Celebrate The Fresh Air Fund’s 138th Summer

Fresh Air summers are filled with children running barefoot through the grass, gazing at star-filled skies or swimming for the first time. Join host families in and around the Southern Vermont area for our 138th summer and open your heart and home to a Fresh Air child! Each summer, over 4,000 inner-city children visit suburban, rural and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada through The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program.

"Hosting provides our Fresh Air child an opportunity to experience new things, and gives our own children a chance to meet a new friend and share amazing moments together," says Janine, a Fresh Air host.

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Fresh Air children are boys and girls, from six to 18 years old, who live in New York City. Children on first-time visits are 6 to 12 years old and stay for one or two weeks. Children who are reinvited by host families may continue with The Fresh Air Fund through age 18 and can enjoy extended trips. Over 65 percent of all children are reinvited to stay with their host families, year after year.

For more information on hosting a Fresh Air child this summer, contact Martha Thompson at 802-362-3473 or visit The Fresh Air Fund online at www.freshair.org. CAT-TV Open House

BENNINGTON -- Catamount Access Television covers meetings, answers questions, instructs classes, encourages people to use their talents in planning, producing and directing their own programs.

Join the CAT-TV staff on Tuesday, Feb. 4, from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. as they open their 625 Main St. offices to members of the community who want to learn more about the organization and become new members. Learn how to submit a community bulletin board announcement, sign up to take a camera class, editing course or studio course, learn how to do a video public service announcement, of sponsor a program. Find out who is eligible to become a member of CAT-TV and if there’s a fee to join.

People that live, work or go to school full time in Woodford, Bennington, Pownal, North Bennington and Shaftsbury can become members for free. Others living outside of these areas can become a member for a nominal fee. Many who have taken courses at CAT-TV achieve great benefits from their training and work done at the studio. To reserve a seat, contact Darlene Young, outreach coordinator, at 802-442-8868.

3SquaresVT can help seniors

The high costs of food, fuel and health care are making it hard for many seniors to put good food on the table. 3SquaresVT can help.

3SquaresVT helps you stretch your food budget and buy more food. It comes as a monthly dollar benefit either on a debit card called an EBT card or as cash directly deposited into your bank account.

Older Vermonters who take part are not taking money away from others in need. Anyone who qualifies can receive benefits; there is enough for everyone. Plus, spending benefits in Vermont adds money to our economy, so you are helping support local grocers and farmers. It’s good for you and good for Vermont.

Elders with gross incomes below 185 percent of federal poverty levels do not have a resource limit, so savings don’t count. The 185 percent income limit is $1,723 for a single person or $2,268 for a couple. If your income is over these numbers, you could still be eligible. If so, you do have a resource limit, but your house, car, and retirement savings do not count as resources. Your 3SquaresVT benefit will not count as income either, so your eligibility for other programs like Medicare will not be at risk.

Many Vermonters are facing challenges right now. Everyone needs access to healthy food, and 3SquaresVT is here to help. 1 in 6 Vermonters take part, including thousands of senior citizens. As an elder, you’ve worked hard all your life and you have earned the help you can get now.

For more information or an application, visit www.vermontfoodhelp.com or call the Vermont Senior HelpLine at 1-800-642-5119.

VNA & Hospice to host conversation about end of life care

BENNINGTON -- No one really knows when he or she will die. Most people expect death is years away, but there is no way to know for sure. That’s why it’s never too early to begin a conversation about the type of care and treatment each person wants to have at the end of life.

On Feb. 6, the Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of SVHC will host a discussion designed to help people begin to have the conversation. Dr. Allen Hutcheson and Elizabeth Fredland, a local primary care physician and medical director of the hospice program, and a licensed social worker with hospice, respectively, will host the discussion at 2 p.m. at the Bennington Free Library.

Hutcheson and Fredland will lead participants through preparing for the end of life in a non-confrontational style that engages the audience. The program also comes with an easy-to-understand booklet to help participants guide their own discussions at home.

"We prepare for everything in life. The birth of a child, college, marriage, retirement, our work life, even vacations," Fredland explained. "We rarely take the time to talk with our families and friends about the types of care we want at the end of life. These conversations are difficult, but extremely important."

The discussion is part of a public education initiative by Vermont’s nonprofit VNA, home health and hospice agencies and the Vermont Ethics Network. For more information and to reserve your spot, call the VNA & Hospice at 802-442-5502.

The VNA & Hospice of Southwestern Vermont Health Care provides skilled nursing and rehabilitation in patients’ homes throughout Bennington County.

The VNA & Hospice of SVHC is part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, an integrated health system serving Bennington and Windham counties in Vermont and nearby communities in New York and Massachusetts. The health system also includes Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, the SVHC Foundation, and the SVMC Northshire and Deerfield Valley campuses. It includes Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians, a multispecialty medical group operated in partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

Bromley’s ‘Mom’s Day Off’ Breast Cancer fundraiser

PERU -- On Friday, Feb. 7, Bromley Mountain will be holding their 12th Annual "Mom’s Day Off" Fundraiser -- when moms ski or ride for just $15, when they show the ticket seller a snapshot of their kid or kids. Once again, this year’s event will benefit the Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center in Bennington, part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care. The center will receive the entire $15 donation from each mom.

"Last year’s event raised $4,935 from 329 moms, in what was predicted to be blizzard conditions," said Bill Cairns, Bromley’s President. "Schools were closed and a lot of moms had to bail out. Still, that brought our 11-year total to just shy of $54,000. I’d love to see 2014’s MDO bring in seven, eight thousand dollars. Or more! It’s doable, and wouldn’t it be a great thing if it did?"

Dr. Orion Howard, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Medical Oncologist and medical director of the SVHC Cancer Center, said, "Receiving donations like this helps us continue to provide top-quality care to our patients. It is wonderful to have so much support from the communities we serve."

Leslie Keefe, SVHC VP of Corporate Development said, "We are fortunate to have such a wonderful partner in Bromley Mountain Resort. It’s a win-win event for moms to have fun and support health care at the same time."

Participants will be able to meet some of the physicians and staff of the cancer center, whether on the slopes or in the lodge. Bromley Mountain is located at 3984 Vermont Route 11, six miles east of Manchester. To learn more, visit bromley.com.

Vermont Arts Council receives $38,000

The Vermont Arts Council announced that it has received two grants totaling $38,000 to support the Head Start Arts Partnership Program. This vital program, coordinated by VAC, is a joint effort of Head Start programs and local arts organizations to provide direct arts experiences to Head Start children and their families. The program also provides professional development for classroom teachers.

A $30,000 grant from the A.D. Henderson Foundation and an $8,000 grant from the Adelard A. Roy and Valeda Lea Roy Foundation will enable the partnership to provide direct arts experiences for more than 350 Head Start children and their families. Through 24 12-week teaching artist residencies, HSAPP will also offer professional development for 42 Head Start classroom teachers, increasing their capacity to teach in, about, and through the arts.

"Our goal is to help Head Start teachers successfully integrate the arts into their classrooms by providing sustained professional development with professional artists. The hope is that the program can also serve as a model for the collective impact that is possible when arts organizations and social services agencies work together to effect change -- in this case, lifting children out of poverty," said Ben Doyle, VAC’s education programs manager.

HSAPP partners include United Counseling Services Head Start, North Bennington; Vermont Arts Exchange, North Bennington; and Catamount Arts, St. Johnsbury.

For almost 20 years, the Vermont Arts Council’s HSAPP has sponsored artist residencies in Head Start classrooms throughout Vermont. During this time, thousands of Head Start children have experienced their first direct interaction with a professional artist.

Since 1964, VAC has been the state’s primary provider of funding, advocacy and information for the arts. VAC is the only designated State Arts Agency in the U.S. that is also an independent, not-for-profit, membership organization. For more information, visit www.vermontartscouncil.org.