Line-up for bands set for Nov. 3 Brattleboro Gallery Walk Battle of the Bands

Fierce competition between the six area youth bands playing in Youth Services’ Battle of the Bands is expected on Friday, November 3 from 7-10 p.m. in the River Garden in Brattleboro, VT. The competition occurs during Brattleboro’s Gallery Walk Night and is one of the ways Youth Services is celebrating young people as part of its 45th Anniversary.

This is the fourth time Youth Services has hosted a Battle of the Bands over the last decade The public is encouraged to attend and vote for their favorite group with their applause. Competing bands are, in order of appearance: Impending Exorcism, Raspberry Jam, Notion, Outer Space, Moxie and Fiig.  

Opening the event will be a performance by the indie-rock band Nomad vs. Settler, which gained visibility as performers when they won the last Battle of the Bands in 2015.

Nomad vs Settler

The youth bands who are competing include the alternative music of Raspberry Jam from Turners Falls and Greenfield, MA which blend pounding rhythms with intricate guitar work heavily influenced by The Strokes. The have a collection of original music that will soon be released as a free album. Local audiences were first exposed to Notion, a Manchester, VT band at the Brattrock 2017 Youth Rock Festival. Notion emulates the indie rock style of Mac Demarco, Phish, and Talking Heads.

Fiig

Fiig of Westminster, VT plays rock and funk. Impending Exorcism, all 17-year-olds from either Brattleboro or Whittingham has spent the last year and a half growing “into their skins” as punk musicians and performers. The band Moxie is described as “opening a fine bottle of classic sodapop, a SoVT mash up which emits a non-stop effervescent fountain of all-original, bubbly, super-danceable, 80s-esque indie rock.”

Outer Space

The youngest and smallest band, Outer Space, features the two Paquette brothers of Brattleboro on four instruments playing their unique form of “space rock” and sometimes punk. They also competed in the 2015 Battle of the Band.

Masters of Ceremonies will be BUHS seniors Rhys Glennon and Miles Hiler, both talented musicians and performers in their own right.

Judging the Battle are adult performers and musical connoisseurs Samirah Evans, Spencer Crispe, and Eugene Uman. Samirah Evans is a performing and recording artist, a composer and educator from New Orleans where she was a popular and in-demand singer.  Her band, Samirah Evans and Her Handsome Devil performs frequently in these New England and she teaches vocals at Williams College and in her home studio. Local attorney Spencer Crispe played in bands for 15 years and was in the first Vermont underground band to tour in Europe and Japan. An avid concert-goer, Crispe has already listened to in excess of 1,000 live concerts. Eugene Uman is a world class jazz pianist, composer and educator. As Director of the Vermont Jazz Center since 1997, he has grown the center into an esteemed concert venue for internationally recognized jazz artists.

Notion

The adult judges will be joined by two youth judges: Owen James, 13 and Archer Parks, 16 both past winners of the 2015 Battle, from the band, Nomad vs. Settler. James contributes “soulful bass lines” to their sound while Parks’ lead guitar riffs have been celebrated as “haunting” and contributing to Nomad vs Settler’s vast dynamic and melodic range, all performed with “ jaw-dropping punch,” according to recent review.

James and Parks take their music seriously. Owen James studies piano, bass, guitar and drums and performs on keyboard in Court Etiquette, another New England youth indie rock band, in addition to base with Nomad vs. Settler. “I deeply understand what makes a good song and how well it was written,” explained James. His bandmate, Archer Parks, 16, a student at Putney School could be classified as a musical prodigy. He has already competed twice in Youth Services’ Battle, the first time at age 12 with his band Suffolk Punch. Originally from a classic rock music background, he now dabbles in many genres such as indie rock, jazz, bebop. acoustic, gypsy jazz, traditional folk and bluegrass. “I’m definitely looking forward to joining Eugene, Samirah and Spencer as one of the judges,” stated Parks.

Moxie band members

Bands will be judged on crowd appeal, musical technicality, stage performance and originality, according to Russell Bradbury-Carlin, Youth Services’ Executive Director. “Whether or not the bands decide to make a career out of making music, they will gain experience that will help them to be successful in any career,” Bradbury-Carlin stated.

Raspberry Jam Band members

First prize for Youth Services’ Battle of the Bands is a full day (up to 10 hours) of professional recording time donated by Guilford Sound, valued at $1500. A residential recording studio retreat on 300 private acres in Guilford, Vermont, the high-tech studio is owned by sound engineer David Snyder.  The 1st place winners will also receive a dozen custom-designed T-shirts of their band logo, donated by Pure Green Tees, a local company.

Second prize is two-hour rehearsal and band coaching session at Headroom Stages, a local musical venue at 17 Elliot Street in Brattleboro, VT.

Third prize is two private vocal lessons with Samirah Evans, a professional jazz and blues vocalist who performs regionally.

Impending Exorcism

“The Battle of the Bands is an exciting event for everyone in the region.  Please come help cheer on the budding young artists in the area,” said Russell Bradbury-Carlin, Youth Services Executive Director. “This 45th Anniversary event of Youth Services celebrates the entrepreneurial nature of young musicians forming bands and expressing their musical inspiration,” he explained. The cover charge is $8 for adults/$4 for young people under 18 and includes refreshments and door prizes. Youth Services’ Pacesetter sponsors for this event are The Richards Group, Brattleboro Subaru, GS Precision. The media sponsors are BCTV and WKVT. For more information, contact Youth Services at (802) 257-0361 or visit wwwyouthservicesinc.org

 

 

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 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.

 

Youth Services tackles truancy in Windham County schools

Jocelyn York, BARJ Coordinator at Youth Services

Brattleboro—Youth Services has officially hired Jocelyn York as its Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) Coordinator for the organization, a position she has fulfilled on a temporary basis since last year.  In this program, Youth Services works with youth ages 13 through 22 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.

According to Youth Services’ Executive Director, Russell Bradbury-Carlin, the agency’s BARJ program recognizes that many young people entering the criminal justice system have underlying factors that might lead to the criminal misconduct.

“Early intervention is key to addressing the reasons that kids aren’t showing up for school or have started to get in trouble with the law.  With early intervention we can reduce the likelihood of future involvement in the justice system.  Sometimes, by offering individual or group coaching in conflict resolution, anger management, and other skills, we can help the young person and their parents turn around the situation,” Bradbury-Carlin explained.

York is an integral part of the School Success Program, a collaboration between Youth Services and Windham Southeast Supervisory Union. The program focuses on truancy intervention for students age 13-18. The program works primarily one-on-one with students, but also includes work with families and other involved community providers.

“Jocelyn works from a different stance that the traditional “Truancy Officer”, Bradbury-Carlin stressed, “acting instead as a supportive helper with a positive, proactive and less punitive approach that builds the necessary skills and understanding needed for student and families to make a long-term commitment to education. She looks at all areas of a student and family’s life that contribute to or can help solve the problem.”

York’s supportive case management focuses on reducing stresses at home that might be related to money or work problems, housing issues, health needs, and/or transportation. She works to identify and develop the skills and interests of the young person.

York explains, “We link youth and their families with other community providers that can meet their needs. By getting my clients involved with other established community supports and activities outside of the school, I can help them reduce their life stressors and focus more clearly on what they need to do to get through school. When necessary, I also may help a student switch to another school or academic program that may better fit their needs than the traditional K-12 system.”

According to Bradbury-Carlin, the outcomes of this collaboration are increased school attendance, improved relationships in family and school, improved life satisfaction and self-esteem, increased parent involvement, and improved access and use of resources.

Before joining Youth Services, York had been a mental health worker on the Brattleboro Retreat’s Adolescent Inpatient Unit, a behavioral interventionist in Barre, Vermont for Washington County Mental Health’s early childhood autism program, and a pre-school teacher in Windsor County. York has bachelor’s degrees in Women’s Studies and Liberal Studies from Sonoma State University in California.

To find out more about Youth Services Restorative Justice programs, call Youth Services at (802) 257-0361 or visit www.youthservicesinc.org

Pre-Trial Program gets boost from skilled coordinator James Arana

James Arana

Youth Services has hired James Arana as Pretrial Services Coordinator for the organization.  This Pretrial Program was first started in 2015 after the passage of Act 195 by the Vermont legislature to address a judicial system overwhelmed by many cases best addressed outside of the courtroom.

According to Youth Services’ Executive Director, Russell Bradbury-Carlin, the agency’s Pretrial Program recognizes that many people entering the criminal justice system have underlying factors that lead to the criminal misconduct.

“It is a voluntary program designed to screen for the presence of substance abuse or mental health issues to inform the criminal justice system about whether alternative paths at rehabilitation may be more effective than the traditional criminal justice system,” Bradbury-Carlin explained.

As Pretrial Services Coordinator, James Arana meets with individuals who choose to participate, and conducts a risk assessment and needs screening. He then shares an interpretive score of the results with the prosecutor’s office and provides the individual with information about resources to help address areas of concern.

“The judge can use those results when determining bail and conditions of release, and the prosecutor can offer defendants the opportunity to participate in a Pre-charge Program that does not involve filing the case with the court,” Arana explained.

Arana is committed to working with the justice system to help people identify the underlying issues in their lives that cause self-destructive and/or criminal behavior, rather than focusing solely on punitive measures. “This program is in alignment with Youth Services decades-long work in restorative justice, which focuses on repairing harm caused by crime and dealing with the risks and needs of the person who commit crimes,” stated Arana.

Arana consults with numerous other organizations, regional, national, and international. He is Senior Consultant and Trainer for MERGE for Gender Equality, Inc., where he focuses internationally, on training men and women to work as allies in gender-based and family violence prevention. He is also Director of Youth Programing and Training for The Performance Project and the First Generation youth program in Western Massachusetts. He was co-founder of Men’s Resources International, and served as associate director for ten years.

Arana worked as a prevention specialist and Program Director for Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Western Massachusetts. “James many years working directly with young adults struggling with anger and addiction issues give him great insight into the clients in our pre-trial program,” explained Bradbury-Carlin. “We are thrilled to have such a seasoned social worker in our ranks.”

For more information on Youth Services Restorative Justice programs or to support these efforts with a donation, visit youthservicesinc.org or call (802) 257-0361.

Youth Services’ Summer Camp Fair set for April 6, Gallery Walk Night

Youth Services will host their Annual Summer Camp Fair on Friday, April 6, on Gallery Walk Night from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the River Garden in downtown Brattleboro, VT.

Many summer camp providers will supply activities and entertainment for the children. The public is encouraged to take advantage of this great opportunity to arrange a fun-filled summer while being entertained. To entice the public to stop in, Youth Services is holding a free drawing for $100 credit toward a camp of the winner’s choice and giving out free balloons.

“Our Summer Camp Fair gives parents and grandparents the chance to ask questions and register their children for many of the camps listed in our Summer Resources Calendar in one convenient location,” notes Russell Bradbury-Carlin, Youth Services’ Executive Director.

Parents will be able to pick up information about and register their children for nearly two dozen summer camp programs at the Camp Fair. Organizations that have hosted booths in past years include: Big Brothers Big Sisters; Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center; Brattleboro Outing Club/Tennis; Brattleboro Community Television; Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Dept; Creating with Clay; Farm Camp!; The Grammar School Summer Camp; Green Mountain Camp for Girls; Kroka Expeditions; Magical Earths Retreat; Meeting Waters YMCA; Neighborhood Schoolhouse; New England Youth Theatre; Summer Food Program; Vermont Wilderness School; Windham County Career Center STEM Summer Camp, and more!

Copies of Youth Services’ Summer Resources Calendar with information on these programs and many others will be available in the March 31 Reformer and at the fair and you can download it here.  You can also pick up a calendar at area locations, including Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce, Brooks Memorial Library, and Youth Services after March 31. Jobs for older youth, primarily at camps can be downloaded here.

The fair is sponsored by Youth Services Pacesetters: The Richards Group, Brattleboro Subaru, and GS Precision. For more information, call Youth Services at (802) 257-0361.

 

VT Diaper Bank was launched in 2016 in Bellows Falls

Bellows Falls, VT—Parks Place and Youth Services are collaborating to launch, “Time for a Change”, Vermont’s first diaper bank to meet the needs of families with young children in Windham County who cannot afford diapers.

Various locations throughout the greater Bellows Falls area will have bins starting in November to collect donated diapers and wipes: committed so far are Lisais Market in Bellows Falls, Family Dollar and Discount Foods Warehouse in Walpole and The Rockingham Library. More bin locations throughout Windham County are sought and community groups such as churches and clubs are encouraged to help raise funds or diaper donations.

As part of the bank’s inauguration on November 10, there was what is being coined a  “Diaper Dump” collection at Dairy Joy in Bellows Falls. Organizers hoped to fill an entire dump truck with diaper and wipes donations to launch the diaper bank.

According to national estimates, a typical infant will require an average of 50-60 diaper changes a week. That is approximately 2,600 diapers a year at an annual cost to their family of close to $1000.

A recent Feeding America study found that 32 percent of low-income families surveyed reported reusing disposable diapers, while 48 percent reported delaying changing a diaper to make their supply last longer. Studies show that babies experience increased health issues such as diaper rashes and urinary tract infections from limited diaper changes.

Michelle Sacco, Youth Services’ Greater Falls Transitional Living Program manager, cited the many young mothers she works with as often having to choose between diapers and other basic necessities like electricity, food or heat because they can’t afford all three.  “

Youth Services and Parks Place are spearheading this initiative with community partners, United Way of Windham County, WNESU, Building Bright Futures, Our Place Drop In, SEVCA and others playing important collaborative roles, explained Sacco. The diaper bank will be housed at Parks Place with Youth Services’ Just Us Moms Program (JUMP) helping to distribute the donated items.

For more information, contact parksplacevt.org or info@youthservicesinc.org.