Monday, March 31, 2014

Highfield Center for Composting presents a workshop at Laraway

            Maia Hansen, AmeriCorps VISTA at Highfields Center for Composting, facilitated an engaging workshop on composting for students and staff at Laraway School.  Imagine worms and dirt and food scraps, just the kinds of things environmentally-minded students like to dig into.
            Laraway School already has a compost program.  This workshop inspired participants to think about incorporating compost culture even deeper into educational activities with students.
            Hansen introduced participants to the practice of composting via hands-on activities, demonstrations and questions that encouraged students to think of why composting matters.  She stressed the importance of closing the loop on food waste.  Instead of simply burying it, why not transform food waste for a whole new purpose, to fertilize gardens?
            “A number of students are excited to build compost bins on site as a next step,” said Cornelius Murphy, Laraway’s Farm Steward.
             Hansen presented a tailor-made wagon to Laraway, soon to be debuted on the Johnson campus.  

Photo Caption:  Maia Hansen, AmeriCorp VISTA at Highfields Center for Composting

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Hungry Heart Screened at Laraway with Partner Agencies

     "It was powerful."  "The film broadened my perspective on what addiction is and who is impacted by addiction."  "I realize addiction is a culture, a culture I'm not familiar with."  "People need to understand the danger of leaving medications out." 
     These were some of the comments shared following a recent screening of Bess O'Brien's new film, The Hungry Heart,  at Laraway.  The screening, attended by about 40 individuals, was organized by the Lamoille Family Center, Lamoille County Court Diversion Restorative Justice Program and Laraway.  We brought staff together from across agencies to learn about the struggles associated with prescription drug abuse and addiction.
     Representatives from the Community Health Service of Lamoille Valley and The Recovery Center joined up after the screening to share information on supports available for individuals struggling with their addictions, and their family member.

Photo Caption:  Brianna Hart of the Community Health Service of Lamoille Valley

John Connell Joins Laraway Board of Trustees

             John Connell is a farmer, boatbuilder, recanter, sailor and adventuresome wanderer.  He considers himself a teacher at heart.
            “I believe deeply in the potential of the human spirit and the exciting capacity of all youth,” Connell says.
             Connell works for the Northeast Organic Farming Association while managing a youth hostel on his small farm in Underhill Center.  He also teaches small boat and canoe building and restoration.
            “I’m very happy to be back with the Laraway community as a board member,” Connell says.  “I came to know Laraway as School Director in the 1990s.  Laraway reaches out to all kids in a genuine caring manner.  This nurturing center is a place where kids can stretch, learn and grow.  This holding of Laraway is not soft.  It is firm, trusting and steady.”

Anne Smith Joins Laraway Board of Trustees

            Anne Smith has advocated for victims of crime in Vermont for over 10 years with particular interest in the prevention of, and coordinated community response to, sexual and domestic violence.
            Her interests include social justice, ethics, and holistic health and wellness. She earned a M.Ed. from the University of Vermont.
            “I am so grateful for the presence of the quality services Laraway provides to youth and families in our community,” Smith said. “The services that Laraway provides are critical to the success of our community at large.  I have found Laraway’s staff to be outstanding, committed folks who want to see every child thrive.”

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mary Moulton joins Laraway's Board of Trustees

     Mary Moulton, Executive Director of Washington County Mental Health Services, joined Laraway's Board of Directors.  She has worked for WCMH for over twenty years, serving as an emergency services clinician on the mobile crisis team before moving to administrative roles.
     "Everything we did, of course, was based on a sense of urgency," Moulton said.  "The work exposed me to the depth of human pain that people can experience and I came to deeply respect individuals who were struggling with life's challenges.  As Executive Director of WCMH I still have the same sense of urgency---wanting to get so much done in a short time period.  I love the work and I have an incredible staff.  I also love to teach and still do trainings related to emergency services response whenever I can."
     "It's clear to me that the programs offered by Laraway have integrity," Moulton said.  "I feel fortunate to arrive at such a beautiful setting after travelling up the road and am impressed by what Laraway has done to grow and thrive on behalf of youth."
     Moulton lives on a small farm with her husband where she enjoys tending her gardens and fruit trees.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Laraway co-sponsors screening of The Hungry Heart at Johnson State College

     Approximately 150 students and community members turned out on a cold Monday night to watch a screening of The Hungry Heart, Bess O'Brien's new documentary about prescription drug addiction and recovery.  The film focuses on the northern Vermont town of St. Albans and a perceptive pediatrician named Dr. Fred Holmes who lifted the lid on the problem and engaged the community in helping its children who are addicted to opiates.
     O'Brien is a well-respected documentary filmmaker whose earlier works include Journey into Courage, Shout it Out and Ask Us Who We Are.  She's adept at tackling social matters such as domestic violence, substance abuse and challenges faced by youth in the foster care system with a eye for revealing the depth and humanity of the people behind the issues.  The screening was followed by a discussion with the director and several of the individuals featured in the film, including the now-retired Dr. Holmes.  Information on resources for individuals experiencing opiate addiction was also made available.
     "I was thrilled to see so many students, community members and community partners in attendance," said Emily Neilsen, the college's Coordinator of First-Year Events.  "It was incredibly inspiring to hear from Dr. Holmes as well as from folks whose lives have been so greatly impacted by addiction.  Their words, along with the film, humanized addiction and re-affirmed the idea that we need to approach this illness from a medical perspective, not a criminal perspective."
     The event, hosted by Johnson State College, was co-sponsored by Laraway, the Lamoille Family Center and  the Lamoille County Court Diversion Restorative Justice Programs, Inc.