Photo credit: Molly Drummond

Vital Communities Open House in Review

About 100 people attended Vital Communities’ Open House on Friday, December 1. It was an evening of meaningful connection as Vital Communities staff, board, committed supporters, and new friends enjoyed festive food, beverage, and conversation.

Headlining the event was recognition of our Volunteer of the Year, Stacey Chiocchio, who has been contributing to Vital Communities for over 6 years. A 2012 graduate of our Leadership Upper Valley program, Stacey became one of LUV’s most enthusiastic Recruitment Committee members. She then went on to chair this committee, and eventually to lead the LUV Board of Governors. Her promotion of LUV is directly responsible for a fair share of the program’s growth. Not only did Stacey drive the program’s popularity, but her guidance was invaluable as the program manager worked to manage the growing application piles and the program’s development.

Stacey has also been an active participant in the Transportation Management Association for six years, and even brought her enthusiasm and diligence to Flavors of the Valley this past spring. Reflecting on Stacey’s range, a colleague said, “that’s the thing about Stacey, she’s brilliant, but no task is too small.” That might just be the best quality a volunteer can have. Another added, “Stacey is consistently one of the most active volunteers in any group she contributes to. This woman practices what she preaches and does a lot of volunteering for Upper Valley nonprofits.” As the manager of Hypertherm’s community service program, Stacey is leading by strong example.

Stacey Chiocchio, Volunteer of the Year, with Tom Roberts, Executive Director.

Stacey Chiocchio, Volunteer of the Year, with Tom Roberts, Executive Director.

For the past few years, Vital Communities has run Super Quests: a set of 10 or so themed Quests. To complete the challenge, participants must register and collect a stamp from each highlighted Quest. This year’s was focused on “Miraculous Trees,” and it got participants out to some of the Upper Valley’s favorite forested sites. Every year, completed submissions are entered into a grand prize drawing. This year, we assembled a collection of forest field guides, day passes to VINS, a couple Valley Quest T-shirts and books, and an issue of Northern Woodlands, a Vermont magazine that supports forest stewardship. This year’s grand prize winning team were the “Hartland Hunters,” Chuck and Flo Lucot from Hartland, Vt., and their grandson Aiden, from Austin, Texas.

"Hartland Hunters" Chuck and Flo Lucot with a photo of their grandson Aiden

“Hartland Hunters” Chuck and Flo Lucot with a photo of their grandson Aiden.

Vital Communities began a new tradition of recognizing milestones of staff tenure at this year’s Open House. Becka Warren, Valley Food & Farm Communications Coordinator, was recognized for five years of service (six in January!). Becka has also served as program manager for Valley Food & Farm. We look forward to recognizing more milestones next year!

Becka Warren accepts a gift in honor of her five years of service.

Becka Warren accepts a gift in honor of her five years of service.

Door prizes were provided by Local First Alliance members. Richard Hoffman won a pair of tickets to one performance of Opera North’s 2018 Summerfest. Hetty Thomae won five free classes at Upper Valley Yoga. Emily Gardner, Mary MacVey, and Sallie Yurkosky each won gift cards to The Pink Alligator. Gift cards to new White River Junction restaurant Trail Break Taps + Tacos were won by Van Chesnut and Karen Glitman, who chose to gift her prize to our 2016 Volunteer of the Year, Molly Drummond. Congratulations to our lucky winners, and thank you to these local businesses!

Door Prize winner Emily Gardner poses with Vital Communities Staff

Door prize winner Emily Gardner poses with Vital Communities staff.

Additional Open House support was provided by Harpoon Brewery, King Arthur Flour, The Skinny Pancake, Three Tomatoes Trattoria, and the Upper Valley Food Co-op.

Bartending by The Skinny Pancake

Bartending by The Skinny Pancake.

Vital Communities’ Open House is always held in conjunction with White River Junction’s First Friday in December. It’s not too early to mark your calendar for next year: Friday, December 7, 2018 from 5 – 7 pm!

All photos courtesy of Molly Drummond.

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Fall Business Leaders Breakfast

Over 130 Upper Valley business leaders attended this fall’s breakfast on Friday, November 3. The event, hosted jointly by Vital Communities and Upper Valley Housing Coalition, featured presentations from Vital Communities and others on the current state of workforce housing in the Upper Valley. For those who missed the event, an agenda and slides from the morning’s presentations are linked below.

Many thanks to our generous event sponsors

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Upper Valley Housing Coalition Fall Business Leaders Breakfast

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The Upper Valley Housing Coalition Fall Business Leaders Breakfast is being held on Friday, November 3, 2017, at the Fireside Inn in West Lebanon. Registration and a full breakfast buffet will begin at 7:30am followed by presentations from 8:00am to 9:00am. A very special thank you to Lake Sunapee Bank (a division of Bar Harbor Bank & Trust) and Vermont Housing Finance Agency for sponsoring this important event!

Participate in an interactive panel discussion on The Future of the Upper Valley Housing Coalition, featuring Tom Roberts, Executive Director of Vital Communities; Clay Adams, CEO of Mascoma Savings Bank and Chair of the Corporate Council; Kyle Fisher, Executive Director of Listen and Upper Valley Housing Coalition Board Member; and Rob Schultz, Area Director of the Upper Valley Region of Granite United Way.

You will also hear the latest on the Upper Valley rental and home purchase markets from Buff McLaughry of Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty and Lynne LaBombard of Housing Solutions Real Estate.

We’ll have the informative presentations and great networking opportunities that you have come to expect from this event!

Please RSVP by Friday, October 27 to Rachel@VitalCommunities.org

A $10.00 donation at the door is encouraged.

 

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Seasons Dinner is Around the Corner!

February 9 will be here before you know it! We’re delighted to share that Peter Allison of Farm to Institution New England (FINE) will be speaking at our 11th annual Seasons Dinner. Peter has worked with FINE since 2011, joining the Leadership Team, staff, and partners to promote a robust farm to institution network in New England. Peter brings more than 30 years of project and program management experience in a wide array of nonprofit, government, and business settings. The founder of the Upper Valley Farm to School Network (now a program of Vital Communities), Peter sits on the Network Leadership team of Food Solutions New England and advisory committees of both the Vermont Farm to School Network and the New Hampshire Farm to School Program.

We are looking forward to announcing our exciting local menu soon! If you have not already registered, you can do so online at VitalCommunities.org/Seasons.