 am – 11:00 am at the Northeastern Vermont Development Association, 36 Eastern Ave in St. Johnsbury
  • Newport Volunteer Connection Training – Wednesday, March 28 from 9:30 am – 11:00 am at CCV, 100 Main Street, Suite 150 in Newport.

Email Beckie Blouin (rblouin@gmunitedway.org) at Green Mountain United Way to register.

Nonprofit Partners: VtSHARES Applications are Available
Applications for New and Renewaing Nonprofits who want to participate in the 2018 VtSHARES Campaign are now available. If you would like an application, please email Beckie at vtshares@gmunitedway.org.

Volunteer Opportunities in our Communities

Check out our most current Volunteer Opportunities in your area and give the Gift of Time this year!

Community Updates

 

GOLF CLASSIC REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!

Green Mountain United Way’s Annual Golf Classic will be happening this year no Friday, August 24 with a new earlier start time of 10:00am. Join us for a day on the green to support your community! Registration is now open online, or by downloading our paper registration form, and we’re seeking sponsors at all levels, including our new Team and Prize level sponsors! Join us!

 

NORTHFIELD PROMISE COMMUNITY UPDATE:
SPRING BRINGS PLAYGROUNDS!

The Northfield Promise Community has identified two locations for new playgrounds as part of the Northfield Promise Community’s efforts to enhance school readiness in children ages 0-5. Green Mountain United Way will be supporting the building of these play spaces at the Northfield Public Libray and the Falls Rec. area with a Day of Caring in June. Stay tuned for more information!

Join Community Campaign and help us reach our goal of $500,000 TODAY!
Help those in your community and make a lasting impact in health, education, and financial stability!

 

Copyright © 2018 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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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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