BENNINGTON -- The Sunrise Family Resource Center and students from Mount Anthony Union High School's Twilight program dug a hole on Friday outside Sunrise's community house, 226 Union St., to establish a tribute for Rep. Anne Mook, Bennington 2-2.
The legislator assisted in a tree planting that would commemorate her work in the Vermont House that assisted Sunrise in acquiring funds for its nonprofit work.
Sunrise staked a plaque into the ground beside the tree that reads, "In honor of Representative Anne Mook with gratitude for her advocacy for children and families, 2014."
Sunrise executive director Linda Dean-Farrar said it seemed natural to do something to honor Mook as she finishes out her last term as a state representative.
"Something living and growing just seemed to make perfect sense. It carries on the legacy over time," Dean-Farrar said. "The dedication she has given to families has been remarkably supportive of the work we do and of a healthy community."
Mook fought almost every year for a funding mechanism to go to the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, which allots funds to alternative programs at Sunrise and other parent-child centers in the state.
Sunrise has a working-relationship with MAU, but other centers in the state have built a department of education. Prior to the funding legislation, Sunrise's program was written into a welfare reform bill. Now, the supervisory union is billed for certain programs based on how many are enrolled.
"There were several of us legislators who just fought to have these parent-child contacts," Mook said. "No legislation ever is done by one person. Sometimes you can gather momentum by getting people behind the idea. But, if you have 15 of these centers across the state, then you have a number of (individuals) in need of some kind of alternative education."
Teachers in alternative-education programs at Sunrise must be licensed and follow regulations required by the No Child Left Behind Act. There are programs that help parenting or pregnant young adults to obtain their high school diplomas, help educate and prepare criminal youth for independent living, educate parents and provide family resources.
"Knowing that we could turn to Anne while she was in the legislature and share our concerns with her ..." Dean-Farrar said was very helpful to the Sunrise staff. "Knowing that she is well seeded in this community is just a bonus in my point of view, because I know she isn't going anywhere."
For more about Sunrise or the services it offers, visit http://sunrisefamilyresourcecenter.com/Services.html.
Contact Tom Momberg at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg.