By Shawn McGowan, JobsInME.com
Celebrating 10 years of connecting Vermont job seekers and employers, JobsInVT.com recently selected our third quarter winners, who each selected a nonprofit to receive a $500 donation, in their name, from JobsInVT.com. One of the Live Work Give contest winners was Donna Russo, who chose the Family Center of Washington County. I recently caught up with the Family Center's Executive Director, Lee Lauber, to learn more about this thriving family support hub that is working diligently to support Vermont families.
What is the Family Center of Washington County's mission?
Lee Lauber, Family Center of Washington County: The Family Center of Washington County fosters the positive growth and development of young children and their families. It envisions children and adults as thriving participants in safe and healthy communities.
What are some of the services Family Center of Washington County has to offer area families?
LL: Our organization offers infant, toddler and preschool child care and playgroups for children from birth to five. We also provide parent education and outreach activities, training for child care providers and assistance to parents in finding and paying for child care. We're particularly proud of our vegetable and herb gardens planted, grown and harvested by our 30+ preschool children and their parents.
Does your organization rely on volunteers?
LL: Yes, we do. We have volunteers who are board members and committee members of any of our six Strategic Plan Workgroups (Organizational Model, Fund Development, Staffing, Professional Development, Evaluation and Outcome Measures, and Communications). We also rely on volunteers for our Annual Family Fun Day (Saturday in March) and to help maintain our preschool vegetable and herb garden each year (from April through October).
What are some key successes the Family Center of Washington County achieved in 2013?
LL: During our last fiscal year (July 2012 through June 2013), we increased services in Central Vermont by 2.5 percent and served more than 4,300 people.
We're proud to share that 90 percent of participants statewide who entered the "Learning Together" program without a high school diploma are making progress toward that achievement . Also, all the children in this program have a primary care physician and most are up to date on immunizations, and 98 percent of the young mothers in said program have a primary care physician. Our preschoolers won second prize at this year's Tunbridge World's Fair for the tallest sunflower.
We were selected by the State of Vermont as one of only three sites to pilot the new "Strengthening Families Demonstration Project". The goal with this program is to improve the well-being of families deemed at high or very high risk of abusing or neglecting their children, and reducing the number of children taken into state custody.
Are there any upcoming events or fundraisers people should know about?
LL: The 19th Annual Family Fun Day will take place on Saturday, March 15, 2014 from 10am to 1pm at Union Elementary School in Montpelier. Family Fun Day is a free, fun-filled, family-focused event that attracts up to 400 Central Vermont children and families. It features lively entertainment that engages children and parents in the fun. The day is filled with games, music, art, story time, a child passenger safety demonstration, face painting, a baby playgroup, refreshments, and fun for the whole family.
How can people help your organization?
LL: People can support us by kindly donating to our Annual Campaign, and inviting family, friends and coworkers to join in. We are always looking for sponsors, volunteers and attendees for Family Fun Day. Please share and spread the word about the Family Center of Washington County by telling your friends about us, both in person and by liking Family Center on Facebook.
What is one thing you would like the public to know about your organization that is not on your website?
LL: Our beautiful site includes a new custom-designed Early Childhood Building, eight acres of natural woods, and three acres of open space. Our early childhood educators creatively use the woods and surrounding areas year-round as learning laboratories for the children in our childcare. This can include hands-on science exploration, children learning how to use their bodies to balance on natural fallen trees, climbing rocks and ledges, making music with found objects from the woods and identifying local flora and fauna.
To learn more about the Family Center of Washington County, please visit their website or contact Barbara Butler by email or phone at 802-262-3292 x174.
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As a Social Media Marketing Coordinator, Shawn McGowan's passion for brand transparency and over 10 years of sales/customer service experience make him aptly suited for the job. A native of East Millinocket, Maine, Shawn grew up at the foot of Mount Katahdin and graduated from the University of Maine Presque Isle with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). When not writing, editing or immersing himself in the world of social media, he can be found enjoying the outdoors, art, music, tech, humor, Portland's amazing food scene, and all things nerdy. You can reach Shawn at smcgowan (at) JobsInME.com and Twitter.com/shonymac.