Tag - Lamoille County

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Volunteer!
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Five Easy Minutes
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Summer Blueberry Cake
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The Acorn Philosophy
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Building Resilience and Hope in Children and Youth
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Stroke Awareness
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Homelessness in the Lamoille Valley 
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Take a Walk Around Downtown Morrisville
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Diabetes Skin Care During Dry Winter Months
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A New Community Resource: The Boardwalk at Barnes Camp in Stowe

Volunteer!

By: Dan Regan

To volunteer is to do something willingly, without compulsion or generally without compensation, for someone or something. In volunteering, the focus, rightly, is beyond oneself. The goal is to serve others, helping them accomplish their desired ends. Volunteers serve on fire crews and rescue squads, mentor youth, serve on non-profit boards in the arts and family services, build Habitat houses, deliver meals to seniors, help govern our towns and schools, and deliver meals to seniors. These forms of volunteerism, and countless others, contribute to the health of our communities and help make the world a better place. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service’s 2015 report, a third of Vermont’s residents volunteer, contributing over 20 million hours of service annually, ranking the state eighth among the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The interesting thing I want to focus on, for purposes of this Live Well Lamoille blog post, is that volunteering also benefits the volunteer and may contribute significantly to his or her own wellbeing. Research affirms the positive connection between volunteering and the physical and emotional health of those who participate. But the connections are sometimes hard to tease out. After all it’s possible that healthier people may volunteer, without their volunteer activities exerting a real impact upon their wellbeing. With that in mind, here I will present only a few findings that come from studies (most from the early 2000s) that can truly claim the effect of volunteerism on volunteers:

  • Older adults who gave social support to others had lower rates of mortality than those who did not, even when controlling for socioeconomic status, education, marital status, age, gender, and ethnicity, according to a large survey.
  • An over-time study of older married adults found that those individuals who reported providing support to friends, relatives, and neighbors had lower rates of mortality five years later than those who had not reported providing support.
  • Volunteering can provide a sense of purpose, especially for those who experience a major change of identity, such as retiring or becoming an empty-nest parent.
  • Volunteering leads to lower rates of depression for older adults, even when controlling for other forms of social interaction.
  • Individuals suffering from chronic pain experienced declines in their pain intensity and decreased levels of disability and depression when they began to serve as peer volunteers for other chronic pain sufferers.
  • According to a Carnegie-Mellon University study (2013), “many people [found] volunteer work to be helpful with respect to stress reduction,” and of course stress is very strongly linked to health outcomes. The same study also posited a connection between volunteering and lowered blood pressure, and thus a reduced risk of hypertension.

Thankfully, our friends and neighbors offer their services voluntarily, with others—not themselves—uppermost in mind, and our communities are the better for it. But the connection—between volunteer service and the wellbeing of volunteers—may be perceived without being articulated. In fact that connection may help make sense of the seeming paradox in the way the US has historically been described: as both an intensely altruistic as well as individualistic nation.

To give is, truly, to receive. So do yourself a good deed and volunteer to help others!


Dan Regan, a sociologist, is the former dean of academic affairs at Johnson State College and continues to work part-time for Northern Vermont University.

Five Easy Minutes

By: Daniel Regan

I have a simple suggestion that could enhance the quality of your life. It may give you a sense of inner peace and could even, in the long run, prolong your life.

Give yourself the gift of five extra minutes. I don’t mean extra minutes to stay in bed or on your phone; rather, a five-minute cushion (10-15 is even better) before your next appointment, commitment, or task.

Try it. It might lower your blood pressure and change your life. 

Did anyone watch the NBA playoffs in June? Those who did, commentators and casual fans alike, could not help but note series MVP Kawhi Leonard’s unhurried style of play and approach to the game. He seemed always to anticipate and be prepared for what came next. In the midst of a highly stressful activity and setting, he nevertheless appeared—well—at peace.

It doesn’t take his extraordinary skills and preparation to glean an important message for the rest of us, as we live our everyday lives: try to move through life quickly and purposefully, but not frantically. Doing so will enhance tranquility and heighten your ability to focus.

I am realistic. Some will scoff at this simple suggestion, reject it, conclude their lives are too complicated for five extra minutes. (And if truth be told, some don’t care about making good, time wise, on their commitments; but that’s another story.) Why are some of us addicted to stress? It’s more than just an individual refusal to deprive ourselves of anything—even a proven danger like stress to our health and wellbeing.

Ours is a nation developed upon stress. It’s not just the current demands of our fast paced technological era. Much earlier in our nation’s history, the industrial era kept workers on edge so they would work hard and produce. That philosophy may have helped grow the economy, but it did not necessarily contribute to our psychological health. Stress may produce sweat, but not necessarily the best work, much less satisfaction or happiness.

So give yourself five extra minutes—to complete that required task, meet that person, show up at an appointment, pick someone up, etc. Not permitting yourself that cushion can have negative consequences. One morning I tested and verified that assertion: Had I backed out of my driveway in a rush, and skimped on looking behind me, I might have struck the little girl from next door or crashed into the car that suddenly made a U-turn and came up the road behind me. Or I might have turned left too soon, onto a busy thoroughfare, which would have added to the long list of accidents by impatient motorists. And that was only in the first five minutes after my departure from home.

So save your reaction to stress for those situations that truly require it. Meanwhile, do yourself a favor and take a few extra minutes. Doing so might even prolong your life, which would make a whole lot of time cushions very worthwhile.


Dan Regan, a sociologist, is the former dean of academic affairs at Johnson State College and continues to work part-time for Northern Vermont University.

Summer Blueberry Cake

By: Deb Nevil

Fresh summer produce from The Last Resort Farm at Richmond Farmers Market, Vermont

As I write, we are half way through summer. I don’t know about you, but after the extended winter, I am grateful for the bounties that abound. Currently, we are in the midst of blueberry and peach season. Yes, that’s right, local blueberries and peaches! These photos are from The Last Resort Farm. I vend right next to them at Richmond Farmers Market. As such, I spend a lot of time outdoors at farmers’ markets, festivals, and local community events, which allows me to support local farmers and eat as much in season as possible.

Luckily, I live in beautiful Lamoille County, so even if I choose to pick my own blueberries, there are several locations close to my home. As a mom, an educator, and farmers market coordinator,  I love to share my passion for healthy food.

We just concluded our 6-week summer school program where we planted and tended a garden. We went strawberry and blueberry picking, and we baked pies, muffins, and blueberry cake. Smoothies were also a big hit with local yogurt and the fresh fruit we gathered.

I grew up in a family where everyone loved to cook. My Auntie Del cooked for the Rockefeller family in Bar Harbor, Maine. I used to spend time with her and my mom cooking, baking, and pickling. My Auntie Ethel, whom I named “Auntie Cuckoo” (she gifted me a cuckoo clock from Germany when I was just about 3 years old), was also an excellent cook.

Blueberries at Wandering Roots, Cambridge, VT

Fortunately, I have many of their recipes and I’d like to share “Auntie Cuckoo’s” blueberry cake with you. Being a lover of local food and delicious baked goods, I have tried many blueberry cakes, but this is, hands down, my favorite. I hope you get a chance to try it! Remember, blueberries freeze well, so you can pick or purchase now and enjoy them for months to come. Here are some photos of our blueberry bounty, and of course, Auntie Cuckoo’s Blueberry Cake Recipe. Enjoy it and the rest of this glorious season!

Auntie Cuckoo’s Blueberry Cake

Blueberries at Wandering Roots, Cambridge, VT

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. vegetable shortening
  • 2 eggs yolks and 2 egg whites, separated.
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. blueberries

Instructions:

  • Sift flour, baking powder, and salt 3 times in medium-sized bowl.
  • In another bowl, cream sugar and vegetable shortening.
  • Add the beaten egg yolks to the creamed mixture. 
  • Alternately add the flour mixture and milk until fully incorporated.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Fold in beaten egg whites.
  • Lightly flour blueberries, then fold them into mixture.
  • Pour into a 9×9 greased and floured pan. 
  • Sprinkle the top with sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

A mother of 4 with a M.Ed., Deb oversees the after school and summer Enrichment program as the 21st Center for Learning Coordinator at Cambridge Elementary School. Deb understands the importance of a healthy, educated, and engaged community to raise positive and productive children. She is a Vermont Farmers’ Market Advisory (VTFMA) Board Member, Brand Ambassador for Kingdom Creamery of VT and coordinates the JFAM Mtn. Jam Music Series in Jeffersonville in July-August. Deb lives in Cambridge with her family, and babies: her dogs and cats.

The Acorn Philosophy

By: Leah Hollenberger

A small dish of acorns sits on my kitchen windowsill. They are a symbol of hope and perseverance for me. Within each little acorn is a strong oak tree. For me, small step to improve healthacorns also represent a kernel of an idea that can grow into something meaningful; a kernel of truth that can bring about greater understanding.

“Self-care” is a big buzzword now, often used to promote pampering oneself or splurging on something. The acorn reminds me that self-care is necessary and basic: sunshine, water and the right soil is all the acorn needs to become a mighty oak. Self-care is getting enough sleep (7-8 hours a night), healthy eating (lots of vegetables, cooking at home, less processed food), exercising (preferably outside to get fresh air and sunshine), and spending time with people that make you happy.  Doing these things on a daily basis is the foundation of self-care. Just as the acorn needs sunshine, water, and nutrients in the soil to grow – self-care – so do we. Human beings do better when we take care of our basic needs first.

This acorn philosophy works on a bigger scale as well. It is why this blog exists. Why community members are helping others get the nutritious food they need, receive the preventative and emergent healthcare they need, why a grassroots church effort to run a warming shelter has evolved into the Lamoille Community House.  All of these initiatives were a small acorn, a kernel that grew into a community-wide effort to help meet people’s basic needs. Collectively these efforts can always use more help for the need is great, but not insurmountable.

I have a pair of acorn earrings and a necklace that were given to me by dear ones. I like to wear them because they make me happy. I also wear them when I am feeling down or facing what I think may be a difficult day or trying to shape an idea. They serve as a little talisman of hope and belief, as well as a reminder to nurture that soon-to-be oak tree, to nurture me, to nurture our community.


Leah Hollenberger is the Vice President of Marketing, Development, and Community Relations for Copley Hospital. A former award-winning TV and Radio producer, she is the mother of two and lives in Morrisville. Her free time is spent volunteering, cooking, playing outdoors, and producing textile arts. Leah writes about community events, preventive care, and assorted ideas to help one make healthy choices.

Building Resilience and Hope in Children and Youth

By: Scott Johnson, Lamoille Family Center

In a 2017 article co-authored by Boston Pediatrician, Bob Sege, MD, PhD, et al., the authors highlight recently released data about fostering healthy childhood development by promoting positive experiences for children and families. The article recognizes that many families experience hardship and adversity, and they point to research about the importance of balancing those adversities and early life traumas with positive experiences that can grow hopefulness. The piece is called: Balancing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) With HOPE* New Insights into the Role of Positive Experience on Child and Family Development, and the full article can be found at this website: https://www.cssp.org/publications/documents/Balancing-ACEs-with-HOPE-FINAL.pdf.

Assuring healthy outcomes for children is important and complicated work. Families, communities, schools, and workplaces all play a role in the support and development of healthy children. The Lamoille Family Center works across the Lamoille Valley region (Lamoille County plus the towns of Craftsbury, Greensboro, Hardwick, Stannard, and Woodbury), fostering hope and positive outcomes for children, youth, and families.

One way we build hope and support healthy lifestyles is through our “Send a Kid to Camp” program. Initiated as a celebration of the Family Center’s 40th anniversary three years ago, this highly successful program supports local children who otherwise would not be able to afford a summer camp experience. International expert and researcher on childhood trauma, Michael Unger, PhD, believes that camps can play a critical and positive role in a child’s trajectory.

“Camps help children feel in control of their lives, and those experiences of self-efficacy can travel home as easily as a special art project they carry in their backpack. Children who experience themselves as competent will be better problem-solvers in new situations long after the smell of the campfire is forgotten.”

The Family Center works with local schools and sister agencies to identify children who want to go to camp but whose families cannot afford to send them. In the camp’s second year, we were able to send 45 kids – almost double the number of kids to camp from the inaugural year. This year we are on track to treat 59 kids to outdoor and other fun camp experiences.

Here’s what one mother said about her son’s first camp experience:

“He came home from camp grinning ear to ear! Though it will take many months for him to tell us all about camp, he did say, ‘I have SO many friends, him and him and him and her. I don’t know their names but they are my friends.’ As we drove away from Camp Thorpe he was waving and people were waving goodbye and telling him they’d see him next year. I never ever imagined there would be a camp for him.”

We look forward to hearing from more kids this year with their stories about their summer experiences. Building hope in children is the best part of our jobs, and we believe these are smart investments in our future.

Stroke Awareness

By: Nancy Wagner

Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 130,000 people per year. Approximately 800,000 strokes will occur this year, one every 40 seconds, and taking a life approximately every 4 minutes.

Copley Hospital will be holding a 2-part Stroke Awareness class the first week of May. Class one will be held on May 1st from 6-7pm and again on May 2nd from 12-1pm.  Class two will be held on May 8th from 6-7pm and again on May 9th from 12-1pm. To register, call Copley Wellness Center at 888-8369. There is no cost for the class but please pre-register so that we have enough handouts available. Classes will be held in the Stevens Conference Room at the hospital.

Take a moment to learn about risk factors for having a stroke, as well as preventative steps you can take.

Types of strokes:

  • Ischemic stroke: caused by a blood clot that blocks a blood vessel or artery in the brain. About 87% of all strokes are ischemic.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke: caused by a blood vessel in the brain that breaks and bleeds into the brain. About 13% of all strokes are hemorrhagic but more than 30% of all stroke deaths happen with hemorrhagic strokes.

Risk factors for having a stroke?

High cholesterol, high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, previous stroke or TIA (mini-stroke), atrial fibrillation, carotid artery disease, obesity, physical inactivity, drinking too much alcohol and smoking.

Preventing a stroke:

Some of these risk factors you can’t control, but many you can. If you smoke, work on quitting. If you drink too much alcohol, cut back or quit. If you are overweight or obese, get more active and seek out a registered dietitian for help with eating. Healthy eating, increased activity and smoking cessation will help to improve your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, which will further decrease your risk of a stroke.

Signs of a stroke?

  1. Sudden severe headache with no known cause
  2. Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  3. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  4. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  5. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech

What to do if you or someone with you is having a stroke:

Many people don’t realize they are having a stroke. It is often more obvious to those around them. Time is important as quick treatment helps to prevent serious long-term effects of the stroke. Remember the word FAST which stands for:

FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately!

 

Have questions? Want more information? Visit:

Homelessness in the Lamoille Valley 

By: Will Eberle, Agency of Human Services Field Director, Barre and Morrisville Districts

In a rural community, homelessness can feel invisible. You don’t walk down the street and step over homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk to get to the coffee shop. You don’t see people flying signs at every underpass and median. Homelessness in the Lamoille Valley may feel invisible but it is as real as you and me.

Over 150 people came together in Morrisville in early February for a Homelessness Awareness Walk to raise the point that any one of the people walking that day could find themselves homeless from circumstances that swing out of their control.

We called this event “We are the 64” because last year’s “Point in Time count,” which counts the nation-wide homeless population once a year, made it clear that on any given day in Lamoille there are at least 64 people experiencing homelessness. Nearly half—27 individuals— are children.

Every week our Housing Solutions Team pours over a 6-8 page list of individuals and families who are homeless or about to be, to help them secure safe and stable housing.

If you stand up after reading this and remember one thing I say, let it be this: anyone can become homeless at any time. It is not a moral lapse, or a shortcoming of character, but a crisis, a state of emergency – that has more causes then we could list.

If we’re honest, every one of us who has achieved a modicum of success must admit that it is due not just to our own efforts, but the support of friends and family, and the communities we hold so dear.

Together, let us draw a line in the sand and say we don’t want homelessness to be a part of our community anymore. Let us embrace the ethic that we are no longer interested in focusing on blame and judgment but the goodness, and value, and potential, of every person in our communities. Let each of us who stepped out on that cold day, and every other ally we can muster, roll up our sleeves and do our own small part to ensure all of our neighbors have a warm bed to sleep in every night.

Causes of homelessness are complicated, and the solutions are too — but we Vermonters are crafty and resilient and willing to work as hard as we need to get the job done. The faith community, law enforcement, a host of non-profits, state entities, and private citizens have stepped up to begin to weave a safety net for our most vulnerable Vermonters. What we have accomplished together is inspiring but there is much hard work left to do. Together we must build the world that we want to live in.

When you look in the mirror tomorrow morning, ask yourself: “Did I take a step to make the world a better place?”

Make the answer, “Yes.”

To get involved, contact me at Will.Eberle@Vermont.gov.

Take a Walk Around Downtown Morrisville

By: Todd Thomas

walk around historic Morrisville Vermont

Thanks to funding from the Morristown Alliance for Culture and Commerce (MACC), there will soon be another great reason to take a walk around downtown Morrisville. In the next few months, beautiful new street signs will appear throughout the downtown. These signs will be very different than the traditional green road signs with white lettering that Vermonters are used to. As you can see in the above photo, downtown Morrisville’s sleek new street signs will highlight the historical significance of our downtown business district. The signs will be topped with a black border that includes the words “Morrisville Historic District” in white lettering. Below the black border, the actual street sign will be brown and utilize white lettering.(Brown signs are typically used to depict historic sites and national parks.) Morrisville’s Historic District is nationally recognized and deserves the same treatment.

In addition to the different coloring, because street signs located within a historic district do not have to meet typical state and federal requirements, Morrisville’s new street signs will be bilingual. Highlighting the French-Canadian heritage of Morrisville, notice the French word for street “rue” before “Portland” in the photo. All of the new historic district street signs will begin with either the French word for street, avenue or even “heights” – given the need for a street sign for Jersey Heights. In addition to celebrating our town’s heritage, the bilingual street signs are meant to be welcoming to French-Canadian tourists, as well as the few dozen French-Canadian second-home owners that already have property in Morrisville. Hopefully, this small effort to be welcoming will result in more Canadian money being spent in Morrisville’s historic district!

I am not sure about the French-Canadians, but most Americans probably made a New Year’s resolution to lose a few pounds in the coming weeks. As a way to burn off some calories and lose a few of these undesired pounds, please consider taking a walk around downtown Morrisville to check out the new and fabulous historic district street signs. Morrisville’s nationally recognized historic district is a great reason to get off your couch and rediscover downtown Morrisville.

And with the new bilingual street signs, some town residents may even learn a little French while they shed some of those unwanted holiday pounds! C’est fantastique!


Todd Thomas has a Master’s Degree in City Planning from Boston University and has worked both in Massachusetts and Vermont as a consultant and as a land use planner for town government. Todd is currently the Planning Director for Morristown, Vermont.

Todd’s recent work includes helping to revitalize downtown Morrisville, making it the fastest growing city and/or historic downtown in the State since the 2010 Census. Todd attributes much of the downtown’s housing and population growth to zoning reform as it relates to minimum parking requirements.

Diabetes Skin Care During Dry Winter Months

By: Nancy Wagner

Your skin is the biggest organ in your body and it needs extra attention during the cold, dry winter months. Lower outdoor humidity and heaters in the home cause the air to become dry, which makes it more likely your skin will be dry. People with diabetes need to take extra care to avoid irritation, cracking and bleeding. What can you do to maximize skin health?

  1. Hydrate from the inside – Drink plenty of water and avoid excess caffeine and alcohol.
  2. Use a humidifier – At home and at work.
  3. Control your blood sugars – Elevated blood sugars will pull moisture out of the body.
  4. Moisturize – Use a heavier, oil-based moisturizer, ointment or cream in the winter months. Do not use moisturizer between your toes.
  5. Keep hands covered – Wear gloves or mittens when outdoors.
  6. Avoid wet gloves and socks – This could irritate sensitive skin.
  7. Baths and showers – Avoid hot water and keep your bath/shower short.
  8. Avoid irritating soaps, detergents and cleansers – Instead use mild ones and wear gloves when cleaning.
  9. Pat your skin dry instead of rubbing – Rubbing can irritate. Be sure to fully dry between your toes. Leave your arms and legs slightly moist, then apply moisturizer.
  10. Don’t forget your lips – Use lip balm frequently.
  11. Keep warm – Getting cold can aggravate circulation problems. Dress in layers which can be taken off if you become too warm.

Nancy Wagner is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and a Certified Diabetes Educator at Copley Hospital. She provides health and wellness to Copley employees through screenings, education and fun activities; educates patients regarding their nutrition and diabetes needs; and works with community members providing education to schools and businesses. Nancy enjoys helping others learn new things about nutrition, their health habits, and their chronic diseases.

A New Community Resource: The Boardwalk at Barnes Camp in Stowe

By: Lea Kilvádyová

Ribbon cutting and boardwalk opening ceremony held on Oct 27, 2017.

 

Last month, Governor Scott, Congressman Peter Welch, and members of the Smugglers’ Notch Partners celebrated the opening of the Boardwalk at Barnes Camp Visitors’ Center in Smugglers’ Notch at Stowe. The five-foot-wide Boardwalk is approximately an eighth of a mile long and is a universally accessible portion of the Long Trail. The Boardwalk is built on spiral piers over a wetland and offers stunning, and previously unavailable views of the Notch. The Boardwalk is situated near Barnes Camp –a historic building built in 1927 — which played a key role in the development of Vermont’s outdoor recreation economy before the advent of ski lodges and resorts.

Mike DeBonis, Executive Director of the Green Mountain Club noted, “Wheelchair users and through hikers alike can enjoy the unique wetland, interpretative panels and spectacular views on this fully accessible portion of the Long Trail.” DeBonis added that the relocation of the Long Trail portion that connects to the Boardwalk will be completed in the Spring and hikers will be able to park at the Barnes Camp Visitors Center to hike over the Notch.

Interpretative panels narrate the natural history of the area.

The Lamoille County Planning Commission served as project manager for the Boardwalk. Senator Sanders obtained a generous Federal Highway earmark that funded about eighty percent of the construction costs. The remaining funds were provided by the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, the Green Mountain Club, Spruce Peak Resort Association, Lamoille County Planning Commission and Lamoille Economic Development Corporation.