Category Archives: News

New Substance Abuse Treatment Gets Boost from Governor and Subaru of New England

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Pictured here are Governor Peter Shumlin, Ernie Boch Jr, President & CEO of Subaru of New England and Rosie Nevins-Alderfer at the podium representing Youth Services.

STOWE-With the endorsement of Governor Peter Shumlin, Subaru of New England donated $25,000 to Youth Services to help the nonprofit develop an innovative youth counseling program to treat addiction.

“Once again I stand here thanking Ernie Boch Jr. and Subaru of New England for a generous donation to tackle an issue here in Vermont,” Gov. Shumlin said, noting that Boch has donated to Irene Recovery efforts, Green Up Day and the Vermont Universal Children’s Higher Education Savings Account Program. It marks his second donation to combating opiate addiction in Vermont, following last year’s commitment to Recovery House Inc. in Rutland.

“Drug abuse is one of the most serious problems facing our state and the nation,” Gov. Shumlin said. “Today’s donation to Youth Services will help us reach kids with counseling and treatment to help them turn their lives around.”

“Opiate addiction is a serious public health problem with terrible consequences. The support and treatment that Youth Services provides for young people in Vermont is crucial and life-saving. On behalf of Subaru of New England, I’m here today with a check for Youth Services for $25,000 dollars to help fight this battle,” stated Ernie Boch Jr.

Youth Services is a private non-profit founded in 1972 to provide prevention, intervention and development programs for young people and families in Windham County communities, regardless of ability to pay.

The organization is launching a new Youth Substance Abuse Treatment Program, which is cited as one of the most pressing needs in Windham County. “We very much appreciate the support of Governor’s Shumlin in facilitating this donation and the generous support of Subaru of New England for helping us launch this critical endeavor,” explained Russell Bradbury-Carlin, Youth Services’ Executive Director.

“Young people face a lot of hurdles that prevent them from seeking treatment, including intense peer-pressure and lack of parental support,” said Bradbury-Carlin. He said Youth Services will be hiring a licensed therapist who will spend part of their time out of the office and in the community.

“Our new therapist being able to travel is key because many of the folks we work with struggle with lack of transportation and isolation from other services and connections,” explained Rosie Nevins-Alderfer during her acceptance of the check for Youth Services.

Youth Services has been doing street outreach, case management, and work with court-involved youth for 40+ years—so the youth we already work with are some of the folks that will benefit most greatly from having a clinician dedicated to substance abuse on board, according to Nevins-Alderfer.  “Our peer outreach workers (former clients who are now staff) will be critical in connecting our new addiction and recovery counselor with youth we would not otherwise be able to serve,” Nevins-Alderfer said.

The peer outreach model is evidence-based and has a long history of success in homelessness, housing and addiction support nationwide. “We are excited to employ it here as one of our many strategies to meet youth where they are at,” Nevins-Alderfer explained.

 

 

 

Youth Services provides agricultural employment for at-risk youth in Bellows Falls

Bellows Falls—Youth Services provided a seven-week summer work program for low income youth in the Bellows Falls area from August 1 to Sept 15. According to organizers, twelve youth between the ages of 14-24 benefited from paid summer jobs in agriculture as well as gained important life skills that better prepare them for entering the workforce and living independently. More than two- thirds of the participants had already left high school.

“Thanks to Department of Labor funding, we were pleased to be able to offer this much-needed program for an eighth year,” said Russell Bradbury-Carlin, the Executive Director for Youth Services, noting that employment and job development skills were two of the highest needs of the youth his agency serves.

The participants worked and learned at a variety of sites each morning, shared a nutritious lunch together, and studied life and employment skills afternoons at the Health Center at Bellows Falls under the guidance and support of two adult supervisors and a Youth Services workforce development coordinator. The young adults participated in workshops on occupational safety, financial management, reproductive health, resume writing and job readiness skills.

While the youth learned skills they made important contributions to the area.  Divided into two teams, they did agricultural work at Kurn Hattin Homes, Harlow Farm, Westminster Central School garden and the Hope Roots Farm of Bianca and Mike Zaransky.  They also maintained the gardens at Bellows Falls Union High School until the students returned. All their hosts indicated that they appreciated the contributions of Youth Services’ participants.

“It is an opportunity to give them a taste of the workday world while still providing them with support,” explained Susan Lawson-Kelleher, Youth Services Workforce Development Coordinator. At the completion of the program, over half of the out-of-school participants were offered and accepted full or part-time positions,” Lawson-Kelleher explained. Another accepted a job offer partway through the program.

For more information about Youth Services programs in the greater Bellows Falls area, contact Case Manager Michelle Sacco at Youth Services’ Parks Place office at (802) 275-7871 or Workforce Development Coordinator, Susan Lawson-Kelleher at (802) 257-0361 or visit www.youthservicesinc.org.

Executive Director shared wisdom at national ‘Youth Think Tank’

Youth Services Executive Director Contributed to National Think Tank

Washington, DC—Russell Bradbury-Carlin, Youth Services’ Executive Director joined a think tank Sept 22-23 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.

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 appreciated 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 was able to 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 had this opportunity,” he stated.

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

Annual golf torney had strongest turnout in decade this year

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A very strong turn out by local golfers —116 in all — and strong corporate support, made Youth Services’ 31st Annual Golf Tournament a rousing success, generated over $20,000 to help underwrite the agency’s programs. The tournament was held at the Brattleboro Country Club on July 27, a warm 90 degree clear day. This was one of the highest turnouts since 2003, according to Russell Bradbury-Carlin, Youth Services executive director.

The team of Paul LaCoste, Mike Pacheco, Spencer Clason and Todd Waterman from H&R Block/Targett Ledgers won First Gross, with the Savings Bank of Walpole team of Steve Bianco, Gregg Tewksbury, Rick Wisell and Jason Kelley finishing First Net.

The Brattleboro Subaru Ford team of John Mundorf, Kevin Curtis, Ed Winseck and Manny Metaxes took Second Gross with the Brattleboro Savings & Loan team of Hugh Barber, Bill Crowley, George Roberge and Tammy Bischoff taking Second Net.

Allison Barber won the prize for the Women’s Longest Drive. Tracy Sloan took Women’s Closest to the Line with Kate McGinn winning the prize for Women’s Closest to the Pin.

In the Men’s Division, John Mundorf took the prize for Men’s Longest Drive. Dave Anderson took Men’s Closest to the Line with Jason Canaday winning Men’s Closest to Pin.

Youth Services’ Board member Rick Hashagen together with his grandson, Joshua Nordheim, ran a Putting Contest which raised $275 for the agency.  The winner of the Putting Contest was Guy Lindholm.

For the third year in a row, there was a silent auction and over 40 items and services were raffled thanks to the generosity of local businesses who has supported the fundraiser with gifts in kind.

A special feature was the 4th year Helicopter Golf Ball Drop thanks to the Renaud Bros, Inc. helicopter, piloted by Mike Renaud and assisted by his wife, Shirley. Individuals did not need to be part of the tournament to buy golf balls, priced at $100 each, nor be present at the drop to win. Buckets of golf balls were dropped from 20 feet on the fairway at the Brattleboro Country Club, with the winner of the $3000 cash prize being Lynn Herzog of Brattleboro, VT.  Bob Lyons of Newfane, VT, whose ball landed furthest from the pin won the 10-minute helicopter ride.

Pacesetters Sponsors are G.S. Precision; Brattleboro Ford Subaru; The Richards Group and TransCanada. Presenter Sponsors are People’s United Bank. Sustaining Sponsors are Brattleboro Savings & Loan; Chroma Technology; Edward Jones Investments; H & R Block; River Valley Credit Union; Swiss Precision Turning; Twombly Wealth Management; and Vermont Country Deli. Patron Sponsors are BAST Co; Brattleboro Retreat; C.E. Bradley Laboratories; David Manning Inc.; Trust Company of Vermont; Rolls Royce Nuclear; Savings Bank of Walpole; and VSECU. Associate Sponsors are Cota & Cota Oil Co. Parks Place Financial Advisors; and W.W. Building Supply.

All proceeds from the tournament helps support Youth Services’ programs.  Now celebrating its 44th year helping local families thrive, Youth Services transforms lives and inspires futures of more than 1500 local young people and families each year.

For more information or to get involved in Youth Services, call (802) 257-0361 or visit www.youthservicesinc.org

 

Retired Brattleboro Police Chief Gene Wrinn joins Youth Services board of directors

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Youth Services’ newest board member has three decades of experience in law enforcement.

Eugene “Gene” Wrinn of Guilford, in local law enforcement for more than three decades, recently joined 18 other community members in serving on Youth Services’ board of directors. Through more than a dozen programs ranging from restorative justice, to outreach, transitional living and case management, the nonprofit agency helps Windham County young people and families thrive.

Joining the force in 1987, Wrinn spend years in Brattleboro Police Department’s patrol division before he moved to the Detective Division which he supervised. In 2007 he was appointed Chief of Police where he remained until retiring in 2014, receiving recognition for his work rebuilding positive relations with the community by requiring patrol officers to perform foot patrols as a regular part of their workday.

After leaving the police department, Wrinn worked out the Windham Country States Attorney Office developing the Counties Pre-Trial monitoring program which was eventually moved into Youth Services, and he followed.  The program screens for the presence of substance abuse or mental health issues to inform the criminal justice system about whether alternative paths at rehabilitation might be more effective than the traditional criminal justice system.

“It was rewarding to help people deal with the real underlying issues in their lives that were causing criminal behavior rather than focusing solely on punitive measures,” Wrinn recalled.

In August 2015 Wrinn accepted a full time position as a Social Worker at the Vermont Department for Children and Families where he presently conducts investigations of reports of abuse and neglect incidents involving children. “I believe I will bring a different perspective to the conversations and decision making processes,” Wrinn said.

Rachel Selsky, Youth Services Board President, said they are fortunate to have this former police chief, with 34 years in law enforcement, share his insights when they are developing strategic plans for the future of the organization. “Gene’s deep understanding of the problems facing Windham County young people and families will be a tremendous asset to the Youth Services board,” Selsky predicted.

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

Tammy Bischof, Vice President of Brattleboro Savings & Loan joins Youth Services board of directors

Tammy Bischof, Vice President of Brattleboro Savings & Loan
Tammy Bischof, Vice President of Brattleboro Savings & Loan

Tammy Bischof, Vice President of Operations at Brattleboro Savings & Loan recently joined 18 other community members in serving on Youth Services’ board of directors. Through many programs ranging from Therapeutic Case Management, Court Diversion to mentoring, the nonprofit agency helps Windham County young people and families thrive.

Bischof has served before in similar capacities in the region, on the board of American Red Cross in Keene, NH from 2001-2003; as Vice Chair of the Keene, NH Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee from 2001-2004 and on the West Springfield, MA Chamber of Commerce from 2004-2006.

In banking for over 25 years, Bischof has held positions at New-Alliance Bank in Springfield, MA and Granite Bank in Keene prior to her five years at Brattleboro Savings & Loan.

“Tammy’s organizational, project management, and marketing skills will be extremely helpful to the Youth Services board,” said Rachel Selsky, Youth Services’ board president. “Already serving as the co-chair of Youth Services golf tournament committee, Tammy brings valued expertise with her marketing background and as an avid golfer and tournament participant,” Selsky said.

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

Rachel Selsky has been elected president of Youth Services board of directors

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Rachel Selsky is Youth Services’ new board president

This July Rachel Selsky assumed the role of President of the Youth Services Board of Directors, taking the reins from Tom Nunziata whose two-year term has just ended.  Selsky has been on the agency’s Board of Directors for the past four years in a number of leadership positions.

During her tenure on the Youth Services board to date, Selsky has held the position of Vice President and has served on the Strategic Planning, Executive, Rebranding, Public Relations and Legislative committees.  She also organizes the volunteers for Youth Services’ Catamount Half-Marathon and 5K Race each October.  The Albany, NY native first became involved with Youth Services as a young professional in the year-long “Get on Board Fellowship Program” through Marlboro Graduate School.

With a background in urban and regional planning, Rachel Selsky has lived in West Brattleboro since 2010 with her husband Matt, a VT State Trooper, and their young daughter. She works remotely for Camoin Associates, a nationally recognized economic and community development consulting firm, serving as project manager on economic development strategic planning efforts for municipalities and companies.

“I’m looking forward to carrying on the legacy of strong leadership at Youth Services and supporting the great work that the agency does for the youth and families in our community,” Selsky said.

Cathy Coonan of The Richards Group assumed the role of Vice-President of Youth Services’ Board.

Youth Services was founded forty-four years ago to help young people and families in Windham County thrive. In that time they have helped countless numbers of young people discover their own path to adulthood to become a contributing member of our communities through such programs as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Court Diversion, Therapeutic Case Management and Transitional Living.

To learn how you can get involved, contact info@youthservicesinc.org or call (802) 257-0361.

Donate to Windham County’s Big Brothers Big Sisters Appeal

Make a contribution today to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windham County! DONATE HERE!

Anonymous donors will match the first $3000 in contributions received by June 25. 2016!

Sarah and Kendra

VIEW VIDEO! of  Big and Little Sarah and Kendra spending time together over several years.

 

If you ever see glitter falling from the sky or discover it in odd places, chances are Sarah and Kendra are crafting. Kendra was a six-year-old middle child when she was matched with her Big Sister, Sarah. Given her temper and struggles in school it was decided that she could benefit from a mentor.

Many of Sarah and Kendra’s arts and crafts projects included a lot of glitter because of a mutual love for the sparkle and happiness that glitter brings to them both. A year into their match, Kendra’s grades increased dramatically as her self-esteem, class participation and homework completion increased. Throughout their relationship, Sarah has helped Kendra develop coping skills and identify and avoid triggers for conflicts with her parents and twin siblings.

Sarah and Kendra don’t spend all of their time talking about Kendra’s home life or school. They have a lot of fun fishing, hiking and discovering the music of Taylor Swift together. Their story is on-going, with both getting to know each other’s extended family. Kendra recently served as a junior bridesmaid in Sarah’s wedding!

Life is not all glitter! But with your generous donation, more children living in difficult circumstances will  be matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister in Windham County.

 

 

Stan Holt, beloved decade-long board member is remembered

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Youth Services lost one of its vigorous advocates for young people this spring with the passing of Stan Holt, a Youth Services board member from 1998 to 2011 and active long after he officially stepped down.

Below is a reprint of an article in Youth Services’ 2011 Annual Report which described in detail how Stan and his wife Marge came to be involved in youth issues throughout their careers and move to Windham County, VT.

Like the growth of the spruce and fir on his Christmas tree farm in Townshend, Stan Holt’s commitment to the development of youth leaders has increased during his lifetime.  Depending on how and when you’ve met him, you might know Stan better as a Protestant minister, a community organizer, a family man, the organizer of the annual Grace Cottage Hospital Fair, or as the sole director for thirteen years from the West River Valley on the Youth Services Board. 

In all these roles, Stan’s interest in youth has grown and evolved leading him to his present connection to Youth Services.   The seed was planted in Stan’s job as an associate at the First Presbyterian Church in Potsdam, New York and later in Cincinnati, Ohio. There he served as a campus minister, doing outreach with students that, given the political environment and student movement of the early 60’s, evolved into civil rights work for three denominations under the aegis of the Westminster Foundation. 

“What happened during those years influenced the rest of his life,” explained Marge, his wife of 58 years.  “We always had young people in the house.  Stan would often bring someone home who needed a roof over their head and while initially a kind of shock, it enriched our lives,” she recalled with a smile.

“Civil rights work was unavoidable in the 60’s,” Stan explained.  “The House Committee on Un-American Activities got after us and we exposed their hypocrisy and fought to highlight the damage they were doing to our democratic principles,” he explained.  Learning more about the overlap between local and national politics led to community organizing in Chicago in 1968 and then on to Providence, Rhode Island where he worked with the Catholic Church.  There he started an organization called PACE (People Acting Through Community Effort) in the poorer communities to “get things accomplished” on the neighborhood, city, and state levels.  Stan worked on issues such as reducing crime, improving the quality of schools, expanding employment opportunities, and installing needed stop lights on dangerous corners. 

“At that time, most of the city services went to the better neighborhoods,” Holt explained.  Stan’s organization worked with parishioners, labor unions, and anti-poverty groups to find and train leaders, a role which he says he enjoyed the most. “Having people realize their leadership potential was the best,” he recalled.  Stan and his staff would train community leaders to build a following so they could turn out 400-600 people when they needed to pressure the mayor or city council to redirect needed resources.

Then the family moved on to Baltimore for about 4 years before heading to Boston in the late 70’s to join Massachusetts Fair Share, a statewide progressive organization which worked on a plethora of issues.

Marge took care of the four kids and the many moves.  “I got very good at packing up the house in less than a week and hitting the road,” she recalls grimly. Moving was often a difficult adjustment for the four children who ranged at the time from elementary school students to teenagers. Wherever they landed, Marge would seek out a teaching job, something she continued in Vermont after they moved in 1981 to the family homestead in Townshend, which Stan’s father had bought in 1955 and is now under the stewardship of his siblings and their descendants.

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Stan and Marge started planting Christmas trees on the family property, which had been a potato farm in the 1930’s and later a dairy farm. Meanwhile, Stan was good enough at organizing that people would call him to consult on issues ranging from the toxic waste of chemical factories in Louisiana to work on public health issues in Massachusetts. Their crop of Christmas trees peaked about 15 years later, and they would cut close to 1000 a year for markets in Boston and Albany while also selling them locally and as the “Cut Your Own” variety.

Marge’s years teaching at Wardsboro and Windham Elementary Schools opened her eyes to the challenges facing youth in rural areas, many of which Youth Services tries to mitigate through its 8 different programs ranging from Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring to parenting skills for families in danger of losing their children to the state. “Problems can go undetected for so long before they come to the surface, in the classroom,” she recalled.  “It is critical that children have some way out of situations they can’t deal with, before they reach a crisis point.”

Growing up in a suburb and always working in cities, Stan was somewhat taken aback at how isolated many youth were in the West River Valley.  “It was an eye-opener,” Stan said, who always hires local youth to help him with his tree operation.  “I was surprised how difficult even getting from one place to another was if you didn’t yet have a driving license,” he said.  During his time on the board, Youth Services put fresh energy into looking at the underlying conditions, such as transportation, that affect the rural youth they serve.

“I think I had sensitivity to youth problems,” Stan said, explaining what motivated him to join the Youth Services board.  “I had seen in the city neighborhoods how ‘at loose ends’ kids could be which sometimes led into substance abuse and other problems.  I thought, ‘This is something I can get behind.’”

Youth Services chairman of the board, Steven Sayer, describe Stan as a guiding force for the organization, and a solid citizen.  With his natural reserve and his dry wit, Stan weighed in on countless initiatives related to legislation and tirelessly worked on fundraisers like the agency’s Jazz Jubilee. “Stan seldom said no to any task if he saw value within it,” stated Sayer.

“He can always be relied on,” explained Sayer, who worked several years with Stan on Youth Services’ Legislative Committee which ensures that Vermont legislators and in recent years, Vermont state senators and congressmen, are aware of issues affecting youth in Windham County.

According to David Brown, a fellow board member who now acts as interim director of Youth Services, Stan was always respectful of the role legislators’ play.  “There was never a pounding fist with Stan.  He was direct about the needs of youth in Windham County but addressed the issues and asked for their support without being pushy or threatening,” Brown recalled.

Though he’s slowing down ‘just a tad’ with his consulting and staying closer to home as a result of the loss of some of his eyesight in recent years, Stan’s roots in service toward his adopted community of Townshend, Vermont and the youth of the area remain strong.