Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Laraway Program Seeking Mentors

     Are you interested in mentoring a Laraway youth?  We received a grant from Mobius Mentoring to launch an after school mentoring program.  We are seeking at least six volunteer mentors.
Mentors should be over the age of 18 and able to pass a background check.
     We are looking for people to commit to an entire school year, one day a week, on Thursday afternoons from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  The program will be held at our Laraway School campus in Johnson, with support and training from our staff.
     Mentoring is a wonderful opportunity for our students, many of whom don't participate in other after school programming. Mentoring provides positive experiences and social time, which is extremely healthy and important for all of us, but especially our students who experience significant challenges. Mentors can look forward to engaging in games, music, snacks, cooking, outdoor adventures, arts and, most importantly, building relationships with great kids.
     For more information, contact Jessica McCoy, Laraway's Mentoring Coordinator at or (802) 635-2805.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Home Cooking for the Holidays


     Alyssa Richard, Operations Coordinator, for Laraway's Backpack Program had an idea.  She asked staff to share some of their favorite recipes and she created a recipe book for client families.  Her colleagues answered the call and Backpack's first cookbook is being sent home to families along with Holiday Baskets chock full of holiday treats, gift certificates and hats, gloves and mittens.  Backpack staff solicit donations for these baskets each year from area businesses.  Thank you donors!  Thank you staff!  Thank you, Alyssa, for your really cool idea!
      We share two of the recipes below:
Baked Chicken Nuggets
Prep 20 m        Cook 20 m      Ready In 40 m
·         3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
·         1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
·         1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         1 teaspoon dried thyme
·         1 tablespoon dried basil
·         1/2 cup butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Cut chicken breasts into 1 1/2-inch sized pieces. In a medium bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, cheese, salt, thyme and basil. Mix well. Put melted butter in a bowl or dish for dipping.
  3. Dip chicken pieces into the melted butter first, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Place the well-coated chicken pieces on a lightly greased cookie sheet in a single layer, and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Easy Sausage Gravy and Biscuits
Prep 5 m          Cook 10 m      Ready In 15 m
·         1 (16 ounce) can refrigerated jumbo buttermilk biscuits
·         1 (9.6 ounce) package Jimmy Dean(R) Original Hearty Pork Sausage Crumbles
·         1/4 cup flour
·         2 1/2 cups milk
·         Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  1. Bake biscuits according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, cook sausage in large skillet over medium heat 5-6 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently. Stir in flour. Gradually add milk; cook until mixture comes to a boil and thickens, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Split biscuits in half. Place 2 halves on each of 8 plates; top with about 1/3 cup gravy.
*Backpack is a public-school-based, behavioral intervention support program.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Gifts for the Season and Beyond

     It’s often said this is “the most wonderful time of the year!” You can also say this is the most EXPENSIVE time of the year! Between gifts and travel and increased costs for heating and electricity, we can find ourselves looking for ways to save a buck or two. To help you with your holiday budgets, I have three gifts for you:
      Gift #1- Breathing.  Life can get busy and stressful; sometimes we need help and support from others. Something we can do with and for ourselves is to breathe. Go ahead, take a deep breath. Feels good, huh? Now try a few in a row. Deep breathing has been shown to have a positive impact on your brain, heart, digestive and immune systems--Wow!
      Gift #2- Five Senses. My son has recently introduced me to meditation and yoga practices. We are fortunate to have many options right here in our local communities--Google the name of your town and yoga. Yoga and meditation are wonderful for bringing you into the immediate moment and freeing you from the worries or sadness of the past or future. A simple way to do this on your own is to think about your five senses. Take a moment to focus on what you hear, see, smell, taste or feel. This simple mindfulness activity can go a long way in bringing your stress and anxiety levels down.
      Gift #3- Appreciating and Celebrating. No matter how tough things get, all of us have many things going well in our lives and much for which to be thankful. Friends, family, pets, a favorite sports team, ice cream, doing well at school or work--the list can go on and on. Because life gets so busy, it’s important we take time to appreciate and celebrate those joys and successes. You can do this as part of your own reflection, or even better, involve others. Begin a meal by asking each person to share some good news from the day. Let a co-worker know about something you saw them do really well. There are many ways we can recognize and celebrate each other.

      I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and Holiday Season!!  Please enjoy these gifts and share them with others.  ~By Greg Stefanski

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Poem by AH: My eyes have seen a lot...has yours?

My eyes have seen a lot...has yours?
Where are you as I wait at the top of the stairs for you to return?
March 29th 2016 I needed you
now you message me? what will this lead to?
I remember the bang as I hide here alone and scared
where my life almost ended.....
I pack my own lunch why don't you do it?
music is my escape
school is where I'll always be successful

     AH, a youth in Laraway's therapeutic foster care program, attends a local public high school.  She  plans to become a cosmetologist and is enrolled in an academic program in which she's actively shadowing practitioners as she learns about the field.  She's also part of  a Photo Voice project, funded by a grant from Healthy Lamoille Valley, in which Laraway youth are documenting the impact of substance abuse via photos and text.
     Laraway will co-host an Opening Reception with Healthy Lamoille Valley at Laraway's Johnson Campus on March 13th, 2018.  Stay tuned for details.

Monday, November 27, 2017

#Giving Tuesday: The Collective Power of Us

     #GivingTuesday is a global giving movement fostered by individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities in all 50 states and in countries around the world. #GivingTuesday harnesses the collective power of a unique blend of partners to transform how people think about, talk about, and participate in the giving season. 
     #Giving Tuesday inspires us to take collective action to improve our communities.  It's about giving back in better, smarter ways to initiatives and causes we believe in.  It's a collective acknowledgement that we're all in this together. 
     #GivingTuesday harnesses the power of us, to build a better world.  To support Laraway Youth & Family Services' work with children, youth and families, please visit us at and click the Donate button to make a secure gift.  If you wish to come for lunch and/or arrange a tour of our campus, please contact Katherine Stamper at (802) 635-2805 x 106 or  Thank you!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Music as a Therapeutic Tool by Ashley McCauliff, Behavior Interventionist

     There is so much derived from music--there is kinetic narrative in a child who is amidst dysregulation--the body seeks to achieve catharsis via manifestation of anxiety, displaced anger, false bravado--telegraphed in the seemingly mindless exchange of objects among a table, "the search for the elusive nothing" is the lyrical enactment of a body in crisis.
     As the winter approaches, there is limited opportunity to disperse of this energy--having witnessed the beautiful equilibrium 20 minutes on a drum set achieves, or the melodic calm of working in tandem with a child to learn the opening chords to "Jump" by Van Halen has--I believe, with immovable conviction, music is so, so an integral part of Laraway.
     Allow me to recount the afternoon I sat in on a flock of children and staff orchestrating the story of that moment; then, cohesive, healing:
     Today there was a keyboard alight with electric funk--skillful notes ricocheted off the surrounding skulls and inhabited the snare drum in vibratory triumph-they were long, brassy hums reminiscent of a computerized Tibetan Monk--each key jangled loose the opening seconds, that gloriously haunting synth intro: classic eighties noise capable of waking you at 3 a.m. so as to remind you it’s still there,  doing figure eights on your hippocampus----there it was--the most natural kind of glibness--where I might sing, broken keyed, "it's the final countdown, (dun-na-na-na, dun-na-na-na-na (poorly transcribed phonetic rendition of proceeding beats) and incite a modicum of laughter.
     The children arrived, hot blooded, placated by nothing but the symphony of their outpourings upon that piano. I watched them, first buzzing and electric, thunderous, wailing--transform into bodies with purpose, the joyous agony and emotive power of their pain echoed, shook free to the somber, sorrowful, then resilient cry of music, as harmonious and wondrous as ever I'd heard.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Laraway Receives $8,000 Grant from Mobius Mentoring

"Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction."
~John Crosby

     Can you think of someone who mentored you?  Maybe it was a teacher who stayed after school to help you unravel a pesky math problem...reinforcing that you could "do math."  Maybe it was a coach who worked with you on your fast ball...demonstrating that practice and determination pay off.  Maybe it was a classmate's parent who hosted you for homework time and dinner after school, knowing your parents were working second shift or, simply, there were struggles at home.
     Mentors can and do make huge difference in the lives of children.  Laraway serves children and youth at risk.  Many of our clients are hindered in their ability to participate in "traditional"after school activities---due to mental health issues or simply lack of transportation---where mentoring relationships grow spontaneously.  For this reason, we are delighted and appreciative to Mobius Mentoring for an $8,000 grant to create a mentoring program for students at Laraway School.  Stay tuned...more stories to come!