All posts by NanciL

Registration now open for bands to compete at Nov. 3 Battle of the Bands

Area youth bands can launch their musical careers by competing at Youth Services’ Battle of the Bands at the River Garden on Friday, November 3, during Gallery Walk night, from 7 to 10 p.m.  The public is encouraged to attend and vote for their favorite group with their applause, according to organizers. In addition to the audience and youth judges, several individuals from both the recording and music industry will help choose the top band.

Opening the musical event is Nomad vs Settler, a local teen indie-rock group who were first place winners of Youth Services’ Battle of the Bands back in 2015 and have since built a significant following regionally.

First prize is a full day (up to 10 hours) of professional recording time donated by Guilford Sound, valued at $1500 and 20 custom-designed T-shirts donated by Green Tees. Guilford Sound is a residential recording studio on 300 private acres in Guilford, Vermont, owned by sound engineer David Snyder, who has recorded the music of Jess Malin, Ghost Robot Ninja Bear, Northern State, Charlie Hunter and The Mavericks to name a few.  Designed as a recording retreat, the studio boasts spacious rooms and state-of-the art equipment, in an energy efficient facility surrounded by miles of woodland hiking trails.

“Youth Services’ Battle of the Bands celebrates the entrepreneurial nature of young musicians forming bands and expressing their musical inspiration,” said Russell Bradbury-Carlin, the agency’s Executive Director.

“What better way to celebrate youth than to support them as they take steps to make a living out of doing something they love,” stated Bradbury-Carlin. “Some will succeed, as more and more indie bands are doing these days.  And for those who don’t, with the support and guidance of those around them, they will gain experience that will help them to be successful in other careers they enter,” he said. “This is an event for everyone in the Tri-State region.  Please come help cheer on the budding young artists in our area.”

Admission is $4 for students 18 and under; $8 for adults and covers refreshments and door prizes. Pizza will also be for sale. Interested bands with at least one member aged 20 and under should register on-line to compete by Oct 20.  For more information, contact Nanci Leitch at Youth Services at (802) 257-0361 or email: info@youthservicesinc.org

Before contacting Youth Services, read answers to these frequently asked questions from bands.

Register to compete by filling out this form and submitting by October 20. (Deadline extended from Oct. 13).

 

Youth Services’ Russell Bradbury-Carlin participated in national MANY conference on preventing youth victimization and delinquency.

Russell Bradbury-Carlin snaps a selfie in front of the Pittsburgh skyline.

Youth Services’ Executive Director Russell Bradbury-Carlin traveled to Pittsburgh, PA September 21-22 to attend the Connection 2017/The Un-conference.

Organized by the national network MANY, this conference brought together inspiring speakers, influential leaders, innovative practitioners and a passionate national audience to explore new insights, the latest advances, and genius developments regarding youth and young adults at highest risk for victimization and/or delinquency.

Russell attended session on MANY’s focus areas which overlap with Youth Services’ mission including Employment & Education, Youth Homelessness, Mentoring, Violence & Exploitation and Strengthening Circles of Support.

The Connections 2017/Un-Conference featured inspiring speakers, influential leaders and a passionate national audience.

 

Rick Holloway of Chroma joins Youth Services Board of Directors

Rick Holloway of Chroma

Rick Holloway, the Facilities and Equipment Manager of Chroma Technology since 2001, recently joined 18 other community members in serving on Youth Services’ board of directors. Through nineteen programs ranging from restorative justice, to outreach, mentoring, transitional living and case management, the nonprofit agency helps Windham County young people and families thrive.

A self-described “high school drop-out with a GED and 20 years of addiction recovery,” Holloway brings a unique and varied point of view to the Youth Services board, according to Rachel Selsky, board president, who said they are fortunate to have this youth advocate share his insights when they are developing strategic plans for the future of the organization. “Rick’s deep understanding of the problems facing Windham County young people and families will be a tremendous asset to the board,” Selsky predicted.

Holloway first became connected with the nonprofit by giving tours at Chroma to Youth Services’ participants in its workforce development programs. These initiatives seek to expose adolescents to potential employers and careers in the community.

Holloway also mentored individual Youth Services’ clients in an entry level position at Chroma dedicated to exposing local youth to job skills over a six-month period. According to Holloway, it was the first job for many of them, providing the skills and a track record which led many to other employment.

“Given my background and the changes I’ve made in my own life, I want to give back by helping youth find a way past the trials I faced,” explained Holloway.

In addition to the Youth Services Board, Holloway currently serves on the Rockingham School Board and the WNESU Board. In the past Rick was involved with Youth Services as part of the Bellows Falls Advisory Board to Youth Services. He also had served on the Rockingham Conservation Commission, The Saxtons River Recreation Area and the Saxtons River Fire Station Building Committee.

Rick Holloway resides in Saxtons River with his wife Karin and son Ezra.

To learn how you can get involved with Youth Services or to refer a youth for assistance, visit wwwyouthservicesinc.org or call 802-257-0361.

 

New Youth Development Director at Youth Services

Christine Linn

Youth Services welcomes Christine Linn to the position of Director of Youth Development Programs.  In this role Linn supervises a team of five case managers who work with young people who are homeless or unstably housed. According to Linn, their clients may be individuals or young parents, are in or have aged out of foster care or are homeless or runaway youth under 18 in need of temporary, emergency shelter and/or family mediation.

Additionally, Linn oversees Youth Services’ transitional living program youth shelters in Brattleboro and Bellows Falls and manages the 24-hour on-call housing crisis hotline. “I ensure that the programs meet funding and contract requirements and I serve on numerous local and state committees that serve and/or advocate for the needs of disconnected youth in Windham County and Vermont,” Linn explained.

Linn started with the agency nearly four years ago as a therapeutic case manager working with homeless or unstably housed young parents, ages 16-21.  As a case manager, Linn focused on helping clients secure emergency, transitional and long-term housing; access basic needs; build vocational skills and attain meaningful employment; improve their physical, dental and mental well-being; develop and enhance their parenting skills; and integrate a sense of their own agency and empowerment in order to make the transition to adulthood successful.

In addition to her direct services work with clients, Linn collaborated with both Early Education Services and The Winston Prouty Center for Children and Families to coordinate and facilitate a pro-social young mothers’ parenting group, successfully wrote the local promise communities grant proposal, created and facilitated a therapeutic writing group and helped to facilitate the free youth drop-in dinner Tuesday Night Live.

“Christine brings with her knowledge of the organization balanced with a keen sensibility to our client base and the instinctual business acumen that we will require for future sustainability, said Russell Bradbury-Carlin, executive director of the youth-serving nonprofit. “Her work ethic, commitment, and devotion to our clients are known to all here at Youth Services and the management staff will look to her as a key member.”

 Linn replaced Lauren Higbee, who joined the investigative unit of Department of Children and Families, to ensure high standards were met by staff.   “I feel really fortunate to work for such a dynamic and effective organization and I’m really excited to step into the role of Director of Youth Development to oversee our team of talented and dedicated case managers,” explained Linn.

“Having the opportunity to provide direct services has really allowed me to see gaps in our community and state that don’t address the challenges that disconnected and/or homeless youth face.  I’m looking forward to growing existing relationships with our community partners and delving deeper into developing comprehensive programs that meet the needs of our clients, and all youth, in Windham County.”  Linn will continue to provide direct service to 1-2 clients so that the larger systems-work remains aligned with and informed by the needs of local youth.

Linn has a Master of Arts degree in psychology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Economics from Union Institute and University. She has served as a foster parent in Windham County, and was the 2016 recipient of the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services Ally Award.  Linn, herself, was a disconnected youth in Brattleboro.

For more information about the Youth Development Programs, call (802) 257-0361 or visit youthservicesinc.org

 

Long-time Youth Services Board member retires from finance role

Rick Hashagen

He was the numbers guy for Youth Services.  Board President Rachel Selsky recalls Rick’s ability to break down even the most complicated budget for the rest of the board. For 17 years Rick Hashagen, a retired bank president kept a constant eye on Youth Services’ financial stability.

President of Youth Services board from 2006-2008, Rick chaired the finance committee and was Youth Services’ treasurer for much of his term. Rick was an Executive Committee member for close to a decade and joined the governance committee in the last several. Bobbi Kilburn, BDCC’s Director of Finance & Grant Management, is taking on the role of Treasurer for Youth Services.

“Rick’s ability to simplify Youth Services’ finances and investments will certainly be missed,” testified Selsky. “His experience and input has been invaluable and his impact on Youth Services will be felt long after he is gone,” she said.

Rick was well-loved by golfers for his role running the putting contest at Youth Services’ Annual Golf Tournament at the Brattleboro Country Club ever since the BCC got 18 holes and the tournament was moved there. In recent years, he would orchestrate the contest in tandem with his grandson.

Rick says he has thoroughly enjoy his years on the Youth Services board of directors. “It has been a rewarding experience working with excellent board members and competent and committed staff to implement our vision of improving the lives of area young people and their families.” I will miss it, but leave knowing that Youth Services is in good hands,” Hashagen said.

 

Gail Bourque celebrates 30 years at Youth Services

Do you know the type? Quiet, unassuming, competent and through?

For going on 30 years now Administrative Services Director Gail Bourque has shied away from the limelight, quick to let the credit land elsewhere. Yet she is essentially the “glue” of the organization, the “historian” who directors depend on to tell directors what has been tried before, the one who puts our latest organizational challenge in perspective for staff.

Gail says she likes the variety of what she does: finance, grant management and reporting. Attending to details and the accountability are what keep her engaged. And working closely with our committed and dedicated staff and Board of Directors.

She is clearly a true believer in Youth Services’ mission to transform lives and inspire futures. And contributes also as a generous donor of her free time and treasure.

To find out how you might support Youth Services’ efforts visit www.youthservicesinc.org

 

Youth Services’ Golf Tournament seeks golfers and sponsors for July 26

Youth Services invites area golfers to participate in its annual golf tournament at Brattleboro Country Club on Wednesday, July 26. This is the 32nd year that Youth Services has organized this tournament to support the safety net for youth.

Registration opens at 11 and the shotgun start for the Scrambles format tournament will take place at 12:00 p.m. sharp.  Free bag lunch is provided. Following the tournament there will be a banquet, sponsored by G.S. Precision.

The all-inclusive registration fee for the tournament is $130 per individual or $520 per foursome. The fee covers greens fees and cart, a bag lunch, and dinner following the tournament.  Dinner-only tickets may also be purchased for $35 each.  Early registration encouraged on-line at www.youthservicesinc.org/golf or call (802) 257-0361. To buy a golf ball for the helicopter drop, visit www.youthservicesinc.org/ball-drop.

 

 

Youth Services celebrates new Bellows Falls location

Bellows Falls, Vermont — Youth Services has opened a new office at 22 Bridge St. to better serve the young people and families of the Greater Bellows Falls region. An Open House was held  in June with a ribbon cutting ceremony and local dignitaries and elected officials. Youth Services is a 45-year-old nonprofit organization with 19 programs serving Windham County and surrounding New Hampshire communities.

Last year over 200 young people from Athens, Grafton Saxtons River, Westminster, and the Bellows Falls areas received services from Youth Services, including 10 young people who spent 4-6 months in its Transitional Living program housing for homeless or unsafely housed youth while they gained employment and other independent living skills.

Youth Services has operated a satellite office in Bellows Falls for 20 years, previously at Parks Place on School Street, with at times up to four full-time staff. Before then, Brattleboro-based staff provided all the services for area youth, including full-time student assistance counselors at Bellows Falls Union High and Middle schools with an emphasis on substance abuse prevention.

Out of the new office, Bellows Falls-based staff members Michelle Sacco and Janice Berube continue to offer case management for ages 16-22, job skills training and transitional living skills for area young people living under difficult circumstances.  JUMP (Just Us Moms Program) and the Diaper Bank Collaborative serves young parents. This year alone, Sacco and Berube trained 106 high school students in healthy relationships and STD and Pregnancy prevention using the evidence-based Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) curriculum.

Youth Services Court Diversion board will continue holding panels in Bellows Falls as needed as will its Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) program serving youth ages 13-22. These are young people who have been adjudicated in Family Court, are on probation, are at risk of a truancy filing, have Youthful Offender Status, or require additional support.

Youth Services’ RAMP mentoring program at Bellows Falls Union High School is holding its last meetings for the year and they are laying the groundwork to recruit new participants, mentors and site visit locations for when school starts next September.

“We are pleased to have a sustained presence in the greater Bellows Falls area and enjoy close partnerships with the area’s nonprofits, social services and schools,” stated Russell Bradbury Carlin, Youth Services Executive Director. The office on Bridge Street gives us higher visibility in the community and we hope many more young people and families seeking assistance walk through our doors as a result.”

There are many ways community members can get involved in Youth Services Bellows Falls operation, according to Bradbury-Carlin. “We are seeking Host Homes to provide emergency shelter for homeless and runaway youth, need volunteers to share their time, skills and life experiences with young mothers in  our JUMP: Just Us Moms Program and welcome donations of diapers and wipes to the Diaper Bank Collaborative,” he said.

Bradbury-Carlin explained that Youth Services is always looking to collaborate with area businesses on training its clients in job skills while its RAMP mentoring program at BFUHS is seeking area professionals to share their career trajectories with the high school participants.

For more information about Youth Services in the Greater Falls Region, contact (802) 460-0398 or email michelle.sacco@youthservicesinc.org

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windham County Goes Statewide

In the interest of serving more children in Vermont with mentors, Youth Services transitioned its successful Big Brothers Big Sisters program into a statewide organization in the summer of 2017.

“Presently there are 70 community and school-based Big Brothers Big Sisters matches in Windham County with more than triple the number anticipated being served statewide by the new structure,” explained Russell Bradbury-Carlin, Youth Services’ Executive Director.

“In this move to serve more Vermont young people living in difficult circumstances we are making every effort to ensure that quality mentoring services continue to be delivered in Windham County,” said Bradbury-Carlin, who described a year-long process they have undergone, with milestones, guided by a transition committee made up of Youth Services board members and BBBS Advisory Board members.

The new entity serving the Green Mountain state has been named Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermont and Youth Services’ current Director of Mentoring, Kimberley Diemond, is now its Executive Director.  Bradbury-Carlin stated, “I have every faith that Kimberley will be a great leader and I have full confidence that the transition will be seamless for the Bigs, Littles and the many community organizations that Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windham County partners with.”

Bradbury-Carlin said that mentoring is an essential part of all Youth Services programs, from its transitional living program to court diversion. Staff or volunteers often work one-on-one with young people living under difficult circumstances, or in small groups. He expects his organization to maintain a close working relationship with the new entity, especially in regard to its Windham County matches.

“One of the strengths of Youth Services has always been the wide range of prevention, intervention and development programs we bring to the families and young people we serve. We expect to continue to refer at-risk children who could benefit from a mentor to apply to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermont as well as continuing to innovate with our proprietary programs,” Bradbury-Carlin stated.

Part of a national organization, there are over 350 Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across the country, approximately 50 of which that operated with the assistance of a sponsoring agency, which best describes the mentoring program’s long and successful relationship with Youth Services. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windham County was one of the first programs that Youth Services launched after it was founded in 1972 as a community nonprofit. Over its more than 40 year history together, there have been close to 2000 matches made, some lasting a few years and others a lifetime.

National research demonstrates that “mentoring”—pairing a caring adult volunteer with a young person for a mutually rewarding friendship—is an effective method of addressing all sorts of youth-related issues, from combating drug and alcohol use and violence to getting along better with their families and peers. Youth mentored by the program are 46% less likely to use drugs and 27% less likely to use alcohol than their non-mentored peers.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermont offers four flexible options for volunteers who want to mentor a child between the ages of 6 and 18.  The school-based program offers volunteers the opportunity to visit with a child during their lunch and recess period once a week.  Bigs in Blue is a school-based program that pairs elementary students with local police officers.  The community-based program, in contrast, allows volunteers to meet with a child during their own time and play sports, take a walk or just hang out for at least 4 hours a month.  The Site-based plus program combines the structure of meeting regularly at school with the option of spending time in the community on weekends and during school vacations.

For information on volunteering  to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermont, contact BBBS at (802) 257-0361 / info@bbbsvt.org or visit www.bbbsvt.org

 

Youth Services celebrates Vermont Youth of The Year awardee

Bellows Falls, VT–Alexis Harris, 21, of Bellows Falls has been awarded the Youth of the Year Award by the Vermont Youth Development Program and the Vermont Coalition of Runaway & Homeless Youth Programs (VCRHYP), two state entities that work with community organizations such as Youth Services that serve young people in the state. The award was given this year to five young people in Vermont who have transformed their life in a positive way and has given back to their community while demonstrating resilience.

According to Michelle Sacco, Alexis Harris’ case manager at Youth Services, her client has gone in five years from an angry 16-year-old homeless teenager who had very little support in her life from anyone to being a 21-year-old woman with a 3-year-old daughter who works every day to help others in need.

“If someone needs help, Alexis is the first one to drop everything to be there for them, including employers,” stated Sacco who nominated Harris for the award. “Alexis was working two jobs, 6 days a week, often 12-14 hour days because she is not only a reliable, responsible and committee employee,” explained Sacco, “but she wants to take care of herself and her daughter without any assistance!”

In Bellows Falls, Harris performed a myriad of jobs to help those who come to the Drop In Center: looking for assistance with applying for housing, childcare, Reach UP, transportation, and Medicaid, in addition to filling the food shelves. According to Sacco, Harris started there as a volunteer and was recruited to fill a staff position because of her compassion and commitment to the people she serves.

In her nomination, Sacco recalled last year when Harris became a court-appointed guardian to a 17-year old girl who was facing serious drug charges. Harris took this girl in, gave her a home, made sure she made her court appointments, went to school, met with DCF and probation, got a job, had food and clothing and necessities, and stayed away from drugs and alcohol, according to Sacco.

Sacco marveled that Harris was so mature and responsible and focused that she could not only care for herself and her young daughter, but also this 17-year-old who needed a lot of support and supervision. And yet Harris did this and did it well. “This now 18-year-old is successful in large part from the love and care and commitment of a remarkable young woman who selflessly gave up her home, her time and often her sanity to be sure this young woman could be successful and safe,” testified Sacco.

“In my work with Bellows Falls young people I do see resilience, I do see potential, I do see love and courage,” Sacco explained, “but when I see on top of all that someone give up their time, their home, their independence, and their finances to help a young person in need and do so selflessly and with love and unending patience, I have to step back and smile and marvel and give thanks that I have been fortunate enough to not only know this person, but to have them as part of my life and my community,” enthused Sacco.

This winter Harris came full circle, said Sacco, serving as a Resident Advisor for Youth Services’ Shelter in Bellows Falls, in an unpaid, live-in position that deals with emergencies and day-to -day issues which arise with the shelter’s population of homeless youth.

Youth Services’ Bellows Falls office provides case management for youth ages 16-22; Independent Living Skills support, Shelter and Host Homes, JUMP: Just Us Moms Program, Personal Responsibility Education Program. A Runaway and homeless youth Hotline; Juvenile Diversion, Balance and Restorative Justice; RAMP Career-Focused Mentoring; and the Diaper Bank Collaborative.

For more information, contact Youth Services at (802) 460-0398, visit www.youthservicesinc.org or stop in at 22 Bridge St. in Bellows Falls, VT.