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Dear Friends,

When I arrived at Neighbor to Neighbor in July 2017, I knew I’d found the perfect job. Being able to directly help people is something I’ve wanted to do as work for as long as I can remember. Everyone was so friendly and receptive to the “new girl,” and it has been, by far, the best job I’ve ever had.

It’s with a mixed heart that I let you know that I am leaving Neighbor to Neighbor. My last day as Executive Director is January 14, 2022. I am moving to Maryland to begin a new life with my partner, Bill. My son is settled in his new job and apartment, and while I love living in rural Vermont, this California girl is heading to a warmer climate!

I am profoundly grateful for all of the interactions I’ve had with everyone associated with Neighbor to Neighbor. The board and I have worked diligently the past four years to strengthen our beloved organization, and I feel confident that Neighbor to Neighbor will continue to grow and to serve its constituents with grace and a deep commitment to helping folks stay independent in their own homes for as long as possible.

Rest assured that nothing will change with N2N’s daily operation. We still offer all of our usual services and programs without interruption. 

I wish you the very best going forward, and I hope that we will see one another in person before I pack my bags and head south. Please come by the office at FCC and say hi. Once again, thank you so much for making my work life so wonderful. It has been a pleasure and an honor to know you.

With Deep Gratitude,

Robin

Turn, Turn, Turn.

The air feels a little crisp in the morning, and the leaves are showing their colors. It’s one of the most beautiful times of the year in the Northshire, and if you live or work in Manchester, you know that a lot of other people feel that way, too. There is traffic, and most of the license plates are from out of state. While townfolk might resent the visitors a little bit, we know our economy depends on people spending money in our town and the surrounding area.

Like our small town, our small nonprofit depends on the generosity of others to keep it going. When you consider your end-of-the-year donations, I hope you will think of Neighbor to Neighbor. We are always here for our care recipients, and in order to be here, we need financial help. Please think about making a sustaining (ongoing) donation using the donate button at the top of the page.

As always, thank you for supporting us and believing in the important work we do to keep our elder neighbors independent in their homes and connected with the larger community.

Summer Raffle!

It’s with great excitement that I tell you about our summer raffle fundraiser. If you haven’t clicked on the summer raffle tab in the menu above, please go and take a look at all of the amazing prizes! Once again, local businesses and generous individuals have come through to help us raise money. We won’t be able to have our pie auction this year (maybe in 2022?), so we’ve organized a raffle. Steering Committee members have gone above and beyond to procure some awesome prizes. Our raffle committee has really outdone itself. Many, many thanks to Barbara and Hong.

We hope that you will contact me at the office to purchase some tickets. You can pay through our donations tab, and I will send the ticket stubs to you. Easy-peasy. Please be sure to include your name and address

Getting Up & Running Again

As more people get vaccinated, we’re excited to get our operations up and running again. It has been over a year since we’ve been able to provide transportation or really any of our other services. While volunteers have been delivering groceries and making regular phone calls to check in with care recipients, and writing special little holiday and seasonal notes–all wonderful and important work that is much-appreciated by our elder neighbors–we haven’t been able to do what we’re here for. Both volunteers and care recipients need to show proof that they are fulled-vaccinated before we let them interact with each other. Everyone’s safety is a huge concern to us.

We’re still not able to hold our monthly social events, but once we get the go-ahead from the state, we will plan a socially-distanced, most likely outdoor, event. We’ve missed everyone and can’t wait to see them again!

February aka “Crazy Month”

The first winter I was here in Vermont, February rolled around. I had a broken wrist (that happened in January), not enough work, and well…I thought I was going round the bend! I started crying at unexpected (and embarrassing) moments, and I couldn’t keep two thoughts in my head.

I came to find out that February and March are tough times around here. Not enough sun, too much yucky weather, not enough contact with other folks, etc. We’ve just been through nearly a year of this kind of isolation, and for most people, those who aren’t yet able to get a vaccine, this unnatural isolation continues. We are social animals, and part of living a full life involves interaction with fellow humans.

If you’ve been going stir crazy throughout the pandemic, take a moment to pause and realize that for elderly and housebound people, this is their reality even when there aren’t restrictions on getting out and about. Social isolation. I know I’ve written about it before, but it’s a biggie. Social isolation, i.e., not interacting with other people, is quite detrimental to our physical and emotional health. Research shows that social isolation can shorten a person’s life. Wow.

Here at Neighbor to Neighbor, we are doing our best to keep our care recipients engaged. That might mean sending out Valentine’s Day cards to them. It might mean bringing them a personalized birthday cake on their birthday. We know that the vast majority of our care recipients live alone and on very limited incomes. We are searching every day for ways to let them know we are here and we care about them. If you have a neighbor who lives alone, why not bring them a little bouquet of flowers from Shaw’s or a pint of ice cream. Anything. The smallest things often make the biggest difference in someone’s life. And it’s so easy.

Be well.

New Year, New Hope.

No one can say that life is boring right now! So much has happened since we crossed over into 2021. For our care recipients, the vast majority of whom are over age 75, one of the new sources of anxiety is about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Folks over 75 are now eligible to get the vaccine, but the big question is HOW?

The country is experiencing communications problems with accurate information about the virus and now how to get the promising vaccines that have been developed in record time. As you can imagine, for elderly people, it’s even more confusing, and for housebound folks, even more so.

We are trying to keep up to date on the latest information coming from the state, and I will make an effort to keep updating our home page with information that I can verify as accurate.

It’s wonderful to see the light at the end of a (currently) very, very long tunnel. Hang in there, Friends.

Peace, Robin

‘Tis the Season

Normally at this time of year, we would be in full swing with all thing PIE. We’d be running around in the pre-auction flurry, keeping track of the many layers that makes our major fundraising event happen. Instead, it is pretty darn quiet around the office right now. I receive an occasional phone call from a care recipient who needs so help with yard work or grocery shopping, but most I am here finalizing the capacity building project the Steering Committee and I took on in January to make sure that everything–from our mission statement to finances and fundraising capabilities–continue to be relevant to the work Neighbor to Neighbor is doing. I am happy to report that (as expected) we stand in good stead and that the organization we all love will be around for at least the next 15 years. Thank you for your continued support. We do all we can to make certain our care recipients know we are only a phone call away. Volunteers are writing notes and calling to check in, and both groups seem to be happy making those connections.

With Gratitude and wishes for continued health and well-being, Robin

Strange Summer.

We are deep into the “beautiful season” as I like to call it. The many shades and textures of green are almost overwhelming. There are lines in front of dairy bars (hopefully socially-distanced), and people are floating down rivers in inner tubes. Sounds like a typical Vermont summer…except for the socially-distanced part. That’s a giveaway. This is really NOT a normal summer in Vermont, or anywhere else in the world, for that matter. We are reeling from months of news coverage and personal stories about the COVID-19 pandemic. The economy is suffering, and most importantly, people are suffering. Our care recipients tend to be somewhat isolated to begin with, and the enforced isolation precipitated by the pandemic has made a less-than-ideal situation even worse.

Through a grant from the Hoehl Family Foundation, we’ve been able to donate $5,000 in food gift cards to our nearly 80 care recipients. I’ve received many sweet thank you notes in the mail and several phone calls, all with the same message: Thank you for noticing that we are still here. Our liability insurance makes it impossible for us to provide the services we normally do, most importantly transportation to appointments. It goes counter to the very idea of Neighbor to Neighbor. We are an organization to exists to help our care recipients in a number of different ways, and right now, we are grounded.

Everyone wants to know when we will start to give rides again and to hold our monthly social events. It’s frustrating for me as the executive director to have to hold steady to our limitations. Maybe more than anyone else, I want to get back to normal. I miss our care recipients, and I know they need to get places. As soon as we are able to start back up with our usual services, I will let you know. In the meantime, thank you for your ongoing support. Donations are gratefully accepted and help us keep the lights on here at the office. You can donate by clicking on the Donate tab above.

May you have a healthy, safe summer and take in the beauty of our green mountain state.

The New Normal?

No pie auction for us this year. It’s anyone’s guess what life will be like come October, and it’s not a smart idea to go ahead with the months of planning required to pull off our major fundraising event.

A good part of our annual budget comes from that event. We are asking people to support Neighbor to Neighbor by making a donation to our COVID-19 emergency fund. Although we’re not providing rides at this time–in order to protect both our volunteers and our care recipients–we are checking in regularly with our care recipients. We have volunteers who are doing grocery shopping for elder neighbors and other volunteers who are making phone calls just to make sure they’re OK and that they’re not feeling completely forgotten.

I’ve written before about the negative results from social isolation, especially the elderly. VPR reported this morning that we will be socially-isolating through the summer, and for our care recipients, that is a very long time. If you can make a donation–in any amount–we would so appreciate it. I’m still here answering the phone and email (and completely socially-isolating, don’t worry!), and as you might guess, our expenses involved with keeping the office running have not dropped away. We still have to pay to keep the lights on.

We are committed to helping our elder neighbors during this crisis, and we thank you in advance for any assistance you might be able to give.

Be well.

 

Strange Times.

It’s hard to know exactly what to do. Do I maniacly buy toilet paper and have a throw-down in the hand sanitizer aisle in Shaw’s? Should I be worried about my son’s emotional health because his college has closed down and he may be home for his final term in college before he–maybe–graduates in June?

We work with elderly, sometimes rather fragile, people. We have wonderful volunteers who want to do something to help. How do I put them together in a way that keeps everyone safe and not stir-crazy? Imagine that you live alone on a little dirt road. It’s isolating to begin with, and now you can’t even go to the grocery store without worrying that you will contract the coronavirus. Do our care recipients have enough medications? Is their insurance going to cover two months’ worth?

Honestly, I don’t know. We’re all winging it, aren’t we. If you have free time and want to buy groceries for our care recipients, let me know. If you’d like to make a contribution so care recipients have enough money to pay for food and medicine, use the Donate tab in the menu and make a contribution. One hundred percent of your donation will go directly to our elder neighbors, guaranteed.

If you know of an elder who lives alone, give them a call to check in. Buy some supermarket flowers, ring their doorbell, and make their day. Everything we love about living in a small town–our connections to our neighbors, the beautiful places to walk, the compassion we have for one another–is right here around us.

Be well. Do good work. Stay in touch.