Youth Services’ staff member Sarah Ballou, attended a conference on International Restorative Justice, “Global Unity and Healing: Building Communities with a Restorative Approach, held at the University of Vermont at the end of June. Organized by Vermont Law School, the conference brought together researchers, policy-makers and practitioner, like Ballou to share the difference a restorative approach makes and consider its potential to reveal and address the complex and relational nature of some of our greatest problems and challenges: environmental justice, addressing harm and conflict and building safe, healthy and inclusive communities.
Craig Miskovich and Johana Lengfellner, of Brattleboro and Dummerston respectively, recently joined 15 other community members in serving on Youth Services’ board of directors. Through 19 programs ranging from Court Diversion to mentoring, workforce development and case management, the nonprofit agency helps Windham County young people and families thrive.
Miskovich serves in a similar capacities in the region, as President of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC) where he contributes to providing greater economic opportunity to area families by helping attract employers that provide well-paying jobs. Johana Lengfellner is relatively new to the area having moved here several years ago from upstate New York where she was raised and attended college.
A lawyer with Downs Rachlin Martin’s Health Law Practice Group, Miskovich advises hospitals, nursing facilities and other healthcare providers in Vermont and New Hampshire. He has also been a member of DRM’s Business Law Group and has represented a variety of clients in commercial finance and development transactions, including buyers, sellers, borrowers and lenders.
“Craig’s legal mindset and his deep community roots, having spent much of his adult life as a resident and parent in Windham County, will be a tremendous asset to the Youth Services board,” said Rachel Selsky, Youth Services’ board president.
Johana Lengfellner is a Senior Financial Analyst for New Chapter in Brattleboro, Vermont where she has been employed for the last year. She collects, develops, and analyzes reports to identify trends in the sale of New Chapter dietary supplements. Before that Lengfellner performed a combination of finance and information technology work in the healthcare field.
“Johana will be an important addition to our finance committee which works to ensure strong fiscal health for Youth Services while trying to predict and budget for all of the services provided in Windham County,” stated Selsky. “We’re also looking forward to her connections with a younger demographic of potential donors.”
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.
A glance around Marilyn Buhlmann’s Brattleboro home tells you without a doubt two things that drive her passion: creativity and commitment to her adopted community.
She will be leaving Brattleboro in October, splitting her time between Florida and Colorado to be closer to family. Boxes are packed with paintings, her ceramic bowls and the ‘Wise Ones”, shamanic two-foot tall ceramic figures she hand-built.
Piles of file folders must be gone through before her move; they represent the many community organizations she has impacted as a volunteer leader; three years of organizing the River Gallery School auctions while a board member; serving over 10 years on the Board of the Women’s Crisis Center (4 years as chair), where she coordinated the Women’s Film Festival for 3 years, and volunteering as a bereavement counselor for Brattleboro Area Hospice for 13 years.
“I love the act of giving, being able to share myself and my resources with this wonderful community that I have made my home for the past 50 years,” Buhlmann said.
Her longest commitment, serving as a restorative justice volunteer on a Youth Services’ Diversion Board, concluded last month after 22 years, culminating with her induction into Youth Services’ Hall of Fame, the organization’s top award for its volunteers.
Buhlmann’s monthly meeting as a panelist focused on repairing the harm caused by the community member. “Diversion holds those who violated the law accountable in a manner that promotes responsibility to individuals, community and relationships,” she explained. “Also, when appropriate, we addressed underlying needs or issues that led to the offense.”
In her family of origin, not unlike many Youth Services clients, Buhlmann experienced trauma and violence and extreme poverty. “My life experiences have given me a lot of insight in all of the volunteer work I have done,” she explained.
She knows from her own childhood that often young people just need nurturing and guidance to help them succeed and realize their full potential. “I had a couple of teachers who told me I could go far in the world, despite my limitations. Their belief in me stayed deep inside me like a candle flame even in my darkest times,” Buhlmann testified.
In her 30’s Buhlmann was finally able to go to college, propelled by the tiny flame sparked years before. “As a Diversion board member I try to light the same flame in others,” she explained. “It is rewarding to have a part in what is often a transformation,” Buhlmann said.
Like many transplants, Buhlmann first came to Vermont in 1972 to ski, discovering instantly that “she belonged here” and made it her home over the next five decades. Buhlmann worked many years as a waitress, running a hotel desk and performing other administrative jobs before she was finally able to go to college in her ‘30s to study to be a dietician.
Marilyn Buhlmann will leave big shoes to fill, according to Patrick Fleming, the Youth Services Diversion Case Manager who coordinates six restorative justice panels of community members each week. He described Buhlmann as “a natural” at this work, unusually compassionate and someone who could instinctually alleviate the defensiveness of the most challenging clients.
Before the term became widely used, Buhlmann’s approach was trauma-informed, according to Fleming. “We could trust her with the most complex cases and know she would understand on a cellular-level what was important and what wasn’t. She also inspired our clients to look at and address the issues that led to their offense,” explained Fleming.
Buhlmann is being inducted into Youth Services’ Hall of Fame as the agency’s first-ever recipient of the Restorative Justice Advocate Award. Her portrait will join Liz Richards and Ben Underhill, two other champions of Youth Services who devoted decades to the young people of Windham County, in the hallway of Youth Services.
The Hall of Fame is a way for Youth Services’ board to recognize community members like Buhlmann who make outstanding and sustained contributions to youth development and the agency’s outreach. “Marilyn went out of her way to champion Youth Services and restorative justice at every opportunity,” Fleming recalled.
Like the “Wise Ones” figurines that Buhlmann fashioned from a lump of clay into something with meaning, Buhlmann’s decades of empathic listening and questioning on Youth Services’ Diversion Board has helped close to 3000 Windham County community members transform their mistakes into life lessons that help them choose a better path going forward.
To find out how to join in this important work with our community members, please call Youth Services at (802) 257-0361 or visit www.youthservicesinc.org.
Ben Underhill, owner of Putnam Insurance of Brattleboro, was voted Board Emeritus by Youth Services’ board of directors at the June board meeting on which Underhill “served with distinction” for over three decades. Two other board members have received the board emeritus status in Youth Services’ 46-year history: the late attorney Jesse Corum IV and Larry Cassidy, who continues to be a key advisor. Continue reading Ben Underhill voted board emeritus at Youth Services
Human rights in Brattleboro got a special nod on Sunday, Dec. 10, thanks to a Youth Services staff member, Justin Bibee.
“I figured if there ever was a time for serious reflection in our state and community, it’s now,” Justin Bibee, formerly a student at SIT Graduate Institute who brought the proposal to recognize Human Rights Day to the Select Board, told the Reformer.
The Select Board received applause after members voted unanimously to approve the proclamation, which recognizes Dec. 10 as Human Rights Day. That day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Bibee is finishing up his master’s degree in peace building and conflict transformation, with plans to graduate in May. He is currently working as a case manager for homeless youth and youth at risk for homelessness at Youth Services. He grew up in Rhode Island but hopes to continue living in Windham County and work at Youth Services once he completes school.
The political divisiveness in the United States right now and his job inspired him to bring the proclamation to the board.
“Every day I feel I’m on the front line fighting for my clients’ right to food, right to health, their human rights,” he told the Reformer. “I’m just fighting for an adequate standard of living, right to non-discrimination. It kills me. The people I work with every day, they have anxiety and pessimism. And that usually prevails over optimism.”
Bibee hopes the recognition of Human Rights Day locally will inspire activities and greater awareness around related issues through events and advocacy. The proclamation encourages citizens in town to take part in these things and “to strive to actualize a greater awareness of the importance of human rights.” It also mentions the United Nations Association of Vermont, which is a new chapter Bibee just started after a recent trip to Washington, D.C.
Bibee had spent time in Tanzanian refugee camps from January to June before taking the job at Youth Services. His goal there was to connect refugees to formal financial institutions in their country.
This story by Chris Mays appeared Dec. 7, 2017 in the Brattleboro Reformer. Reach staff writer Chris Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @CMaysBR on Twitter
and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.
Learn more about Restorative Justice and its place in our local justice system on Wednesday, November 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Putney Library with a presentation by members of Youth Services and the Brattleboro Community Justice Center.
Restorative Justice is an approach to harm that focuses not on broken rules or laws but on how people are affected by wrongdoing and how to repair harm that was caused. People across the United States and the world use restorative justice to respond to conflicts in schools, community groups, neighborhoods, families, workplaces, and more. And restorative justice is happening right here in our communities, with youth and adults, in schools and in the legal system.
Rosie Nevins-Alderfer, director of Restorative Justice programs at Youth Services and Mel Motel, director of the Brattleboro Community Justice Center will be leading a conversation about what Restorative Justice is, why it matters, and what it looks like in our local area today.
Rosie Nevins-Alderfer joined Youth Services as the director of Restorative Justice Programs in 2015, after graduating from Northeastern University School of Law. At Youth Services her work encompasses court diversion, support for access to substance abuse and mental health treatment, victim advocacy, social and economic justice. The programs serve a variety of ages, and receive roughly 400 referrals per year from Windham County.
Mel Motel joined the Brattleboro Community Justice Center as director in August 2017. Prior to that she was founder and director of the Just Schools Project, where she worked with hundreds of youth and adults throughout New England to bring restorative practices to K-12 schools.
Putney Public Library is located at 55 Main St. This event is free and open to the public.
Two teen alternative-rock bands Raspberry Jam and Moxie shared the winner circle, taking first prize in Youth Services’ Battle of the Bands Friday evening November 3 during Brattleboro’s Gallery Walk Night, in front of an enthusiastic crowd of several hundred fans. Sponsored by Pacesetter Sponsors Richards Group, Brattleboro Subaru and G.S. Precision, it was a fierce competition between five talented area bands that were judged on crowd appeal, musical technicality, stage performance and originality.
Raspberry Jam, from Massachusetts brings a new spin to alternative music with their “very catchy arrangements,” according to the judges. The Pioneer Valley area band “demonstrated a rockin’ stage presence and are wicked fun to listen to,” stated another. Mac Almeida, 18 was on guitar, Aloutte Battreau, 16 on vocals, Joshua Xavier Gibson, 17 on bass and Milou Rigollaud, 18 on drums.
Moxie describe themselves as like opening a non-stop, effervescent fountain of all-original, bubbly, super-danceable, 80s-esque indie rock. Judges confirmed, “no doubt a crowd pleaser,” and another judge noted, “Super strong stage presence: everyone immediately moved forward to listen.” Rei Kimura, 14 was on guitar and vocals; David Cohen on bass; Leander Holzapfel, 16 on guitar; and David Snyder, 15 on drums.
First prize is a full day (up to 10 hours) of professional recording time donated by Guilford Sound, valued at $1500. In addition, donated by Pure Green Tees, the 1st place winners will also receive a dozen custom-designed T-shirts of their band logo. Other prizes included a two-hour rehearsal and banch coaching session at Headroom Stages and vocal coaching with Judge Samirah Evans.
The Band Notion from the Manchester area came in third, followed by Outer Space from Brattleboro and Fiig, from Westminster.
Judging the Battle were musicians Eugene Uman, Samirah Evans, Spencer Crispe and two youth judges from winning 2015 band, Nomad vs. Settler, Archer Parker and Owen James.
Russell Bradbury-Carlin, Director of Youth Services said they were proud to have produced such a successful event. “The bands were all amazing and the crows of young people and adults provided the perfect amount of encouragement and energy. The Battle of the Bands was truly a celebration of youth and of great music,” Bradbury-Carlin said.
For more information on services for young people in Windham County, contact Youth Services at (802) 257-0361 or visit wwwyouthservicesinc.org
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.
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.
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