Category Archives: News

The Reverend Dr. James Kowalski joins Youth Services Board

The Reverend Dr. James A. Kowalski, a retired Episcopal priest who is a long-time second home owner in Townshend, VT, recently joined 13 other community members in serving on Youth Services’ board of directors. Through nineteen programs ranging from restorative justice, to mentoring, transitional living, workforce development and therapeutic case management, the nonprofit agency helps Windham County thrive.

Dr. James A. Kowalski

For the past 15 years, Dr. Kowalski served as Dean of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. Prior to that, he had parishes in Massachusetts and Newtown, Hartford and Darien, Connecticut. During that time, Kowalski helped found a Youth Services in Newtown, CT which focused on positive youth development, adolescent depression and suicide prevention. He was also key in launching the Shepherd’s Center, a teen pregnancy prevention and pre-Head Start childcare facility in Hartford, CT.

With years of experience serving on Boards for agencies focused on low-income housing, supportive housing, hospital oversight and community mental health, Kowalski brings crucial insights and background to the Youth Services board, according to Rachel Selsky, board president.

Selsky said they are fortunate to have his vast experience when they are developing strategic plans for the future of the organization as well as fundraising.

“Jim’s deep understanding of the many challenges facing young people and the homeless will be a tremendous asset to the board,” Selsky predicted.

As an extension of his ministry, Kowalski was a volunteer counselor at Planned Parenthood in Burlington, where he also was a chaplain at UVM and did clinical training at the medical center and its outpatient psychiatric clinic.

Rev. James Kowalski resides in Townshend with his wife, Dr. Anne Brewer, who works part-time at Grace Cottage Hospital. First exposed to Youth Services by the late board member Stan Holt of Townshend, they became donors many years ago, keeping an eye on the organization as their work took them to other locales.

“We’ve always appreciated what Youth Services was accomplishing in this neck of the woods,” said Kowalski. “Now that I’m in Windham County full-time I look forward to supporting the staff in their work and helping the critical mission of Youth Services to be realized, including its outreach to Townshend,” he stated.

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

Brattleboro’s Youth-Led Company Opens Its Doors: Screen Printing Orders Sought from Area Businesses and Organizations

DemoGraphix, a youth-led business-to-business screen-printing company in Brattleboro, Vermont, established by Youth Services earlier this year, has opened its doors for sales, after a six-month start-up period.

The employees, ages 12-24, have selected a name, designed a logo, trained on the screen printing equipment and establishing policies and a pricing structure during that time, in addition to being paired with volunteer mentors with professional skills such as design, running a small business, and marketing.

Having completed several successful test runs, DemoGraphix employees are now ready to market their services and line up printing orders for promotional products on fabric or paper for the fall, according to Emilie Kornheiser, Youth Services’ Director of Workforce Development.

“We believe that people in Brattleboro want to be conscious shoppers, and will support a business like DemoGraphix offering a living wage and better life opportunities for its employees,” explained Kornheiser.

While DemoGraphix can print on any fabric medium, the two most popular items so far are t-shirts and tote bags, according to the company website. Prices depend on the quality of the materials, manufacturing practices, and the complexity of the design but generally range $10-25 dollars for T-shirts and $5-15 for totes. The designers are happy to have a conversation with prospective clients and will provide an estimate in three days or less.

Launched earlier this year, DemoGraphix, which employs youth in every aspect of the business — design, printing, shipping, customer service, marketing and accounting — is dedicated to delivering job skills and fostering entrepreneurship and community connections, stated Kornheiser.

Members of DemoGraphix can make and sell their own designs as well as be employed by the company. “Our participants learn how to be a member of a team in a connected, supportive environment, and then move on with the knowledge to benefit their community and their own work lives,” Kornheiser explained. “We expect that these youth will have marketable skills and good job references when they leave the company,” she said.

This Youth Services program operates out of Brattleboro Printmakers on Elliot Street. Youth Services pairs 12-24 year olds with volunteer mentors with professional skills relevant to the business who are also interested in being a part of a young person’s life. According to Kornheiser, a major goal of our youth-led business initiative is for the participants to get more than just a paycheck.

To learn more about getting involved, email: info@ youthservicesinc.org or call (802) 257-0361 x138. To obtain an estimate for print shop orders (T-shirts, bags, bandanas, aprons, or collectible posters) email: demographixvt@gmail.com with a description of the project or call 802-275-7871.

Youth Services calls for “local celebrity” dancers to perform in signature fundraiser April 27

Are you interested in joining the 2019 cast of Can Windham County Dance?

Have you ever imagined yourself dancing in the spotlight? Would you enjoy performing in front of a live audience? Are you looking for a way to positively influence the lives of young people and families in Windham County? If you answered yes to the above questions, Youth Services has an opportunity for you to fulfill that dream.

BAMS Keith Lyman & daughter Chloe

Youth Services is hosting So Can Windham County Dance? second annual gala  presented by Twombly Wealth Management, with a goal of $20,000 raised to strengthen the safety net for area young people and families. This spring, Can Windham County Dance? gala takes place on Saturday, April 27, once again at SIT in Brattleboro.

Mollie Burke & Peter Gould

Youth Services’ newest signature fundraiser pairs well-known “celebrity” members of the community with their own partners or professional dance instructors who train with them on a dance routine that is performed in front of a sold-out gala crowd at SIT.  This is a local twist on the reality TV show, Dancing with the Stars. The winner of the dance ‘competition’ is determined by both talent and fundraising ability.

 

 

“We encourage anyone who’s up for the challenge, to apply to join the cast of So Can Windham County Dance?” said Russell Bradbury-Carlin, Executive Director of Youth Services.  “We are currently recruiting individuals who are not only inspired by our mission to transform lives and inspire futures, but who also have the charisma, skill to perform on stage, and ability to raise funds for our cause.”

An easy-to-complete questionnaire is available below. The deadline for submission is approaching. For more information call (802) 257-0361, email: info@youthservicesinc.org

Info for Prospective Dancers

Frequently Asked Questions

Sign Up dancer form to download, fill out and submit

PRESENTED BY 

David Brown voted Board Emeritus at Youth Services

David Brown, Board Emeritus

David Brown, an award-winning realtor with Berkley & Veller Greenwood Country, was voted Board Emeritus at Youth Services’ October board meeting on which Brown “served with distinction” for over two decades.

Only three other board members have received the board emeritus status in Youth Services’ 46-year history: attorney Jesse Corum IV and insurance executive Ben Underhill, both now deceased, and Larry Cassidy, one of its founders who continues to be a key advisor.

Russell Bradbury-Carlin, Executive Director, said he has relied on Brown’s intimate knowledge of the organization and Windham Country communities since he arrived at the nonprofit in 2015.  “David has been extraordinarily devoted to the success of Youth Services.  He stops by our offices regularly and is always available to lend a supportive ear or to connect us to people who might be helpful with a new project or a particular issue we are facing.”

Few have worn as many hats at Youth Services as Brown, according to Bradbury-Carlin.  In addition to being a volunteer for 26 years and counting, Brown was a liaison to area businesses for the agency’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program and served as Interim Executive Director from 2011-2012.

Brown’s Youth Services affiliation started as a Court Diversion Board volunteer in 1992 and continues to this day, participating in monthly panels focused on repairing the harm caused by a community member. Diversion holds those who violated the law accountable in a manner that promotes responsibility to individuals, community and relationships and addresses underlying needs or issues that led to the offense.

“David is very much the diplomat on his panel,” attested Patrick Fleming, Youth Services’ Diversion Case Manager who describe Brown’s approach as one that is often able to defuse the individual’s reluctance to address an issue.

Marion Dowling, who is a Diversion panelist with Brown, said he knows how to share space with his fellow panelists. “David is truly the anchor of our panel. I have learned so much from his way of seeing the whole picture of the individual in front of him,” Dowling said.  “He has a remarkable way putting the client at ease, using a lovely sense of humor which allows the person freedom to share in an open, trusting manner,” explained Dowling.

In addition to countless volunteer hours, Brown has also shared his creative side with Youth Services, donating his own pastel paintings to the organization’s annual gala and silent auction that he co-chairs, and by asking other local artists to contribute their artwork.

“David is amazing to work with,” stated Liz Richards, who co-chaired the Jazz Jubilee and the Denim & Diamond- themed galas with Brown for 15 successful years. “We had a lot of fun pulling off annual galas & silent auctions at the Grafton Inn that had Youth Services supporters coming back year after year,” Richard recalled.

Brown was the organization’s board president from 2004-2006. Allyson Villars, executive director at that time, recalls Brown’s kindness of spirit, and his unbiased concern for staff and board members, clients and volunteers and his modeling of all the values Youth Services promulgates with youth living in difficult circumstances.

“He was always my go-to-guy, my first phone call, my port in any storm, and both my last meeting of the day and my first meeting in early mornings. David was my guide, my mentor, my confidante — a great boss,” Villars explained.  “When I think of the reasons for Youth Services’ success at that time, his ever-presence, wise counsel, and willingness to go above and beyond is always one of the things that comes to mind,” she recalled.

Supporting and mentoring new board members was a role Brown also relished, introducing each new board members to the staff and helping them find a way to use their expertise on a committee to benefit Youth Services. Rachel Selsky, the present board chair recalled Brown as her mentor during the Get on Board non-profit board management certificate program she was taking through Marlboro Graduate Center.

“David’s enthusiasm for Youth Services was infectious and I was truly impressed by his open heart and commitment to the organization. I am especially appreciate of all the wisdom and laughs we have shared.  “We are grateful to be able to honor David’s efforts on behalf of the young people of Windham County, with the title of board emeritus. David’s dedication to Youth Services has set a high bar for the rest of us,” said Selsky.

Mentors for adolescents and young adults are currently sought. To get involved as a volunteer or to donate to Youth Services, visit youthservicesinc.org or call (802) 257-0361.

Suzie Wagner of VT Department of Labor joins board of Youth Services

Suzie Wagner joined board.

Suzie Wagner, the Regional Manager for the Vermont Department of Labor’s Career Resource Centers in Springfield and Brattleboro, recently joined 18 other community members in serving on Youth Services’ board of directors.

Through nineteen programs ranging from restorative justice, to outreach, mentoring, workforce development, transitional living and case management, the nonprofit agency helps Windham County young people and families thrive.

A certified Rehabilitation Counselor who specializes in career counseling for teens and young adults with disabilities, Wagner brings insights and background in workforce development efforts to the Youth Services board, according to Rachel Selsky, board president, who said they are fortunate to have the vast experience of Wagner when they are developing strategic plans for the future of the organization. “Suzie’s deep understanding of the employment challenges facing Windham County young adults will be a tremendous asset to the board,” Selsky predicted.

Wagner first became connected with the nonprofit through her work with VocRehab Vermont in 2007.  Since that time, she has provided a strong partnership with the many programs at Youth Services adding a workforce development component to their collaborative work.

Suzie stated, “I have always been impressed with the level of support given to clients and the creative thinking that comes from the Youth Services’ team.  I’m excited to contribute further to the organization’s mission and dive into a deeper level of commitment to the critical work at Youth Services.”

Wagner holds a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Assumption College and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic.

Suzie Wagner resides in Brattleboro with her husband Isaac and their children.

To learn how you can get involved with Youth Services workforce development or to refer a young person for services, visit wwwyouthservicesinc.org or call 802-257-0361.

 

Clinical Program at Youth Services Provides Substance Abuse Treatment and Counseling

In response to the opioid epidemic, Youth Services has added substance abuse treatment and counseling to its 19 other Windham County programs serving young people and families earlier this year, with appointments given at either its Bellows Falls or Brattleboro facility. Recognizing that substance use disorders can be chronic problems, with both common and unique challenges for each person, is key to the approach of Heather Smith, the agency’s new Director of Clinical Services.

Heather Smith, Youth Services Director of Clinical Services

“We focus on the belief that each individual is a person of worth and dignity and is capable of recovery,” Smith stated emphatically. “Realistic hope is central to our treatment philosophy. By increasing our client’s awareness of risks associated with substances we can support positive and sustainable change in their lives,” she explained.

Smith described some of the young people who come through Youth Services’ doors as knowing what it’s like to live in a family where a parent struggles with addiction. Or they know the peer pressure of friends experimenting with alcohol or prescription pills who ask them to join in. In other scenarios she’s seen in her career, individuals may be struggling with anxiety or depression and turn to various substances to self-medicate instead of seeking counseling and support. These individual are then at risk of development a substance use disorder in addition to the original anxiety or depression, she explained. “Regardless of where someone is on their journey, we can met them where they are and work with them to achieve their goals,” Smith said.

Nearly half of all Youth Services clients—whether they are in Youth Services’ court diversion, our shelter housing, or receiving services as they age out of the foster care system — have substance abuse issues to varying degrees, according to agency intake data. Most of the individuals Smith sees are referred internally by Youth Services case managers but that is expanding now to include referrals from community partners, such as West River Valley Thrives and Turning Point, Smith said, reflecting the shortage of out-patient substance abuse treatment options in the region.

Engaging youth out in the community rather than depending on them finding Smith, is also part of the programs’ strategy, according to Youth Services’ Executive Director, Russell Bradbury-Carlin.

He described Heather Smith’s hiring, made possible by a combination of grant funding and donations from concerned community members, as allowing Youth Services to provide consultation and clinical services designed to decrease hazardous use, promote abstinence, assist in recovery and problem resolution, improve functioning and help the young people they serve develop a healthier lifestyle overall.

“I can’t tell you how fortunate we are to attract such a skilled counselor with experience not only with the runaway and transitional youth populations we work but also with youth in the foster care and justice system!” Bradbury-Carlin stated. “Heather’s five years working in Corrections also gives her many insights she employs in her substance abuse treatment and counseling,” he noted.

In the AIR program (Assessment, Intervention, Recovery), one of the clinical programs offered, Smith works with clients who present a variety of struggles including: alcohol and other drug use, misuse, abuse, dependency, recovery, relapse or family/relationship/peer concerns. Other clients seeking services not related to substance use, misuse or abuse are seen as well.

Heather Smith is a licensed clinical mental health counselor with 10 years of experience working with young people in various settings including residential care, rehabilitation, corrections and college and community care. Most recently she was employed four years as a Behavioral Health Specialist for The Community Health Team. She also spent two years working as part of the HCRS Crisis Team. Prior to that Smith was a Substance Abuse Therapist for students at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA.  Her Masters in Counseling Psychology, with a specialization in Substance Abuse is from Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, NH.

To make a donation to Youth Services to stop the epidemic or for more information on substance abuse treatment and counseling, call Heather Smith (802) 257-0361.

Executive Director shares wisdom at national ‘Youth Think Tank’

Youth Services Executive Director Contributing to National Think Tank

Washington, DC—Russell Bradbury-Carlin, Youth Services’ Executive Director was invited to a think tank Sept 26-27 in Washington. DC organized by MANY, a national network that engages stakeholders across sectors to strengthen outcomes for youth and young adults at highest risk for victimization and/or delinquency.

Russell Bradbury-Carlin

According to Megan Blondin, Executive Director of MANY, the purpose of this convening was for the select group of leaders and experts to assess emerging and persistent trends, their impact on the youth services field, and identify effective local and national strategies to strengthen outcomes for youth.

“I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on and share my experiences, observations, concerns and ideas about trends we’re seeing in Windham Country with the young people we serve,” said Youth Services’ Bradbury-Carlin. “I will share some of the successes and innovations we’ve had to date and leave with a wealth of new information, ideas and professional contacts. I am honored to have this opportunity,” he stated.

For more information on Youth Services and its programs, visit youthservicesinc.org or call (802) 257-0361.

Workforce Development is expanding with youth-led business launch

Emilie Kornheiser

Youth Services recently appointed Emilie Kornheiser to the position of Director of Workforce Development.  In this new role Kornheiser will oversee and expand existing programs for clients and community partners. She will begin this summer by launching a youth-led screen printing business that will incorporate mentoring and a work-skills training program.

“All Youth Services workforce initiatives are based in a mentoring model,” explained Kornheiser. “We partner employers, entrepreneurs and artists with young people to build trust first and skills second,” she stated. “This essential first step of supported connection will simplify the challenges of navigating complex class, trauma, and educational issues in our employment services,” Kornheiser predicted.

Emilie brings her experience starting a Brattleboro business, the Weathervane Gallery and Performing Arts Café, brokering international public private partnerships, and her background with disenfranchised young people to this position, supporting connection and commitment between communities and youth, explained Russell Bradbury-Carlin, executive director of Youth Services.  He was also impressed with Kornheiser’s state-wide successes in poverty prevention roles with Building Bright Futures and Promise Communities as well as her employment history in Brattleboro as a Reach Up case manager with Early Education Services, where she supported employment for parents of young children receiving state assistance.

“Emilie’s past roles requiring deep cross-class dialogue, motivational interviewing, strengths based/appreciative inquiry frameworks and an ability to continually translate between system and individuals, individuals and system, much as she will need to do in this position with Youth Services,” Bradbury-Carlin stated. “Already in her first weeks on the job she has done an excellent job reaching out across organizational boundaries to build collaborations and create a network of services for our clients that also meet the needs of Windham County communities,” he said.

Workforce Development at Youth Services in the coming months is expected to offer a spectrum of employment services with a low barrier to entry and serve young people from ages 12 to 24 in stipended and paid roles, according to Kornheiser. She explained that individuals will find support with short-term as well as long-term work, employment training, internships, and develop closer ties with their community.

Kornheiser was a graduate last year from the Vermont Leadership Institute at the Snelling Center for Government and attended the University of Vermont for a Master’s program in Community Development and Applied Economics. She is a candidate to represent Brattleboro District 1 in the Vermont House of Representatives. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Sociology and Developmental Psychology from Marlboro College.

 

For more information about Workforce Development at Youth Services, call (802) 257-0361 or visit youthservicesinc.org

Craig Miskovich and Johanna Lengfellner join Youth Services Board

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.

Craig Miskovich

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 Lengfellner

“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.

 

Restorative Justice Volunteer Marilyn Buhlmann inducted into Hall of Fame

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.

Marilyn Buhlmann joins other illustrious volunteers on Youth Services’ Hall of Fame wall.

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.