All posts by projectmanagern2n

Summertime & Pies

Summer is in full swing. Green. Green. GREEN! In the dead of winter, it is impossible for me to imagine the muted landscape ever getting green again, but here we are! Tomato plants are growing, the bugs are buzzing, the horse show is in town….I love this time of the year in Vermont. In California, summer means “golden,” as in sun-dried hills of grass dotted with dark green oak trees. It has its own beauty, and it’s what I am used to, but summer in Vermont is spectacular!

……………………………………………………

We are looking for pie bakers for our first annual pie auction that will be held in November. If you love to bake pies or know someone who does, please let us know, and we will add you to the master baker list. We need 100 pies, both sweet and savory for both silent and live auctions. It’s going to be a wonderful event at the Inn at Manchester event barn. Please consider making a pie or two, and please come to the event. It’s the week before Thanksgiving. Why bake pies when you can come to the auction, get something delicious for Thanksgiving dessert, and help Neighbor to Neighbor? It’s a win all the way around!

If you’d like to bake for us, call me at 367-7787 or use the Contact tab on the website, and I will add you to the list.

Enjoy summer and all the Northshire has to offer. We are so fortunate to live in this amazing place.

Speeding Towards Summer

Although it’s a little gray and damp today, we are clearly out of winter. Finally! I feel as though I looked out the window one morning and GREEN was turned on. All of the trees in my yard had tender leaves on them. Flower plants magically popped up out of the soil. It was as though the winter spigot was turned off, and the spring/summer one was turned on full blast. We earned it this year.

Our book and author lunch was a success. The speaker, Marian Knapp, was funny, warm, and captivating. We still have a few copies of her book Aging in Places at the office if you’d like one. They are $15, and the full amount goes to Neighbor to Neighbor.

We’re now looking forward to November and our big fundraising event. We’re holding our first annual pie auction at the Inn at Manchester celebration barn on November 17th…just in time for Thanksgiving! There will be both silent and live auctions of 100 pies, appetizers, music, and fun. We will announce the details as the time gets closer, but if you’re a master pie baker or know of one (or more), please consider donating a homemade pie to our auction. Both sweet and savory pies are what we’re looking for, the more inventive the better.

Our spring newsletter is accessible through the website. Just click on the Neighbor to Neighbor stories button on the top menu, and you will find links to both our Fall 2017 and our Spring 2018 newsletters.

Happy Summer to you, and thank you for your continued interest in and support of Neighbor to Neighbor. We can’t do it without you.

Coming into Spring

Locals tell me that this was a rough winter. I fared better than last year, certainly, but I am ready for the rush of green and color that comes with spring. I am ready to put my heavy coat in the closet for a few months and to drive down 7A with the windows down.

We have some exciting things happening at N2N. Our Book and Author Lunch, which is a Neighbor to Neighbor annual event, is taking place on May 18th at the Manchester Country Club. Our author is Marian Knapp. At age 70, she received a Ph.D. and authored a book called Aging in Places. It is part memoir, and part commentary that offers ideas and reflections on how to plan for a meaningful future. “Aging well in place means that our communities are aware of and advocate for the characteristics that make a livable community for all citizens–including its elders.”

Tickets are limited. If you are interested, call me at (802)367-7787 or use the Contact Us tab on the website menu, and I will hook you up!

We have big plans for our major fundraiser in autumn. We are having a PIE AUCTION! Keep checking back for more information and details. If you are a baker and would like to make a pie for us to auction off, we want to hear from you. Our goal is to have 100 pies to auction off in both a live auction and a silent auction. It promises to be a wonderful event that will delight everyone. I love pie. I cannot wait!

We are always looking for volunteers. If you are interested in becoming one of our awesome crew, please let me know. It’s a wonderful way to help someone who is housebound or feeling isolated down one of the little dirt roads we drive past every day. You will get at least as much out of your volunteer experience as the folks you are helping. I gave one of our care recipients a ride yesterday, and she told me all about Manchester and how it looked when she was a little girl walking to and from town. It made my day.

We are all in this together…and N2N is making connections to help our community of elders thrive.

Open House!

We’re having an open house at our office on Friday, 23 February from 11:00-1:00. You can drop in any time. Neighbor to Neighbor steering committee members and volunteers will be here to chat with you about what makes N2N such an amazing organization and about ways that you can help as a volunteer. I will be there, too, and I hear there is going to be coffee and something sweet and yummy. If you can’t make it to the open house, please feel free to give me a call or use the contact us tab up above to send me a message. I will get back to you ASAP.

Volunteers report that they get at least as much out of the experience as our care recipients! If you have a few hours a week or a few hours a month and want to make a difference in a Northshire neighbor’s life, please join us.

We are also in the beginning planning stages for our big fundraiser in the fall, and we can use all the help we can get! If you’re an organizing maven, we want you. If you can schlep stuff on the day of the event, we want you. Posting flyers? Yep, we want you. Thanks in advance.

(802)367-7787

In the Deep Mid-Winter

I have the most delightful view out my office window. I see birch trees–now bare–and people’s backyards filled with new snow. When I visited Manchester several years ago for the first time, I realized why I loved it so much. It looked like my childhood dream come to life. I was horse-crazy and lucky enough to have my own horse, Bobbisox, from the time I was 10 until I was 17. I rode her in the watershed where she was pastured and imagined my future as some combination of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Little House on the Prairie. There would be a lot of horses and barns, no matter what. 

Now I get to drive past barns every day, and although I don’t have my horse anymore, I have a Subaru, and that’s almost as good! As I was shoveling my driveway (scene of my broken wrist last January), I thought about one of our care recipients. A. lives alone in her home. While she is pretty spry and full of energy, she can no longer shovel her walk or rake the snow off her roof. When we get a big snow, she calls me and asks if I can find someone who can do that work for her. I put the word out to our volunteers, and someone always comes through. She came up to me at our monthly event today to thank me for helping her. She slipped a little envelope in my pocket with a check and a little note. I said it was my pleasure, and I meant it. It truly is my pleasure to work here and to make connections with so many lovely people. Our neighbors. They need our help, and thanks to our intrepid volunteers, we are able to help them to stay in their own homes for as long as possible. 

We need more volunteers to help us fulfill our mission, which is “To assist our neighbors to live independent by providing no-cost, volunteer services that help to nurture relationships.” Some people think of us as a transportation service, and I am glad that we can help them get to appointments and other places they need to go. But that is not all that Neighbor to Neighbor does. We want to help people stay connected to our community and to feel cared for and appreciated. If you have a few hours each month to help, I want to hear from you. Please give me a call or email me (go to the Contact tab at the top of the page). 

Stay warm, everyone!

A New Year for Neighbor to Neighbor!

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope your holidays were happy and healthy. I’m adjusting to the COLD after a few days in sunny Southern California. It was a culture shock to be back on six-lane freeways and traffic. I do not miss that at all. It was, however, great to see my brother–the first time I’ve seen him since my son and I moved here. My family keeps shrinking, so it’s even more important for me to keep my connections with my loved ones. 

At Neighbor to Neighbor, we serve a lot of folks who don’t have family nearby. They have to fend for themselves and rely on the goodness of others to lend them a hand. Think about all of the tiny dirt roads in the Northshire and how many (mostly elderly) neighbors live down those roads, isolated from the rest of the community. We provide transportation, yes, but Neighbor to Neighbor is about so much more than taking people to appointments. 

We try to match the people we help–we call them Care Recipients–with a volunteer. That way, they make a connection with a specific person who becomes their companion and trusted friend. Volunteers go to CRs’ houses and just hang out, fix a burned-out bulb or two, have coffee, and talk. Volunteers can call their CRs to check in with them and see how things are going. One of our volunteers suggested we have a Happy Birthday list. We will mail out birthday cards to our care recipients each month and just let them know we appreciate them and are thinking of them. 

These are little things, yes, but they mean the world to people who are living in isolation. That is why we have monthly events, too. We’re going to have a Winter Games day this month with card and board games and lunch, of course. If you’re in Manchester on Thursday, 18 January, come and see us at the First Congregational Church. And, as I said to the Care Recipients, bring your poker face!

If you would like to become a Neighbor to Neighbor volunteer, please give me a call at the office and I can tell you all about what we do in detail. Your help would be most appreciated. I guarantee it!

With best wishes for the new year, 

Robin 

 

The Annual Campaign.

There are probably some very nice people who enjoy asking people for money, but I don’t fall into that category (the asking for money part, not the nice part). Even though I know N2N depends on the generosity of our community and friends from outside our neighborhood, it’s tough. A dozen different “asks” arrive in our mailboxes, and most all of them are for very worthy things. So how do we decide who to give to and whose flyer or letter gets tossed into the recycling bin? 

I like to see my money in action. For example, even though my son was always on financial aid at his schools, I always donated what I could to the annual campaign because I knew that he benefited directly from other parents’ generosity. It might seem counter-intuitive to give money to an institution that was giving us money, but really, it wasn’t. It was one small way to show my support for the school overall and a way to have my name listed with other donors. I didn’t care about keeping up with the Joneses, because, quite frankly, I couldn’t. It was more a way of saying that we didn’t just take from the school; we also gave back. 

Donations to Neighbor to Neighbor go directly to our operating budget. We use the money we raise to pay for our office utilities and other mundane stuff (like my salary), and to  put on our monthly social events for our care recipients. They look forward to meeting once a month (on the 3rd Thursday), and it has become an important part of what N2N stands for. I love it when the phone rings and a care giver enthusiastically says, “YES!” they will be able to attend our event, and I feel sad when I hear that someone cannot attend. On the day of the event, the room is filled with delicious food smells (courtesy of Steering Committee member Martha Thompson, who coordinates the meals) and happy conversations among the care recipients and the volunteers. 

Some third Thursday of the month, come down to the First Congregational Church in Manchester Village and join us. I hope you will come away with both a full belly and a happy heart when you interact with our care recipients and our volunteers and see exactly where your generous donation is being put to use. If you would like to make a donation, click on the Donate tab at the top of the page. 

With Gratitude, 

Robin 

 

 

Success!

Yesterday, we had our Volunteer Day at the lovely Israel Congregation of Manchester. Our volunteers and steering committee members enjoyed three different types of soup, delicious bread, cheese and crackers…and yummy desserts all provided by steering committee members. We know how to put on a luncheon! 

About 20 of our intrepid volunteers were able to attend. For me, it was a perfect opportunity to put faces to the names and voices of the folks who work so hard for N2N. The purpose of our little shindig was two-fold: first of all, we wanted to thank and appreciate our volunteers. Neighbor to Neighbor would not exist without them, and the work that they do so tirelessly is remarkable. Our second goal was to ask them how they do what they do–tips and tricks they might have for working with care recipients–and how we, as an organization, and me, as the program director, could do things better. The volunteers were full of sweet stories about their interactions with elders in our community, and they had great suggestions of how we can make Neighbor to Neighbor even better. I appreciate their candidness. While I feel as though I am settling in nicely to this job and love coming to work every day (!), I’m smart enough to know that I could do my job better, and I want to know from the people on the front lines how I might do that. 

Someone referred to me as the “captain of the ship,” and that made me laugh and cringe a little. You know how the Navy has been in the news about the several collisions their ships have gotten into in the past year? I was listening to an NPR story on my way home from our event yesterday. The reporter noted that in one of the instances, the person piloting the ship (i.e., the captain) was not instructed on some basic ways of maneuvering his ginormous ship! You’d think that would be a priority, right? While I have been extremely lucky to have an amazing retired “captain,” Kate Coss, to teach me the ins and outs of N2N, I want to make certain I don’t crash into anything. If you are a volunteer and you have input, please, please, please contact me:

neighborvt@comcast.net

(802)367-7787

I love this organization, and I want to make sure I can get us around any potential icebergs safely and, I hope, with good humor.   🙂

PS: We are just about to launch our annual letter appeal for donations. If you don’t get one of our letters in the mail, I will post it here in the next few days so you can take a look. Please help us assist our Northshire elders by donating to Neighbor to Neighbor. You can donate via this website by clicking on the Donate tab at the top of the page. Thank you. 

 

Volunteer Day!

We are holding a Volunteer Day on 1 November. We want to thank (profusely) our volunteers and ask them how we can make their experience with Neighbor to Neighbor even better. They work mostly in the background, connecting with care recipients and helping out in many different ways. I know them via email more than anything. I put out “help! ride needed” emails, and they respond. I am always so grateful when I can find a ride for one of the people we help. It’s a relief. 

I would like to have faces to go with email addresses or phone numbers and to get to know the beating heart of this organization. I know there is a lot of wisdom and better ways of doing things to be shared, and I want to know about it all! Is there something I could be doing here in the office to make their lives easier? Do they like communicating primarily by email, or would they prefer phone calls? I find email to be much less invasive, but that’s just me. I want to honor the ways in which they prefer to be contacted. 

I want to hear their stories about interacting with our care recipients. Some of the connections made and friendships forged are quite profound and deep. I love to hear about the mutual love and affection shared between volunteers and their care recipients. I would like to put more stories on the website about such connections. I believe they will resonate with anyone who reads them. 

If you are a volunteer and can make it to our Volunteer Day on November 1st from 11:00-1:00, please let me know. Very few people who have RSVPed, and if we don’t have a critical mass, we will cancel it. Martha is going to a lot of trouble to have amazing, delicious food prepared, and I don’t want her slaving in the kitchen for nothing! 

Courage.

I met with a new care recipient today. She was really apologetic about asking us for help and kept apologizing. I reassured her that we exist in order to help people remain independent in their homes for as long as possible. I tried hard to reassure her that our amazing volunteers find their roles as helpers really positive. They like helping others. Many of our Neighbor to Neighbor volunteers help other organizations, too. When we did a survey, we found that our folks volunteer for an average of four places! That’s a deep commitment to community and to the well-being of others. I’m so impressed with our Northshire towns and how willing people are to help one another. It seems to be woven into the fabric of the people and places, and it is lovely to see, especially for a city girl like me.

For the care recipients, it takes courage to ask for help, to admit that they can’t do everything they once could do. Some of our care recipients were N2N volunteers and joke that they “put in their time” as volunteers knowing they would need help in the future. Losing the ability to drive is a difficult thing to concede. Calling and asking a stranger for assistance requires bravery and self-compassion. Many folks would rather be isolated and alone rather than take the hard step of (1) admitting they need help, and (2) actually asking for it. I am certain there are dozens of people in the Northshire who would benefit from Neighbor to Neighbor, but they just can’t take that first big leap.

Part of my desire as the program director is to get the word out about Neighbor to Neighbor, and thanks to recent newspaper articles (thank you Marian!), the word is getting out and people are finding their way to us. It’s important to note that we don’t accept referrals. The person who needs help must contact us directly. It’s not a good thing to show up at someone’s house or even to call them and say, “I’m from Neighbor to Neighbor and I heard you need help.” It’s a recipe for misunderstanding and wounded egos. It can cause a rift between the person who told us their mom or dad or aunt or neighbor would benefit from hooking up with Neighbor to Neighbor. If you know of someone who would benefit from our services, please give them our contact information and encourage them to give me a call. And then applaud them for the courage it takes to make that call.