Winter 2020 Leg Updates

Recently we wrote a note to Vermont legislative members updating them on our work. Below, please see a version of this message.

Dear NEK Congressional Members,

I hope this finds you well! I was recently asked about my work from a Representative in another county and I thought it would be beneficial to share some of the work I am doing from here in the NEK for those interested in Mental Health, Suicide Prevention, and general wellness in these areas.

To start, I always think it is important to share that I came to this work through personal experiences as many do. I am from Vermont, here in the NEK, though my family is from Boston and New York City, and only my parents and I have made our lives in Vermont. I lived for close to 15 years in Manhattan and worked in the entertainment industry and almost moved back to NYC for work however due to the pandemic and opportunities that arose thanks to the virtual nature of business these days, I have been able to build a remote consulting company now in its fifth year. 

Initially, I met the communication needs of organizations here in the NEK and now have moved into the areas of mental health, suicide prevention, and general wellness communications and education on a national level. I am extremely thankful to be able to reside in what I consider to be one of the most beautiful parts of the country and work from my childhood home helping both my hometown community and others I am blessed to meet along the way.

I wanted to share a few initiatives I am working on that may come across your desks during the session. If I can offer connections or more information, please let me know!

Mental Health First Aid offers Adults helping Adults, Adults helping Youth, and Teens helping Teens programming. 

  • This programming comes down from the National Council of Mental Wellbeing based in Washington, DC. 
  • Over the last 5-7 years, Vermont Care Partners, led by Simone Rueshemeyer, has received national funding to offer this training, get Vermonters trained as facilitators and First Aiders, and also for capacity to connect organizations with funding to trainers, etc. 
  • That state-wide funding ran out in the Fall. Right now, the Agency of Education grants funds to VCP to offer youth and teen MHFA to Vermonters who work for or are employed by schools so they can access this training at no cost – currently through the end of June.
  • I am the only independent facilitator in Vermont. The way the programming was set up was to have Mental Health Agencies involved for capacity and sustainability and at times they are taxed and cannot promote or offer the training. 

I would be glad to chat further with any school community that is interested in the training, connect them directly to Vermont Care Partners, and/or an MHFA contact at their local designated agency if there is one and/or set the training up directly this winter and spring. Here in the NEK, we are looking are bringing this training to the North Country Career Center this spring and hope for other schools to have the capacity to receive the training. I am partnering with Northeast Kingdom Human Services on these connections. 

Additionally, I partner with the Center for Health and Learning, led by JoEllen Tarallo, and the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center on their programming and communications. I am a facilitator for their national prevention and awareness program Umatter. This is another wonderful resource for Vermonters. 

Lastly, I am a certified Vermont Recovery Coach and work with Working Fields.  We help people who are in all forms of Recovery (mental health, domestic violence, community re-entry) to take healthy avenues to get back into the workforce. Mental health and empathy are key to these areas of recovery. 

So, as you can see, there are lots of things we can chat about. I am so grateful to be settled in Vermont and able to commit to this important work of helping people learn how to access support and services which will positively affect so many other systems in our world. If I can clarify any points, make connections, and/or provide more information, I would be honored.

Thank you so much!

Sunny–

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