Michael Silberman of East Dummerston recently joined 9 other community members in serving on Youth Services’ board of directors. Through 10 programs ranging from Court Diversion to mentoring in a youth-led business, the nonprofit agency helps Windham County young people, adults and families thrive.
Silberman has worldwide experience in public-private partnership development, training and workshop facilitation, program management, project design, and organization development interventions for Civil Society, in USAID and Public Service organizations. He has worked in international development, training, and organizational management since 1978, primarily in Asia and Africa. Silberman has been employed extensively with USAID, both as a personal services contractor and a consultant, providing assistance to Missions in the major global regions.
“Michael’s strategic planning background, his insights into public-private partnerships, his experience with stakeholder engagement and his deep commitment to Windham County will be a tremendous asset to the Youth Services board,” said Cathy Coonan, Youth Services’ board president.
“As the newest member of Youth Services’ board, Michael brings valued expertise in philanthropy and strategic planning that we’re looking forward to tapping as we make plans for Youth Services’ next decade,” Coonan said.
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.
Area schools have taken their classes on-line but many summer camps are holding out hope that they’ll be able to be in session this summer, most likely with some adaptations to ensure safety for all involved (the children, family members, administrators and camp counselors).
Youth Services published its Summer Resources Calendar 2020 in April, not knowing how many of the camps listed would actually be in session come June.
“Parents and grandparents really depend on area summer camps to provide structured play and learning during the summertime as well as childcare while parents are working,” notes Russell Bradbury-Carlin, Youth Services’ Executive Director. “We’re hoping that as COVID-19 testing becomes more widespread, it will allow at least some camps in Windham County to be able to open this summer,” stated Bradbury-Carlin. “Fortunately, summer camps know all about reinvention and putting the needs of the families it serves first!”
Summer Camp listings on the Calendar cover a range of ages and interests, from circus arts, to music, nature and tennis, as well as overnight camps such as Camp Waubanong and Green Mountain Camp for Girls.
Please contact individual camps for the latest information on openings/closings. Youth Services is maintaining an updated list on this webpage below.
The Summer Camp Calendar is sponsored by Youth Services Pacesetters: The Richards Group, Brattleboro Subaru, and GS Precision.
Youth Services, which provides two transitional shelters in Windham County for homeless and unsafely-housed young adults, has collaborated with The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) and four other nonprofits, around two art exhibits intended to heighten awareness and foster constructive dialogue about local homelessness.
The two exhibits planned to be on view at BMAC from March 14 to June 14 but are temporarily closed until further notice due to COVID-19.
“Steven Kinder: 552,830” consists of larger-than-life portraits of people experiencing homelessness in New York City, accompanied by Kinder’s sketchbooks, working photographs, and paraphernalia that the people featured in the portraits gave or sold to Kinder, such as cardboard signs and collection cups. The exhibition title refers to the number of people who experienced homelessness in the United States in 2018.
Additionally there is an exhibition of photographs, video, and written narratives developed in collaboration with Groundworks Collaborative called “Coffee & Conversation: Stories of Homelessness,” an updated version of a 2015 project that brought together Brattleboro residents experiencing homelessness with those who have stable housing.
“Our community has invested so much into having difficult conversations about social issues in order to find real-world solutions,” said Christine Linn, Youth Development Director at Youth Services. “And so often it can be hard for individuals to view people experiencing homelessness with empathy, despite the advocacy of local agencies and participation of people experiencing homelessness themselves.”
“The BMAC exhibits and related events are a profound means for the public to witness the humanity of individuals experiencing homelessness–to not just hear about the issues but, hopefully, to be emotionally connected with individuals’ journeys,” explained Linn.
“Over the past four years, BMAC has found that one of the ways we can be of greatest value to our community is by presenting artwork that serves as a platform for the exploration of important social issues,” said BMAC Director Danny Lichtenfeld. “Projects like these deepen BMAC’s connections within our community, and they allow us to serve as a center of discussion and creative solution-making.”
The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center is closed until further notice. In normal times, it is open 11-5 every day except Tuesday. Regular admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for students. Members and children 18 and under are admitted free of charge. For updates on expected re-opening of the gallleries, visit www.brattleboromuseum.org.
Patrick Fleming, a Court Diversion case manager for Youth Services since 1981, was recently honored by the organization for his nearly two decades of restorative justice work in Windham County.
Youth Services’ Court Diversion program involves victims, offenders, and community members in a constructive process that helps offenders repair the harm to victims and the community, according to Sally Struble, Youth Services’ Director of Restorative Justice programs. Every year, this one program works with close to 300 referrals.
“Patrick is the glue between our volunteer panelists and the offenders,” Struble explained, describing how once the State’s Attorney offers Diversion to adults charged with committing a crime or youth charged with being delinquent, Fleming meets with both the offender and the volunteer panels to prepare for one or more sessions together.
“Patrick’s skill and commitment to the goals of the program make him an outstanding liaison,” Struble said. “Our hope, realized in 90 percent of his cases, is that the offender not only learn from their mistakes, but also make different choices in the future.” After successful completion of the Diversion program, the original charge is dismissed, she explained.
“While being charged with a crime is often experienced by the client as a mini-tragedy, more often than not they avail themselves, with the support of the panel, in finding the silver lining,” Fleming attested. “In many cases that means re-evaluating their behaviors,” he stated. “Being able to refer them for counseling or substance use treatment as part of their diversion agreement is very helpful in this process,” Fleming admitted.”
The entire process takes on average between 60-90 days from start to finish, Fleming said. Describing how in an average week he prepares five distinct panels of trained community volunteers in Brattleboro and one in Bellows Falls. The case manager credits the Diversion Board members, who meet only once a month to hear cases, with possessing a diverse skill set that when combined is like a carefully tuned orchestra. “I’m in awe of our volunteers. They hit all the notes and I always end up learning from them!” Fleming exclaimed.
Fleming described how powerful it is for clients to grapple with what they did and how it impacted others.“Unlike pleading guilty, paying a fine and getting a record, our participants have to engage with their actions and come to terms with the human elements,” Fleming emphasized,
What keeps Fleming doing this work case after case, year after year? “I’m interested in people. I’m interested in the challenges each case presents,” he stated. “When our participants comprehend that their life is out of balance and that there is an opportunity to set something right, take responsibility, make this crisis into something positive, we get to witness a truly transformative change for the better,” he said.
“What more can one ask for?” Fleming enthused. “Being an agent of change is the best feeling, treating them with respect and kindness in the process. Helping people to become healthier- that’s everyone’s goal.”
For more information on becoming a Youth Services Court Diversion board member, contact Sally Struble, Director of Restorative Justice at Youth Services at 802-257-0361 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vickie Case, a Youth Services Board member for 15 years, was recently inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame, designated as “Envoy Extraordinaire” for her role as a valuable link to the Windham County communities.
The award ceremony at Duo Restaurant in December included moving testimonials from Youth Services Executive Director Russell Bradbury-Carlin, and Board President, Rachel Selsky.
According to Youth Services Executive Director, Russell Bradbury-Carlin, the Hall of Fame is a way for Youth Services to recognize community members like Case who make outstanding and sustained contributions to youth development and the agency’s outreach. “Vickie is a magnet,” Bradbury-Carlin hypothesized. “She attracts people’s attention and interests. This is why she is so good in all of the roles she plays in the community and why we consider her an “envoy extraordinaire” for Youth Services,” he said.
Case is the fourth inductee to Youth Services’ Hall of Fame, joining the late Ben Underhill, a former board member who was honored with the MVP Award; former board member Liz Richards, who was recognized with the Community Ambassador Award; and court diversion volunteer Marilyn Buhlmann, who was inducted as its first Restorative Justice Advocate.
According to Board President Rachel Selsky, Case is a ‘true believer’ in Youth Services’ mission and isn’t shy about convincing others of the value of supporting Youth Services as part of their marketing budgets. “Vickie generated countless new event sponsorships for Youth Services through contacts she had through her work then in radio advertising. “Thanks to Vickie’s persuasive powers, numerous businesses came around to seeing it as a win-win situation and many continue to support us today as a result of her introductions,” Selsky said.
To find out how to join Vickie in this important work to support our youth and families, please call Youth Services at (802) 257-0361 or email email@example.com
Windham & Windsor Housing Trust celebrated its new downtown development at 29 Flat St., otherwise known as the Snow Block. The new apartment building creates 23 new homes ranging from studio to two-bedroom apartments, with the goal of revitalizing a portion of the downtown area.
Youth Services has four apartments dedicated to its clients with an opportunity to provide services on site.
“We are delighted by our partnership with Youth Services at the Snow Block,” said Executive Director Elizabeth Bridgewater. “Young people often have the hardest time getting their first apartment and the Snow Block will provide a home and support at a critical point in a young person’s life to set them up for success now and in the future.
Funding for the project includes monies from the state’s Housing for All Revenue Bond (HRB), which was passed into law in 2017.
“The Snow Block, located in downtown Brattleboro, has met a housing need that continues to grow throughout Vermont,” said Gov. Phil Scott in a statement. “And with both millennials and our aging populations looking to live in walkable communities close to shopping and access to public transportation, having housing they can afford in vibrant downtowns is critical. I’m so pleased our housing bond is making that possible in Brattleboro and in our downtowns across Vermont.”
Funding totaling over $7 million from numerous sources was raised to cover the total development costs. Almost $5 million came through Housing Tax Credits administered by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) and purchased by People’s United Bank.
“The Snow Block is the latest example of Windham & Windsor Housing Trust’s vision of a vibrant downtown Brattleboro where everyone in the community can afford their housing,” said VHFA Executive Director Maura Collins. “This building will strengthen the health, connections, and financial stability of residents today and well into the future.”
“People’s United Bank is pleased to have been a major investor in the Snow Block and we are thrilled with our long term relationship with Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, said People’s United Bank Vice-President and CRA Officer Art Casavant. “This important project reflects the power harnessed in Vermont in support of low and moderate income communities and we look forward to the occupancy of this vibrant new housing space.”
For information about any of WWHT’s apartments or to learn how to apply for housing, call 802-254-4604.
Youth Services is recruiting additional volunteer mentors for its youth-led enterprise, DemoGraphix, a business-to-business screen-printing company in Brattleboro, Vermont.
The employees, ages 12-24, have been instrumental in readying the business to open this month, building a strong team, selecting the name and designing a logo, training on the screen-press, established policies, a pricing structure and a marketing plan, all with the input of adult mentors, according to Emile Kornheiser, Youth Services’ director of Workforce Development.
Employees of DemoGraphix can make and sell their own designs as well as be employed by the company, Kornheiser explained. Launched earlier this year, the company employs young people in every aspect of the business— design, printing, shipping, customer service, marketing and accounting. “DemoGraphix is dedicated to delivering job skills for these young people and fostering entrepreneurship and community connections,” stated Kornheiser.
Mentors join a caring, fun team of adults who support the youth both at the screen printing shop and through one-on-one meetings. “The mentors are an integral part of the overall structure which guarantees the success of our outcomes,” said Kornheiser. “Our participants learn how to be a member of a team in a connected, supportive environment, learning from adults who are on the other side of so much of what they’re going through,” Kornheiser explained.
Youth Services asks for a commitment of four hours per month, for one year, as well as attendance at quarterly trainings. There is no one profile for a successful mentor; excellent mentors can all have different backgrounds and be different ages, confirmed Kornheiser, who suggested scheduling an initial visit or a meeting as a way to determine a good fit before formally applying. “What all our mentors share in common is an interest in working with young people and a willingness to share their expertise,” Kornheiser said.
A one-year commitment is requested from volunteer mentors; they must be at least 21 years old; provide references and pass a background check. Kornheiser stressed that DemoGraphix mentors must be dependable and consistent in the minimum commitment: attending two group meetings a month, typically from 4-6 pm on Wednesday afternoons at the Printmakers Co-op space in Brattleboro.
The description for mentors lists as desired qualities being a willing listener, patience and flexibility. Youth Services offers quarterly ongoing trainings for mentors and an optional mentor support group.
To learn more about joining DemoGraphix as a mentor, visit email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (802) 257-0361 x138. For screen printing estimates, email: email@example.com or call 802-275-7871.
A enthusiastic turn out by local golfers —78 in all — and strong corporate support, made Youth Services’ 34th Annual Golf Tournament a rousing success, generated nearly $15,000 to help underwrite the agency’s programs. The tournament was held at the Brattleboro Country Club on July 24, a breezy 80-degree day with sunny skies.
The Elizabeth Walker team of Andrea Nelson, Eileen Ranslow, Terry Boyce and Elizabeth Walker won First Gross, with the Brattleboro Food Coop team of Bob Lyons, Sabine Rhyne, Jeff Houle and Tracy Sloan finishing First Net.
The Springfield Housing Authority team of Bill Morlock, Mike Augustauskas, David Nichols and Tracy Johnson took Second Gross with the Cersosimo Industries team of Michael Cersosimo, Brian Knowles, Bruce Davis and Wayne Wright taking Second Net.
Elizabeth Walker won the prize for the Women’s Longest Drive. Sabine Rhyne took Women’s Closest to the Line with Maggie Aldrich winning the prize for Women’s Closest to the Pin.
In the Men’s Division, Brian Knowles took the prize for Men’s Longest Drive. Dave Anderson took Men’s Closest to the Line with Paul Saccoccio winning Men’s Closest to Pin.
Youth Services’ Executive Director Russell Bradbury-Carlin, together with staff member Gail Bourque, ran a Putting Contest which raised close to $200 for the agency. The winner of the Putting Contest was Bonnie McKellar.
For the sixth year in a row, there was a silent auction and over 50 items and services were raffled thanks to the generosity of local businesses who has supported the fundraiser with contributions in-kind.
A special feature was the 7th year Helicopter Golf Ball Drop thanks to the Renaud Bros, Inc. helicopter, piloted by Mike Renaud and assisted by David Manning. 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 Melanie Boese of Brattleboro, VT with ball #46.
Because of struggles with substance abuse in her family, Boese pledges to donate her winnings to Youth Services new Substance Abuse treatment program. Jeff Morse and Gene Wrinn had the next closest balls. Melanie Boese was also top bidder on the helicopter ride that evening.
Youth Services’ Executive Director, Russell Bradbury-Carlin attend the RX Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta the last week in April. The summit, which began in 2012, bills itself as the event for decision makers and allied professionals working to address the public health emergency. The Summit is now the annual gathering for stakeholders to discuss what’s working in prevention and treatment. In previous years, former Presidents Obama and Clinton presented. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump addressed attendees this year.
Windham County is a high-risk community for substance use disorder and is one of the 220 high-risk rural counties identified by the Centers for Disease Control as being at highest risk for HIV and Hepatitis C infections due to injection drug used.
Youth Services’ executive director attended this conference for the first time through funding from the Windham County Consortium on Substance Use, a group who together are assessing current gaps and resources in order to develop a strategic plan to uniquely address issues of substance abuse, primarily from opioids, within Windham County.
Youth Services believe that supportive and therapeutic counseling services for individuals, families and groups are effective methods to address substance related issues. “We provide a variety of consultation and clinical services designed to decrease hazardous use, promote abstinence, assist in recovery and problem resolution, improve functioning and develop a healthier lifestyle,” stated Bradbury-Carlin.
“Our approach to substance abuse counseling focuses on the belief that each individual is a person of worth and dignity and is capable of recovery,” explained Bradbury-Carlin. “An attitude of realistic hope is central to our treatment philosophy. We recognize that substance use disorders are chronic problems, with both common and unique challenges for each person,” Bradbury-Carlin said.
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.
Seeking Volunteers for Diversion Panels in January