Thursday, August 30, 2007

Nighttime Golf Tournament

Join us for the 5th Annual Shot in the Dark

Friday September 21, 2007 at 6:00 p.m.

A Fund Raiser for The Starfish Initiative Mentoring Program in Springfield VT will be held at the Crown Point Country Club.
This “scramble” format, and the fact that the play is in the dark on 6 of the most centralized holes, make this event fun and exciting for all players regardless of ability (no one will see your duffs!) The tees, fairway and boundaries, and greens are marked with glow sticks, with a lit tiki torch at each hole. The rest is taken care of by glow-in-the-dark balls, which provide a visual show. You should note that golf carts are not allowed at night for safety concerns. Event begins at 6:30 pm with dinner.

Please contact Marie Gelineau at
or call 802.885.8314
for more information and to find out how to sign up.

If you don't play golf we would still love to have you there as a volunteer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What's a "wiki"?

There's no better place to learn about a wiki than at Wikipedia:

A wiki is a website that allows visitors to add, remove, and edit content. A collaborative technology for organizing information on Web sites, the first wiki (WikiWikiWeb) was developed by Ward Cunningham in the mid-1990s. Wikis allow for linking among any number of pages. This ease of interaction and operation makes a wiki an effective tool for mass collaborative authoring. Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, is one of the best known wikis...
The word wiki is a Hawaiian word meaning "quick". Wiki systems are therefore designed so that their content can be made available in a quick and uncomplicated manner.

So what's all that mean? And how can we use it? Well Suzanne W. Morse of Smart Communities has an offer we can't refuse -
This summer we're offering one-on-one assistance to those interested in using the Learning to Finish wiki to collaborate on solutions to the dropout crisis. We understand that new technologies are intimidating at first but can be extremely rewarding further on down the road. We'll help you overcome any initial trepidation you might feel about participating on a wiki by answering any question (no matter how small) and offering technical assistance to get you pushed to the top of the learning curve as quickly as possible.

The Learning to Finish Wiki is a website "that fosters collaboration between parents, educators, community members, researchers, and students toward lowering the dropout rate." Right now it is made up of 3 sections - Program Case Studies, Background Reading , and Online Links.

As a member of the wiki you can add and edit the information shared. As newbies in the online world of non-profits we are definately going to take advantage of this and we encourage you to join in. The more links we make in our mentoring community, the stronger and more sustainable we become. The Learning to Finish Wiki is a great opportunity to find out how to keep Vermont kids in school and prepare them for the future. According to the Alliance for Excellent Education "Research indicates that about 75 percent of America’s state prison inmates, almost 59 percent of federal inmates, and 69 percent of jail inmates did not complete high school." (from Saving Futures, Saving Dollars; Click for download of PDF report)

Wouldn't it be great to join in and help stop this disturbing trend?

Friday, May 18, 2007

“Step-Up”, spend more time together!

Bill Sheldon is the pastor at the Brownsville Methodist Church and lives in Springfield. He was mentoring Corey through the Let’s Do Lunch Mentoring Program during the lunch hour at Elm Hill Elementary School in Springfield for about a year. However, both Corey and Bill wanted to spend more time together; therefore Bill requested permission to “step up” to our PALS mentoring program which would allow them to spend more time participating in activities in the community nights, weekends and other out-of-school times. The process was simple, he contacted our office, had his fingerprints taken, underwent an FBI Criminal Background check, local and state screenings and the process was complete. Bill was then approved to meet with Corey and participate in some exciting activities.

Last June, Bill, Corey and a high school student in our mentoring programs, had the opportunity to join with the 21st Century After-School Programs in a trip to the New England Aquarium in Boston. They had a terrific time and it was an experience that neither youth will ever forget. They especially enjoyed the penguins, ugly fish and the Imax Theatre.

Also in June, Bill served as “Pastor of the Day” for the Springfield High School Alumni Association’s annual festivities. A highlight of the weekend for Corey was riding in the parade in the special “Pastor of the Day” automobile. Corey and Bill both enjoyed a day in the limelight as dignitaries for the event and are looking forward to many more exciting adventures in the future.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Engaging Communities

Suzanne W. Morse of Smart Communities and the President of the Pew Partnership for Civic Change writes about Sharing the Dream: Stories of Principals Actively Engaging Communities.

This is a new publication from the MetLife Foundation and the National Association of Elementary School Principals that gives an overview of the programs that won grants From the MetLife Foundation for school principals who are actively engaging both the parents and the surrounding community in their schools. The pamphlet is available for download as a PDF and outlines 12 projects around the country that are making a difference.

As Suzanne mentions this is a good place to start when planning our own future projects. We can see what challenges each principal had and how she addressed them. One very inventive solution to engaging parents and a local business was to have a McTeacher event at the local McDonalds. Teachers and staff from the Parkade Elementary School in Columbia, MO sold food and cleared tables when the students and parents came to dinner. Everyone had some fun and the school got some of the profits from the meal. This is a great example of a community-builder combined with a fund-raiser.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


JULY 16 TO 20, 2007
Howard Dean Education Center
307 South Street
Springfield, VT 05156

**Updated with expanded programs on May 21, 2007**
Summer Tech Camp is for students entering the 7th, 8th or 9th grade at any area middle school or home school.

Summer Tech Camp is a big hit with the kids who have attended. We have a variety of activities and classes designed promote career awareness and stimulate interest in the world of technology. Career Professionals will share all the details of their careers and Vermont Student Assistance advisors will show you how to research and plan for anything you might like to explore.

Our classes include
What is the first line of defense against germs? Learn this and more as you investigate first aid, the quick ad correct help people give when anyone gets sick or hurt. You’ll create your own first aid kit, learn how to perform Heimlich Manuever and learn to use sphygmomanometers. Be ready to have fun while learning life-saving techniques!

Sound Design and Audio Production
See any great movies lately? This year’s audio production time will be spent creating original soundtracks and adding sound effects to movie clips and trailers! Want to make Sponge Bob sound like your dog? Want to make your dog bark like a chicken? The magic of sound design makes it all happen.

Whether you can crack an egg or not, this is a program that will teach you the basic skills and techniques needed to created delicious and smart treats to share with your family and friends all year long. Campers love this program!

Experience what it is like to be a landscaper, florist or tree worker in this exciting Horticulture Course. Learn how to make a floral arrangement, climb a tree with an arborist rope and saddle, or maintain landscape plants! Participants should expect to be outside and bring long pants and comfortable shoes to wear.

It’s Magic! Well not really. It’s modern manufacturing but it works like magic. In a single day, campers will invent, design, develop and produce a consumer product. Using state of the art computer and manufacturing equipment as well as a lot of ingenuity, campers will walk away with something they designed in their hands and a better understanding of the manufacturing industry in their head.

An opportunity to express your creative side., You will learn how to write and design a story complete with pictures and photos of your choice. The class will also create a “Summer Tech Camp Week Book” which will include bios and pictures of all the campers.

Using macromedia Flash, you will complete an animation of your own design, download onto a disk & take home or you can put it on the web.

Are you ready to own a business? Try your hand at owning either a convenience store or a football franchise. Using computer simulations you will be responsible for product pricing, promotion, merchandising, market research, staffing, location selection and more! A realistic look into the world of business ownership!

Practice virtual interactive tools that let you animate slideshows, decorate your own birthday cake, create a photo scrapbook and more. Immerse yourself in Digital Design using Adobe Flash, Illustrator and Photoshop.

The Marvels of Digital Movie Making
The members of this group will make a documentary movie about the tech camp. Try your hand at digital movie making; learn to use the video camera, to edit your footage, to overlay sound and then show your finished movie to the entire camp on our final day together.

We also have the other camp activities for everyone to enjoy.
· New games and other camp-like activities
· Creation of a “camp video” using iMovie software
· Design a graphic on computer and print to a tee shirt
· Real Game
· Tour of the Dean Education Center

8:30 a.m. Welcoming Activity
9:00 - 12:00 Technology Camp Activity/Program
12:00 - 12:30 Lunch
12:30 - 2:30 Group Activities, Career Exploration, Camp activity program or
Design your own Tee shirt
2:30 p.m. Camp Day Ends

With sufficient enrollment (at least 5 students from district), transportation will be provided to and from Bellows Falls, Black River, & Green Mountain Union High Schools.

Camp costs *$75 with $40 due with application (non-refundable). The balance must be paid before July 1st. This fee will help to offset the cost of materials, snacks, tee shirts instructors, and various costs of the camp. Scholarships are available upon request.

Marie Gelineau, Executive Director
TELEPHONE (802) 885-8314

**Updated with expanded programs on May 21, 2007**

Monday, May 14, 2007

Proud as a mentor can be… graduation day:

Here is a mentoring story from our Newsletter last year at this time:

Rosina Zaretzki began mentoring Trisha in September of 1999 through the Let’s Do Lunch Mentoring Program, Trisha was in the 6th grade. Rosina has been a faithful and reliable mentor during all of that time and has come to the school for lunch with her mentee, once a week, throughout her middle and high school years. An avid mentor, Rosina has taken advantage of several training opportunities and workshops and is very committed to mentoring.

After several years in the Lunch Mentoring program, the pair decided that they would like to spend more time together; therefore, Rosina made application to join our PALS program. This program incorporates many components of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Mentoring Program. Mentors undergo a full background check, are carefully screened and checked and on successful completion, can then spend time together out in the community. An additional feature for high school students in the mentoring programs is that each year they visit their mentor in the workplace for lunch and a “job shadow”, tour of the company. Dufresne-Henry, now Stantec, Inc, an engineering firm located in North Springfield welcomed the youth to a pizza lunch and has supported mentoring for several years. Many of their employees have part icipated in the mentoring programs. Another long-term mentoring partnership through Dufresne-Henry has been with Peter Andrews mentoring Gary, for the past several years.

Trisha’s future plans are not set in concrete at the present time but include possibilities of the continuation of her education through the local Community College, once she has decided what career(s) she might like to pursue. Trisha is appreciative of all the time that Rosina has spent with her and would like to become a mentor at one of the local elementary schools. She and Rozina have developed a close relationship and also plan to keep in touch with each other in the future. Rosina is also planning to mentor another youth.
~Written by Marie Gelineau

Monday, May 7, 2007

A New Neighbor

One of the most difficult things about running any volunteer organization is getting your message out to like-minded individuals. You can post flyers around town, you can rely on work of mouth, and you can put a press release in the local paper. With the great power of the Internet you can also connect up with people you would never have met in any other way.

And that is how we came across the Neighbor Networking Blog and Habib Rose. Neighbor Networking is also a part of the Tutor/Mentor Blog Exchange going on this month in conjunction with the biannual Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in Chicago.

The idea of the neighborhood for a large city is certainly different than the focus for the small cities and rural areas that we have in Vermont. In the post from May 3rd, Habib writes about the pluses of connecting to others within your neighborhood:

[I]n the case of cities on the West Coast, it is my impression that there is always a possibility of connecting people who have needs with neighbors (in their broad neighborhood) who can offer assistance. Making these connections on a neighborhood level rather than all the way across a city offers a number of benefits including:
1. Greater possible frequency of interactions (you don’t have to make a special trip way across town)
2. Higher likelihood of familiarity with the culture, surroundings, and living situation of the kids who are getting help
3. Less time wasted in travel across town
4. Less gasoline wasted, pollution generated etc. (in situations where one or both parties are driving or being driven)

It is my guess that one of the best ways for people to get involved as Tutors/Mentors with T/MC is to know other people who are already Tutors/Mentors. So, the more Tutors/Mentors that get started in any general neighborhood, the greater the likelihood of finding additional people in those same neighborhoods.

Some of these principles can be applied to us in Southern Vermont but we do have to expand our neighborhoods to greater geographic areas. Sometimes there just aren’t enough people in our physical neighborhoods to meet our mentoring needs.

That is why a program like “Let’s Do Lunch” has so much success here. The students are in a central location (school) and the mentors come from local businesses. The neighborhood is expanded and ties between communities are formed. The mentor and mentee may live at opposite ends of the travel spectrum – but they are brought together at lunch. Once the connection is made the mentoring program may expand to after-school and summer activities as well.

We are hoping that we will also be able to expand our neighborhood using this blog and other Web 2.0 applications like bookmarks and Technorati.

We are also expanding our virtual neighborhood as much as possible but we’re also looking for ideas of how to connection this blog to local people. How do you get the word out to people who may not be looking for you? This weekend we handed out flyers about the blog at Green Up Day in Springfield. A decidedly non-tech solution. But every little bit helps!