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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

This poster can be downloaded from HERE

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March is National Nutrition Month®

 

Vermont 2-1-1

Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl


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

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

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

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

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

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


Temper Tantrums


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Practice naming emotions and feelings with your child.

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

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

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


Vermont 2-1-1 Web Statistics


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

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

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

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

Total Site Visits: 4043

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 1592


Don’t Forget to Support Your Local United Way!


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

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

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


March is National Nutrition Month®


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

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

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

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

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


Emergency Housing in Vermont


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

Vermont 2-1-1 Information and Referral (I&R) Specialists responded to 578 calls regarding housing needs. I&R specialists provide needs assessment, problem-solving support, and information and referrals to a wide range of services to each caller. Review Vermont 2-1-1’s Emergency Housing Report for February here.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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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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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.

 

 

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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/.

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Take Advantage of Free Filing This Tax Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally posted by Laura Scherler, January 25, 2018

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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…

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Tax Filling Season Is Here!

Vermont 2-1-1

Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl


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

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

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

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

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

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

Supporting Baby’s Brain Development


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

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

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

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

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


Emergency Housing in Vermont


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

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


Vermont 2-1-1 Web Statistics


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

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

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

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

Total Site Visits: 5126

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 2069


Tax Filling Season Is Here!


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

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


Winter Warm Up Concerns


From Department of Public Safety – Division of Fire Safety

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

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

Please follow the safety tips below:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

 

 

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2018 Worksite Wellness Conference

2018 Worksite Wellness Conference

2018 Worksite Wellness Conference

2018 Worksite Wellness Conference: Worksite Wellness Essentials for a Thriving Workplace

Wednesday March 21, 2018
Burlington Hotel & Conference Center
870 Williston Road
Burlington, VT 05403
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Join hundreds of Vermont business owners, human resources professionals and wellness experts to learn strategies and best practices in worksite wellness, share your experiences, and expand your professional network. This year we will have a keynote speaker from leading Worksite Wellness Organization WELCOA, twelve breakout session options, and an all new Ask-the-Expert session!

register now (link is external)

Registration fees and deadlines

Deadline to register: March 10th

$78.00 for award winners
$104.00 per person before March 1st
$128.00 per person after March 1st
Information on Exhibiting

Green up your commute!

The Department of Health is partnering with Go! Vermont (link is external) to provide greener commuting options for the 2018 Worksite Wellness Conference. Any worksite sending six or more employees to the conference is eligible to rent a van at their local Enterprise car rental for only $25.00! Any adult employee can pick up the van the night before the conference and return it the evening after the conference. If you are sending fewer than six employees, or some of your employees commute a significant distance to work, please let us know and we can do a match with employers in your area for a vanpool from your town or region! Please email ashwinee.kulkarni@vermont.gov if you are interested in a vanpool.

Rather take the bus? Every attendee that takes a vanpool or commutes to the venue by bus will enter a raffle to win one of five free gas cards!

Conference Agenda

7:30 a.m. – Registration

8:30 a.m. Welcome

Janet Franz – Chair, Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
Mark Levine, MD – Commissioner, Vermont Department of Health
Governor Phil Scott (invited)
Worksite Wellness Awards and Poster Session

10:00 – Keynote Address with Q&A

Sara Rauch – WELCOA

11:00 a.m. – Break

Exhibits & Networking

11:15 a.m. – Concurrent Workshops

  1. Engaging Management and Wellness Teams in the Creation of Supportive Environments – Judd Allen, Human Resources Institute, LLC
  2. Improving Productivity, Profits, and Opportunity Through an Innovative Co-Generational Workplace–  Liz Vogel, Dots, Inc.
  3. Advancing Your Employee Wellness Program: Strategies and tools for evaluation (part 1) – Lindsay Simpson, The Richards Group
  4. Working Recovery :Supporting Vermont’s Vulnerable Workforce – Multiple Speakers, Chittenden County Opioid Alliance
  5. Health and Emotional Wellbeing in the Workplace: Behavior Screening and Intervention as an Effective Approach to Wellness – Steven Dickens, InvestEAP
  6. Successful Program Planning: Meeting Employees at their Level of Readiness Multiple – Speakers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont

12:15 p.m. – Lunch

Exhibits & Networking

1:30 p.m. – Concurrent Workshops

  1. Aligning People, Place and Purpose for Meaningful Wellness Interventions – Sara Rauch, WELCOA
  2. Harness the Power of Play – Lizzy Pope, University of Vermont & Marguerite Dibble, Game Theory
  3. Advancing Your Employee Wellness Program: Strategies and tools for evaluation (part 2) –Lindsay Simpson, The Richards Group
  4. Best Practices When Launching a Continuous Incentive Wellness Challenge –Nick Patel, Wellable, Inc.
  5. Physical Activity in the Workplace for  Strength, Vitality and Injury Prevention –Michael Hughes, Injury & Health Management Solutions, Inc., Seth Rebeor, Injury & Health Management Solutions, Inc. & Heather Main, Main Wellness
  6. Promising Practices in Population Health – Speakers, Rise VT & Central Vermont Medical Center

2:35 p.m. – Fitness Intermission

3:00 p.m.

 – Ask the Experts Session

4:00 p.m. – Adjourn

View Session Descriptions

View Speaker Bios

View The Flyer Here

The 2018 Worksite Wellness Conference is sponsored by:

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