Nonprofit news and notes: Vermont Theatre Company appoints new trustees

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BRATTLEBORO >> The Vermont Theatre Company, now in its 33rd season of providing quality community theatre to the tri-state region, held its annual membership meeting on Sunday, Sept. 18, at the Dummerston Grange. In addition to previewing the 2016-2017 season, elections were held for new trustees.

Four new members of the Board of Trustees were elected.

The include Belle Coles, who has been involved in local theater since her arrival in Brattleboro back in 1978. Although her talents and passion lie in costuming, she occasionally enjoys being on stage in fun and fanciful roles. Mostly, however, she remains committed to furthering the role that community and school theater play in exploring characters, engaging the community and enriching our lives.

Cameron Cobane, a theater artist living in Turners Falls, Mass., has been active in the performing arts in Western New England for 15 years. Cobane has most recently appeared as Sicinius Velutus in Working-Day Company's "Coriolanus" and directed last season's Shakespeare-in-the-Park production of "All's Well That Ends Well," for VTC.

Corinne Epstein has been on and off stage since she was 7, singing, acting, and dancing. She has appeared in shows at the the New England Youth Theatre, musicals at Brattleboro Union High School, and Greenfield Community College, debuting in A.R. Gurney's "Sylvia," her freshman year. She also in interested in circus arts.

Cassie Dunn, a junior at BUHS, is actively involved in theaters around Brattleboro. She is frequently on stage at NEYT and has been in shows at BUHS and with VTC, most recently performing as Cecily in last season's "The Importance of Being Ernest." Dunn will be serving as a student trustee for the year.

These four new board members join current board members Bob Kramsky, Mike Jerald, Michelle Page, Ian Hefele, Brandon Batham, Kate Maisner, Nichole Bliznak and John Ogorzalek

Lead certification for landlords and contractors offered

BRATTLEBORO >> Lead Safe & Healthy Homes is offering federal lead paint safety courses for contractors, landlords, and others interested in using lead-safe renovation techniques.

The federal Renovation, Repair and Painting Certification offered in 2011 is nearing expiration. Renovators that do not take the Refresher course before their current certification expires will be required to retake the eight-hour initial course.

The EPA RRP Refresher Course is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 25, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Brattleboro VFW on Black Mountain Road. The cost is $125 a person. Anyone receiving compensation for significant renovation work in housing or child-occupied facilities built before 1978 should be certified.

This course will focus on state and federal regulations governing lead, the health effects of lead in children and adults, lead-safe work practices, and liability issues. Most contractors and landlords will need to take state and federal courses to be in compliance with the law.

Registration is required. Contact Denice Brown at 802-463- 9927, ext. 208, or denice@parksplacevt.org.

Lead Safe & Healthy Homes is a non-profit program of Parks Place Community Resource Center in Bellows Falls providing free advice and resources to advance healthy housing initiatives in Windsor and Windham Counties. Program funding provided by United Way of Windham County, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Vermont Department of Health.

New project to support asylum seekers

ROCKINGHAM >> Community Asylum Seekers Project, Inc. is a new non-profit organization based in Rockingham, whose mission is to provide basic needs and a supportive community for families in the process of seeking asylum in the US.

An asylum-seeker is a displaced person who has come of their own accord to request sanctuary from another country, and has yet to be processed. This is different than refugees, who are also displaced people, but are invited and resettled by the US State Department.

CASP became a reality after Rockingham resident Steve Crofter and five others from Vermont volunteered with a project at the border in Texas helping asylum seekers from Central America. They heard the stories of people who had fled their homelands to seek safety in our country, such as a woman who watched as her neighbors executed her mother in front of her. They met another young woman who had fled her home when she learned she was on a list to become a "girlfriend" for a gang leader. They witnessed a mother crying for her son who had been killed after refusing to join a gang.

These people and tens of thousands more like them give all their savings to human smugglers in order to arrive at our border. After swimming across the Rio Grande, they turn themselves in with the U.S. Border Patrol and ask for asylum. The U.S. puts them into detention centers where the asylum seekers must pass 'credible fear interviews.' One of the conditions of release is that they must have family, friends, or an organization such as CASP to host them before they can leave the detention centers.

Eventually asylum seekers are scheduled for asylum hearings at an immigration court in a process that can take a few years. A half year after filing for asylum, asylum seekers are eligible to apply for work permits. At their final hearing, they are either granted asylum, or deported.

When the volunteers returned to Vermont and shared their experiences, many people were interested in welcoming and hosting asylum seeking families to settle in the area while awaiting the outcome of their asylum cases. They joined together to form Community Asylum Seekers Project, to coordinate services for these families that have nowhere else to go.

Although asylum seekers come from many countries in the world, it's most likely that CASP will host people from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, in part because of the many Spanish speakers in this region of Vermont. The organization hopes to place the first asylum seeking family in February 2017, and will support these families with basic needs as they get resettled in the community, helping them achieve independence as they proceed through the asylum process.

CASP is hosting its first informational presentation and meeting Sunday, Oct. 16 at 5 p.m. in Saxtons River. A potluck meal featuring dishes from Central America, especially Guatemala, will be followed by a presentation on asylum seekers, and what CASP plans to do in this community. Breakout discussions and opportunity to volunteer will follow.

For more information about the Community Asylum Seekers Project or if you would like to attend the Oct. 16 event, call Steve Crofter at 802-275-4646 or email steve.crofter@gmail.com.

Beverage training set for Oct. 20

BRATTLEBORO >> Windham County Prevention Coalitions and the Vermont Department of Liquor Control invite servers of alcohol to attend an upcoming Responsible Beverage Service training.

Attention of recent DLC change: These trainings now cost $25 per attendee. Attendees must sign up and pay (credit card only) in advance at liquorcontrol.vermont.gov/education/seminars. Latecomers will not be admitted so arrive early.

Jen Fisher, DLC Educator, will conduct the following the next training for restaurant, bar, club, and hotel servers on Thursday, Oct. 20, from 1 to 4 p.m., conveniently located at the Marlboro College Graduate Center .

Vermont law requires that employees that either sell or serve liquor be trained every two years, either by the DLC or in-house, using materials provided by the DLC. Statistics show that employees who receive their required trainings directly from the DLC, rather than in-house, are less likely to fail compliance check for selling tobacco or alcohol to minors.

Windham County Prevention Coalitions recognizes the important role that retailers and restaurants play in keeping the minors of our community safe from underage drinking. It presents this training opportunity on a quarterly basis.

Meeting Waters YMCA welcomes new board members

BELLOWS FALLS >> The heart and soul of any non-profit, charitable organization is its board of directors. In recent months, Meeting Waters YMCA's Board of Directors has gained strength as it guides the organization's efforts to "strengthen the foundations of community through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility."

Valerie Bailey and Dr. Anne Nordstrom have recently joined the regional Y's volunteer leadership team. Each brings enormous talent and passion — along with valuable experiences — to the organization.

Nordstrom is an Evaluator in the Center for Behavioral Health Innovation at Antioch University New England. She is a sociologist with more than 25 years' experience measuring success and progress in change efforts in the public and non-profit sectors. Nordstrom has a Ph.D. in Sociology, an M.A. in Community Social Psychology, and an M.B.A in Sustainability. She lives in Walpole, N.H.

After decades in senior leadership positions at the Student Conservation Association, a national non-profit based in Charlestown, N.H., Bailey established Crossroads Consulting, LLC specializing in non-profit consulting. She specializes in strategic planning, project planning and development, human resources management, and interim executive leadership. Bailey served on the Meeting Waters YMCA Board in the mid-2000s and on its Strategic Planning Task-Force in 2012. She lives in Charlestown, N.H.

In June, Dr. John Hagen replaced David Chase as Meeting Waters YMCA's Chief Volunteer Officer. Hagen recently retired from the U.S. Air Force after 28 years of service. He is now a lecturer in the Commonwealth Honors College at UMass-Amherst. Hagen has a Ph.D. in International Relations along with four Masters Degrees. As a kid growing up in Burlington, the Y had a profound influence on Hagen's life. He attended Y Camp Abnaki in the Champlain Islands and then, when he was old enough, served on the camp's staff. Shortly after moving to Guilford two years ago, Hagen did some research to find his local Y so he could "give back." He joined Meeting Waters YMCA's board soon thereafter.

Meeting Waters YMCA is a charitable, social service organization founded in 1895. Its programs and services focus on youth development, healthy living, social responsibility and family strengthening throughout the Fall Mountain, Bellows Falls, Springfield and Brattleboro regions.

Donations needed for NewBrook Peace and Goodwill dinner

NEWFANE >> The NewBrook Fire & Rescue Department will be hosting its 14th Annual Peace & Goodwill Dinner and Silent Auction on Saturday, Dec. 3 at its firehouse in Newfane. Dinner sponsorship (cash donations) and items for the silent auction are being solicited by the committee. Auction donations can be in the form of handcrafted items, art/craft works, holiday items, gift baskets, antiques and gift certificates for goods and services. Gently used items must be in like new condition and in good working order. Pick-up of donations is available.

The NewBrook Fire & Rescue Department is an all-volunteer, self-supporting department that serves the towns of Newfane and Brookline and provides mutual aid to area towns such as Townshend, Brattleboro, Dummerston and Putney. This annual fund raiser helps NewBrook meet its financial goals for the purchase/maintenance of equipment, the training of volunteer members and the maintenance of the firehouse.

For more information, contact Polly Casanova at PollyCas@myfairpoint.net, 802-365-7149, Cina Friend at CinaPhoto@mac.com or 802365-4228 or Lauri Miner at ldm@svcable.net or 802-365-4194.

Youth Services RAMP Program seeks participants for career mentoring

BELLOWS FALLS >> As students get into high gear at high school, Youth Services Workforce Development staff are busy seeking referrals of youth, ages 14 to 17, in need of extra support and career mentoring at Brattleboro Union High School and Bellows Falls Union High.

Now in its sixth year, Youth Services' Ready-to-Achieve Mentoring Program meets once a week after school to connect students with professionals for career-focused mentoring and to encourage them to remain in school and set goals. Adult mentors join students on site tours to businesses and colleges, serve on occasion as guest speakers, and help participants work on their personal career plans, according to Susan Lawson-Kelleher, the organization's Workforce Development Coordinator.

Careers in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are particularly emphasized, but students of all interests are encouraged to apply. Mentors are sought who have an ability to relate to young people who often live in difficult circumstances and who have a willingness to share good job readiness skills that might spark a teenager's interests.

"The idea of RAMP is to help area students to envision a brighter future and then develop the skills and steps to get there," Lawson-Kelleher said. RAMP meets once a week after school during the academic year at Brattleboro Union High School on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. and at Bellows Falls Union High School on Thursdays from 3 to 4 p.m.

As a job training program attendance is incentivized, with each student earning $5 for each session attended. "Where else would I get paid to do fun stuff and meet new people while exploring cool careers?" asked Brendan Hodge, a recent RAMP graduate from BUHS. Both of his siblings took advantage of the opportunity as well.

To find out more information or to refer a youth you think might benefit from career mentoring, call Susan Lawson-Kelleher at Youth Services at 802-257-0361 or email RAMP@youthservicesinc.org.

New senior meal providers in Deerfield Valley

JACKSONVILLE >> Senior Solutions has entered into contractual agreements with The Dumaine House and East Creek Catering for the provision of Senior Community Meals and Meals on Wheels in the Deerfield Valley. As of Oct. 1, Terrie and David Dumaine are preparing and serving meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon, at the Whitingham Municipal Center.

Meals on Wheels are now prepared and brought to the Municipal Center by East Creek Catering, a long standing partner of Senior Solutions. The Dumaines coordinate delivery of these meals to seniors who live in Jacksonville, Whitingham, Halifax, West Halifax, Marlboro, Readsboro, and Searsburg.

Meals on Wheels recipients continue to receive the same number of home delivered meals per week as previously, delivered by volunteers on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Volunteer drivers are needed, both regular and substitutes, especially for Wilmington and Dover routes.

Senior Solutions acknowledges the hard work of outgoing meal staff: Nancy Zschirnt, site coordinator, and Christine Smith, cook. Both worked tirelessly at Deerfield Valley Senior Meals for many years to meet the increasing need for vital services such as Community Meals and Meals on Wheels.

Residents with questions or concerns may contact Anila Hood, Nutrition Director, at 802-885-2655, or ahood@seniorsolutionsvt.org


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