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

Try giving to the Green Mountain United Way!

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

This goes a long way with your support!

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

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

Methods of giving include:

  • Direct Giving
  • Leadership Giving
  • Planned Giving

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Supporter,

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

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

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

In gratitude,
Tawnya Kristen

Executive Director

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

Green Mountain United Way Events


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

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

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

Volunteer Opportunities in our Communities

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

Community Notes



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


Vermont 211 Resources:

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

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


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

Our mailing address is:

Green Mountain United Way

73 Main Street, #33

Montpelier, VT 05602

Phone: 802-613-3989


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New Blood Pressure Treatment Guidelines to Follow


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Health and Wellness Newsletter – November, 2017

Blood Pressure Treatment Guidelines

New Blood Pressure Treatment Guidelines to Follow

Our partners at the American Heart Association have shared new blood pressure treatment guidelines that will change the way high blood pressure is diagnosed and managed in America

They are now defining high blood pressure as a systolic measurement of 130 and higher, or a diastolic measure of 80 and higher. Previously the blood pressure definition was set at 140 and 90 respectively. By lowering the definition of high blood pressure, the guidelines recommend earlier intervention to prevent further increases in blood pressure and the complications of hypertension.

They also eliminated the “pre-hypertension” category for blood pressure ranging from 120 to 139 systolic, and 80 to 89 diastolic. The team of experts who wrote the guidelines determined that people needed to understand their increasing risk to take swift action.

High blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths, second only to smoking. It’s known as the “silent killer” because often there are no symptoms, despite its role in significantly increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke.

The guidelines will replace the 2003 guidelines published by the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. In 2013, the National Institutes of Health entrusted the AHA and ACC to produce the first comprehensive guideline update in 14 years.

The new guidelines also stress the importance of using proper technique to measure blood pressure. Blood pressure levels should be based on an average of two to three readings on at least two different occasions.

You can find updated resources for patients at Clinical tools have also been updated on


Quick Tips

Drug Price Lookup Tool




While at your doctor’s office, use the Drug Price Look-up Tool in the FamilyWize mobile app to see which pharmacy will have the lowest price for your prescription. Then ask your doctor to send your prescription to that pharmacy.

It’s that easy!



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UW Volunteer of the Month: Robert Harvey of Wash. Co. Mental Health

If you were to play a word association game, when you hear, “I have a background in engineering and business at a Fortune 500 company,” you might not think, “volunteer at the local mental health agency.” And if you did that, you would miss the incredible volunteer contributions Robert Harvey has made to our partners at Washington County Mental Health.

Harvey was recently recognized at WCMH’s 50th-anniversary celebration for his contribution to the organization over the past 17 years. His volunteer contribution on the board of directors there is a career in itself. He is the treasurer of the board, a role requiring an engineer’s meticulous attention to detail because of both the size of the organization — WCMH employs nearly 700 people in our region and serves many more community members — and also because the breadth of their funding sources and services.

Harvey is also on several volunteer committees at WCMH and regularly meets with the executive director, the director of finance, staff and management regarding health insurance benefits structure, financial performance, service delivery and staff workplace issues, and acts as a link to the board of directors. His enthusiasm for administrative and logistical topics is contagious and demonstrates the immense value of the volunteer work he does. It is also, likely, one of the reasons WCMH nominated him for Volunteer of the Month. His enthusiasm, focus, and attention to detail translates to a job well done: Harvey is not your average volunteer and he is just as dedicated to his work as someone hired for the job. His career prepared him well for his retirement volunteer “job.” As an engineer, his career contributions even include a part in the creation of the lunar module in 1967-68. He is an engineer at heart with the ability to focus on the details while keeping in mind the larger goal.

Harvey’s introduction to Washington County Mental Health’s services started when he and his family moved back to his wife’s home here in central Vermont after his retirement from that Fortune 500 company and decades as an engineer and businessman. His family’s move was not without challenges. His son is on the autistic spectrum and struggled with the changes of moving to a new, unfamiliar place. After his son had several crises, Harvey’s family was connected with WCMH to work with a case manager. He and his family were so grateful for the support and resources offered by the agency that helped their son transition into his new home. In particular, the case manager assigned to their son made a huge impact on Harvey. He described her effort as “really going the extra mile. She was so effective at getting our son into a support program and getting him everything she could to help him better transition into the community.”

It was she who suggested that Harvey consider joining the board of directors, so he wrote a letter and was invited to join. That was 17 years ago.

“Bob is an absolute gem. We just presented him with our Community Support Award for 17 years of dedication to our staff and clients through service on our Board of Directors as well as numerous committees. This is an award given for keeping the flames of hope and support alive. We are incredibly fortunate to have Bob on our team,” said Washington County Mental Health Executive Director Mary Moulton. When asked what the award means to him, he spoke about WCMH’s “staff and their commitment to the community. They live their work every day.” Harvey is proud that his volunteer contributions support the staff and the work the agency does, allowing more people to focus on the people in the community who they are helping. He said, “All the little details make the whole thing work.”

Harvey plans to continue to dig into all of the details at WCMH, and to continue to support the work they do, as well as honor their hard work by matching that with his effort as a volunteer. And after 17 years, he’s just getting started.

If you are interested in learning more about WCMH’swork, go to

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, go to

Originally published by the Times Argus through their partnership with Green Mountain United Way to support Volunteerism in the community.

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Nominate a Volunteer of the Month

Does your organization have an incredible volunteer? Nominate them to be a Volunteer of the Month with Green Mountain United Way!

Every month we feature a local volunteer at Green Mountain United Way or one of our agency partners to feature on our blog and an article in the Times Argus. Do you have a new volunteer who you appreciate, a long-time volunteer who deserves some recognition, an individual who has made an exceptional difference for the work your organization does?
GREAT! Nominate them here:

After we receive your nomination, we will contact your volunteer for an interview. Volunteer of the Month articles appear monthly in the Times Argus. Read about all of our past Volunteers of the Month here!

Thank you to you and to all of the incredible volunteers that make our community a better place!

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Last Minute Volunteer Request – Carrot Harvest!

Hi Friends,

We just received an urgent request from our friends at Community Harvest of Central Vermont. Tomorrow (Friday) from 9am – 10:30am and Saturday 9am – noon they have two-600 ft beds of carrots to harvest. 

This food feed those in our community who have limited access to healthy, fresh local food. These carrots will go directly to our local Central Vermont food shelves, senior meal programs and schools with free and reduced meal programs. Can your employees help? If you have a few employees who would like to help feed their neighbors on Friday or Saturday, or BOTH, please direct them to email Allison Levin to sign up and get the details about locations and recommended attire (it may be muddy):

They are invited to bring friends, relatives, anyone – this is a TON of carrots!

Thank you all for helping us get this last minute request out – I can attest to the fact that this is one of the BEST ways to help get nourishing food to our friends who need it while having fun!


Carrie Stahler / Director of Funding & Program Development / Green Mountain United Way 

Montpelier Office / 73 Main Street, #33, Montpelier, VT 05602 / tel: 802-613-3989

United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. 

GIVE. | ADVOCATE. | VOLUNTEER. | LIVE UNITED   Find us on: Facebook | Twitter 

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The Word Gap


Vermont 2-1-1

Join  ASIST —
Become A Life Saver!

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

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

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

Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl

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

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

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

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

Vermont 2-1-1 Web Statistics

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

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

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

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

Total Site Visits: 4008

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 1815

Emergency Housing in Vermont

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

Vermont 2-1-1 Information and Referral (I&R) Specialists responded to 145 calls regarding housing needs. I&R specialists provide needs assessment, problem-solving support, and information and referrals to a wide range of services to each caller. Review Vermont 2-1-1’s Emergency Housing Report for September here.

How to Prepare for Anything

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

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

October Is LGBT History Month

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

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

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

Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bisexual Advocacy Groups

Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bisexual Community Centers

Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bisexual Support Groups

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

The Word Gap

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

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

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


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

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Dr. Mark Yorra’s gift is health care for all

When I spoke to Mark Yorra and asked him how he got started volunteering, I got a story I did not expect.

Dr. Yorra has been a primary care doctor in the Barre area since 1980, and has helped lots of patients over the years. But it was one special patient who helped him and our entire community in ways that are still unfolding through his work at the People’s Health & Wellness Clinic in Barre. The community’s only clinic for those without insurance, People’s Health & Wellness has been serving individuals since 2014. They have offered dental care, as well.

In the 1980s, Yorra saw that a lot of people in the community who did not have insurance were being left without care and without options. While he saw the problems and thought that everyone should have access to health care, he did not begin to see himself as part of the solution until a patient of his showed him exactly how he much he could do.

Anna Bloom, a Brooklyn native and longtime central Vermont resident who passed away in 2014, was an activist at heart. She would go to her appointments with Yorra and chastise him for not doing more.

“She motivated me to do something. She would sit there and say, “It’s a disgrace in a country this rich that people don’t have health care. How can you let this happen?” And that really impacted me.” Yorra recalled. “Anna said that enough times that I started to look for ways to do something to help those people in our community without health care.”

Eventually, Yorra found a group of like-minded people, including Edie Kent, Faeterri Silver, and other doctors at Central Vermont Hospital (now CVMC) who wanted to help those in the community who did not have health insurance and needed care. They got together to form the People’s Action for Health Care group, now People’s Health & Wellness Clinic, in the spring of 1993. Soon after the group formed they were offered space in the McFarland building in Barre to set up the first clinic.

In the beginning, they served people two evening sessions a week, Yorra acting as a volunteer on the clinical staff and on the board as a founder of the organization. He worked with his peers at the hospital to recruit doctors and nurses to volunteer at the clinic. “In those years I’m sure that half or more of the CVH staff helped in one way or another at the clinic,” Yorra said.

Yorra was busy in those early years getting the organization on solid footing, seeing patients, recruiting volunteer staff, and keeping the clinic stocked and running. “Administration is a role that I was least skilled at. I am much better and more interested in seeing patients and the clinical aspects of the organization. For me, it is about building relationships, helping people figure things out, working with the nurses to problem-solve. I’m about to retire from my practice, but I will continue to volunteer at People’s Health & Wellness Clinic.”

In reflecting on his experience as a volunteer over the past three decades, Yorra offered that, “Volunteering, no matter what you do, it gives back to you as much as it gives to the people you are helping. Being a positive, helpful force in the community is important, because what would our community be without that?”

The work of the People’s Health & Wellness Clinic continues to serve those in our community without insurance, and though access to insurance has increased, there are still those who do not have health or dental coverage. Their services are still much-needed and well used. If you are interested in learning more about their work, go to their website at

This United Way Volunteer of the Month, is compiled by the Green Mountain United Way and features local volunteers whose work benefits groups partner with or are supported by Green Mountain United Way. For more information, go to

Originally featured in the 10/10/2017 edition of the Times Argus, reprinted here with permission.

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