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Catholic Campaign for Human Development collection to return

The Diocese of Burlington again will participate in the annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
The appeal will take place the weekend of Nov. 19, the weekend before Thanksgiving and the first ever World Day of the Poor; 25 percent of funds collected will remain in the Diocese to fund local anti-poverty projects, and the remainder is distributed nationally through grants.
There are more than 46 million people in the United States living in poverty, and this collection supports programs to empower local communities to address the challenges they face. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development supports those living in poverty across the country to identify and address the unique obstacles they face as they work to lift themselves out of poverty. “By supporting this collection, donors are giving those on the margins a hand up, not a hand out,” said Mary Beth Pinard, diocesan director of CCHD and executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities Inc.
CCHD supports grassroots organizations that work to bring permanent and positive changes to their communities through community development grants, technical assistance grants, economic development grants and national strategic grants.
Community development grants range from $25,000-$75,000 and work to nurture solidarity between people living in poverty and those who do not. Projects funded by these grants empower those living in poverty to identify and take action to change problematic systems and structures in their communities.
Economic development grants range from $25,000-$75,000 and support community-based organizations and businesses that create just workplaces, provide quality jobs and develop assets for low-income people. 
National strategic grants range from $200,000-$500,000 and fund projects that promote justice and economic development on a significantly larger scale.
Vermont has two organizations that have currently received national grants from CCHD: The Center for the Agricultural Economy and Vermont Interfaith Action.
The Diocese of Burlington participated in the national CCHD collection until 2010 when it instituted The Bishop deGoesbriand Appeal for Human Advancement to raise money to support local non-profit organizations that make a difference in the daily lives of Vermonters. That specific collection will not be taken.
  • Published in Diocesan

Campus Compact honors St. Joseph's Residential Care Home

Vermont college students, faculty, and staff will gather on Friday April 7th, 2017 at the Community College of Vermont's Montpelier Campus to celebrate individual contributions and the collective impact of higher education in service to Vermont.
Three awards will be presented to students, faculty, staff, and organizations who partner with our colleges and universities to meet community needs.  Honorees include:
The Engaged Educator Award is given to a faculty member who has made public service an integral part of their teaching and research to the benefit of both students and the community. This year's finalists include:

Laurel Butler, Vermont Technical College

Kelly Hamshaw, University of Vermont

Kathy Fox, University of Vermont

Moise St. Louis, Saint Michael's College

Allison Cleary, Saint Michael's College

Robin Collins, Champlain College

Faith Yacubian, Champlain College

Shawna Shapiro, Middlebury College

The Engaged Student Awards are given to one student or student group at any Vermont campus for both the breadth and depth of their community involvement.  This year, the following students will receive these awards:

Kimberly Payne, Community College of Vermont

Chelsea Colby, Middlebury College

D. Sydney Rybicki and Erin Buckley, Saint Michael's College

Sarah Franco, Champlain College

Morgan Easton, Vermont Technical College

Elizabeth Boley, University of Vermont

Shanely Marmolejos, Southern Vermont College

The Engaged Partnership Award is given to honor a partnership between a community organization and Vermont campuses that has been leveraged to address real and pressing community needs.  This year's finalists include:

Elise Schadler of Urban and Community Forestry for her partnership with the University of Vermont

Open Door Clinic for their partnership with Middlebury College

St. Joseph's Residential Care Home for their partnership with Saint Michael's College

The event will also feature a panel on "Civically Engaged Careers" which will spotlight the experience of four young professionals, each of whom have incorporated civic engagement into their professional lives.  The panelists include: Colin Robinson, Political Director at the Vermont National Education Association; Gwen Pokalo, Director of the Center for Women & Enterprise Vermont; Dana Gulley, MBA Student in Sustainable Entrepreneurship at the University of Vermont; and Robyn Baylor, AmeriCorps VISTA Program Director at SerVermont.

The panelists will answer questions and share stories to inspire civically engaged undergraduate students to continue that engagement as they progress in with their professional careers.To learn more about the work being done by students, faculty, and campuses to positively impact our local and global communities, visit our websitewww.vermonthec.org or contact Kim Coleman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sad or depressed?

Are you feeling sad most of the day -- nearly every day -- or having depressed moods? Do you feel irritable or hopeless or have problems with sleep and changes in appetite?
These could be signs of clinical depression.
In severe cases, there might be thoughts of hurting oneself or of suicide.
“Signs of depression should always be taken seriously as a medical problem that can be treated,” said Thomas Mott, director of counseling services for Vermont Catholic Charities Inc.
Normally, sadness comes and goes, depending on the circumstances and the person’s level of resilience to occasional disappointment or setbacks. Sadness often is centered on the loss of someone or something important such as the death of a loved one, a family pet, a divorce or a friend moving to another state.
“We expect sadness to lift after a period of healing, reflection and using resources such as the comforting words from someone we care about or talking to a mental health counselor,” Mott said. “When the sadness doesn’t lift, it’s a sign that professional help may be needed to regain a sense of hope and confidence in the future.”
He recommends that if people are depressed, they should talk to a trusted friend or relative and let them know what they are thinking and feeling. If this doesn’t provide relief, he suggests calling Vermont Catholic Charities Counseling Services to speak with a clinician for next-step advice.
“Besides those suffering from some adjustment issues in their lives the majority of patients I have treated present, in therapy, with sadness and/or depression because of an ongoing unresolved adjustment in their life,” said Sheila A. Conroy, a clinical therapist at Catholic Charities in Middlebury. “Usually depression is chronic, lasting two weeks and usually longer and typically lacks an identifying cause. Sadness typically has a specific cause” or causes.
If someone is feeling suicidal, he or she should call the local mental health agency crisis hotline or 911 or go immediately to the emergency department of the local hospital. “The key point is to tell someone and seek help right away,” Mott said.
Medication is not always necessary to treat depression. All Vermont Catholic Charities clinicians have years of experience treating depression. If medication may be helpful, the clinician can consult with the client’s primary care physician or prescribing physician to discuss a collaborative effort to treat depression.
“To maximize the treatment of depression, clients should make sure they exercise, eat a balanced diet and maintain good sleep hygiene practices,” Mott advises. Clients who drink alcohol or take prescribed medication should always consult with their physician about their depression.
“Depression and anxiety are the most common reasons why people come to Vermont Catholic Charities for counseling,” he said. “We have very effective strategies and tips that can be very helpful. We want people to know depression is a medical condition that can be treated successfully. There is no reason to feel ashamed or to admit one could use a little help.”
It is normal to feel sad from time to time. “But, when it lingers on with no end in sight, it is time to speak with a clinician at Catholic Charities. We care and we want to help you,” Mott said.
Faith, he noted, can be helpful in coping with depression, reducing it and guarding against it returning. “Trusting in God’s love and care for His children has been a timeless source of comfort and hope for one’s future,” he said.
Many patients have described depression as a kind of intense grief. It is a deep sadness, like heartbreak, agony and despair all at once. Some claim depression is worse than grief because grief has an identifiable cause.
“My experience with patients with and without faith is that with faith there is a sense of hope and hope can be a motivating factor to seek help and to know that things can get better,” Conroy said.
Faith and spiritually can also bring one to prayer gatherings and services which can cut through some the isolation that patients with depression often describe.
“For myself, without the knowledge of that there is a God who will care for us, no matter what the severity of the depression/grief there is an anchor and life beyond our pain,” she said.
For more information, call Vermont Catholic Charities at 802-658-6111, ext. 1318, or toll free 1-877-250-4099.

Originally published in the 2017 spring issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.

Bullying prevention: fostering an inclusive environment

Physical confrontation, depression, timidity, withdrawal from peers, lack of dedication to academics, lack of verbal participation, extreme change in personality, mood or grades/connection with school or friends. Torn clothing, unexplained bruises, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping.

These are all signs a child could be being bullied.

Bullying disrupts students emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually and can cause them to question their self worth and to withdraw from society. 

Bullying is the selective and intentional aggressive behaviors that are repeated over time, in one or more episodes. And though the aggressor says he or she is “just kidding,” the bullied child may not see it that way and feel powerless to stop or address the behavior to get it to stop.

“As of present, there is no strong research on bullying being more prevalent than in recent years,” said Sheila Conroy, the clinician with Vermont Catholic Charities Inc. in Middlebury. “There is no national longitudinal data as of yet. However, we do know that because of social media (cyber bullying) and children being left to their own internal resources (as a result of one parent or both parents working) bullying has become a serious problem in our communities and schools.”

A child who is bullied should begin by saying “stop” to the action and communicating with a friend or adult that he or she is uncomfortable/anxious about the interaction.

“They need to be able to say ‘no’ and be supported by peers and adults helping them to build these skills,” explained Christopher Montville, adjunct professor and school counseling program field placement supervisor at The College of St. Joseph in Rutland. “Also, they need to be given the chance to practice the right way to address the issue.”

For the past few years, the college has hosted Montville’s week-long intensive summer course addressing current trends and prevention programs on bullying in the 21st century targeted to parents and educators. “It has been an important layer to help increase (bullying) prevention and education in regional schools and communities with key stakeholders in the lives of our area youth,” he said.    

Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland has a zero-tolerance policy for bullying. Teachers are available to speak to any students who feels that they are being bullied. “We also foster an inclusive environment where we are all members of a community, a family,” said Principal Sarah Fortier. “Because of this we keep bullying to a minimum. Everyone takes care of everyone else and looks out for everyone else. That is the difference when one is in a small Catholic school.”

She continued, “Jesus taught us to be accepting of each other. He taught us to treat each other as we want to be treated and to treat our neighbors with kindness and compassion. Bullying is the complete opposite of all of those teachings. It is hurting our neighbors and mistreating them rather than taking care of those around us.”

Bullying behavior is often a result of social control or a way to manipulate peers/others. “Also, it is a learned behavior modeled by adults and peers they interact with and, unfortunately, the context for their understanding on how to interact relationally,” Montville said. 

Various resources are available from PACER Institute and NetSmartz.org.

The School of Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales in Bennington is using Bully Prevention in Positive Behavior Support, designed to blend school-wide positive behavior support with intervention support. Designed specifically for schools, it uses a 3-step response to address problem behavior that could be considered bullying. 

“A key piece to the program is that it also gives bystanders the necessary skills they need to respond when they see inappropriate bullying behavior,” said Principal David Estes.

This will be implemented beginning with this new school year. “The instruction modules within the program itself are succinct, but hopefully the long-lasting effect it will have will have an impact throughout the entire school year and for years to come,” he said of the program that will be used in all grades. 

“It is never too early or too late to start,” he said, noting the importance of helping children and adults understand and become aware that everyone needs to take responsibility for stopping behaviors that they do not like and to use appropriate responses when they see it happening.

 “The world is changing, probably faster than we could have ever thought,” he added. “Given that, we have to be sure our students are prepared to face these difficult situations and address them in light of what we believe to be just and fair as followers of Jesus.”

Conroy concurred: “An approach teachers need to continuously encourage…is self-respect and respect for others which follows the teachings of Christ.”

It’s important to realize that bullying in previous generations sometimes would end at the conclusion of school or recess and not carry over to home or weekend. But “cyber bullying is 24/7 as it can be online, in the Cloud or on their phone/tablet,” Montville pointed out.

Cyber bullying is one reason parents need to monitor their children’s social media use, Conroy added, defining bullying as aggressive behavior that is intentional and involves as imbalance of power or strength. “The power can be physical strength and/or size, usually the boys’ way of bullying, or isolation from the group and ridicule, usually the girls’ way of bullying,” she explained.

If parents suspect their child is being bullied, Fortier encourages them to talk to their child, find out what is happening. “Parents could be in touch with the school administration about this and intervene,” she said. Create a proactive partnership between the school and family.

Montville suggests approaching the topic with one’s child with questions like:  “I’ve heard a lot about bullying in the news. Is that going on at your school?” “I’m worried about you. Are there any kids at school who may be picking on you or bullying you?” “Are there any kids at school who tease you in a mean way?” or “Are there any kids at school who leave you out or exclude you on purpose?”

Communication and collaboration are key. Talk with your child’s teacher and principal. “Start a dialogue or partnership with the school by calling or setting up an appointment to talk with their teacher(s). Teachers are likely in the best position to understand the relationships between your child and other peers in their school,” Montville said.

 “Bullying is damaging. It needs to be stopped as soon as possible,” Fortier said.

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban,
Vermont Catholic content editor/staff writer.
  • Published in Schools

Vermont Catholic Charities Advent Appeal update

The Vermont Catholic Charities Inc. annual Advent Appeal got off to a good start with 886 donors giving more than $71,000 as of Dec. 18 to support individuals and families in need for Christmas and throughout the year.

Last year at the same time 535 donors had given $41,000.

"I am grateful to all the donors who supported our annual Advent Appeal. What a blessing and amazing gift you have given to individuals and families throughout Vermont," said Mary Beth Pinard, executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities. "It is such a relief for all of those helped to know that rent will be paid, heat and lights will stay on, food will be on the table, and gifts will be under the tree. Every gift truly does make a difference."

Money raised during this appeal was and will be used to help individuals and families meet basic needs such as food, utilities, and rent. For Christmas, gift cards were given to help provide children with Christmas gifts.

Those who received Christmas aid included 61 households from 14 different parishes. Additionally, 140 households from throughout the state were helped through Vermont Catholic Charities' emergency aid offices.

"To have a few presents under the tree and Christmas dinner with my children is a blessing. Thank you," said one recipient.

This year a change was made to the appeal so that it would focus not only on helping people at Christmas but also provide additional funds for Vermont Catholic Charities' year-round Emergency Aid program. Throughout the year, Vermont Catholic Charities provides aid to hundreds of individuals and families who need immediate short-term financial support.

To donate, send checks made payable to the Emergency Aid Fund to Vermont Catholic Charities, Inc., 55 Joy Drive, South Burlington, Vt. 05403.


Bishop de Goesbri and Appeal for Human Advancement Grants awarded to 28 Vermont non-profit organizations

Thanks to the generosity of parishes throughout the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont Catholic Charities Inc. has awarded Bishop deGoesbriand Appeal for Human Advancement grants to 28 non-profit organizations that make meaningful differences in the daily lives of individuals and families.

Funding for these grants was made possible through the generosity of parishioners who donated funds through a second collection in November; 100 percent of the funds were allocated to the grant recipients.

"Vermont Catholic Charities is grateful for the financial support from parishioners throughout the state. This is yet another example of how Catholics reach out to those who need help," said Mary Beth Pinard, executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities. "Because we are able to award grants, thousands of Vermonters will benefit through the programs and services offered by local nonprofit organizations."

Recipients have expressed thanks for the grants and the generosity of the donors.

This year, $62,000 was awarded to the following organizations:

• Addison County Community Action, Middlebury ($3,000): Funding will help repair existing homes of very low income individuals to help them stay in their homes, provide emergency hotel rooms for homeless families and equip the homeless with basic gear to ease their daily survival.

• ANEW Place, Burlington ($2,000): Funding will help with the continuation of the agency's 4-phase program that focuses on long-term solutions for the most vulnerable members of the community.

• Bennington Oral Health Coalition ($3,300): Funding will help support the position of Oral Health Coordinator.

• Burlington Dismas House ($500): Funding will support the mentoring program between former prisoners and college students.

• Burlington Meals on Wheels ($3,000): Funding will help finance the day-to-day food purchases so Meals on Wheels can continue to deliver nearly 240 meals per day to Chittenden County seniors and the infirmed.

• Camp Exclamation Point, Thetford ($2,000): Funding will help with supplies for increased program offerings and for transportation of campers to and from camp. Camp Exclamation Point gives more than 110 children from rural Vermont communities a weeklong residential summer camp experience.

• Care Net Pregnancy Center, Burlington and St. Albans ($1,000): Funding will help support the expansion of the "Happy Together" Relationship Building Program for at-risk clients.

• Care Net Pregnancy Center of the Tri-State Area, Bennington ($2,000): Funding will help with the purchase of mobile ultrasound bus to travel throughout Vermont providing ultrasounds for pregnant women in crisis.

• Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Food Shelf, Burlington ($2,500): Funding will be used to purchase non-perishable food items for individuals/families in need in the Burlington area.

• Catholic Center at the University of Vermont, Burlington ($1,850): Students at the University of Vermont will use funding to shop, cook and prepare dinners for the poor in Burlington and take the food to the Salvation Army to serve the meal.

• Champlain Valley Birthright, Burlington ($3,000): Funding will be used for advertising to increase community awareness of their services and to making themselves known to any woman who is ambivalent about her pregnancy.

• Committee on Temporary Shelter, Burlington ($1,250): Funding will support COTS Daystation program that serves as a refuge from the streets and helps people stabilize their lives in times of crisis.

• Community Emergency Relief Volunteer, Northfield ($3,800): Funding will be used to purchase additional food needed to accommodate an increased number of clients, support families with emergency aid as needed and replace a freezer.

• Ecumenical Lunch Bunch, Essex Junction ($500): Funding will be used to provide nutritious lunches to needy children during their summer vacation.

• Good Beginnings of Central Vermont, Montpelier ($2,000): Funding will be used to support the "In Loving Arms" program, a collaboration with the Central Vermont Medical Center. The project pairs a trained volunteer with a vulnerable infant at CVMC birthing center after birth due to addiction, premature birth or other health complications.

• Greater Bennington Interfaith ($3,000): Funding will be used to purchase additional food for the Kitchen Cupboard, which provides food to more than 1,200 families in the Bennington area.

• Greater Falls Warming Shelter, Rockingham ($2,500): Funding will help provide a safe, warm overnight shelter during the winter months for those in need.

• Greater Vergennes Rotary and St. Peter Parish ($2,000): Funding will help provide needed afternoon snacks to children of the Boys and Girls Club of the greater Vergennes area.

• Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity, Williston ($2,000): Funding will help purchase two lots to build energy efficient homes for low-income families.

• John Graham Shelter, Vergennes ($4,000): Funding will help fund a part-time shelter case manager who will work with homeless families and children.

• Joseph's House, Burlington ($2,500): Funding will help this parish outreach center purchase food gift cards for individuals and families in need.

• Meals & Wheels of Greater Springfield ($1,500): Funding will help with the Breakfast First Program, a program to help people 60 and over maintain their independence.

• Neighborhood Connections, Londonderry ($2,000): Funding will be used to address critical gaps in the community through a multi-component Community Care Initiative, which incorporates health care/wellness for seniors and families in need.

• Our Place Drop In Center, Bellows Falls ($3,000): Funding will be used to support freezing home-cooked meals to be distributed to people who access the food pantry and for the expansion of grocery deliveries to more seniors in the Bellows Falls area.

• Rutland Dismas House ($1,000): Funding will be used to support summer activities that reconnect former prisoners with their children.

• Samaritan House, St. Albans ($3,800): Samaritan House is the only emergency shelter and transitional housing program for homeless individuals in Franklin and Grand Isle counties. Funds will be used to support this program, which assists families and individuals transitioning out of homelessness into permanent housing.

• St. Brigid's Kitchen and St. Brigid's Pantry, Brattleboro ($3,000): Funding will be used to continue to offer meals to those in need in the Brattleboro community through the soup kitchen and the "Take-A-Bag" program.

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Bishop's Fund Annual Appeal