Friday June 28, 2013

ZEKE WRIGHT

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- The Sunrise Family Resource Center’s Janice Lerrigo is retiring after 27 years at the local nonprofit where the mission has always been "strengthening families."

A banquet at the Bennington Station with stakeholders and friends of Lerrigo’s was held as a send off Thursday evening. Retiring today after more than four decades in social work, Lerrigo said she would soon "experience what it’s like not to be working."

Speaking beforehand at Sunrise in the center’s garden -- an added responsibility the outgoing assistant director picked up willingly -- Lerrigo said she looked forward to having more time to spend in other roles (she’s also a North Bennington trustee) and pursuits.

"I’d like to spend time in my own garden at home," she quipped.

Given an ongoing major strategic planning process at Sunrise that began last fall, which will include a reorganization of staff and job roles, Lerrigo said it made sense now to step back and let the organization find its place without her.

Lerrigo began at Sunrise as a family advocate in 1986, at a time when the nonprofit was changing from the Bennington Child Day Care and expanding its mission to include parent support and education services to families.

Lerrigo later became a program coordinator before stepping into the assistant director position when it was created.


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Through that time, the nonprofit has evolved from primarily a child care center with one outreach program to a number of family programs with services geared particularly toward young parents, that include on-site alternative education and mentoring.

Sunrise also offers a cluster of services to support other area child care providers, and financial services to help families afford said child care.

Lerrigo said previous work as a child protection worker for the predecessor of Vermont’s Department for Children and Families and as a family therapist for United Counseling Service primed her for her work at Sunrise.

"I think the combination of those positions really helped shape what was important for me, and shaped my work here," she said. A number of things attracted her to Sunrise, but number one was the approach to working in partnership with families, she said -- a "family-centered" method. "(Recognizing that) each side had something to offer."

Lerrigo said she had supervised a number of interns over the years, many of whom are still out working in the community.

She’s also edited the monthly newsletter, the Sunrise Review, an enjoyable role "because it tells a good story" each month with staff and family profiles.

"I think everyone has a good story."

The Sunrise Family Resource Center serves families throughout Bennington County and is located at 244 Union St. For more information call (802) 442-6934 or visit www.sunrisefamilyresourcecenter.com.

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