Category Archives: News

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.

Ben Underhill voted board emeritus at Youth Services

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 for local youth advocated by case manager Justin Bibee

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 cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter
and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

New Youth Development Director at Youth Services

Christine Linn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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