Tag Archives: Bellows Falls

Youth Services celebrates new Bellows Falls location

Bellows Falls, Vermont — Youth Services has opened a new office at 22 Bridge St. to better serve the young people and families of the Greater Bellows Falls region. An Open House was held  in June with a ribbon cutting ceremony and local dignitaries and elected officials. Youth Services is a 45-year-old nonprofit organization with 19 programs serving Windham County and surrounding New Hampshire communities.

Last year over 200 young people from Athens, Grafton Saxtons River, Westminster, and the Bellows Falls areas received services from Youth Services, including 10 young people who spent 4-6 months in its Transitional Living program housing for homeless or unsafely housed youth while they gained employment and other independent living skills.

Youth Services has operated a satellite office in Bellows Falls for 20 years, previously at Parks Place on School Street, with at times up to four full-time staff. Before then, Brattleboro-based staff provided all the services for area youth, including full-time student assistance counselors at Bellows Falls Union High and Middle schools with an emphasis on substance abuse prevention.

Out of the new office, Bellows Falls-based staff members Michelle Sacco and Janice Berube continue to offer case management for ages 16-22, job skills training and transitional living skills for area young people living under difficult circumstances.  JUMP (Just Us Moms Program) and the Diaper Bank Collaborative serves young parents. This year alone, Sacco and Berube trained 106 high school students in healthy relationships and STD and Pregnancy prevention using the evidence-based Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) curriculum.

Youth Services Court Diversion board will continue holding panels in Bellows Falls as needed as will its Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) program serving youth ages 13-22. These are young people who have been adjudicated in Family Court, are on probation, are at risk of a truancy filing, have Youthful Offender Status, or require additional support.

Youth Services’ RAMP mentoring program at Bellows Falls Union High School is holding its last meetings for the year and they are laying the groundwork to recruit new participants, mentors and site visit locations for when school starts next September.

“We are pleased to have a sustained presence in the greater Bellows Falls area and enjoy close partnerships with the area’s nonprofits, social services and schools,” stated Russell Bradbury Carlin, Youth Services Executive Director. The office on Bridge Street gives us higher visibility in the community and we hope many more young people and families seeking assistance walk through our doors as a result.”

There are many ways community members can get involved in Youth Services Bellows Falls operation, according to Bradbury-Carlin. “We are seeking Host Homes to provide emergency shelter for homeless and runaway youth, need volunteers to share their time, skills and life experiences with young mothers in  our JUMP: Just Us Moms Program and welcome donations of diapers and wipes to the Diaper Bank Collaborative,” he said.

Bradbury-Carlin explained that Youth Services is always looking to collaborate with area businesses on training its clients in job skills while its RAMP mentoring program at BFUHS is seeking area professionals to share their career trajectories with the high school participants.

For more information about Youth Services in the Greater Falls Region, contact (802) 460-0398 or email michelle.sacco@youthservicesinc.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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