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…

Read More

April Is National Stress Awareness Month

 

Vermont 2-1-1

Did You Know…?


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


Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl


March Weather Impacts 2-1-1 Contact Center Volume

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

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

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

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

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

2018 Help Me Grow National Forum


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

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

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

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

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

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


Emergency Housing in Vermont


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

Vermont 2-1-1 Information and Referral (I&R) Specialists responded to 592 calls regarding housing needs. I&R specialists provide needs assessment, problem-solving support, and information and referrals to a wide range of services to each caller. Review Vermont 2-1-1’s Emergency Housing Report for March here.


Vermont 2-1-1 Web Statistics


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

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

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

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

Total Site Visits: 4416

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 1619

April Is National Stress Awareness Month


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Read More

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

Read More

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

 

Read More

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


Read More

February 2018 Volunteer of the Month – Joyce Werntgen: Service Is A Life-Long Commitment

United Way Volunteer of the Month Joyce Werntgen: Service Is A Life-Long Commitment

Service is a life-long commitment, and our central Vermont community is lucky to have many stewards of that service. One of those stewards is Joyce Werntgen. She has been volunteering at the Vermont Center for Independent Living (VCIL) since her retirement in 2015. Joyce’s volunteer service started with a fondness for the organization, a natural curiosity about volunteering, and the desire to continue to serve her community even after retirement.

Joyce’s job before she retired was as a full-time employee for VCIL which made it easy for her to jump in and immediately begin helping. VCIL works to ensure that individuals with disabilities live with dignity and the support they need to remain in their homes. When she worked for the organization, Joyce was trained in multiple areas of the agency, including in their Home Access Program, which provides home entry and bathroom accessibility modifications for low-income Vermonters with physical disabilities. Because of her breadth of knowledge about variety of functions and areas, Joyce is now able to help the organization with whatever they need—database maintenance, phone calls, office work, and more. She also continues to work in the Home Access Program ensuring more Vermonters get access to the accessibility modifications they need!

Aside from her previous knowledge of the organization, Joyce was drawn to volunteer for VCIL for several reasons. She says she loves her work there because she loves the people. It’s a community, and showing up for a volunteer shift means she gets to see her friends. The organization is close to her home in Montpelier, and she says she supports the organization on a deeper level: the disability rights movement really struck a chord with her. Not only did her partner, Peg, help start VCIL as one of the original founders, but Peg’s daughter has a disability and Joyce has seen firsthand how the organization is able to make a difference in the lives of Vermonters.

Joyce says volunteers are of the utmost importance for the organization, as VCIL frequently deals with funding restrictions, volunteers provide the extra help needed to take some of the pressure off staff. Many of the volunteers working at VCIL also have disabilities, which helps foster a deeper understanding of what peers need throughout multiple levels in the organization.

For those who are interested in volunteering, Joyce says, “It is a wonderful way to get to know an organization. They make it easy.” Her experience with VCIL has been rewarding in the freedom and flexibility she has with her schedule, as well as the incredible sense of community its given her.

Vermont Center for Independent Living(VCIL) believes that individuals with disabilities have the right to live with dignity and with appropriate support in their own homes, fully participate in their communities and to control and make decisions about their lives.  To learn more about VCIL and the work they do for Vermonters, go to www.vcil.org.

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

 

 

Read More

January Volunteer of the Month: Making a Difference for Parents in Central Vermont

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/.

Read More

Take Advantage of Free Filing This Tax Season

Gladys understands the importance of making wise financial decisions. For years, she has helped countless people create a strong financial foundation as a financial coach. In 2016, she decided to help herself. She filed her taxes through MyFreeTaxes™.

It all started with a dental issue. Gladys, the 30-year-old manager of the Guadalupe Centers Financial Opportunity Center in Kansas City, Missouri, needed to visit a dentist, but she couldn’t afford it.

“I was going to do what most individuals do: File my taxes and put off going to the dentist,” said Gladys. “But then I heard from my employer about MyFreeTaxes, and that night I logged on.”

MyFreeTaxes is filing software powered by H&R Block, a United Way partner. It is a free, safe and easy way for individuals earning less than $66,000 to file their state and federal taxes. Gladys admits she was skeptical about the service at first, but she warmed up to the idea.

“It’s that old thing of it’s just too good to be true, but then I read about the benefits,” said Gladys, who was able to file her taxes within 30 minutes. “I was shocked at how easy and user-friendly the process was. With the money I saved, I was able to visit the dentist.”

As the only free, online, national tax-filing product offered by a nonprofit, MyFreeTaxes has helped nearly one million individuals like Gladys receive their maximum refunds by claiming all eligible tax credits—like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC)—saving users $180 million in filing fees. Since 2009, MyFreeTaxes has brought more than $1 billion in refunds back to communities.

How does it work? Simply upload a photo of your W-2 and MyFreeTaxes will automatically fill in your information. Most filers complete their taxes in under an hour. The filing software guarantees that all tax returns are 100 percent accurate, and that the filer receives their biggest refund. Users can:

  • File their federal taxes—and up to three state returns—for free.
  • Utilize error checkers, online chats to navigate the process, and Refund Reveal™ to understand how and why the refund amount is changing.
  • Access the software from their computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • Get free customer support from IRS-certified specialists from MyFreeTaxes.com.

Are you ready to file your 2017 taxes? Visit MyFreeTaxes today to complete your tax return. The IRS begins accepting electronic returns on January 29, and H&R Block will automatically submit your return when e-filing opens. Please note that as part of the PATH Act, tax refunds claiming the EITC and CTC will be held until February 15. Filers claiming those credits should expect to receive their refund no earlier than February 27.

Have questions about how tax reform might affect you? Read this helpful article. While you’re filing your taxes, call our free helpline at 1-855-My-TX-Help to be connected to an IRS-certified specialist who can answer your tax filing questions. If you prefer to file your taxes in person this year, visit a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site in your community. You can also contact 2-1-1 for additional tax support services.

Originally posted by Laura Scherler, January 25, 2018

Read More

Setting Goals For A Healthier 2018!

 

Happy New Year!

As 2018 dawns, we are happy to provide a newsletter full of tips to help your colleagues and clients stick to their resolutions and work toward a healthier lifestyle.

One way to encourage healthy behaviors is through 3-4-50. We have tip sheets and sign-on sheets for worksites, schools, early childhood programs, communities and new this month, faith communities. Consider bringing the 3-4-50 message to the organizations you are close to, and ask them to sign on. Your Office of Local Health can assist, by meeting with your organization and explaining how 3-4-50 can work for them and people they reach.

To date we have over 40 organizations signed on to 3-4-50. Join them in working toward a healthier Vermont.

 

 

Setting Goals for a Healthier

2018!

It seems that each January brings a flood of well-intended resolutions. “This year, I am going to lose weight.” “This year I’m going to exercise more.” It’s no surprise that gym attendance and health related Google searches spike in the month of January and then rapidly decline. Let’s face it, there‘s nothing like an indulgent season of holiday food and drink accompanied by a hearty dose of stress to fuel the desire to make a change for health’s sake. In that sense, January is a great time to start down the road toward better health. The challenge becomes, how do we help our clients and staff implement lifestyle changes that are sustainable and might actually lead to better health? More…
Worksite Wellness Conference Banner

2018 Worksite Wellness Conference

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018, DoubleTree by Hilton in Burlington, VT (formerly the Sheraton)

Registration for the 2018 Worksite Wellness Conference is open! The conference will take place on Wednesday, March 21st, 2018 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Burlington, VT (previously the Sheraton). We invite you to 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 the leading worksite wellness organization WELCOA, twelve breakout session options, presentation of the 2018 Worksite Wellness Awards and an all new Ask-the-Expert session! We are also pleased to announce that we are now an approved re-certification provider for the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) and the HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®). Register before March 1st, 2018 to get an early bird rate.

Looking to start a worksite wellness initiative or integrate new strategies for 2018? Check out our website for tips and tools on getting started with a comprehensive worksite wellness program and recommended wellness strategies. You can also find sample policies, templates and other resources to help you develop or expand your program.
Group of children walking and rolling to school in the winter.

Winter Walk to School Day
February 7, 2018

Children spend a large part of their day at school, and it is important for them to have ample opportunities for physical activity while they are there. It’s also important to consider out of school time and active transportation, like walking and biking to and from school. Winter has arrived, but that doesn’t mean an end to children walking to school. With the right preparation, walking to school in the winter can be fun. This is Vermont after all, the land of cross-country skiing, ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and fat biking – so why not consider hosting a Walk (and Bike) to School Day celebration in the middle of the winter? Dig out your hats and gloves, organize your volunteers and get stepping for Winter Walk to School Day 


SMART Goals at School
New Year’s resolutions are in full effect and this month’s newsletter is all about setting goals. Goals are not just for individuals though, schools across Vermont are actively working on addressing goals through their Local School Wellness Policies.
Setting goals does require some thought about your school’s vision for a culture of wellness. Consider setting SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound. The SMART criteria help ensure that the goals are within reason and attainable. A detailed, well-stated goal has the best chance of being achieved. It provides direction for schools and supervisory unions in meeting health and wellness objectives. Check out the Vermont Wellness Policy Implementation Tool to help organize your School Wellness Policy Goals.
Winter hiking.
Get Active and Eat Well Throughout the Winter Months

 

January is when many people decide to make changes to be healthier, yet winter in Vermont can be a very challenging time to be physically active and to eat healthy. Here are free or low cost ways to help people stick to those resolutions this time of year. Share these with partners, on social media sites, or in newsletters. Make the information specific to your local resources with dates, times and directions to locations. Consider offering informal events or outings for the community to encourage people to take advantage of what is available: family skating, fort building, winter walks in the woods, (healthy) winter soup or chili contest! More…

Read More