By: Savi Van Sluytman, CEO, Lamoille County Mental Health Services
A half-century ago, Lamoille County Mental Health opened its doors to serve the community. Like you, we know that our neighbors have good days and bad days, ups and downs. It is our commitment that when our neighbors need help, we will be there to reach out a hand.
In the 50 years that we have been serving the Lamoille Valley, the way we respond to the needs of our neighbors has drastically changed. Much of our work happens right in the communities where our consumers live—in their homes, in their schools, in their child care programs, in their jobs. We know that the best path to health and wellness is the one that ensures a full, meaningful life. A steady job, success in school, strong relationships and good friends, good nutrition and healthy exercise, feeling the sun on our faces and clean, fresh air in our lungs.
Every day at Lamoille County Mental Health, we are taking steps to ensure that no one in our community falls through the cracks. We provide the safety net that so many Vermonters need at some point in their lives. Many of us live here because, yes, it’s a place of rare and often breathtaking beauty, but also because we hold common values: that when a neighbor slides off the road on a snowy afternoon, we stop to help. When someone is struggling with an internal battle, we reach out a hand. Every Vermonter should be able to live healthy, productive lives.
We provide the safety net that so many Vermonters need at some point in their lives. In a state such as this, no one should go hungry, which is why we have a food shelf that on any given week is stocked with fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats, and non-perishable items.
If someone is struggling with the confidence they need to get back to work, we bridge that gap, empowering them to find and keep a job. We help them with every step where they need a guiding hand, and when they are ready to take the next step alone, we step back—but not away.
When someone is struggling with homelessness, we fight fiercely to find housing for them. When transportation is a barrier to work, our supported employment dispatch team ensures that they can get there. We combat isolation by bringing people together for music and yoga classes, lunch, Special Olympics teams and support groups. After a few athletes in our community expressed interest in creating a Special Olympics swim team this fall, we found a head coach and we are scouring the community for assistant coaches and swim partners to accompany athletes in the pool, as well as a sponsor to cover the cost of using the pool at Johnson State College—please reach out if you are interested!
As we look to 2018 and our 51st year, we are thrilled to bridge community partnerships as we work to implement a capital campaign to support community needs. Our 2018 capital campaign goals are to:
- Build an Imagination Center to benefit children with autism, behavioral and learning disabilities, as well as for elders with dementia;
- Fund the Tiny House Project. Build four independent living “tiny houses” for people with developmental disabilities on the Oasis House property;
- Provide matching funds to support the creation of affordable housing for people at risk of homelessness in community centers where it does not currently exist.
With these efforts, we seek to better serve the needs of our most vulnerable citizens. To learn more, visit www.lamoille.org.