Nonprofit news and notes: VT insurance agents donate to Make A Wish


CONCORD, N.H. >> Trusted Choice Vermont Insurance Agents Association donated $7,500 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Vermont. Vermont Insurance Agents Association presented the check during the Vermont Lake Monsters baseball game against the Lowell Spinners on Wednesday, Aug. 24. Kody Lyon, of the Noyle Johnson Group, threw out the first pitch.

Kerri O'Connor, AAI, Noyle Johnson Group, Vermont Young Agents Committee Chair, and Dan Rodliff, NFP P&C, Vermont Young Agents Committee Outreach Chair presented the check to Jamie Hathaway, Executive Director of the Vermont Make-A-Wish branch.

The donation will go towards helping grant the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses. Trusted Choice is the funder in collaboration with VIAA.

Founded in 1906, VIAA's mission is to be an advocate for independent insurance agents and to satisfy the professional needs of its members. VIAA is affiliated with two national agent associations: the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America and the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents. VIAA member independent insurance agents represent more than one insurance company, and as a result, offer clients a wider choice of auto, home, business, life and employee benefits.

For more information contact Mary Eversole, 1.802.229.5884,,

Care for unwanted draft horses while you walk

WINCHESTER, N.H. >> Draft Gratitude, a nonprofit draft horse rescue, was recently approved to participate in ResQWalk. This free mobile app lets participants raise money for animal rescues just by walking, biking, running or hiking. Draft Gratitude will receive a monthly donation based on the number of miles that supporters are able to log.

"This is an amazing opportunity to support rescued draft horses just by exercising," said Rebecca Roy, founder of nonprofit Draft Gratitude. "It is a win-win for you and our horses."

ResQWalk works by obtaining a pool of money at the beginning of each month provided by corporate sponsors. In order for Draft Gratitude to earn a portion of this sponsor donation, participants need to download the app, select "Draft Gratitude" as a "ResQpartner" and press start.

"Providing care for unwanted draft horses is expensive," said Roy, who notes that it costs about $12 per day, per horse, to feed and provide medical care for horses at the rescue operation. All the labor at the farm is done by Roy and volunteers. "You can make a difference to help feed and care for our horses by signing up for ResQWalk, choosing Draft Gratitude for every walk, run or hike you take."

Draft Gratitude, established in 2014, is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to saving the lives of unwanted draft horses. Once rescued, the draft horses are rehabilitated and will either be available for adoption or stay in sanctuary at the 23-acre farm.

Learn more about Draft Gratitude, its mission and opportunities to help a rescued horse at or call 603-762-3266.

Groundworks Collaborative to hold sixth annual Hike for the Homeless

BRATTLEBORO >> Groundworks Collaborative will hold its sixth annual Hike for the Homeless fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 1, on Mount Wantastiquet in Hinsdale, N.H.

There will be two start times, 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., each beginning at the Mountain Road trailhead in Hinsdale (an immediate left after the second bridge on Route 119 when coming from downtown Brattleboro). Registration begins at 9:30 for the 10 a.m. start, and at noon for the 12:30 p.m. start.

Whether hiking to the summit or walking the River Trail at the mountain's base, participants can anticipate spectacular fall-foliage views of the town of Brattleboro. Hikers may raise funds individually (a minimum of $50 is suggested) or as a team (suggested minimum $250). All proceeds from the Hike benefit Groundworks' programs to house and support families and individuals experiencing homelessness in Brattleboro and surrounding communities.

Groundworks Collaborative is the organization that was created in June 2015 from the merger of Morningside Shelter and the Brattleboro Area Drop In Center. Groundworks offers food, shelter, and supportive services to roughly 1500 people per year. Groundworks Shelter provides 30 beds for families and individuals — serving roughly 100 people per year, while the Seasonal Overflow Shelter (for which a location has not yet been determined for this coming winter) provided a warm place to sleep and a nightly meal for 204 unduplicated people last winter. Additionally, Groundworks operates the region's busiest Food Shelf, provides housing case management for over 100 area households, and is a financial intermediary for over 50 people receiving Social Security disability benefits who have trouble balancing a fixed monthly budget.

Groundworks Drop In Center on South Main Street is a day shelter — offering a place of belonging where those with nowhere else to go can take a shower, do a load of laundry, check mail and email, use a phone, prepare a meal, and get a hot cup of coffee.

"While it always seems to be an uphill battle, we're making great progress in housing both families and individuals who've been without housing in our community," said Executive Director Josh Davis. "In the past 12 months we've successfully housed 25 chronically homeless individuals. That's unprecedented in this community. We're also working with the Vermont State Housing Authority to rapidly re-house families on the shortest timeline ever – moving families out of Groundworks Shelter and into stable housing an average of six months sooner than before."

According to Libby Bennett, Groundworks' Development Director, Hike for the Homeless is one of the organization's largest annual fundraisers. "We have come to rely on the amazing generosity of supporters in the community — those participating as hikers, sponsors, or contributors to the efforts of our hikers — to help us raise a significant portion of our Annual Fund." Bennett said in years past as many as 150 participants have raised over $20,000 to help house those experiencing homelessness in the community. The goal for this year's Hike is $25,000.

Those who wish to participate in Hike for the Homeless by fundraising, hiking, or contributing to a participant, may visit clicking on the EVENTS tab for links to register, donate and fundraise. Refreshments will be available for all registered participants. Great prizes (including a one-month membership at the Outer Limits Health Club; and gift certificates to Peter Havens, and Sam's Outdoor Outfitters; among others) will be awarded to top fundraising hikers. Questions may be directed to Libby Bennett at, or 802-257-0066, ext. 1101.

Groundworks would like to extend sincere thanks to confirmed sponsors of this year's Hike, including: Silver Forest of Vermont, Auto Mall, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, World Learning, and Trust Company of Vermont, as well as DMI Paving, Farnum Insulators, Hazel, Brattleboro Retreat, Against the Grain Gourmet, Green Mountain Power, New Chapter, David Ross Builder, Costello Valente & Gentry, Brattleboro Tire, Hotel Pharmacy, Goodenough Rubbish Removal, Bast Investment Co., Brattleboro Pharmacy, Richmond Auto Repair, Newton Business, The Richards Group, and Berkley & Veller Greenwood Country Realtors. Groundworks would also like to thank media sponsors – the Brattleboro Reformer and Classic Hits 92.7 WKVT FM, as well as print sponsor Lotus Graphics. Businesses interested in sponsoring Groundworks fundraising events may contact Libby at, or 802-257-0066 x1101.

A concert to benefit the DVCC Heating Fund

WILMINGTON >> Deerfield Valley residents and visitors will be able to finish up their evening of sampling wines and soups from Wilmington restaurants, by enjoying music, desserts and coffee at St. Mary's, while at the same time raising money to assist our neighbors needing help staying warm.

Starting at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 16, musicians from the Brattleboro Music Center, as well as local musicians, will offer a varied program of classical, vocal, instrumental, jazz and other music, all within the historic and acoustically vibrant main hall of St. Mary's. Doors open and dessert served starting at 7.

Performers will include musicians from the Brattleboro Music Center, including Pedro Pereira, principal cellist with the Windham Orchestra; and French Horn player Karen Horton, a member of the Windham Orchestra. They will be joined by vocalist Deborah Canedy, a Wilmington native and Music Director at St. Mary's; flautist Robin Matathias, who has performed nationally and is the Director of the Flute Ensemble at Keene State College; and pianist Barbara Lipstadt, an instructor at Deerfield Academy who founded the Deerfield Valley Players. Also performing will be soprano Marietta Formanek, whose work includes solo recitals and with the Opera Theater of Weston; and the vocal and guitar duo of Holly and Joe Fortner. Others are expected to join as well.

St. Mary's is located in the 150-year old church building, recently refreshed to its more historic look. Its distinctive red door inspired the name for this new series. The sanctuary, where the concert will be held, is an acoustically lively space, with wood throughout, which offers a dynamic and warm place for music.

The musicians promise a wide variety of music styles and genres, including baroque, romantic, and other classical pieces, as well as jazz standards and movie and show tunes. Soloists and vocal/piano duets will be supplemented with classical ensembles as well as a vocal/guitar jazz duo. With this scope of music, it promises to be an exciting and enriching evening.

Admission is by free will donation, and will benefit the Deerfield Valley Cares Heating Assistance program. The Rotary is assisting, and starting at 7 p.m., desserts and coffee will be offered at the entrance on East Main Street.

"We view this event — and hopefully concerts to come — as an opportunity to build community through music, and as a chance to re-introduce our community to a place we believe is special, to offer music of all kinds to the Valley, and to help raise money for those in need," said Carol Ann Lobo-Johnson, a long-term member. "We hope that after having a chance to taste and sip all that's offered in the Soup and Stroll, folks will come through our red doors and enjoy a few hours of music to finish a great evening."

St. Mary's in the Mountains is located at 13 East Main Street. More information is available at its Facebook page.

Marlboro College and Strolling of the Heifers partner to offer free workshops

BRATTLEBORO >> The Center for New Leadership at Marlboro College and Strolling of the Heifers have joined forces to bring a new lineup of free Management Idea Exchange workshops to the Brattleboro community.

The workshops will take place once a month from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the River Garden. Directors and staff of mission-driven organizations are invited to join for new tools in management, networking opportunities, and the exchange of ideas.

This fall's topics kick off on Sept. 13 with "Do You Want to Become a Gold Star Board Member," led by Abbie Von Schlegell. Other topics include "The Importance of Keeping Customers Even if You Make a Mistake," with David Williamson, "Play it Forward: An Afternoon of Compassionate Creativity," with Kali Quinn, and "Effective Leading and Decision-making using the Learning Compass," with Merryn Rutledge.

The workshops build on the experience of participants to reach new horizons in professional efficacy. Each session is presented by an instructor from one of the Marlboro graduate degrees in management, or by a local nonprofit, government, or business leader.

"Strolling of the Heifers is always looking to support economic development," said Executive Director Orly Munzing. "Partnering with Marlboro College's MIX workshops will bring to the table collective ideas and cutting edge tools that every mission-driven organization needs as we move forward in growing our community."

For a complete list of dates and topics, and to register, visit

The Center for New Leadership at Marlboro College is a community focused on exploring and applying new approaches to leadership. Working with mission-driven individuals, organizations and coalitions, we build leadership capacity through teaching, coaching and consulting. Learn more online at

West River Valley Assisted Living recognized for outstanding resident satisfaction

TOWNSHEND >> The assisted living at West River Valley Senior Housing recently received the Excellence in Action award from My InnerView by the National Research Corporation, the company that conducts their annual satisfaction survey. This honor recognizes long term care and senior living organizations that achieve the highest levels of satisfaction excellence, as demonstrated by overall resident or employee satisfaction scores that fall within the top 10 percent of the My InnerView survey database. West River Valley Assisted Living received the customer satisfaction award based on responses from their residents and residents' families.

"These organizations have set the bar for other providers with their performance and continued focus on customer and employee experience," said Rich Kortum, Director of Strategic Partnerships at NRC. "This is a wonderful achievement, and we're pleased to honor these top rated organizations with the Excellence in Action Award."

The Excellence in Action awards are presented exclusively to National Research clients who use My InnerView products — which includes many Vermont facilities because the Vermont Health Care Association sponsors this participation. To qualify for this award, nursing homes and assisted or independent living communities need to have completed a customer satisfaction survey in 2015. Winners must have also received a minimum of 10 responses (or at least a 30 percent response rate). Their overall responses must have scored the organization in the top 10 percent of qualifying facilities on the question "What is your recommendation of this facility to others?" in terms of the percentage of respondents rating the facility as "excellent."

All licensed assisted living facilities in Vermont are required to conduct resident satisfaction surveys annually. This is the second year that West River Valley Assisted Living has earned this national award. They were the only facility in southern Vermont to receive the customer satisfaction award.

"We are very pleased to be southern Vermont's representative for quality and excellence in assisted living," said Susanne Shapiro, Executive Director. "It means a lot to be recognized by those we serve. Residents and family members told us they value our spacious, modern apartments and wonderfully caring staff. There comes a time when we must consider assisted living for ourselves or our loved ones. When that time comes, Valley Cares is pleased to offer this valued option."

For more information, contact Shapiro at 802-365-7190 or visit

SEVCA receives grant for emergency home repairs

WESTMINSTER >> Southeast Vermon Community Action was on of seven non-profit organizations to receive grants from the USDA to preserve affordable rural housing. SEVCA received $26,021 of the $314,084 in grant funding to assist 58 homeowners preserve their homes.

"Families are safer when their homes are weatherized, seniors with disabilities are safer when their homes are accessible, and our rural housing stock is safer when multi-family properties are well maintained," said Ted Brady, USDA Rural Development Vermont and New Hampshire State Director. "The Housing Preservation Grant Program allows Rural Development to work hand-in-hand with local housing organizations to support Vermont and New Hampshire residents preserve and enhance the safety and quality of their homes."

Other recipients included Southwestern Community Service, $26,021; Tri-County Community Action, $26,021; Vermont Center for Independent Living, $26,021; Gilman Housing Trust, $70,000; Northeast Employment and Training Organization, $70,000; and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, $70,000.


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