BRATTLEBORO >> Extreme weather poses imminent danger to our community. In these conditions, it's imperative that people can access at least one hot, nutritious meal after fighting through days like this, said Rhianna Kendrick, Groundworks Drop In Center Director and Seasonal Overflow Shelter Coordinator.

The Seasonal Overflow Shelter, coordinated by Groundworks Collaborative and located in downtown Brattleboro at the First Baptist Church (190 Main St.) is in its ninth year of operation; open each night from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. A hot meal is served nightly at 5:30 p.m. with the support of a variety of generous meal team volunteers. Nightly meals, as well as the staffing for overnight shifts, are provided by community volunteers.

"We're only able to offer this program to those in need because of an amazing community effort," said Josh Davis, Executive Director of Groundworks Collaborative. For the past three seasons, Emilie Kornheiser has been volunteering to coordinate the meals for the SOS.

Davis, Kendrick and the Groundworks staff would like to take this opportunity to formally thank Emilie for her efforts over the past three years. Despite uncertainty as to where the meals would be held, Emilie coordinated several new volunteers to accompany the long-time teams that for the past eight years have rallied together to help feed those in need of emergency shelter.


"We were fortunate to receive funding for an additional part-time AmeriCorps member this year, and Heather Francisco will be providing the meal team coordination moving forward," according to Kendrick. "The benefit this community derives from volunteer support is huge." said Francisco. "The enthusiasm of the teams and First Baptist Church leadership is inspirational. I look forward to meeting the Meal Teams to gain their opinions about what's working and how we can work together to do more." Francisco will start as Meal Team Coordinator at the end of February.

Groundworks is actively recruiting volunteers for the overnight shifts and meal teams. If interested in volunteering for an overnight shift please contact Rhianna Kendrick at or 257-5415 to schedule a training. Anyone interested in providing meals can contact Meal Team Coordinator Heather Francisco at If you would like more information, or would like to make a contribution to support the operation of the SOS, please visit

Meeting Waters YMCA chosen as national model

BELLOWS FALLS >> One of the smallest Ys in the country, at least in terms of budget, is once again serving as a model for its nearly 2,700 peers around the country. Meeting Waters YMCA leaders were recently notified by YMCA of the USA, the national resource center for all Ys in America, they've been identified as a model for Family Strengthening.

"Through recommendations by Y-USA colleagues, your Y has been identified as one that is providing innovative opportunities for families in your community," stated an email sent to Meeting Waters YMCA Program Director, Susan Fortier. The email invited MWYMCA leaders to participate in a one-day family strengthening leadership meeting at Y-USA's headquarters in Chicago in mid-March. The purpose of the meeting is to learn strategies from model Ys so that the national resource center can help all YMCAs throughout the country deepen and broaden their commitments to engaging, supporting and strengthening families. Fortier will attend the summit and share Meeting Waters Y's multiple approaches to family engagement.

"When Steve (Fortier, Executive Director) and I began serving Meeting Waters YMCA in 1998, we brought with us a strong focus on family engagement in youth development programs and community initiatives," stated Susan Fortier. "We feel strongly that the most powerful force for positively shaping a child's life is their family. We also know that families today are under a lot of stress. We've designed our 'Family Connection events' at Y-ASPIRE and our Family Nights at Y Day Camp to allow families an opportunity to slow down, work together on a fun project, enjoy a healthy snack they can make together at home afterward, and, often, participating together in a physical activity, again, that can be done easily and inexpensively at home. And, because a parent must pick their child up every day at Y-ASPIRE, we have the opportunity for daily interaction with all parents. We see ourselves as partners in helping all children and their families thrive."

Last year, Meeting Waters YMCA was one of 18 Ys in the country recognized as "HEPA Champions" for their commitment to healthy eating and physical activity policies and practices in their Y-ASPIRE programs. Four years before that, the regional Y was recognized by Y-USA and the CDC as one of four "model success stories" within the healthy communities' movement.

Meeting Waters YMCA was founded 120 years ago. It is a charitable, social service organization serving over two dozen communities in the Bellows Falls, Fall Mountain, Springfield and Brattleboro regions. More information is available at, on Facebook, or by calling them at 802-463-4769 (BF and Fall Mountain area), 802-246-1036 (Brattleboro area), or 802-885-8131 (Springfield area).