Nominate a Volunteer of the Month

Does your organization have an incredible volunteer? Nominate them to be a Volunteer of the Month with Green Mountain United Way!

Every month we feature a local volunteer at Green Mountain United Way or one of our agency partners to feature on our blog and an article in the Times Argus. Do you have a new volunteer who you appreciate, a long-time volunteer who deserves some recognition, an individual who has made an exceptional difference for the work your organization does?
GREAT! Nominate them here:

After we receive your nomination, we will contact your volunteer for an interview. Volunteer of the Month articles appear monthly in the Times Argus. Read about all of our past Volunteers of the Month here!

Thank you to you and to all of the incredible volunteers that make our community a better place!

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Last Minute Volunteer Request – Carrot Harvest!

Hi Friends,

We just received an urgent request from our friends at Community Harvest of Central Vermont. Tomorrow (Friday) from 9am – 10:30am and Saturday 9am – noon they have two-600 ft beds of carrots to harvest. 

This food feed those in our community who have limited access to healthy, fresh local food. These carrots will go directly to our local Central Vermont food shelves, senior meal programs and schools with free and reduced meal programs. Can your employees help? If you have a few employees who would like to help feed their neighbors on Friday or Saturday, or BOTH, please direct them to email Allison Levin to sign up and get the details about locations and recommended attire (it may be muddy):

They are invited to bring friends, relatives, anyone – this is a TON of carrots!

Thank you all for helping us get this last minute request out – I can attest to the fact that this is one of the BEST ways to help get nourishing food to our friends who need it while having fun!


Carrie Stahler / Director of Funding & Program Development / Green Mountain United Way 

Montpelier Office / 73 Main Street, #33, Montpelier, VT 05602 / tel: 802-613-3989

United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. 

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The Word Gap


Vermont 2-1-1

Join  ASIST —
Become A Life Saver!

Vermont 2-1-1 is hosting an ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) workshop on Wednesday, November 8th and Thursday, November 9th 2017.

ASIST is for caregivers who want to feel more comfortable, confident and competent in helping to prevent the immediate risk of suicide. Over one million caregivers have participated in this two-day, highly interactive, practical, practice-oriented workshop.

For more information on this training, please see our informational flyer or contact Cathy Nellis with questions.

Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl

This year’s “summer season” started late and lasted well into September!  This resulted in a calmer September in the 2-1-1 Contact Center, as reflected by the 1,861 contact total. Although phone lines may have been a bit quieter, September was a busy and exciting month at the contact center with the third year anniversary of Vermont 2-1-1’s participation in the Vermont Department of Health’s statewide Help Me Grow initiative!  Our Help Me Grow Specialized Information and Referral line is staffed by trained Child Development Specialists who are available to answer parent and caregiver questions about children’s behavioral and developmental needs. These specialists are providing families with tools to track development milestones and are connecting families to the appropriate resources in their communities. Parents, grandparents, service providers and doctor’s offices contacted the Help Me Grow line during its first year. Child Development Specialists responded to child development concerns and to parent and caregiver requests for help with meeting basic needs. Help Me Grow Child Development Specialists are available from 9:00am – 6:00pm Monday – Friday by dialing 2-1-1 and selecting option 6, or by texting HMGVT to 898211. You can also go to to learn more.

Statewide referrals to housing/shelter resources remind us of what is to come as the season changes and state parks come to close…Vermonters are beginning to prepare for the winter months. September continues the historical trend of a rise in the requests for referrals to housing resources.

September was also National Preparedness Month (NPM). NPM encourages Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools, and communities. FEMA’s Ready Campaign, the correlating public education outreach campaign, disseminates information to help the general public prepare for and respond to emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks. We should all take action to prepare! Go to for more information. On October 21, Aaron Titus, author of How to Prepare for Everything: Empowering You to Face Disruption with Your Community and to Feel Good About the Future, will be presenting about his book in Montpelier. The first 25 registrants will receive an autographed copy of his book. For more information and to register, you can go to our website or Facebook page. You can also follow the link on the second page of this newsletter.

Read Vermont 2-1-1’s monthly contact volume report here.

Vermont 2-1-1 Web Statistics

In addition to the contact statistics, the following data is from the 2-1-1 website and shows how the public used the database search engine during the month of September:

Top Services: Homeless Motel Vouchers (326 searches); Assistive Technology Equipment Loan (148 searches); Clothing Donation Programs (138 searches); Pet Care Services (121 searches); Christmas Programs (120 searches)

Top Agencies: Salvation Army (Rutland); Vermont Department for Children and Families – Economic Services Division; Vermont State Housing Authority; Champlain Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO); Northeast Kingdom Community Action (NEKCA)

Top Search by City: Burlington; Hancock; Brattleboro; New Haven; Saint Johnsbury

Total Site Visits: 4008

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 1815

Emergency Housing in Vermont

Through a partnership with the State of Vermont’s Economic Services Division, Vermont 2-1-1 administers the After Hours Emergency Housing Program beginning at 4:30pm weekdays, throughout weekends and on state/federal holidays. Housing in Vermont has reached a critical need.

Vermont 2-1-1 Information and Referral (I&R) Specialists responded to 145 calls regarding housing needs. I&R specialists provide needs assessment, problem-solving support, and information and referrals to a wide range of services to each caller. Review Vermont 2-1-1’s Emergency Housing Report for September here.

How to Prepare for Anything

Aaron Titus, Executive Director with Crisis Cleanup, is coming to Vermont to conduct a workshop to promote his latest book, How to Prepare for Anything, on Saturday, October 21, 2017, starting at 10:00 a.m.

Vermont Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VTVOAD), in conjunction with UpStreet Consulting, is proud to sponsor Aaron’s workshop to promote his new book. The event will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Montpelier Ward, 224 Hersey Road, Berlin, Vermont. This workshop will provide attendees a great opportunity to learn how to prepare for unexpected events and disasters, Please click here for more information and to register.

October Is LGBT History Month

October is LGBT History Month, which originated in the United States in 1994, celebrating the achievements of 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender “Icons” every year. Each day in October, a new LGBT Icon is featured with a video, a biography, and other resources. Vermont’s own cartoonist/author Alison Bechdel has been among the 341 Icons featured over the years.

To view the list, go to the LGBT History Month website. Searching the Vermont 2-1-1 database under the following terms will get you to the agencies that specialize in LBGT issues:

Cultural Awareness/Competencies Training* Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bisexual Issues

Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bisexual Advocacy Groups

Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bisexual Community Centers

Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bisexual Support Groups

Suicide Prevention Hotlines* Gay/Lesbian/Transgender/Bisexual Individuals

The Word Gap

In the 1990’s, researchers conducted a study on the number of words spoken in households of children from poor, middle-class, and wealthy families. This landmark study discovered what we now call the word gap. They found that on average poor and low-income children were hearing about 616 words per hour, the average working-class child 1,251 words per hour, and affluent children 2,153 words per hour. According to NAEYC (the National Association for the Education of Young Children), a recent study shows the word gap between children in different socioeconomic groups grows significantly from 18 months to 3 years. By the time children turn 4, children from high-income families are exposed to 30 million more words than children from low-income families.

The word gap shows us how poverty can influence the opportunities children have for learning. Language and literacy skills early in life predict future success in kindergarten and beyond. These skills aren’t just about learning words; they are also about communication and social interaction, which, in addition to improving their school readiness, builds a child’s social skills and supports healthy development.

Language and literacy skills begin at birth through everyday interactions, such as sharing books, telling stories, singing songs and talking to one another. Help Me Grow VT has resources for families looking to bolster their child’s language and literacy skills and help close the word gap with parent tip sheets and information on story times at local libraries and area playgroups. To contact a child development specialist at Help Me Grow VT, dial 2-1-1 ext. 6 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., or visit Help Me Grow VT’s website.


Vermont 2-1-1 · PO Box 111 · Essex Junction, VT 05453 · USA

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Mental Illness Awareness Week


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Health and Wellness Newsletter – October, 2017

Mental Illness Awareness Week

As you may have seen on our Facebook page, October 1st – 7th was Mental Illness Awareness Week. We work with our partners at Mental Health America and National Council on Aging to help educate and inform as many people as possible. While the first week of October has a special focus on mental illness, our goal is to be a resource for patients 365 days of the year.

Here are some important facts & tips to consider:

    • Did you know that 58% of older adults have had symptoms of depression that significantly impacted their lives? Visit to take a quick and confidential depression screening.


  • About 15% of adults aged 60+ struggle with mental illness. If you or a loved one have a diagnosis, FamilyWize can help you save an average of 51% on mental health prescriptions.


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While at your doctor’s office, use the Drug Price Look-up Tool in the FamilyWize mobile app to see which pharmacy will have the lowest price for your prescription. Then ask your doctor to send your prescription to that pharmacy.

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United Way Kicks off Community Campaign with Breakfast in Barre

On September 21 Green Mountain United Way kicked off our Annual Community Campaign with a breakfast and heard keynote speaker Ted Brady, deputy director of the State of Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, talk about the ways that we can all work together to improve the communities throughout our region. This year’s Community Campaign will go to support the many agencies in our region doing wonderful work, as well as our own new and emerging programs, in particular K.E.E.P. Financial Coaching. This program is launching this fall and will work to train many front-line direct service providers in Financial Literacy and Individual Coaching in order to empower them and their clients to make changes relating to financial issues to change their lives for the better.

Read more about the Kickoff Event, K.E.E.P. and our plans for this year in this Times Argus’s article.

Check out the photos from the Kickoff Breakfast on Facebook or below.

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Dr. Mark Yorra’s gift is health care for all

When I spoke to Mark Yorra and asked him how he got started volunteering, I got a story I did not expect.

Dr. Yorra has been a primary care doctor in the Barre area since 1980, and has helped lots of patients over the years. But it was one special patient who helped him and our entire community in ways that are still unfolding through his work at the People’s Health & Wellness Clinic in Barre. The community’s only clinic for those without insurance, People’s Health & Wellness has been serving individuals since 2014. They have offered dental care, as well.

In the 1980s, Yorra saw that a lot of people in the community who did not have insurance were being left without care and without options. While he saw the problems and thought that everyone should have access to health care, he did not begin to see himself as part of the solution until a patient of his showed him exactly how he much he could do.

Anna Bloom, a Brooklyn native and longtime central Vermont resident who passed away in 2014, was an activist at heart. She would go to her appointments with Yorra and chastise him for not doing more.

“She motivated me to do something. She would sit there and say, “It’s a disgrace in a country this rich that people don’t have health care. How can you let this happen?” And that really impacted me.” Yorra recalled. “Anna said that enough times that I started to look for ways to do something to help those people in our community without health care.”

Eventually, Yorra found a group of like-minded people, including Edie Kent, Faeterri Silver, and other doctors at Central Vermont Hospital (now CVMC) who wanted to help those in the community who did not have health insurance and needed care. They got together to form the People’s Action for Health Care group, now People’s Health & Wellness Clinic, in the spring of 1993. Soon after the group formed they were offered space in the McFarland building in Barre to set up the first clinic.

In the beginning, they served people two evening sessions a week, Yorra acting as a volunteer on the clinical staff and on the board as a founder of the organization. He worked with his peers at the hospital to recruit doctors and nurses to volunteer at the clinic. “In those years I’m sure that half or more of the CVH staff helped in one way or another at the clinic,” Yorra said.

Yorra was busy in those early years getting the organization on solid footing, seeing patients, recruiting volunteer staff, and keeping the clinic stocked and running. “Administration is a role that I was least skilled at. I am much better and more interested in seeing patients and the clinical aspects of the organization. For me, it is about building relationships, helping people figure things out, working with the nurses to problem-solve. I’m about to retire from my practice, but I will continue to volunteer at People’s Health & Wellness Clinic.”

In reflecting on his experience as a volunteer over the past three decades, Yorra offered that, “Volunteering, no matter what you do, it gives back to you as much as it gives to the people you are helping. Being a positive, helpful force in the community is important, because what would our community be without that?”

The work of the People’s Health & Wellness Clinic continues to serve those in our community without insurance, and though access to insurance has increased, there are still those who do not have health or dental coverage. Their services are still much-needed and well used. If you are interested in learning more about their work, go to their website at

This United Way Volunteer of the Month, is compiled by the Green Mountain United Way and features local volunteers whose work benefits groups partner with or are supported by Green Mountain United Way. For more information, go to

Originally featured in the 10/10/2017 edition of the Times Argus, reprinted here with permission.

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Small Towns Making Big Changes to Support Healthy Lifestyles

One of the harbingers of fall at the Vermont Department of Health is the release of the latest Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance Survey data. The 2016 data related to our work includes updated obesity and overweight rates as well as the rate of leisure time physical activity among Vermont adults. (Other physical activity and nutrition questions are asked on the odd number years.) Our data is mixed this time around:

  • Adult obesity rates are at 28% up from 25% in 2015. This difference is not considered statistically significant.
  • The adult overweight rate is 34% down from 35% in 2015.
  • 18% of adults reported no leisure time activity, the same rate as in 2014, the last time this question was asked.
We know it takes a long time to change overweight and obesity rates and most experts in the field view rates staying level from one year to the next as a small victory. We also know that if we follow the evidence base and continue to encourage Vermonters to be more physically active and eat in a healthy way, we will see results. This newsletter highlights efforts to increase healthy eating and physical activity. Please share this information with others so we can all work together to see positive change soon.

Enjoy the lovely Vermont fall! 

Vermont Outdoor Economy Public Forums

The Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) is hosting Vermont Outdoor Economy Public Forums around the state in September and October. Please consider participating, as outdoor recreation has both health and economic benefits.
Almost one quarter (20%) of VT adults do not get any leisure time physical activity and over three quarters of Vermont youth (77%) do not get the recommended 1 hour of PA a day, every day. Investing in outdoor recreation will likely lead to increased physical activity, and can help change these numbers and ultimately health care costs associated with chronic conditions related to inactivity.

According to the National Association of Realtors, not only is outdoor recreation good for health, but outdoor recreation opportunities are good economic drivers for communities. People want to live in places where there are parks, trails, and all-user paths. Parks should be connected to other amenities via sidewalks, multi-use paths, and public transit where it exists. Having the ability to get to parks and other amenities (food, schools, shops, housing) by walking, biking, “rolling” or public transit encourages people to be physically active in their everyday lives and increases use of all connected facilities. More…
Small Towns Making Big Changes to Support Healthy Lifestyles
Communities can play an important role in supporting lifelong health and wellbeing for residents by offering amenities for safe and accessible walking, rolling, biking and playing, and providing access to healthy foods. Vermont is made up of hundreds of small towns, places where people often think it is not possible or practical to implement these types of strategies, yet it can be done!
The  Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends combining new or enhanced transportation systems (e.g., pedestrian and cycling paths) with new or enhanced land use design (e.g., proximity to a store, access to a public park) to promote physical activity among residents. They found that “combinations of activity-friendly built environment characteristics are associated with higher levels of transportation-related physical activity, recreational physical activity, and total walking”. More…
Be recognized! The 2018 Worksite Wellness Award Application Now Open


The application for the 2018 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Worksite Wellness is now open. These awards recognize employers that have a commitment to staff wellness. They will be presented by the Governor at the 2018 Worksite Wellness Conference on March 21st, 2018 at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center in Burlington. Worksites are encouraged to apply regardless of how long wellness initiatives have been in place. Wellness initiatives might include policies or changes to the built environment that support healthy choices, programs and activities that promote healthy behaviors, or other strategies that demonstrate a commitment to staff wellness.The deadline for applications is October 31st, 2017. Click here to submit your application. Registration for the conference will open in December. Contact with any questions.

Back to School: It’s that Time Again!

This is an exciting time of year for students and families. As kids head back to school, it’s important to remember that healthy students are better learners. The data published in the September 8 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report suggest that high school students reporting lower academic scores also reported greater health risk behaviors associated with substance use, violence, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, and sex.

The Vermont Department of Health promotes the use of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model. With this model, various sectors can work together to ensure that every young person in every school in every community is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) has released The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) Model: A Guide to Implementation. The guide is designed to assist schools and school districts interested in adopting and implementing the model. See how it can support your school!

Vermont Department of Health: Physical Activity and Nutrition, 108 Cherry Street, Suite 203, Burlington, VT 05401


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