Tag - Vermont

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Small Pleasures
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Fresh Air
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Spring Into Wellness
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The Winter Blues
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Become a Live Well Lamoille Blogger!
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Tips for a Less Stressful Holiday
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The Jeffersonville Culvert Program
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Family Health History
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Prepping for the Dark Season
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Purely Patrick: Supported Employment Helps an Entrepreneur Succeed

Small Pleasures

By: Dan Regan

It’s undoubtedly true, as we all know, that “the best things in life are free”—love, truth, beauty, honor, among them. Material things, however, do play a part in the quality and enjoyment of our lives. Our experience of the material world can contribute to a sense of satisfaction and hence of wellbeing. If you are among the many for whom this is true, I suggest that you freely indulge in small pleasures.

This message applies to people of all ages, but it is especially intended as a manifesto for older readers not enticed by calls to create a dramatic bucket list, go on a lavish cruise or round-the-world trip, or purchase a fancy automobile. I have no quarrel with those who are so compelled, but the advice about aging and retirement has overwhelmingly spoken to the true luxury-seekers among the older population. 

But what about those of us for whom joy and certainly contentment in advancing age is not found sitting in airport waiting lounges, scrambling to change planes? Or who don’t find ourselves in situations able to “get away,” perhaps because of responsibilities to kids, grandchildren, or parents? How do we find our retirement pleasure?

Of course, the “big” answer resides in deep relationships, meaningful activities, close community. But a partial – though no less compelling – response may reside in the more regular consumption of what I am calling “small pleasures.”

When you go to the supermarket, indulge a little. Purchase—and savor—that expensive chocolate instead of the cheaper variety. Or do the same with coffee. Or go to a bath and beauty store for high-quality soap. Such examples could be multiplied many times. Find your own favorite areas for occasionally foregoing your usual economy in favor of indulging in small pleasures.

The Jaguar that most of us will never own costs a little less than twice what our Toyota or Subaru does. So how do “small pleasures” compare to their more economical counterparts?

“Economy” Brand“Pleasure” Brand% Greater
Car$25,450 $44,800 76% 
Chocolate$1.99 $3.99100%
Coffee$4.35 $12.99 199%
Soap$1.65$7.99384%

As you can see, in percentage terms it’s actually more extravagant to purchase the “small pleasures.” Feel like a millionaire and enjoy all of them! You’ll still only be out a total of 25 bucks, as compared to $45,000.

So, indulge yourself a little, if you are able to do so. You deserve it.

Finally: Please remember that 68,000 Vermonters, 11.3 percent of the state’s population, live in poverty. At least 8,000 among them are Vermont senior citizens. For those below the poverty line, our neighbors among them, subsistence is the currently reachable goal, not—sadly—these small pleasures.


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. He writes for a variety of publications about whatever interests him, including—recently—climate change, living with arthritis, the NFL players’ protests, and higher education.

Fresh Air

By: Caleb Magoon

benefit of fresh air

There is something beautiful and brilliant about- you guessed it: fresh air. No, not the radio program, the actual air you breathe in on a beautiful day where you are afforded the luxury of quite literally inhaling and exhaling clean air. But there is more to fresh air than just that.

This past week, spring suddenly sprung. This past weekend I spent some time watching, chasing, and playing with my 15-month-old son as he experienced the joy of a warm sunny day after a long Vermont winter. I can’t effectively describe the youthful joy of exploring a world you have only had a taste of, and doing so with the mobility that you have only realized in recent months. His response was purely instinctual and a clear reaction to his circumstances. What a joy to watch him!

Whether it was the fresh air, the sun, or the youthful exploration of the great outdoors, it was infectious. My wife and I had more fun because of it. But there is more to those things that meet the eye. Study after study has shown that kids need to get outside, see the sun, and breathe fresh air.

It doesn’t stop with kids. Just as we know well about “seasonal depression” for folks who need more light throughout the winter, adults too need recess. I see it in every smiling face, grins ear to ear, in the first few beautiful days of the spring. That’s because we can’t help it – our bodies instinctively respond to the rush of air and warmth and sun and we can only smile.

So if I give you any advice for the spring, it’s this: take recess. It doesn’t matter if you simply go for a five-minute walk on your lunch or coffee break, a loop around the block from your car to the building, or whatever! Put those inside cleaning projects on hold and weed the garden. It almost doesn’t matter what you do, just do it outside. If you are lucky enough to have the joy of a little physical recreation, all the better. Your physical and mental help will be the beneficiaries and your neighbors, friends and family will thank you for your sunny disposition.

Enjoy your spring!

Spring Into Wellness

By: Deb Nevil

I don’t know about you, but this time of year always tugs at my inner gardener. I linger in a space of memories to the joy I find in delicious, locally grown produce and berries. As I watch the birds ready themselves for mating and all that the ritual of spring renewal has to offer, I dream of seeds sprouting, sap running, and the trees budding.  In Vermont, we know how quickly things change and that goes for our short growing season. I’m longing for cool misty mornings with my bare feet in the garden, long, steamy days that turn into peaceful evenings filled with music and laughter, and for summer farmers’ markets to open and the connection that brings to abundance and community.

Did you know that starting in July, just in time for peak growing season, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets Division is opening up the Farm to Family program to our local farm stands?

This program falls under Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and supplements healthy eating choices of locally produced fruits, vegetables and plant starts for families from birth to age five. Farm to Family was originally only for farmers’ markets, but with this expansion, a broader focus on the importance of starting to eat healthy from the start helps to foster healthy habits for a lifetime. Families receive $30.00 in Farm to Family coupons in $6.00 increments. Here’s who can get support from WIC:

  • Pregant Women
  • Moms
  • Dads
  • Grandparents
  • Foster Parents
  • Step Parents
  • Guardians

“If you’re pregnant, a caregiver, or a mom with a child under age 5, you can get the right personalized support for you and your family. Caregivers with low to medium income and those who are part of other programs such as foster care, medical assistance or SNAP are eligible. Contact your local office for details.” – signupwic.com

This time of year also brings renewal and change. I try to focus on eating healthy and incorporating recipes that are easy, versatile and satisfying. I was on my social media account last night and a good friend, Kim Place-Faucher, posted a picture of a delicious salad.

Healthy spring seasonal recipe

 The funny thing was, her post asked about food blogging! Well of course, I had to share my guest blog post through Healthy Lamoille Valley and that I was writing this post for all of you. I asked if I could share her recipe and she said, “Yes!”  Here is Kim’s recipe:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 blood orange
  • 1 Cara Cara orange
  • 1 navel
  • A small handful of fresh cilantro
  • Dress the salad with fresh-squeezed lime juice and drizzle with local honey.

This season also provides the best local maple syrup, so you could try a variation by changing out the honey with maple. Whatever your choice, I hope this finds you well and wanting to enjoy the offerings of the season. At the very least it might make mud season more tolerable.

In gratitude,

 Deb


Deb Nevil is a Boston native who grew up summering on the ocean in Marshfield, MA. Clamming, blackberry picking, gardening and homemade cooking has always been her passion. Consequently, her love for healthy, natural food and wellness has brought her to create in her hometown, Jeffersonville Farmers’ and Artisan Market. Deb was encouraged by her parents to live life on her own terms while helping others achieve their goals through neighborliness, generosity and compassion.

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 Winter Blues

By: Caleb Magoon

Seasonal Affective Disorder

In my blog posts, I normally talk about staying active, fit and healthy. Of course, this is my wheelhouse. But this month I’m tackling a different subject: the all-too-familiar winter blues.

I’m generally a positive and upbeat person. I also love winter. I like to play in the snow and make the most of it, no matter the condition. But just a couple weeks ago something happened- I was in a bad car accident that has left me injured. Though my injury isn’t severe, it has left me unable to participate in many of the winter activities that bring me joy during these challenging months.

This has been a profound awakening for me. While I undergo rehab to get back to form, I now have a much greater understanding of and respect for those who are not able-bodied. The challenges of staying upbeat in our long winter become even harder with even modest limitations. So do mundane tasks like shoveling snow and walking down the road when your body can’t keep up.

What can we do but adapt? This can be very hard for someone like myself with set ways and ideas of how my winter should be. But adapting and making adjustments is the only way to stay positive. Here are some thoughts I have about the process:

  • Do what you can! Walking is widely recognized as an excellent exercise. It’s considerably lower speed than I am used to but necessary. It’s forced me to slow things down and take stock. This is good for both physical and mental recovery. Don’t discount the importance of some quiet time to think.
  • Stretch – Anyone can do it. A little physical therapy and stretching can do everyone good. It’s also the gateway to more robust activity. There are so many resources online that it’s easy to get started.
  • Exercise is mental – Every time I ski or bike I am helping my body and my mind. While my body must take it easy for the immediate future, I need to focus on sharpening my mind. I am reading the paper a bit more, writing in a journal about things going on in my life and working to reflect on the good things in life. Stay positive.
  • Set some goals – We all want to get back out. Setting modest goals will help the downtime fly by and keep you focused on recovery. We all want to be ready to enjoy that first sunny, 50-degree day in March. Be ready for it!
  • Don’t forget to socialize – Mental health is greatly improved when we engage with other people. Taking myself out of my routine pulls me away from the people I normally interact with. I tend to pull back from people and isolate a bit. This isn’t healthy. In situations like this, we all need to go out of our way to stay engaged with others.

I now recognize the challenges of those who are less able-bodied to get through our long winters. You can make it through by staying positive and focusing on doing the things we are able to do.


Caleb Magoon is a Hyde Park native who grew up hiking, hunting, biking and exploring Vermont’s Green Mountains. His passions for sports and recreation have fueled his career as the owner of Power Play Sports and Waterbury Sports. Caleb encourages outdoor activity and believes it is an essential element to a healthy lifestyle and the Vermont way of life. Caleb serves the Lamoille Valley by volunteering on numerous community boards such as the Lamoille County Planning Commission, The Morrisville Alliance for Commerce and Culture, Mellow Velo, and the state chapter of The Main Street Alliance. He lives, plays and works in Hyde Park with his wife Kerrie.

Become a Live Well Lamoille Blogger!

The Live Well Lamoille blog is a joint community effort to share information and encourage one another to make healthy choices, and now YOU have the opportunity to be a part of it! This month, we are beginning our search for new bloggers to join the conversation about how to live well and build a healthier community.

So many factors contribute to “health.” Medical care is certainly important; however, many of the other factors that shape our health reside outside the doctor’s office, such as access to nutritious food, economic stability, and the policies and laws that shape the choices available to us.

Too often, the clinical aspects of healthy living are considered separate from the more social aspects. Live Well Lamoille attempts to create a shared space where our community can come together for a more holistic conversation. We bring together bloggers from health organizations, local government, advocacy groups, educational institutions, and local businesses to contribute blog posts sharing resources, activities, and ideas to help readers make healthy choices.

This year, we hope to feature even more perspectives and approaches to improving health. Adults over the age of 18 in the Lamoille Valley are invited to enter our contest to become a new Live Well Lamoille blogger. Entering is simple:

  1. Visit Copley Hospital’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CopleyHospitalVT
  2. Comment on the blog contest announcement (link above) discussing why you would be a great blogger to represent and inspire people in our community to make healthy choices.

Use this as an opportunity to introduce yourself and let your personality shine. Who are you? What is your approach to health? Do you enjoy cooking, exercising, or practicing mindfulness? Do you work to improve quality life for children and families through your career?

We are looking for a variety of backgrounds and approaches to health and wellness. In the past, bloggers have written about both traditional healthcare topics (such as heart health and managing a chronic disease), as well as topics not traditionally thought of in health discussions, such as:

  • neighborhood walkability
  • preventing substance abuse
  • addiction recovery
  • early childhood education
  • coping with grief
  • local recreational resources

Every blogger will bring their own unique voice and stories to the blog. Each Live Well Lamoille blogger will be responsible for writing 2 to 3 blog posts per year.

Head on over to Copley Hospital’s Facebook page and tell us why you would make a great blogger!

Tips for a Less Stressful Holiday

By: Leah Hollenberger

Tips to reduce holiday stress

The holidays can be one of the most stressful and emotional times of the year.  The loss of loved ones is felt deeply, financial worries, and stress over trying to fit in holiday activities along with daily life all contribute. There are two steps to helping make the holidays easier and more enjoyable. The first step is being honest with how much you can afford to spend for the holiday and sticking to your budget. The second step is focusing on what is most meaningful to you and your family and letting go of all the other activities and events that we tell ourselves must be a part of the holidays. This can be hard given all of the commercials, movies, and others’ traditions and expectations that are shared this time of the year.  Here are some tips that may help:

Speak with your extended family or friends in advance and mutually agree to provide gifts only for anyone under the age of 18.

For the adults, hold a Yankee Swap. Set a reasonable price limit, which is fair to everyone. You’ll find people will get creative. It is fun watching everyone open the presents and you’ll have a lot of laughs with the trading and swapping that ensues!

If you enjoy making gifts, try making one gift your signature gift for the holiday season. Make multiples of the item and give it to every adult on your list. Think homemade cocoa mix, granola, canned or preserved items like jam or pickles, candles, and the like.

Realize that once you give a gift, you are not invested as to if the recipient likes the gift. Of course, you hope they love it, but if they don’t, it is not a reflection on you. Let it go. It is fine if they want to re-gift or donate the item so someone else can enjoy it.

Give experiences as gifts; tickets to a play, a museum pass, a restaurant gift card – something that encourages the recipient to spend time with someone they love.

Give your time: a coupon to babysit; a calendar with an offer to get together monthly for a “walk and talk;” a bag of your homemade cocoa mix with a note to get together to watch a favorite tv show; an offer to drive them to the library, grocery store or laundromat, etc.  You could even suggest volunteering at the food share, nursing home, or with a local non-profit together.

Have your children shop with you for each other, within the budget you set. Siblings typically do a great job picking out a gift for each other – and it means more knowing their brother or sister picked it out especially for them.

The 4-gift rule is popular: one gift is something they want, one gift is something they need, one gift is something they wear, and one gift is something they read. I’m not sure where this rule originated, but it works for everyone and helps you stay on budget.

Figure out the two or three things that you love the most about the holiday and focus on them. If you love the lights on the Christmas tree but dislike decorating it, why not go with just lights on the tree? Make just one or two kinds of Christmas cookies instead of four or five. Better yet, participate in a cookie-walk if you want a variety of cookies. Area churches often hold them and promote them via Front Porch Forum.

Instead of going out to dinner, or fixing a fancy meal, suggest a potluck instead or serve a simple meal with a fancy dessert. Meet after dinner and take a drive around town to see the Christmas lights. Or play a board game with Christmas music playing in the background.

Simplify the expectations you have for yourself and others and you’ll find your holiday is less stressful and filled with what truly matters: spending meaningful time with family and friends.

What tips do you have for making the holidays less stressful?


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.

The Jeffersonville Culvert Program

By: Lea Kilvádyová, Lamoille County Planning Commission

This is a story of one community’s dedication to improving the health of its residents by reducing the occurrence of flooding in the historic core of their village. Read about the intent behind installing a new large culvert under VT Route 15 in Jeffersonville.

Due to its location at the confluence of the Brewster and Lamoille Rivers, the Village of Jeffersonville lies within the 100-year floodplain and is prone to severe flooding. During 2011, Jeffersonville was inundated with floodwaters three times and experienced extensive damage to roads, culverts, businesses, and homes. Mann’s Meadow, housing for families and seniors, was evacuated due to road closure, power outage, and building flooding.

Arial photo of Jeffersonville’s 2011 flooding with an approximate location of flood mitigation improvements (in red).

 

Following the 2011 floods, the community worked with regional planners from Lamoille County Planning Commission and Milone & McBroom Engineers to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce the flooding in Jeffersonville. One part of the plan, and the most recent improvement implemented in November 2018, was the construction of a large flood bypass culvert under Route 15. (A culvert is a structure that allows water to flow under a road, trail, or similar obstruction from one side to the other side.)

The culvert is located between the new Union Bank building and the Joinery/Jeffersonville Automotive. The culvert is designed to reduce flood damages in the Village of Jeffersonville by allowing floodwaters from the Brewster River to flow out of the Village before impacting structures and property. Based on the detailed flood modeling completed after the spring 2011 flooding, the culvert – along with the larger Greenway Bridge installed last year – will significantly reduce flood levels and greatly reduce the need for road closures or evacuations of Village residents in the future.

New flood bypass culvert under Route 15 in Jeffersonville

 

The culvert construction has been made possible in part by funding provided by FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and Vermont’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery Program. For more information, contact Lamoille County Planning Commission at 888-4548.

Family Health History

By: Leah Hollenberger

Thanksgiving Day, November 22, is also Family Health History Day. As you gather with family this holiday, why not spend a few minutes with your loved ones exchanging medical histories?

There are several diseases that commonly run in families, including diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer osteoporosis, and sickle cell anemia.

Not many of us have detailed and precise information about other family members’ health histories. But any information can be helpful. Creating a Family Health History, and sharing it with your doctor and other healthcare practitioners, will help your provider recommend actions for reducing your personal risk of disease or help in looking for early warning signs of disease.

Reaching out to other family members to share your family health history, can help develop a more inclusive, larger family health history. And in doing so, talking about your family health history can help each of you stay healthy.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has an online tool,  “My Family Health Portrait,” that makes it easy to capture and save your family medical history. You can share the document with other family members and easily update it. The tool is available online at https://phgkb.cdc.gov/FHH/html/index.html.

Pen and paper works just fine as well. The March of Dimes also has downloadable PDF health history form you can use at marchofdimes.org/family-health-history-form.pdf.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a form too, at www.hhs.gov/programs/prevention-and-wellness/family-health-history/family-health-portrait-tool/printable/index.html.

However you decide to record your family health history, it should include:

  • Health history of your parents, your brothers, and sisters, and your children; next in importance are grandparents, uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews, and any half-brothers or half-sisters. Finally, it is helpful to include great aunts, great uncles, and cousins.
  • Age for all relatives, including age at time of death for the deceased and what caused their death.
  • Ethnicity/Ancestory, as some genetic diseases are more common in certain ethnic groups.
  • Presence of chronic diseases.

The HHS suggests these questions to help get the conversation going:

  • Do you have any chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes?
  • Have you had any other serious illnesses, such as cancer or stroke?
  • How old were you when you developed these illnesses?
  • Have you or your partner had any difficulties with pregnancies, such as miscarriages?
  • What medications are you currently taking?
  • Do you have, or have you had, any learning or developmental disabilities?

You should be prepared to ask some follow up questions. For example, if an uncle tells you he has heart disease you will want to ask:

  • How old were you when you developed the disease?
  • Did you have a heart attack?
  • Have you had any procedures done related to your heart? If so, what and when?
  • Do you have other medical problems, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure?
  • What medications are you taking to help with any of the above?

Please realize that this conversation could be difficult for some members of your family. Not everyone may want to share their personal health information or it could bring up some difficult emotions. Being respectful and sensitive to their feelings is important. It may help to share in advance why you are asking these questions and what you plan to do with the information.

So this Thanksgiving, in addition to asking for the recipe for that delicious side dish, ask them to also share their health history and anything they know about other family members’ past health.

Wishing you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.


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.

Prepping for the Dark Season

By: Caleb Magoon

It’s getting dark and it’s a tough time of year to stay fit and healthy. “Stick season” (as it’s known here in Vermont), brings tough weather and limited daylight, making it harder to compel ourselves to get out and stay active.

That said, this is the perfect time to make a plan to stay active during the dark season, now through the winter. Here are a few thoughts on planning for the winter and staying safe in the dark.

Don’t let the dark get you down! Some of us will be driven inside, but others will continue activities outside and simply change how we do them. If your goal is to stay outdoors, safety and visibility need to be your number one priority. Safety vests and reflective material have gotten way better in recent years, and you need to own some. LED headlamps and lights have become more efficient, and red light and strobe options help make you super visible. The same is true for bike lights, which have gotten much nicer in recent years. Many options are rechargeable now so you don’t have to keep inserting new batteries. Reflective material and lights are worthy investments so you can walk, run, or bike safely during this time of year.

Stick season is a good time of year to see if working out at a gym is “for you.” Many gyms offer free trial periods, making it affordable to try out a new space. Try a few gyms and find one that fits you! Make sure it’s a place that fits your attitude towards staying fit (very serious vs. casual) and offers the equipment you need.

It is also worth considering the many alternative indoor fitness options that our area has to offer. Indoor pools are available at Johnson State College and The Swimming Hole in Stowe. Some resorts like the Golden Eagle in Stowe or Smugglers Notch offer open swim times. Other indoor activities include pickup games of soccer, volleyball, and racketball at places like Johnson State College, the Cambridge Community Center, Smugglers Notch, and more. There is also a local men’s basketball league, pickup soccer in the People’s Academy Gym, and our local pickleball club is seeking out an indoor play space. There are always games being played, just ask around!

Perhaps you don’t enjoy team sports? Well, it’s a great time to outfit your spare room, basement, or garage with some free weights, a bike trainer, or maybe an elliptical. Prepare now before you really need it.

In a month or so we will hopefully have enough snow and cold to enjoy some skating and snow activities, but a diverse fitness routine is always ideal. Be prepared with at least one indoor activity that isn’t dependent on the weather.

Now is the time to line up your plans for staying active this winter – there’s no need to wait for the really cold temperatures. Start looking for local groups you can plan with and locations where you can work out or stay fit; or come up with your winter outdoor safety plan including lights, warm clothes, and routes you can safely run or bike. Beware of hunting season which is now on.

The more prepared we are and the better the plan, the more likely you are to stick to it. So use stick season as your excuse to prepare. After all, winter is coming!


Caleb Magoon is a Hyde Park native who grew up hiking, hunting, biking and exploring Vermont’s Green Mountains. His passions for sports and recreation have fueled his career as the owner of Power Play Sports and Waterbury Sports. Caleb encourages outdoor activity and believes it is an essential element to a healthy lifestyle and the Vermont way of life. Caleb serves the Lamoille Valley by volunteering on numerous community boards such as the Lamoille County Planning Commission, The Morrisville Alliance for Commerce and Culture, Mellow Velo, and the state chapter of The Main Street Alliance. He lives, plays and works in Hyde Park with his wife Kerrie.

Purely Patrick: Supported Employment Helps an Entrepreneur Succeed

By: Rebecca Copans

Patrick and his sister Deseray Lewis sell Purely Patrick goods at Art on Park in Stowe

 

If you wander down Stowe’s Park Street on a summer Thursday evening, you are sure to find a colorful tent filled with specialty food items made and packaged by Patrick Lewis, the entrepreneur behind Purely Patrick.

A vivacious person who sings through his days, Patrick was born with Cerebral Palsy. His parents, Mary Anne and George Lewis, helped Patrick utilize his repetitive hand motions to build a specialty food business. He sells glass Ball jars and plastic water bottles (which are easier to ship) filled to the brim with beautiful dried ingredients like birdseed, recipes for dog treats, sweets like cookies and brownies, savory recipes like soup and cornbread, as well as a number of gluten-free recipes.

Along with his parents, George and Mary Anne Lewis, Patrick is supported by his sister, Deseray, and two LCMHS Developmental Services Supported Employment Staff, Carrie Cota and Miranda Maxham. Carrie has been with Patrick for seven years, and Miranda has been with him for three. Strong relationships and job retention are incredibly important here.

Patrick participated in the Race for Sensory Drive in May with his mother and sister, Mary Anne and Deseray Lewis.

 

“I wouldn’t trade [Carrie and Miranda] for the world. Not just anyone can do this job,” Mary Anne says. The rapport among them is obvious.

“Miranda is the numbers girl, and I handle the technical side of the business, including developing and maintaining the website,” Carrie says.

“Carrie is my techie,” Mary Anne jokes, “and Miranda is a worker bee—they both are!—but Miranda is never afraid of using her muscles. For example, she brings many jars from the Hardware store in for Patrick after his shopping trips. She carries a ton of Patrick’s groceries in at the same time. She is always moving, and very efficient. She is even insured to drive the big lift van and does so willingly and safely.”

Developing the business-side of Purely Patrick has been a learning process. Working with his strengths, over time they developed a concept for creating products that capitalize on Patrick’s repetitive hand movements and that avoid hand-over-hand motions that are difficult for a person who is blind. His Supported Employment staff helps Patrick to ensure that measurements are accurate. But “if there is anything in one of those jars, it’s because he put it there,” Carrie says.

Mary Anne agrees. “It’s not about us doing it, it’s purely Patrick!”

The team tracks Purely Patrick sales—from farmers markets and craft shows to internet sales—and their hottest market is sales from the family-owned Brass Lantern Inn in Stowe. The relationship is mutual. The innkeepers sell a number of Vermont products, from tea to maple syrup, “but the thing we sell the most of out there is Patrick’s products,” says Mary Anne.

When buying the specialty food products, many people don’t realize that Patrick is the innkeepers’ son. It creates a positive awareness of the abilities of an individual with a disability. Even though sales aren’t always robust at some community events, there is value in Patrick’s presence there. “He has some very loyal repeat customers over the years that come to Art on Park year after year,” Carrie says.

Mary Anne agrees. “I see it as a bigger picture; it is exponential networking and I feel that it’s wholesome disability awareness. I can’t tell you how many moms and dads have come up to us and said, ‘I had no idea that a Patrick could be employed.’ It’s inspiring for families of people living with a disability to see the incredible potential in every individual.”

 


Rebecca Copans has worked extensively in government affairs, public relations and communications. As a society, our greatest potential lies with our children. With this basic tenant firmly in mind, Rebecca worked most recently with the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children and now with Lamoille County Mental Health to secure a stronger foundation for all Vermont families. 

A graduate of the University of Vermont and Dartmouth College, Rebecca holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in globalization. Her thesis concentration was the history and societal use of language and its effect on early cognitive development. She lives in Montpelier with her husband and three children.