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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

New Case Manager Hired for Youth Services Bellows Falls Office


Jennifer Tolaro-Heidbrink
Jennifer Tolaro-Heidbrink


Jennifer Tolaro-Heidbrink is the new therapeutic case manager at Youth Services on the team which provides wrap services for youth ages 16-22 who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.  Tolaro-Heidbrink sees clients out of Youth Services’ Bellows Falls office at Parks Place.

Youth Services works with youth up until the age of 22 as they engage in the transition to independence and self-sufficiency. Using an intensive, therapeutic case-management model, this program focuses on building awareness and life skills in core areas of housing, education, employment, and health.

“Jennifer balances her work with 6-8 clients while managing the Bellows Falls Youth Shelter. She uses a wide range of skills to support the young people with job searches and work readiness, budgeting and money management, how to find and keep an apartment, exploring educational options, while employing sound clinical judgement and skills,” explained Lauren Higbee, Youth Development Director.

Tolaro-Heidbrink has a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling from Antioch University New England and is licensed as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor by the State of Vermont.  She completed her counseling internship during her master’s program at Youth Services so is familiar with the staff and clientele that the agency serves, stated Higbee.

During the past three years Tolaro-Heidbrink was employed as a clinical case manager at The Gateway Program in Springfield, VT where she provided case management, individual skill-based counseling, interventions and crisis management and for students aged five through 18.  Previous to that she was a school-based clinician for Health Care and Rehabilitation Services.

“We see the amazing resiliency of our youth on a daily basis even when faced with uncertainty,” Higbee stated, noting that this special population faces many challenges; from difficulty finding and maintain housing to accessing appropriate local and state resources within two systems of children and adult services. “We continue to expect our case managers’ work load to increase as we see the complexity of each client’s needs expand,” Higbee explained.

For more information about Youth Services therapeutic case management program in the greater Bellows Falls area, please contact Youth Services’ Lauren Higbee at (802) 257-0361 x129 or visit on-line.

Mentors Sought by Big Brothers Big Sisters in Spring


Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windham County is making a special effort to recruit new volunteers this spring, especially male volunteers.  “Most, though not all of the 60 children on our waiting list are boys,” explained Kimberley Diemond, Youth Services Director of Mentoring.

This fact doesn’t surprise Diemond, who had worked with volunteers in her own nonprofit before joining Youth Services over a year ago. “Less men volunteer their time and close to 75% of all of our mentees or “Littles”, as they are know, come from single parent households,” she explained.  “We have some fantastic male mentors but we need more of them!”

According to Diemond the other parent is often not part of the picture in these children’s lives, some due to incarceration, others from death, separation or irrevocable differences with the custodial parent.  “We have a number of single parents who are home bound due to health issues and having another adult who can attend their children’s sports games or do physically active activities with them has been a lifesaver on many levels,” Diemond stated.

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.

The children on the wait list for a mentor are boys or girls between the ages of 5 and 15. Big Brothers Big Sisters offers two flexible options for volunteers who want to mentor a child.  The school-based program offers volunteers the opportunity to visit with a child during lunch or recess at least once a week, in either Marlboro, Bellows Falls or Brattleboro.  This option is for people who prefer the structure of meeting on their lunch hour at the child’s school.  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.

For information on volunteering, call Big Brothers Big Sisters at (802) 257-0361 or visit

Nomad Verses Settler Takes First Prize at Youth Services’ Battle of the Bands

An alternative-rock band from Brattleboro, VT, Nomad vs. Settler, took first prize in Youth Services’ Battle of the Bands Friday evening during Brattleboro’s Gallery Walk Night, in front of an enthusiastic crowd of several hundred fans.  Sponsored by Whetstone Station, Supreme Fitness and Hazel Restaurant, it was a fierce competition between six talented area bands that were judged on crowd appeal, musical technicality, stage performance and originality.

Nomad vs. Settler first came together as a band just over a year ago and the young members demonstrated a strong stage presence, according to the judges. Rei Kimura, 12 was on guitar and vocals; Owen James, 11 on bass; Archer Parks, 14 on guitar; and Zack James, 15 on drums.

In awarding them the first place prize, the judges noted Nomad vs. Settler’s very creative compositions, the vocals by Rei Kimura, their impressive instrument switch up, amazing musicianship all around, and the enthusiastic response of the audience.  “Rei Kimura’s brilliant vocals and performance defy her age and size,” declared judge Lisa McCormick, a singer/song writer herself.

“This righteous front-woman is heartily supported by excellent players and visionary arrangements of strong original songs,” explained McCormick whose views were echoed by her fellow judges.

First prize is a full day (up to 10 hours) of professional recording time donated by Guilford Sound, valued at $1500. In addition, donated by Pure Green Tees, the 1st place winners will also receive a dozen custom-designed T-shirts of their band logo.

A very close second place was won by the band, Sometime Sunday, composed of Gabbi Walton, 15 of Townshend on guitar and vocals; Robert Athanasopoulos, 30 of Keene, NH on bass; and Jacob Gartenstein, 17 of Brattleboro on drums.

“This tight power trio took the house down, with powerhouse rock diva Gabbi Walker delivering refreshingly unpredictable original songs,” stated Judge Lisa McCormick. Other judges noted the outstanding vocals, drumming and great dynamics, good eye contact and conversation with the audience.

Second prize is two-hour rehearsal and band coaching session at Headroom Stages, a local musical venue at 17 Elliot Street in Brattleboro, VT owned by Judge Aaron Chesley.

Third prize went to Wicked Thirsty, an all-rock duo from Hinsdale, NH composed of Zebulon Hildreth, 17 on guitar and vocals and Sebastian Smith, 17 on drums, which was the first band to compete.

Judge Lisa McCormick commented on their skillful experimentation with unconventional timing and modes and the huge full band power coming from just two players. Other judges highlighted the “amazing drumming” and stage banter by Zebulon Hildreth who was commended for “pushing through his nerves.”

“I want to put out Wicked Thirsty’s record myself,” quipped Judge Spencer Crispe, who advised them to “get a bass player and take over the world!” Quite the accolade from Crispe, who in addition to being in a band for 15 years is an avid concert-goer, having listened to in excess of 1,000 live concerts to date.

Third prize is two hours of vocal lessons with jazz and blues performer Samirah Evans and guitar strings and tuner donated by Maple Leaf Music Store.

Judging the Battle was musicians Aaron Chesley, Lisa McCormick, Spencer Crispe, and youth judges Dharma Ramirez and Nina Cates of the indie-rock band Snaz, which opened the event.  The Snaz helped get their start as winners of Youth Services’ Battle of the Bands in 2012.

Also complemented and encourage on their music were the runners-up bands: Negative Space, The Regulars, and Raspberry Jam, who the judges said they are looking forward to seeing at the next ‘Battle’.

Russell Bradbury-Carlin, Director of Youth Services said they were proud to have produced such a successful event. “The bands were all amazing and the crowds of young people and adults provided the perfect amount of encouragement and energy. The Battle of the Bands was truly a celebration of youth and of great music,” Bradbury-Carlin stated.

For more information on services for young people in Windham County, contact Youth Services at (802) 257-0361 or visit