Prevention Champion Awards 2019

On Thursday, May 1st members of the St Johnsbury and Newport Regional Prevention Partnerships received Prevention Champion Awards from Prevention Works! at the Vermont State House.

Below please find remarks from Sunny Naughton and Cheryl Chandler and a slide show of photos from the event!

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Northeast Kingdom Regional Prevention Partnerships (RPP)


My name is Cheryl Chandler, the Regional Prevention Partnerships Coordinator at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in St. Johnsbury.

Thank you to Prevention Works VT for this award and congratulations to our colleagues who have also received awards.  We are accepting this award on behalf of all with whom we collaborate in the Northeast Kingdom – covering Orleans, Essex and Caledonia counties and the Newport and St. Johnsbury Health Department Districts.

We represent the Regional Prevention Partnerships, otherwise known as the RPP of Newport and St. Johnsbury.  In St. Johnsbury, the RPP grant is held by Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH), a community not-for-profit acute care critical access hospital. In Newport, it is held by Northeast Kingdom Learning Services (NEKLS). NEKLS inspires and empowers learners from birth and beyond.

I would like to introduce the other members of our Northeast Kingdom RPP Team:

  • Sunny Naughton, Regional Prevention Partnerships Coordinator – Newport/NEKLS
  • Tennyson Marceau, Prevention Specialist – NVRH
  • Allyson Howell, Prevention Specialist – NEKLS

We want to offer a thank you to Governor Scott for all he does for Vermonters. You will be happy to hear, Governor Scott, that not only are we here today to represent prevention, we represent four Vermonters who either moved back or relocated to the Green Mountain State in the past five years and have been fortunate enough to have found work in human services.

Also, Sunny and I have been welcomed with open arms to the Opioid Coordination Council Prevention Committee to represent the NEK by Jolinda LeClair, Rose Gowdy, and Dr. Mark Levine.

We are so thrilled to be here with you all today.  In addition, we would like to acknowledge our legislators and the representatives for Senator Sanders and Senator Leahy.   We depend on you to help keep our youth safe and substance free.


We also work closely with our local offices of the Vermont Department of Health.

The RPP grant aims to reduce adolescent and young adult substance abuse while increasing the capacity of the state and local communities to provide prevention services. This work is close to our hearts, as members of our team and coalitions represent lived experiences in this arena.

Both NVRH and NEKLS hold a Tobacco Prevention Grant. This grant aligns with the Regional Prevention Partnerships Grants and aims to educate all on the risks of tobacco/e-cigarette use and advocate for policies to decrease tobacco initiation, secondhand smoke, and tobacco marketing exposure. Ally and Tennyson offer vaping and tobacco awareness presentations to our communities, including area schools, and work tirelessly to effect policy change in our communities. They have found certain communities to be especially ready for change, including The Village of North Troy, Lyndonville, St Johnsbury, and Danville.


In the Northeast Kingdom, we share many of the same services, so it seemed natural that we should combine our efforts to insure that there is no duplication of services and that we are covering our entire service areas.

We would love to share some examples of our collaborations and recognize our community partners.

We have built strong community coalitions. Community coalitions are known to be effective in building a community’s capacity to bring about population-level change. Their success is dependent on all sectors of the community becoming involved. Sectors include parents, students, schools, civic and volunteer organizations, youth-serving organizations, law enforcement, government, business, faith organizations, health organizations, media, and other organizations that address substance use/abuse.

Ask Coalition members to come and stand with us.

PITR (Sunny)

The PITR Collaborative, which stands for Prevention, Intervention, Treatment and Recovery, came together when members of the Newport Police Department, led by Chief Seth DiSantos, who is the PITR Chair, met with NEKLS, Northeast Kingdom Learning Services, and the RPP, and realized we needed a combined community response. We looked to Project Vision’s Matt Prouty for guidance and DART in St. Jay to align services.


Northeast Prevention Coalition is a subcommittee of DART or the Drug Abuse Resistance Team in St. Johnsbury, and has been meeting since 2017. It represents Northeast Kingdom communities in support of healthy choices, and using a variety of strategic interventions, is dedicated to preventing substance use, misuse, and abuse for all ages.

The Coalition, 302 Cares is a group of individuals/organizations who agree to work together for the common goal of reducing substance use, misuse and abuse among youth and adults.  In November of 2016, a town meeting was held in Wells River to address the concerns of area residents as they relate to substance use, misuse and abuse. This led to the formation of our coalition which is a subcommittee of the Wells River Action Program.

 And coalitions do not exist without people, so we want to take a moment to highlight those from our communities that joined us here today:

  • Kelsey Root Winchester, Parent and School Board Member
  • Deputy Ken Schaefer, Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Law Enforcement Against Drugs Instructor
  • Michael Brandli, Substance Abuse Recovery and Trauma Coordinator from Little Rivers Health Care


  • Michelle Tarryk, PITR Treasurer and NEKLS Executive Director
  • Lisa Daigle Farney, NEKLS Director of Community Education and Outreach
  • Suzanne Legere Belcher, our NEK AHS Field Director
  • Sierra Ruth, Youth Empowerment Specialist and BBBS of Vermont Orleans and Northern Essex Coordinator along with Kimberly Diamond and the BBBS of Vermont Team
  • Tom Howell, PITR Steering Committee Member and Director of Safety and Risk Management at Jay Peak
  • An example of collaboration is the RPP’s work in bringing together BBBS of Vermont and Jay Peak. Jay Peak has come onboard as a founding partner for our local chapter and we want to extend a thank you not only to providing opportunities to the youth in our community, but also for recognizing how mentorship can be fulfilling for their staff members. Thanks to Tom Howell and Steve Wright.


Another example of collaborations is Mental Health First Aid. This is an evidence-based, in-person training program with proven ability to teach individuals how to recognize and respond to the warning signs of mental illness and substance use disorders and link people with appropriate treatment and support. We have partnered with Northeast Kingdom Human Services and Vermont Care Partners to train teachers, youth service workers, camp counselors, law enforcement, and 4-H leaders to name a few.  

Prevention Week. Last year during National Prevention Week, we delivered the same prevention messaging throughout the Northeast Kingdom. National Prevention Week will take place this year from May 12 through May 18.

We have only touched on a few of our prevention initiatives. We plan to be here for the entire day, so please stop any one of us if you are interested in any of the other work that we do.


Thank you to the Vermont Department of Health, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs, and the Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention for providing the funding that allows us to do our work.

It’s incredible to look around this room and see all of our colleagues and friends and to think about the amazing amount of collaboration that has taken place in less than three years. We have a strong foundation in the Kingdom, and if you have not already done so, we invite others to take part in our efforts.  Thank you again.


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