Mack Mackin hired for Youth Services’ New Intake and Groups Coordinator role

Youth Services is pleased to announce that Mack Mackin has joined the Youth Development team as the new Youth and Young Adult Intake and Groups Coordinator. Youth Services’ Youth Development programs provide wrap services for youth and families in Windham County, with a focus on safe, successful transitions to adulthood. 

Mackin will be working out of both Youth Services’ Brattleboro and Bellows Falls offices where they will spend their time conducting intake screenings, providing brief and stabilization services for youth and families, and coordinating groups–including professional development and support groups for Youth Services’ host home program. 

Designed to ensure a coordinated entry into Youth Services, Mackin’s position supports youth and families seeking services by linking them to basic needs resources such as food, transportation, medical care, therapeutic supports, and emergency or respite housing. 

“Mack’s role as the intake coordinator allows us to be intentional about how we support youth and families while making sure that we are not ignoring the often crisis or near-crisis level resource needs that bring them in to seek services,” explained Christine Linn, Director of Youth Development programs.

According to Linn, youth development programs are driven by the core belief that youth and families fare best when they stay together until the youth is ready to intentionally transition to independent living. 

Using a relationship-based, therapeutic case management model, coordinator and case managers collaborate with youth and families to understand family conflict and increase communication skills using non-violent communication, access resources, navigate education, child welfare, or other state systems, and connect to their community in meaningful ways.

Youth Services staff use an intensive, therapeutic case-management model to focus on building awareness and life skills in core areas of housing, education, employment, increasing permanent connections, health and well-being. 

Linn sees Mackin’s role as key in the department. “We’ve designed Mack’s role to screen for eligibility and need while assuring that youth and families’ basic and acute needs are addressed. This gives us the time, as a department, to assure that youth are connected to services that are right for them,” explained Linn. “By enhancing our groups offerings, we’re also able to connect youth and families who are waiting for case management openings to groups that foster resilience and keep them connected to the department.”

“Mack is a great fit for this role,” said Linn. They are deeply invested in solving youth homelessness and clearly place youth and family voice in the center of service provision and care deeply about assuring that people seeking services get their needs met in a way that is individualized.”  

Mackin is no stranger to working with young people. Prior to joining Youth Services, Mackin was the Kids Club Program Coordinator at the Brattleboro Boys and Girls Club where they connected with pre-teens and teens in its after-school program, developed programs and activities related to both services and professional development for staff. Mackin created a podcast that focused on harm reduction and mentoring. Mackin has served as a volunteer board member of Westgate Housing since 2019.

“Mack is a wonderful addition to the Youth Development team and our community,” Linn exclaimed.  Mackin has a Master’s of Science in Management with a focus on mission-driven organizations from Marlboro Graduate School and an undergraduate degree from Marlboro College, a cross-study between psychology, sociology and radio journalism. 

For more information about Youth Services therapeutic case management program or volunteering as a temporary host home in Windham County, please contact Christine Linn at christine.linn@youthservicesinc.org or visit www.youthservicesinc.org online.

Youth Services’ Pilot of Day-labor Program in Brattleboro Deemed a Success

Work Today, a new program of Youth Services, concluded its 3-month pilot period in November and the organization’s executive director, Russell Bradbury-Carlin, said they plan to restart it in the spring, with a few new funders and venues needing temporary labor in the region. Serving as a new sort of temp agency, Work Today’s pilot program connected 10 individuals with daily work in Brattleboro.  

Betty Bashaw, Work Today participants paints interior walls in Brattleboro Municipal Center

The town provided initial funding and jobs through the end of October but after a winter hiatus, other employers needing temporary labor are sought if the program is to resume operations, according to Bradbury-Carlin.

 “Typically we had more than 20 people in line seeking day work and had to turn away half of them away as we only had funding for 10,” said Emilie Kornheiser, Youth Services’ Director of Workforce Development, describing the popularity of the low-barrier work program among individuals who, for a variety of reasons, are not able or interested in working a 40-hour week.

The goal in creating the day labor program, Kornheiser said, was to meet people’s needs with dignity while staying in compliance with laws and labor rights. That involved looking at issues around worker’s compensation, identification and payment.

“Many prospective workers lined up in our parking lot before dawn, to increase their odds of being chosen for the work available that day,” she recalled. “It was striking to see the extent that people would go to earn a day’s wages. I was impressed by the pride individuals took in completing their projects well,” said Kornheiser. “When people were ready and able to work, they were able to make a few dollars, and when they were not, they were able to come back the next day or the next week.”

Work Today participant Joseph Hedberg often started his trek at 2 a.m. from the motel where he stays in North Brattleboro, in order to increase the likelihood of garnering one of the limited positions, despite having several broken toes which makes walking painful. 

“I feel better about myself if I’m working, if I can buy myself a cup of coffee instead of relying on hand-outs,” Hedberg explained. Formerly a licensed plumber and maintenance person, he tackles some of the more complicated jobs at Work Today with obvious skill, taking pride in doing a job right.

Hedberg stated the days go quicker if he stays busy and he’s more likely to be able to maintain his sobriety, now going on two years. With AA groups now only available on-line, he also enjoys the camaraderie he finds in Work Today and the lack of a long-term commitment. “Here I have a choice to work or not, depending on how I’m feeling. No one is going to chew me out if I don’t show up,” explained Hedberg.

The workers, mostly adults, identifiable in town by their blue vests, received $15 per hour for doing seasonal tasks, custodial work, and simple municipal maintenance projects, in addition to sterilizing parking meters and crosswalk buttons, a new municipal task identified because of COVID 19. “This program fulfilled a real need, and the unemployment caused by the pandemic made it even more critical,” Kornheiser stated.

 A coordinator staffed by Youth Services set people up with their jobs, trouble-shooted with employers, provided lunch and counseling services in the afternoon and participants returned back to work afterwards. Participants were paid in cash at the end of the day.

“The number one goal was to get cash into people’s pockets,” said Kornheiser.  “It’s was as simple as that.”

The day labor program falls under the same structure of DemoGraphix, a mission-driven limited liability company established a year ago by Youth Services as an employment and mentor program, a youth-led screen printing business.

The town of Brattleboro, which provided much of the initial funding, considered it money well spent. “The results of the trial period are encouraging, said Peter Elwell, Brattleboro Town Manager. “We look forward to working together with the Youth Services team and community partners to refine and grow the program, not just to benefit the program participants but for the broader benefit of our entire community.”

If you anticipate having projects in the spring that need day-labor or wish to support the continuation of the program with a donation, contact info@youthservicesinc.org or call (802) 257-0361. For more information about participating, visit youthservicesinc.org

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New Case Manager and Homelessness Coordinator Hired for Youth Services’ Brattleboro Shelter

Youth Services announced that Lana Dever has joined the Youth Development team as the new Youth Homelessness Coordinator and Brattleboro Case Manager.  Youth Development programming at Youth Services provides wrap services for youth ages 12-23 who are experiencing homelessness, housing instability or are at risk for displacement from their families or homes.

Lana Dever

Dever is based out of Youth Services’ Brattleboro office and provides direct support and referral services aimed at securing safe, stable housing and family reunification. This position is designed to become the local expert on youth homelessness resources and services in Brattleboro, explained Christine Linn, Youth Development Director.

According to Linn, Youth Services engages with young people through the age of 23 as they transition to independence and self-sufficiency. Using an intensive, therapeutic case-management model, the program focuses on building awareness and life skills in core areas of housing, education, employment, increasing permanent connections, health and well-being. 

 “Lana balances general case management with her role overseeing the Brattleboro Youth Shelter where she coordinates admission and discharge planning, organizes weekly house meetings, coordinates with landlords about maintenance issues, monitors payment of program fees and/or rent, and tracks data,” explained Linn.

 “Our newest hire is already using a wide range of skills to support young people with job searches and work readiness, budgeting and money management, and how to find and keep an apartment,” said Linn. “All of our case managers are expected to explore educational options for our clients, utilize motivational interviewing, employ youth-centered support practices that are harm reducing and trauma-informed within a social justice-oriented framework,” stated Linn.

 “A core component of our work is helping youth to understand and be critical of the innate systems of oppression that exist within our society. Placing the weight of responsibility on inadequate systems of care and support, rather than on the youth and families who face oppression–and doing so within a relational model–is incredibly healing for many youth,” Linn explained

Dever, who was herself homeless for a time as a teen, is passionate about being the advocate for homeless youth that she didn’t have during her own adolescence. “I’ve never forgotten what it feels like to be without a place to call home,” Dever explained. “I’m really excited to now be working in a model program to end youth homelessness in Windham County,” she said.

 In addition to her case management role with youth, Dever is attending housing-related community meetings at the local and state level and is tasked with “relentlessly pursuing knowledge and systems-change to best serve youth experiencing homelessness and housing instability,” according to Linn.

Prior to joining Youth Services, Dever was an activist and freelance writer who co-curated an exposition of indigenous Australian art at the University of Maryland. She has a BA in African American Studies from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and a minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

With deep local ties, having co-founded the Southern Vermont Chapter of Black Lives Matter, Dever served on the board for The Root Social Justice Center in 2016. Volunteering first as a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters, she joined its board in 2009. Additionally, she was a driver for Meals on Wheels Brattleboro, served on the Allocations Committee of United Way Brattleboro.

 Dever was employed as a dental technician and practice manager at a local practice from 2003-2009 as well as a volunteer dental technician at the Brattleboro Walk-in Clinic.

 “We see the amazing resiliency of our youth on a daily basis even when faced with uncertainty,” Linn stated, noting that this special population faces challenges, from difficulty finding and maintain housing to navigating local and state resources that are geared towards children or adult populations — often times not accounting for the specific needs of transition-aged youth.

 “Lana is a wonderful addition to the Youth Development team and her expertise in working with similar populations and her first-hand experiences are key as we see an increase in caseloads,” Linn explained.

 For more information about Youth Services therapeutic case management program in Windham County, please contact Christine Linn at christine.linn@youthservicesinc.org  or visit www.youthservicesinc.org on-line.

Cathy Coonan of The Richards Group Elected President of Youth Services Board

Cathy Coonan, Youth Services’ new Board President

Cathy Coonan, insurance professional at The Richards Group, recently assumed the role of President of the Youth Services Board of Directors, taking the reins from Rachel Selsky whose four-year term has just ended.  Coonan has been on the agency’s Board of Directors for the past five years in a number of leadership positions.

During her tenure on the Youth Services board to date, Coonan has held the position of Vice President and has served on the Executive, Development, Events and Golf Tournament committees.  Last month she co-chaired a successful Youth Services Annual Golf Tournament and Helicopter Golf Ball Drop with Craig Miskovich.

Coonan has served before in similar capacities in the region, as board chair of Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and as a founding member of Building a Better Brattleboro. She is active in the Brattleboro Rotary Club and serves on the Board of Directors of Garden Path Elder Living.

A commercial insurance agent for The Richards Group for the past 35 years, Coonan is a Certified Insurance Councilor specializing in health care and human service organizations. Coonan’s many contributions to the community were recognized by the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce when they named her 2004 Person of the Year.

“Cathy’s organizational skills and her deep community roots, having spent her entire life as a resident of Windham County, will be a tremendous asset to everyone at Youth Services,” said Russell Bradbury-Carlin, Youth Services’ executive director. “Cathy’s analytical abilities and her calming and sensible problem-solving makes her an excellent leader and role model for the board,” Bradbury-Carlin explained.

“I’m looking forward to continuing the legacy of strong leadership at Youth Services and supporting the critical work that the agency does for the young people, adults and families in our community,” Coonan said.

Ana Saavedra of Edward Jones Investments assumed the role of Vice-President of Youth Services’ Board.

Youth Services was founded forty-eight years ago to help young people and families in Windham County thrive. In that time they have helped countless numbers of young people discover their own path to adulthood to become a contributing member of our communities through runaway and homeless youth programs, Court Diversion, our mentoring programs, substance abuse counseling and DemoGraphix- a youth-led screen printing business.

To learn how you can get involved, contact info@youthservicesinc.org or call (802) 257-0361.

 

 

 

Youth Services chosen for Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program

Youth Services is excited to announce a new project to end youth homelessness in our community!  Three years ago Youth Services staff and clients worked with local and state partners to apply for the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP).  Vermont was among 11 other communities in the U.S. chosen to test out intervention that address the complex factors faced by youth and young adults who are without a safe place to call home.

According to Executive Director, Bradbury-Carlin, Youth Services staff and clients had a profound impact on the formation and successful application by Vermont Coalition of Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs to HUD.  From serving on state-level committees and work groups, supporting youth to join the state Youth Action Board, to conducting focus groups and analyzing data, Youth Services staff and clients were instrumental in this funding coming to Vermont.

Now officially a host for the federally-funded Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program, Youth Services is one of ten organizations implementing projects to prevent and end youth homelessness in Vermont.  Youth homelessness is a complex social issue, especially in this state.  Vermont’s rurality, which is part of the fabric of our identity, combined with the lack of transportation, youth-friendly vocational opportunities, youth-centered public infrastructure and spotty internet and cell service make it hard for many young people to sustainably transition to independent housing and access resources.

“Through the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project we heard from Vermont youth that they face many challenges that contribute to and perpetuate housing insecurity and homelessness,” stated Bradbury-Carlin.  “They described facing stigma because of their age or socioeconomic status, a lack of permanent connections such as trusted non-paid adults that they can fall back on in times of need, challenges finding stable and non-exploitative employment, unsustainable transition plans from foster care and a lack of clarity around how to get help,” he explained.  “We’re excited to delve into this project and we definitely have our work cut out for us!”

Youth Services YHDP transitional housing projects will be situated in Bellows Falls and Brattleboro and Rapid Re-housing vouchers will be awarded to youth throughout Windham County.

For more information about support for youth experiencing housing instability or homelessness, to learn about youth homelessness in our community, call (802) 258-0361 or visit our web pages.

 

See reports below for more details: 

Youth Homelessness Prevention Plan Committee Application to HUD

Youth Engagement Report

Friends For Change innovates virtually during COVID-19

Youth Services’ play-based after school club, Friends For Change, was recently recognized for innovation during the pandemic at a virtual forum hosted Vermont Afterschool, Inc. Comprised of afterschool programs, state agencies, policy makers and funders, the forum showcased ways that programs are stepping forward in all kinds of important and creative ways to extend supports to children, youth and families in their local communities.

Emilie Kornheiser, Youth Services’ Director of Workforce Development described her program’s transition from a face-to-face youth-led/adult guided, trauma-informed club in Bellows Falls to one where staff initially filling a “first responder” role, ensuring that disconnected youth had everything from healthy food to internet access to toilet paper to over the course of a month, the group successfully transitioning to a virtually connected, social emotional intelligence play-based group.

 “I’ve been blown away with the capacity of our team,” Kornheiser related, as she described not only the daily check-ins and school-work assistance that one would expect but nature walks on the phone to motivate the youth to get outdoors, virtual scavenger hunts in museums and deep emotional circles which provide the space for participants to mourn the changed landscape of their lives.  “Somehow staff were able to take that spirit and translate it into the work they were doing virtually,” she said.

 Because the club has been designed for and by youth who have stories of resiliency, Friends for Change provides programming specifically for youth who have experienced trauma associated with poverty, discrimination, and or experiences with foster care and/or family instability. Providing space for youth to talk with one another about issues they care deeply about has always been a hallmark of the group whose members range in age from elementary through high school. That includes validation of their gender identity and feelings of isolation which they may not be able to safely share at home.

“Sometimes our team and the other youth group members are the only people recognizing these youth in their own gender identity,” said Kornheiser. “When there isn’t a pandemic going on, this is an absolute lifeline; during COVID, it can be a life or death support that we are giving!  So this is some of the most important work that we’re doing,” she explained.

Download Youth Services’ Summer Resources Calendar 2020

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.

Download or print:

Original 2020 Summer Camp Calendar Listing

 Update Summer Camp Calendar Listing as of 6-11

Summer Jobs Listing

 

Collaboration with BMAC heightens aware of people who are homeless

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.

“Jaime and Chocolate”

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.

For the exhibits and a series of related events, BMAC is collaborating with Groundworks CollaborativeYouth ServicesSoutheastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA)Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, and the Town of Brattleboro.

“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.

Meanwhile, click here to see a catalog of Steven Kinder’s portraits.

Youth Services Case Manager Honored for Two Decades of Service

Patrick Fleming 

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 info@youthservicesinc.org.

Mark Your Calendars for a virtual BrattRock on February 27 from 7:30-8:30 p.m.

This year Youth Services’ BrattRock will showcase the musical talents of area youth rock bands virtually. BCTV will premiere BrattRock’s virtual youth rock festival on Saturday, February 27th from 7:30 to 8:30 pm on BCTV and YouTube.

Ten youth bands from Vermont, NH and MA will present excerpts from past performances as well as some new material which has not yet been performed in public. The hour will feature different genres of music from our talented area youth. Pacesetter sponsors for this event are The Richards Group, Brattleboro Subaru and Headwater Precision.

Viewers can watch and chat live with other views as this upload is shown for the first time on Feb. 27. The streamed video will be available for free but donations are always welcomed. You can request a reminder now or visit the link anytime here.