A Wedding and a Murder benefit for Youth Services was Sold-out Fundraiser
Dummerston Center, VT—It was a chance to crash a wedding AND support a great cause! On Saturday evening, April 8, Youth Services held its Annual Gala & Silent Auction in the church and grange of Dummerston Center from 5 to 10 p.m. New to the much anticipated event was a murder mystery dinner complements of the talented actors of Vermont Theatre Company.
The event raised close to $11,000 to support programs for young people and families in Windham County.
The festive evening of food and drink by Hardy Foard Catering started with a wedding and a whodunit? mystery. The play had six characters, a “law enforcement officer,” and secret clues for the audience. In between the wedding dinner, silent auction of the “gift table” wedding cake, champagne toast and dancing to the tunes of The Butterfly Swing Band, clues were revealed, accusations made, and fun had by all! The evening of mystery, intrigue and live music benefited Youth Services’ critical safety net for area young people.
ABOUT THE MUSIC The Butterfly Swing Band plays hot classic swing grooves from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, with Joe LoMonaco, on drums, Jon Oltman upright bass, Scott Sizer trumpet, harmonica and vocals, Mark Anagnostopulos guitar and vocals, and Walter Slowinski clarinet, sax and vocals.
Their swing tunes are described as from the great American Songbook, with a bit of blues and bebop mixed in, along with some creative improvisation and spontaneous riffing. They have a unique and hard-swinging sound according to their fans, that always brings out the best in their listeners and dancers.The Butterfly Swing vocals include two and three-part harmonies.
“Their musical spontaneity, moving from one player to another, give rise to riffs that metamorphosis into new themes,” recalled Ana Saavedra, a Youth Services board member who danced at a recent performance. “The Butterfly Swing Band is guaranteed to get this gala audience schmoozin’ and movin’.”
Tammy Bischof, Vice President of Operations at Brattleboro Savings & Loan recently joined 18 other community members in serving on Youth Services’ board of directors. Through many programs ranging from Therapeutic Case Management, Court Diversion to mentoring, the nonprofit agency helps Windham County young people and families thrive.
Bischof has served before in similar capacities in the region, on the board of American Red Cross in Keene, NH from 2001-2003; as Vice Chair of the Keene, NH Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee from 2001-2004 and on the West Springfield, MA Chamber of Commerce from 2004-2006.
In banking for over 25 years, Bischof has held positions at New-Alliance Bank in Springfield, MA and Granite Bank in Keene prior to her five years at Brattleboro Savings & Loan.
“Tammy’s organizational, project management, and marketing skills will be extremely helpful to the Youth Services board,” said Rachel Selsky, Youth Services’ board president. “Already serving as the co-chair of Youth Services golf tournament committee, Tammy brings valued expertise with her marketing background and as an avid golfer and tournament participant,” Selsky said.
To learn how you can get involved with Youth Services or to refer a youth for assistance, visit www.youthservicesinc.org or call 802-257-0361.
Rosie Nevins-Alderfer, Director of Youth Services’ Restorative Justice programs, spoke passionately earlier this week at a Montpelier news conference releasing the new Governor’s Poverty Council report, which offers specific recommendations on reducing poverty. One recommendation to the legislators was giving more support to programs which ensure that “low resource” Vermonters are able to travel to employment by addressing the challenged faced by the state-wide Driver’s License Suspension program that Youth Services administers in Windham County.
Making a compelling argument for the audience of legislators, socials service agencies and journalists, Nevins-Alderfer outlined how having one’s license suspended can create a downward spiral where it is difficult to get to work to earn the money to pay the fines which quickly accumulate.
“Do I stay at home because my license was suspended for nonpayment or do I drive my sick child to the doctor in Boston?” Nevins-Alderfer asked, quoting her clients. “Do I drive to work because I am the sole income earner of my family? Do I drive to stay connected with my recovery community? Or risk relapsing into addiction?” she said, outlining some of the impossible choices her clients are making around their suspended licenses.
According to the Youth Services manager, Vermont has some of the highest number of non-traffic related offenses that can result in license suspension for non-pay: littering, illegal trash burning, underage possession of tobacco… “When a person with resources receives a ticket—for any violation, they pay it before suspension can occur, Nevins-Alderfer argued. “When a person with low or no resources receives a ticket they are faced with another impossible choice: rent or my license? Medical care or my license?” she said.
The license is suspended— Nevins-Alderfer explained, —but they often keep driving to access employment or essential services which may result in receiving more tickets for operating under suspension. “We’ve worked with individuals that have over 15 ticket violations—one of which was an actual substantive violation, maybe speeding, the rest are operating with suspended license,” Nevins-Alderfer elaborated.
Vermont’s establishment of the Driving with License Suspended program within Court Diversion has literally changed lives, according to Nevins-Alderfer. “Sometimes our case manager is the first point of contact someone has upon reentering the community from incarceration. Sometimes she is merely a port in the storm of other chaotic events,” she said.
The Youth Services Justice director went on to say that their clients, as a result of the program, are getting new jobs, better jobs, going to school, staying sober by staying connected to their recovery communities, bringing sick family to the doctor, attending their kids school or sports event for the first time.
The program reinstates a person’s license upon completion of a contract with the Vermont Judicial Bureau to pay all fines at an income sensitive rate. The person keeps their license so long as timely payments are made each month.
In order to make the program sustainable—the Judicial Bureau needs more resources and support, emphasized Nevins-Alderfer. “Although a person may have their license reinstated immediately once their contract is signed by a judge, the wait time has increased over the past months from about a week to more than three months,” she said. “For a person with limited means, three months is an eternity. It might mean losing their job, falling deeper into homelessness because they can’t get a job or reach essential services,” she stressed. Nevins-Alderfer advocates that more resources are vital to the success of this important program.
Nevins-Alderfer applauded The Pathways from Poverty Report as providing innovative and essential solutions to the significant challenges many Vermonters face. But she pointed out that the rental housing initiatives, employment initiatives such as work for pay or ban the box support for individuals leaving institutions: all of these programs have the essential prerequisite that people are able to get to work, get to service agencies, get to school—and not have to choose between paying citations or keeping food on the table and roof over their heads. “Access to driver’s licenses in the rural state of Vermont is an economic justice issue and a social justice issue,” Nevins-Alderfer concluded.
Nevins-Alderfer explains,” It’s important in our approach as a community to hold individuals accountable, but equally important to hold each other accountable for the structural harms that cause crime in the first place: poverty, lack of resources, structural racism, homophobia, and sexism, addiction, and lack of mental health support.”
Although diverse in their interventions, Youth Services’ Justice programs share the common goal of holding individuals accountable, but equally important holding each other accountable for the structural harms that cause crime in the first place: poverty, lack of resources, structural racism, homophobia, and sexism, addiction, and lack of mental health support.
Programs include Adult and Juvenile Court Diversion; Youth Substance Abuse Safety Program (YSASP); Driving with License Suspended Program (DLS); Supervised Visitation (SVP); Pre-Trial Services (PTS) and the Balanced and Restorative Justice Program (BARJ).
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