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Success Stories: Community Care Network in The Rutland Herald

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This is part of a series of articles in the Rutland Herald focused on the area nonprofit community and the impact on our region.

Community Care Network is known by many simply as Rutland Mental Health Services. While the organization’s mental health services go back 70 years, most don’t realize that Community Care Network is a broad consortium of health and human service programs—from early childhood education to crisis services to therapeutic outdoor programs.

Every program’s goal is to help individuals live empowered lives that result in thriving communities. Community Care Network’s Developmental Services help individuals with developmental disabilities achieve their goals, pursue hobbies, and participate in the community through various programs and one-on-one support from Developmental Services staff. Direct Support Professionals help these individuals break down barriers and open doors to living fulfilling lives.

For example, a Direct Support Professional is currently helping an individual pursue their love of swimming and their desire to do more volunteer work. Their work together has resulted in this individual cultivating their natural leadership skills, independence, and joy through activities they love. As a team, they’ve gained access to opportunities typically difficult to access for people with developmental disabilities.

Community Care Network exists to provide a network of services and resources that support individuals of all abilities, ages, and backgrounds. Learn more about available services at rmhsccn.org, on social media, or by calling 802-775-2381. If you or someone else is experiencing a crisis, do not hesitate to call our 24/7 Crisis Line at 802-775-1000, where dedicated crisis staff can help you.

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AnnouncementsEmployeesLatest NewsPress Release

Community Care Network Welcomes New Director of Emergency Services

Loree Zeif

Community Care Network — Rutland Mental Health Services is excited to welcome Loree Zeif, LICSW as the new Emergency Services Director.

Loree grew up in Lennox, Massachusetts and received her Bachelor’s in Social Work from Providence College, going on to earn her Master’s in Social Work from The University of Pennsylvania. Loree brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our agency, having worked in a variety of fields including: elder care, child and family social services, forensic court clinic, therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness programs, and private practice.

Currently, Loree lives on a farm in Vermont where she and her family enjoy the company of various farm animals, including a small flock of sheep, chickens, a barn cat, a horse, an indoor cat, and a German Shepherd puppy. With exciting developments on the horizon for Emergency Services, we are very grateful to have Loree’s leadership in this essential role.

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AnnouncementsLatest NewsPress Release

Rutland Mental Health Services Certified as Vermont Care Partners Center of Excellence

New COE Logo

Vermont Care Partners (VCP) is proud to announce that Counseling Service of Addison County (CSAC), Community Care Network/Rutland Mental Health Services (RMHS), Northeastern Family Institute (NFI), Health Care and Rehabilitation Services (HCRS), and Clara Martin Center (CMC) have achieved certification as a Vermont Care Partners Center of Excellence. These agencies join other agencies previously certificated including Washington County Mental Health Services (WCMHS), United Counseling Service (UCS), Howard Center (HC), and Northwestern Counseling & Support Services (NCSS). Agencies earn this certification when the agency demonstrates its provision of high quality and accessible comprehensive services to people living with mental health conditions, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities.  

The Vermont Care Partners’ Center of Excellence Certification builds upon the work of the National Council for Behavioral Health. The goal of the certification is quality improvement across the 16 agency network using measures that speak to the impact of each agency’s services and can inform state-wide payment reform efforts. After a rigorous review by peer leaders and an external blind review from the Jeffords Institute for Quality at the University of Vermont, CSAC, RMHS, NFI, HCRS, and CMC are now certified as VCP Centers of Excellence.

It is notable that quality improvement work continues despite the COVID-19 pandemic.  VCP network agencies continue to expand their efforts as a VCP Center of Excellence despite drastic changes to service provision and needs as a result of the pandemic.  Now, more than ever, high quality care is needed.  Normally, agencies achieving the VCP COE certification are celebrated at the VCP Annual conference.  During this extraordinary time requiring physical distancing for safety, we invite you to view a celebratory video about VCP COE and the awarded agencies on our website.

Information about these important achievements and the celebration of CSAC, RMHS, NFI, HCRS, and CMC and other certified agencies can be found at www.vermontcarepartners.org.

Vermont Care Partners (VCP) is a statewide network of community based agencies providing mental health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental disabilities services and supports. Supporting Vermonters to live healthy and satisfying lives community by community.

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AnnouncementsEmployeesLatest NewsPress Release

Community Care Network Joins Little Free Pantry Movement

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Rutland, Vermont—Thanks to the hard work of one passionate employee, Community Care Network has joined the Little Free Pantry movement to give back to the community and encourage neighborly support. The organization—one of ten designated mental health agencies in Vermont—has started the process of placing neighborhood pantries at three of its locations in Rutland City. The first pantry was installed at Community Care Network – Rutland Mental Health’s building at 7 Court Square.  The Little Free Pantry movement started in 2016 as a way to address food insecurity in communities. The pantries offer ways for community members and neighbors to give what they can and take what they need, from non-perishable food and household items to toiletries and clothing.

The project began with Carmen Schlieder, a CCN employee who has organized and led the effort from ideation to installation. When Schlieder learned about the movement—which originated in Fayetteville, Arkansas—and was excited about how the project could encourage neighborly action in the Rutland community.

“I knew Rutland needed the pantries and I immediately started thinking about locations,” says Schlieder. “Of course, I wanted to go big to start. But thought it was best to start out small, get the idea moving, and grow it into something bigger once the idea has caught on and that’s what I hope will happen. First spread them across the city and then across Rutland County. We all know there is a need.”

Schlieder’s idea is timely. The COVID-19 pandemic has left many Vermonters facing food insecurity or unable to access other basic necessities like toiletries and basic household items. Since the onset of the pandemic, Rutland has seen many non-profits and businesses jump to help community members in need. Little Free Pantries brings the spirit of a helping hand to the neighborhoods of those who seek support, and those who ready to give it.

“Right now, especially during COVID, so many people want to feel a part of the community, but we are so limited in our interactions. The Little Free Pantry is a great way to do something for others in your neighborhood or community while practicing social distancing. And, with food insecurity at an all-time high, what a great way to lend support to community members in need!”

Building and installing the pantries was no small feat. Schlieder and her partner built two pantries themselves, and recruited additional help to build the third. She mobilized other employees at Community Care Network to champion the project, and sought guidance from Community Cupboard about ensuring the quality of pantry goods.

Initial donations for the pantries have come from Community Care Network employees, but the goal is for community members to take ownership of their nearby pantry by donating what they can, encouraging neighbors to do the same, and spreading the word.

How to Use Little Free Pantries:

  1. Locate Rutland’s pantry at 7 Court Square in Rutland, VT
  2. Take only what you need.
  3. Enjoy your items!

How to Donate to Little Free Pantries:

  1. Locate the pantry at 7 Court Square in Rutland, VT.
  2. Check the list of accepted pantry items. Lists are posted on the pantries, and online here .
  3. Place your donations in the pantry, making sure the items fit and the door can be closed securely.
  4. Spread the word! Tell your friends and neighbors about the pantries and encourage them to give!

For more information on the Little Free Pantry movement, visit littlefreepantry.org. To learn more about Community Care Network’s programs and services, visit rmhsccn.org. If you or someone you know is experience distress or in crisis, call Community Care Network’s 24/7 Crisis line at 802-775-1000.


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AnnouncementsLatest NewsPress ReleaseUncategorized

RSVP Operation Dolls & More provides 15,000 Toys During Annual Event

Rutland Community Care Network. Caleb Kenna Photography

Rutland, Vermont—Despite the challenges of 2020, RSVP & The Volunteer Center volunteers helped provide approximately 15,000 new and restored toys to almost 1,200 Rutland County children through this year’s 20th annual Operation Dolls & More Drive-Thru event.

During normal years, the program partners with Trinity Church in Rutland for a complete holiday event where gifts are distributed. This year, to observe COVID-19 safety precautions, the program hosted 40 “stations” for a drive-thru event, where organizations and non-profits could pick up gifts for distribution. Operation Dolls & More is a beloved program and holds an essential event every year to help provide holiday hope and relief for parents.

“Giving these gifts to families in need helps families take a burden of their plates when it comes to figuring out how they are going to provide Christmas gifts to their children,” Says Maryesa White, Program Coordinator at RSVP & The Volunteer Center.

“This helps parents and caregivers concentrate on providing other essential items, whether that’s food or paying bills, etc. I feel like our program really helps families with the feeling of hope when this time of year brings many down, not knowing if they can provide for their families.”

Work on this event begins in February of each year, with volunteers making and restoring items year-round. This year, 97 volunteers contributed 25, 406 hours to make the program a success. Dues to COVID-19, volunteers were not able to work in group settings as they normally would. Instead, they worked at home, picking up and dropping off supplies as needed.

While this year’s event wasn’t as festive as years past, it safely and successfully accomplished its mission: to help parents and caregivers offer holiday cheer to kids.

“Every child should wake up on Christmas morning to at least one gift–even if it is something small. This not only helps by putting a smile on their face, but also parents get to see the joy of their children opening a gift on Christmas morning when they thought they may not be able to get them anything.

This program has helped thousands of children over the years and we are still going strong. Our goal is to help even more families next year during the holiday season.”

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AnnouncementsEmployeesLatest NewsPress ReleaseUncategorized

SVCOA Honors Cinda Donton as Community Partner of the Year

Community Care Network in Rutland, Vermont. Caleb Kenna Photography

Community Care Network congratulates Cinda Donton, of Rutland Mental Health Services, for being named Community Partner of the Year by Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging. Read the full press release below.

“Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging (SVCOA) has named Cinda Donton of Rutland Mental Health Services – Community Care Network, and Doug Jones of Meals on Wheels of Rutland County – TRIO Community Meals, as the agency’s 2020 Community Partners of the Year.

“We’re proud to honor Cinda and Doug for their significant contributions to SVCOA and older Vermonters throughout our region,” said Chris Adams, Development and Communications Director with SVCOA. “Both individuals have been incredible resources in our community for decades, supporting so many through their hard work, compassion and professionalism.”

Donton, who is contracted by SVCOA to serve as its Elder Care Clinician, provides mental health support and counseling to older Vermonters throughout Rutland County. She has served in this role for the past 20 years. 

“In addition to serving countless clients, Cinda spearheaded the creation of substance abuse support for older Vermonters, a model that may be replicated in other areas of the state, and has provided caregiver counseling to numerous caregivers needing support to continue to provide care to their loved ones,” said Dana McMahon, Rutland County Aging Services Director with SVCOA. “Cinda has also been an asset to SVCOA staff and other community partners in providing training and sharing her vast knowledge.”

Jones, General Manager of the Rutland TRIO Community Meals team that is contracted by SVCOA to support its Meals on Wheels program, has served in his role for 34 years.

“Doug’s dedication, hard work and countless hours served have kept Meals on Wheels running strong despite all the challenges being thrown at us on a daily basis during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Courtney Anderson, Nutrition Director with SVCOA. “Doug’s forward thinking has enabled the production of an additional 1,000 meals per day on top of the normal daily production to build up a stock of frozen meals and plan for worst-case scenarios with the pandemic. Doug has not only gone above and beyond for our clients and our community, he has also offered assistance to other meal providers across the state to help them keep up with demand. Doug has shown tremendous leadership over the past 34 years and is a true asset to our organization.”

About SVCOA

Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging exists to be a community force in creating and sustaining opportunities for elders and caregivers in our region to help assure that elders are able to maintain maximum independence and quality of life. For more information about SVCOA, visit www.svcoa.org(link is external).”

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Press Release

Hope Garden at Rutland High School

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On Thursday October 10th, coinciding with National Mental Health Day, a Hope Garden was planted by members of the Rutland High School student body.  The event was organized by the school’s chapter of Umatter.  Umatter at Rutland High School is a group of students who believe in the importance of mental health challenges and suicide awareness and prevention.  As outlined by the Umatter website it is the belief of members that “Everyone has a contribution to make, something important to do, and a purpose waiting to be fulfilled.  Sometimes people experience mental health challenges, disorders, or illnesses that are significant and require extra help.  The message is: you matter because you may need help, and you matter because you may be in a position to help.  In an effort to boost awareness of the issues at hand, the organization decided to plant a Hope Garden. A very specific Hope Garden inspired by the Yellow Tulip Project.  Yellow Tulip Project was started by Julia Hansen who has had struggles with her own mental health and who has also lost her two best friends to death by suicide.  Her hope and the mission of the Yellow Tulip Project are to “Smash the Stigma” of mental health and to talk about mental health and suicide and let people know they aren’t alone. The significance of the Yellow Tulips are related to the friends she lost and her one friend who loved tulips and her other friend whose favorite color was yellow. 

Under the supervision of Nancy Ivey, a dedicated and devoted social worker at Rutland High School, the group took charge of the event from requesting donations of tulip bulbs in the community, to creating presentations and posters, to taking an active role in promotion throughout the school to get other members of the student body to participate.  The event saw about 100 students take part in the activities that included a presentation by members of the Umatter club, a chance to write down their own individual hopes for their lives, and the actual planting of the Hope Garden in the front courtyard of the school.  A second ceremony will be planned for the Spring as the tulips break through and become a welcoming reminder that mental health and suicide awareness and prevention should not be ignored.  For my own part, it has been amazing to be welcomed into the group with these passionate youth and to be able to be part of something that can hopefully make a difference and let others know, someone is there to help.

Barrett Hughes, MS, NCC, LCMHC

School Based Clinician – Rutland High School

Rutland Mental Health

(802) 770-1227

Hope Garden
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AnnouncementsPress Release

Suicide – The Ripple Effect

The Ripple Effect Flyer

Community Care Network, Rutland Mental Health Services will present a film and a movement for hope and healing.

Wednesday, September 25th, 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., in the Community Access Program conference room on the first floor, 78 South Main Street, Rutland, Vermont.

This event is free and open to the public.

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