Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Greenhouse Raising Event at Laraway!

   You might be familiar with the term "Barn Raising", which describes the collective action of a community coming together to help build a barn for a member of that community. After using grant funding to purchase a much needed greenhouse kit, Laraway's Land Stewardship team felt that embracing the idea of community gathering and teamwork would be a great way to kick off the spring and start construction of our own greenhouse. On April 21, over 25 community volunteers (which included Johnson State College SERVE students and Americorps members), staff, and youth came out on a balmy, sunny Thursday to help construct our new greenhouse and assist with beginning of the season garden projects. Volunteers worked from 10am to 4pm helping to construct the greenhouse base and side walls, prepping raised beds, planting greens, spreading mulch and flipping compost. During lunch, which featured brick oven pizza made by Laraway staff, a volunteer recognition took place to acknowledge all of our volunteers who had worked with us in the last six months (many were volunteering at the event!). New friends were made, laughs were shared, and even dirt high fives were exchanged. We were able to get quite a few big projects done with so many hands and are so grateful to our volunteers for their efforts. We hope to see them out in the garden again this season!

Land Stewardship will be hosting regular volunteer hours every Wednesday from 1:30-4pm at the Laraway Garden. Please email Ginny at gcooke@laraway.org if you are interested in volunteering!

Getting the Greenhouse base set up. Photo by Laura Biren.

Laraway's pizza oven, ready to roll [out pizza]. Photo by Laura Biren.

Volunteers moving raised beds. Photo by Laura Biren.

Photos by Emily Hutchinson and Laura Biren.

Even the wheelbarrow was happy to be working in such nice weather :) Photo by Laura Biren.
Article by Ginny Cooke, Land Stewardship Americorps VISTA.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Laraway Announces New Backpack Program Director

 Rich Smith, M.A., BCBA, has been hired as Director of the Backpack Program at Laraway Youth & Family Services in Johnson, Vermont. He brings extensive experience in educational and therapeutic settings.
Smith has, most recently, served as a Behavioral Consultant at Laraway. His professional background includes working for public school systems and mental health agencies. Smith spent over 22 years at Onion River Crossroads, a residential care program in Central Vermont, including 16 years as Executive Director.
“I am incredibly excited to assume the role of Backpack Director,” Smith said. “Our staff and community partners are a very dedicated and skilled group of people. I am extremely fortunate to be able to work with them to help the youth and families in our communities feel supported and successful.”
“Rich brings a wealth of compassion, experience and enthusiasm to the role of Backpack Director,” said Greg Stefanski, Laraway’s Executive Director. “We look forward to Rich leading and supporting the Backpack staff and working closely with our public school partners in helping our students and their families find success in school, at home and in the community.”
            Smith succeeds Shari Ryan who has returned to private clinical practice.    
Laraway’s Backpack Program provides comprehensive, strengths-based, individualized supports to children and youth, K-12, in the public school setting. For more information, please visit www.laraway.org.

Monday, April 18, 2016

2nd Congregational Church Hosts Jam Session for Laraway Crisis Fund on 4/29/16

     A family's furnace hovers near empty as temperatures outside dip into the teens. A youth reaches out for help, needing a safe place to spend the night. A child needs winter clothing. A family faces a near-empty refrigerator.  A former student and his mother are stranded in a domestically violent relationship several states away and require emergency assistance to return to Vermont where they have family supports.  There is an immediacy to the need---to tide someone over until more concrete solutions can be enacted.
     This is not Norman Rockwell's America. These real-life circumstances are emblematic of life in America today for youth and families struggling under the weight of socioeconomic disparity, exacerbated by mental health, learning and/or behavioral issues.
     Laraway operates a small and carefully managed Crisis Fund which is parceled out to address the day-to-day emergencies our clients face---when they've exhausted resources and have no where else to turn.
     "Laraway's Crisis Fund is there to provide immediate assistance," said Jim Heath, Laraway's Finance Director.
     Members of the 2nd Congregational Church of Hyde Park are stepping up to help Laraway grow its Crisis Fund.  The church is hosting a Jam Session on Friday, April 29th at 7:00 p.m. at 28 Prospect Street, Hyde Park.   The family friendly event, hosted by Ted Lambert, features a slate of local performers including Jeremy Sicely; Shaun Booher; Nate, Madison & Ruby Perham; Joe Ciccolo; Mark Faith; Melissa Senesac; Liz Fox; Ann Marie Bahr & Gerry Falkenberg; Beth Carrier and Debbie Yacovone.  Refreshments will be served.  Suggested Donation: $10.
     We hope you can turn out for what promises to be a wonderful community event.  For more information, please contact John Clark at 888-4864 or Katherine Stamper at 635-2805 x 106.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Proper Afternoon Tea


     The jam was strawberry.  The sugar was cubed.  The tea was Earl Grey with a Chamomile choice, too.  Authentic English teacups and saucers rested on fancy white tablecloths.  Homemade scones, baked by students in our kitchen, were complemented by shortbread and small savories.  There was even Marmite---for the initiated or simply curious.
     Laraway's conference room was transformed into a cozy tea salon.  Our resident Brits---Tim and Duncan---who serve on Laraway School's staff, provided real-time interpretation of the common British ritual.  Heather, a Laraway teacher, furnished the English China and led a lesson on tea with fun facts about the steaming elixir that fuels many a busy day.  Who would have known that tea was discovered by Shen Nung, Second Emperor of China, in 2737 B.C....and that it happened by accident?
     Members of this teaching team believe that students learn best when provided with both choice and hands on learning opportunities.  Integrating core academic content and life skills is an effective and positive way to support our students and their individual needs.
     "The coolest part is watching everyone work together, learn together and sit down to an elegant tea together," Heather said.

Note:  Thank you, Heather, for assistance with content.  Thank you, students, for the delicious scones.