The council is currently going through a time of positive, exciting transition. Liz Hamel is the new Franklin/Grand Isle Regional Coordinator as of December, 2018! With this has come new introductions and collective impact collaborations to identify not only the gaps for the council to focus on, but also the active supports/services that continue to serve the community well. Topics of growth and development have centered around how this council can promote shared goals for the community, bring new partnerships to the table, and support action to improve systems and services for families.
During the last few months, The Heart Program (Helping Everyone Access Resources & Thrive) has continued to make strides in providing postpartum supports through universal home visits, postpartum doula visits, in-home perinatal mental health counseling/support, and other community resource/referrals for pregnant/postpartum caregivers and infants. Aiming to support families as they navigate pregnancy and new parenthood, the program has continued to build referral capacity and collaborate with the Vermont Department of Health/Franklin County Home Health Agency nursing to meet new moms, dads and identified caregivers where they’re at.
After the New Year, Liz Hamel met with Katie Brown, Executive Director of the Champlain Islands Parent Child Center, a child care center located in South Hero, VT. Katie was able to share some of the incredible work that the center has done to support children and families in the region in the areas of food security/programming and curriculum to bring holistic, early childhood teaching to support children’shealthy early development. Katie and her staff expressed interest in attending the region’s BBF Regional Council Meeting to further their community collaborations, starting with January’s council meeting.
The council focused several conversations on meeting a needs gap in the region: supplying local food shelves with toiletries for children and families. There has been ongoing discussion around how our council can support some tangible, community action around collecting donations of toiletries (i.e. shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc.), so a toiletry drive is in the last stages of planning before rolling out in February. Drop-off sites will be determined in the coming week and the council members have dedicated their support to ensuring all donations make it to local food shelves.
In the wake of the government shutdown, the council has made this topic an immediate priority for upcoming meeting agendas. The council members will explore how the community can plan to support those directly affected, specifically those who receive 3Squares benefits and may face food crises in the coming weeks. Liz Hamel was invited to attend the region’s Food Shelf Alliance meeting in January and the council will support community actions around securing food availability and access for families who need it.