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

Rick Holloway of Chroma joins Youth Services Board of Directors

Rick Holloway of Chroma

Rick Holloway, the Facilities and Equipment Manager of Chroma Technology since 2001, recently joined 18 other community members in serving on Youth Services’ board of directors. Through nineteen programs ranging from restorative justice, to outreach, mentoring, transitional living and case management, the nonprofit agency helps Windham County young people and families thrive.

A self-described “high school drop-out with a GED and 20 years of addiction recovery,” Holloway brings a unique and varied point of view to the Youth Services board, according to Rachel Selsky, board president, who said they are fortunate to have this youth advocate share his insights when they are developing strategic plans for the future of the organization. “Rick’s deep understanding of the problems facing Windham County young people and families will be a tremendous asset to the board,” Selsky predicted.

Holloway first became connected with the nonprofit by giving tours at Chroma to Youth Services’ participants in its workforce development programs. These initiatives seek to expose adolescents to potential employers and careers in the community.

Holloway also mentored individual Youth Services’ clients in an entry level position at Chroma dedicated to exposing local youth to job skills over a six-month period. According to Holloway, it was the first job for many of them, providing the skills and a track record which led many to other employment.

“Given my background and the changes I’ve made in my own life, I want to give back by helping youth find a way past the trials I faced,” explained Holloway.

In addition to the Youth Services Board, Holloway currently serves on the Rockingham School Board and the WNESU Board. In the past Rick was involved with Youth Services as part of the Bellows Falls Advisory Board to Youth Services. He also had served on the Rockingham Conservation Commission, The Saxtons River Recreation Area and the Saxtons River Fire Station Building Committee.

Rick Holloway resides in Saxtons River with his wife Karin and son Ezra.

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


Long-time Youth Services Board member retires from finance role

Rick Hashagen

He was the numbers guy for Youth Services.  Board President Rachel Selsky recalls Rick’s ability to break down even the most complicated budget for the rest of the board. For 17 years Rick Hashagen, a retired bank president kept a constant eye on Youth Services’ financial stability.

President of Youth Services board from 2006-2008, Rick chaired the finance committee and was Youth Services’ treasurer for much of his term. Rick was an Executive Committee member for close to a decade and joined the governance committee in the last several. Bobbi Kilburn, BDCC’s Director of Finance & Grant Management, is taking on the role of Treasurer for Youth Services.

“Rick’s ability to simplify Youth Services’ finances and investments will certainly be missed,” testified Selsky. “His experience and input has been invaluable and his impact on Youth Services will be felt long after he is gone,” she said.

Rick was well-loved by golfers for his role running the putting contest at Youth Services’ Annual Golf Tournament at the Brattleboro Country Club ever since the BCC got 18 holes and the tournament was moved there. In recent years, he would orchestrate the contest in tandem with his grandson.

Rick says he has thoroughly enjoy his years on the Youth Services board of directors. “It has been a rewarding experience working with excellent board members and competent and committed staff to implement our vision of improving the lives of area young people and their families.” I will miss it, but leave knowing that Youth Services is in good hands,” Hashagen said.


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


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 / or visit


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.


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

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 or call 802-257-0361.

Wish List

We are currently looking for items for our housing units in Brattleboro and Bellows Falls. Youth Services provides transitional living and case management services to young people in Windham County communities who are homeless or are unsafely housed.


Please contact Youth Development Director Lauren Higbee at (802) 257-0361 x129

or email to make sure items are needed and to arrange delivery.


Bellows Falls delivery address :

4 + 6 Barker St./Rt. 5, Bellows Falls

  • dressers
  • desks
  •  mattresses, box spring, bed frame: sizes twin, twin xl, full
  • pillows
  • sheets (fitted and flat, full or twin and pillow cases)
  • mattress covers (sizes twin, twin xl, full)
  • blankets
  • bedspreads or comforters
  • towels and wash cloths
  • bath mats and bath rugs
  • shower curtains and liners, shower rods, curtain hooks
  • kitchen garbage pails
  • bathroom or bedroom waste baskets
  • toilet brushes and plungers
  • window blinds
  • curtains
  •  sofas
  • living room chairs
  • TV stands
  • end tables
  • lamps
  • extension cords
  • kitchen table
  • kitchen chairs
  • pots and pans
  • sink strainers
  • paper towel holders
  • silverware
  • dishware
  • mugs
  • dish towels
  • sponges
  • over-the toilet-racks
  • closet louver doors
  • paint, paint brushes, rollers
  • tool set
  • rake
  • snow shovels
  • patio set or picnic table
  • totes
  • recycling containers


Delivery location: 175 Elliot St. #2, Brattleboro

  • Art supplies
  • planting materials (pots, soil, seedlings)
  • full size beds
  • twin size beds
  • shelving for the walls (ones that can be screwed to the wall)
  • small square kitchen table
  • pots and frying pans
  • silverware
  • towels and washcloths
  • small entertainment center


Youth Services case manager honored by VT Center for Crime Victims Services

Christine Linn was recognized for her work as an ally of victims of crimes.
Christine Linn was recognized for her work as an ally of victims of crimes.

Christine Linn, a therapeutic case manager at Youth Services received the Ally Award on April 29 in a ceremony in Stowe, VT as part of the Vermont Crime Victim Rights Week Celebration. Linn was nominated for the state-wide award by her organization and her clients, comprised of youth in Windham County ages 16-22 years old who are currently unsafely housed or at-risk of being homeless.

The Ally Award, given each year by the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services to one volunteer, professional or program in Vermont honors “a remarkable individual or organization who, outside the course of performing their regular duties, has advocated for a victim-centered policy; inspired us through their acts of courage and compassion; whose work has been particularly innovative and pioneering; and whose activities enhance offender accountability and community outreach.”

According to her Youth Services supervisor, Lauren Higbee, Linn works tirelessly for her clients, many of which have severe trauma histories.  One example she gave is Linn supporting her clients in accessing complex systems such as law enforcement and the courts. “Christine also supports them in setting up safety plans if or until they are ready to leave violent relationships,” explained Higbee.

Linn has served as a foster parent through Vermont’s Department of Children and Families, and is also a driving force behind Youth Services support group for young mothers, where she has been instrumental in advocating for young mother’s rights, according to Higbee. “Christine is a model for all of her clients so eventually they will be able to advocate for their own needs and rights,” Higbee stated.

Linn’s actions influenced attitudes, policies, practices, and prevention efforts on behalf of her clients. “Christine isn’t settled or satisfied unless her work incorporates greater systems change,” explained Russell Bradbury-Carlin, Executive Director of Youth Services, who said it was something he noticed about Linn as soon as he started at Youth Services nine months ago.

“Youth Services has watched her join with Economics Services Division, Vermont Adult Learning and the Parent Child Centers to streamline high school completion options for vulnerable young adults in our area,” said Bradbury-Carlin. “Christine sits on the Brattleboro Citizen Police Communication Committee and she is constantly using any interactions as opportunities to educate providers, families, and legal parties about the effects of trauma, mental illness, stigma and attachment on victim’s behavior, follow-through, and long-term healing,” Bradbury-Carlin stated.

Youth Services staff and clients alike note that Linn will routinely work weekends and evening hours to support her client’s goals and ensure their safety. “Her resourcefulness is always beyond what any supervisor can imagine,” said Higbee who cited the example of Christine applying for the Green Street Elementary School and surrounding neighborhood in Brattleboro to become a designated Promise Community through the State of Vermont, which will result in access to up to $200,000 in funding and resources to support families, children and the neighborhood as a whole.

“Christine is engrossed in creating a stronger community by supporting families connecting to one another,” said Higbee. “Windham County greatly benefits from Christine’s commitment to our young people and to changing the culture and practice of Vermont to be safer and more responsive to victims of crime.”

For more information on Youth Services’ 18 programs in prevention, intervention and youth development in Windham County, visit or call (802) 257-0361.

Youth Services’ Big Brothers Big Sisters Hires New Staff

Youth Services’ newest employee is Sarah Caito, recently hired as a Match Support Specialist for its Big Brothers Big Sisters’ school and community-based mentoring programs.  She is a Big Sister herself and has worked for the NH affiliate of Big Brothers Big Sisters in a similar position since 2014.

Sarah Caito, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windham County Match Support Specialist
Sarah Caito, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windham County Match Support Specialist

The afterschool or lunchtime program takes place at several elementary schools in Windham County while the adult mentors in the community-based program arrange to meet with their “Littles” at varying times most convenient for their schedule; usually in the late afternoon or on weekends. Sarah is already recruiting, interviewing and screening prospective mentoring volunteers.

Sarah comes to the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program with previous experience working with children and families in New Hampshire, as a paraprofessional and substitute teacher in Bedford; an ESOL teacher in Derry, and as a music and drama director at the YMCA in Goffstown, NH.

According to Kimberley Diemond, Director of Mentoring at Youth Services, Caito’s strengths are in connecting with volunteers, and developing the skills volunteers, clients and families need to make a difference in the life of children. “Sarah also has a great insight into who people are, what motivates them, and how well they’ll interact when matched together,” Diemond stated.

Big Brothers Big Sisters operates under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. As the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.

Caito has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Elementary Education and English as a Second Language from Florida Southern College in Lakeland, FL and until recently lived and worked in Peterborough, NH.

For more information on how you can become a mentor, contact Sarah Caito of Big Brothers Big Sisters at Youth Services at (802) 257-0361 or by email at