Sunrise executive director marks 25 years in charge
BENNINGTON -- When Linda Dean-Farrar took the job as executive director of Sunrise Family Resource Center 25 years ago, she inherited a challenge.
"When I came here, Sunrise was in a state of transition," she said. "One of the things that had happened was some financial resources had been lost and it was not a fiscally secure agency."
Sunrise is a state Parent Child Center. A non-profit, it provides education and support services in Bennington County.
When she took her position, employees had not been paid, and so Dean-Farrar's first task was to make sure that payroll could be met.
A Bennington native, Dean-Farrar's previous work experience had been with the University of Vermont, and Goddard College, the latter of which had financial difficulties which she worked to address.
"I remember what it was like to work there and have them issue checks and ask us to return them as gifts," Dean-Farrar said.
That did not happen at Sunrise, she said. Through the hard work of the staff and the support of Sunrise's board of trustees, she was able to refinance the group's buildings at 238 Union St. and get enough cash in hand to keep employees paid.
Following that, Dean-Farrar worked with people she knew from previous jobs to get new state contracts for early childhood education services and to secure the existing ones Sunrise provides.
Sunrise is doing much better today, Dean-Farrar said, largely thanks to the staff. She said this is the longest she has ever stayed in a position. Typically she is hired to fix a crisis and moves on, but something about Sunrise kept her.
One measure of Sunrise's success is the $25,000 it was awarded in June by The Turrell Fund, an organization formed in 1935 to support youth.
"We're holistic in terms of how we approach families," said Dean-Farrar. "We work really hands-on with issues that matter in this community."
She said Sunrise is now working to not only continue what it does, but to expand its on-site high school education program to other groups of teenagers besides parents.
Her co-workers at Sunrise honored her Tuesday with a surprise party.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.
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