Letter Box

Wednesday February 20, 2013

Too many with unmet goals if CHSVT closes

Editor of the Reformer:

I was very troubled to hear that budget cuts might impact the Community High School of Vermont in Brattleboro. I started at CHSVT after I found out I was pregnant with my son. At the time, I was living on the couch at my dad’s with absolutely no idea where my life was headed. I had no idea how I would provide for my child. I did know that, to be a better parent, I wanted a high school diploma. I was very reluctant to be a pregnant teen at a "normal" high school setting. Fortunately, Danielle Southwell at Youth Service connected me to CHSVT.

CHSVT fit my particular situation best. I chose CHSVT because its flexible schedule better accommodate my pregnancy needs, including doctor’s appointments and sick days. I valued that I wasn’t the only pregnant teen there, as well as the diverse age and background of its students. I also appreciated the individualized instruction. The teachers made a whole-hearted effort to get to know each student individually and to help them realize their individual potential. They are some of the most receptive, supportive, and compassionate people I have ever known. To this day, I still stop in to visit.

Without CHSVT, there is no way I would be a high school graduate today. After realizing I could achieve my high school diploma, I set further goals. Since then, I am living independently. I have my driver’s license, my own vehicle, and my own apartment, where I live with a bubbly 2-and-a-half year-old. I am currently employed as a Peer Outreach Worker at Youth Services. In March, I am very excited to begin a pursuing a nursing degree through the Red Cross. CHSVT has helped me see that I am more than just another statistic, that I have potential.

If CHSVT is closed down, I am very concerned a lot of community members will be unable to achieve their educational goals. I feel this would be a big let-down to our community. As a community, young adults and adults should have more than one choice when "normal" high school isn’t a great fit.

Katarina Rayno,

Brattleboro, Feb. 13

Retreat management should revisit community ties

Editor of the Reformer:

I feel compelled to respond to the recent column on the quality of patient care offered by the Brattleboro Retreat ("Exceptional patient care at the Brattleboro Retreat," Feb. 8). Back in the late 1970s I cut my teeth in the mental health field at the Retreat, where I worked for more than four years in varying capacities. Since then, as a psychotherapist in private practice, I have referred a fair number of patients to the Retreat’s various programs. I also have especially fond memories of my time working there and have enormous respect for the direct care staff who give it their all, and sometimes literally put their lives on the line in service of the needs of patients.

For years the work of the direct care staff at the Retreat has been made even more challenging by several factors beyond their control, including limited insurance reimbursements resulting in significantly shorter hospital stays, and most recently, the introduction of the state hospital population. This latest one is a huge transition, impacting significantly on the direct care staff.

For the sake of brevity I’ll focus my response on one area of concern; the availability of the lesser levels of hospitalization care at the Retreat, known as IOP/PCP. (These programs were designed as step-down options for our community members who, while in crisis, need an increased level of care, for some number of weeks but don’t need to be hospitalized.)

Before writing this letter I sent out a quick informal survey to some of my colleagues in private practice, asking their experience in networking with the Retreat’s IOP/PHP programs. Of those who responded, many voiced similar frustration. Half of them seek services like this elsewhere for their patients.

I myself have found the IOP/PHP options at the Retreat are more often than not, unavailable to my patients at those times when such a level of care is needed. How many times have I called and been given an intake date of three weeks out? Believe me, someone in crisis can not wait three weeks. I can not convey how unhelpful that is to those of us who serve the mental health needs of within our community. In a very real sense, this issue has made the Retreat far less available to the members of our community who are in crisis than used to be the case many years ago.

Is the Retreat still functioning as a part of this community? Is the Retreat truly available to serve its community members? Sadly I think this is more a thing of the past. Perhaps it’s time for the Retreat’s management to sit down with members of the out patient mental health community and listen.

Jean Pollock, MHC, NCC,

Brattleboro, Feb. 12

Support for White

Editor of the Reformer:

I have attended many, many meetings in my town of Dummerston over the years and the Selectboard meeting on Feb. 6 th was one of them.

One major focal point of DRB’s decision that has disturbed many of us residents is that the DRB is requesting the Thibaults to change the color of their fence, (which reporter Mike Fahar omitted from his article about the meeting). Their fence is painted blue, the same color of the trim on their grey house. I, too, have a grey house with blue trim very similar to the Thibaults. I know of no professional findings the DRB presented to show this color scheme to devalue the neighboring properties. Therefor it appears easy to feel that this is nothing more than an opinion of a few members on the DRB.

I commend the Selectboard on not joining forces on this issue and I certainly don’t think just because one board decides one way all other boards must agree with them. That would be wrong. The over regulators in Dummerston will continue to butt heads with all of us who still believe and promote live and let live. As a matter of fact, that is why changes are happening slowly in our town plan and zoning bylaws. People want to drastically change our zoning because it’s old, not because it isn’t working. That’s right, and I am one of many of an undisputed majority who are content with minor, noninvasive changes.

To my knowledge and observation, Mr. Lewis White has been an asset to this town, and never have I seen him speak or act in an improper way showing bias to the road foreman or highway department. He may even have been a little harder on his cousin, the road foreman.

It would be a terrible loss to the town and its future if we were to lose the services of Lewis White (and no, I am not related to Lewis White or Lee Chamberlin). I don’t always agree with them either. These are two men trying their hardest to do a good job for their town and its people and I commend them for that. The conflict of interest comment came from one resident (Jody Normandeau) and was not supported by any one else in attendance. Maybe Mrs. Normandeaus’ idea or knowledge of a conflict of interest starts close to home. The fact of the matter is Jody Normandeaus’ son is a member of the Dummerston School Board which coincidentally is where his children (her grandchildren) are enrolled in school. So wouldn’t this also be a conflict of interest and "the pot calling the kettle black?"

I say live and let live, and anyone doing a bad job or found to be showing special favors for kin or friends will be replaced at election time .

Mark S. Whitaker,

Dummerston, Feb. 15

Editorial cartoon was out of line

Editor of the Reformer:

I find the cartoon in today’s Reformer ( Feb 19 ) extremely offensive and in disgustingly poor taste on the part of the artist and all the more so the Reformer for publishing it.

I would hope that all of your Catholic readership would agree.

The fact that Pope Benedict has resigned his leadership of the faith, to me , indicates a tremendous amount of humility and forethought knowing that he is no longer physically and, or, mentally able to actively lead us all (Catholics) in our efforts to become more Christ-Like, bringing peace and love to the world.

The cartoon was not humorous and only serves as an attempt to bring down a truly great religion suffering from some past human frailties.

Maximilian K. Brand,

Bellows Falls, Feb. 19


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