Trail Break taps + tacos is the BOM!

Celebrate the hot, new eatery in White River Junction

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as Local First Alliance
Business of the Month in January!

Visit Trail Break taps + tacos January 11-25, give them a high five for being the BOM, and get a free chips & salsa or a free upgrade to a large “FLiPs”(aka churros- the most amazingly light, fluffy, and sweet dessert)!

And, wait, there is more!!!

Enter into a raffle for a chance to win one of two $25 Trail Break gift cards AND a chance to choose a beer that will go on tap in March!!

Read more about Business of the Month here.

Visit Trail Break at 129 South Main Street, White River Junction, Vermont

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You can read more about the excellent food and experience at Trail Break in this  DailyUV feature.


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Weatherize Events in January

Weatherize Round Two kicks off this month across the Upper Valley region.

What is Weatherize? 

Vital Communities partners community volunteer teams with local contractors to help Weatherize participants complete cost-effective home energy improvements. These upgrades save residents money on heating bills, increase comfort, and reduce the amount of energy needed to stay warm throughout the winter.

How can you get involved?

New Hampshire residents living in Orford, Piermont, Lyme, Lebanon, Plainfield, and Cornish and Vermont residents living in Springfield, Chester, Woodstock, Pomfret, and Bridgewater can participate in this round of Weatherize. Visit your state’s Weatherize homepage or sign up here to stay in the loop about all the latest Weatherize events and deadlines.

Each community team will be hosting a launch event later this month. See below to learn more about your community’s upcoming kick-off.

  • Orford-Piermont-Lyme: Saturday, January 27 at the Rivendell Academy in Orford. 2 – 3:30 pm.
  • Lebanon: Monday, January 29 at the Kilton Library. 7 – 8:30 pm.
  • Plainfield-Cornish: Wednesday, January 24 at Plainfield Elementary School. 7 – 8:30 pm.
  • Springfield-Chester: Thursday, January 25 at the Springfield First Congregational Church. 6 – 7:30 pm.
  • Woodstock-Pomfret-Bridgewater: Tuesday, January 30 at Norman Williams Public Library. 6 – 7:30 pm.

What happens at the kick-off events?

The kick-off event is an opportunity to meet your community’s volunteer team, partner contractors, and Vital Communities in a fun and informational setting. You’ll learn about what you can expect from the Weatherize program, chat with neighbors who’ve been through the process before, and get the nitty gritty on costs, benefits, financing, and incentives– all in one place! You don’t want to miss it. Refreshments will be provided and the events are free and open to the public with no registration required.

We’ll see you in January!

Photo credit: Molly Drummond


Green Real Estate Network Kick Off

​Working together to empower home buyers and sellers throughout the Upper Valley to understand home energy costs and invest in energy efficiency.

Over 50 real estate professionals from across the Upper Valley will gather on January 9 to kick off the new Upper Valley Green Real Estate Network, a project of Vital Communities. Participants include Realtors, lenders, home inspectors, appraisers, real estate lawyers, and home energy professionals.

Five Reasons Buyers Care about Energy

  1. The Upper Valley is home to some of the oldest housing stock in  the nation
  2. Energy is often the second highest cost of home ownership (behind mortgage/taxes/insurance)
  3. $7-12k of air sealing and insulation can reduce energy costs by 15-30% andimprove home comfort
  4. Rebates and special financing programs exist to help residents pay for energy improvements
  5. Cost effective energy efficiency improvements are possible in almost any home

Why Time of Sale?

Energy efficiency upgrades deliver cash savings and home comfort from month one. Waiting to weatherize means leaving cash on the table. Buyers can use the transaction process to gather necessary information for efficiency improvements. For example:

  • Past heating fuel use data needed to qualify for rebate programs
  • Confidence that cost effective energy improvements are possible
  • Ability to secure financing for energy improvements alongside a mortgage

Vital Communities and our partners believe we can do more to promote “Green Real Estate” in the Upper Valley by working together than we can by working in isolation. Stay tuned for more from this inspiring group of local real estate leaders!

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.

Giving Back to the Community

Local First Alliance members really know how to give back to the community. Year-round Local First Alliance members go above and beyond by putting the community and its residents first and giving back in any way they can.

This holiday season support the businesses that help make the Upper Valley so special by patronizing Local First Alliance members. When going out think local first and choose to visit local independent stores and services providers. Anytime of the year it is important to support local businesses but during the holiday season you can make an even bigger impact by also buying your gifts locally. Picking up gifts or gift certificates at Local First Alliance member businesses is easy and rewarding. Make a difference this year and Shift Your Shopping. Think Local First!

Continuing reading to see just how much Local First Alliance members have contributed this year to help make the Upper Valley a better place to live, work, and play.

Co-op Food Stores – Pennies for Change program collected more than $250,000 for area charities,2 tons of food donated each week to Willing Hands, and  proudly support organizations like Vital Communities, The Upper Valley Haven, LISTEN, and many more.

Mascoma Savings Bank – the bank gives to hundreds of organizations throughout the year through the Mascoma Savings Bank Foundation and Bank Sponsorships. Read More

Chippers – Vital Communities, David’s House Golf Tournament, Friends of Morrill Homestead, Howe Library, Lake Sunapee Region VNA, Marion Cross School PTO, Montshire Museum , New London Barn Playhouse, New Hampshire Humane Society, Northern Stage, Norwich Historical Society, Opera North, Our Lady of the Snows, Pomfret/Teago Volunteer Fire Department, Prosper Valley School, Thompson Senior Center, Woodstock Union High School teams, Upper Valley Haven, Upper Valley Land Trust, VINS, Woodstock Historical Society, Woodstock Recreation Center, Woodstock’s Spectrum Teen Center, Zack’s Place Turkey Trot, Quechee Public Library, Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, Hanover Rotary Club, Health Connection of the Upper Valley, Thompson Senior Center, Change the World Kids, Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Greeley House, Hanover High School Project Graduation, Make a Wish Vermont, Thetford Elementary, Woodstock High School Project Graduation, Woodstock Food Shelf.

Great Eastern Radio – Central Vermont Salvation Army, Vital Communities, New Hampshire Food Bank, David’s House and Upper Valley Haven, and Lakes Region Children’s Charities.

King Arthur Flour – Hunger Free Vermont, Vital Communities, Upper Valley Haven, and their Bake For Good: Kids program, Vermont WARMTH (Home fuel heating assistance), Vermont Foodbank, Family Place, David’s House, Helping Hands, Vital Communities.

LaValley Building Supply – Northern Stage, David’s House, Upper Valley Haven, Vital Communities.

West Lebanon Feed & Supply – Upper Valley Humane Society, VINS, Lacey’s Fund & the VT Police Canine Assoc., Lebanon Varsity Sports, Willing Hands & Share the Harvest, Lucy Mackenzie Humane Society, Watson Upper Valley Dog Park, Shaker Field Dog Park, Local 4-H & GMHA programs, Local Police k-9 training, Local Boy & Girl Scout Troops, Vital Communities

A.B. Gile – Lebanon Opera House, Northern Stage, Colonial Theater. Staff members serve on the board of Visiting Nurse Hospice VNH, Second Growth, and Cedarcrest of Keene. Staff members volunteer for Lebanon High School Hockey, Special Olympics, and Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl

Jake’s Market & Deli and Jake’s Coffee Co. – West Central Services, Special Olympics, Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Toys for Tots, Montshire Museum, Kilton Library, Lebanon Opera House, Good Neighbor Health Clinic, David’s House, WISE, AVA Gallery, Skip’s Run, New London Hospital, SPARK Community Center, Zac’s Place, Lebanon CCBA, Karp’s Classic, Visiting Nurse & Hospice for NH & VT, Dartmouth Athletics, Lebanon/Hanover/Hartford/Walpole/Springfield/Andover/New London Schools, Enfield Village Assoc., Upper Valley Haven, Lebanon/Hanover/New London/White River/Bellows Falls Rotary, Friends of Veterans NH & VT, Greeny Golf Tournament, DARE, New England Handicapped Sportsman’s Assoc., Norwich Lyons Club, Local Fire and Police Depts., Upper Valley Trails Alliance

Systems Plus Computers – Supports over 100 local organizations each year. Read more.

Ledyard National Bank – Ledyard giving 2017 Ledyard’s commitment to community support encompasses all that we do as bankers and as citizens responsible for the growth and vitality of the areas we serve. Our civic involvement is built upon a well-defined ongoing charitable giving program that allows us to impact our neighbors in ways that go beyond day-to-day business activities. Through both in-kind and cash donations, we help nonprofit organizations throughout the Upper Valley, Concord and Lake Sunapee Regions succeed.

As a community bank, Ledyard is aware of the hardships and challenges facing individuals, businesses and nonprofits. Thus a significant portion of our charitable donations support organizations that address the needs of those in the low-to-moderate income segment of our communities (we allocate at least one-third of our total contributions budget for this purpose).

Chase Brook Software – Hanover Conservancy, Hanover Trails Committee, Howe Library, Willing Hands, Hanover Conservancy, Hanover High Field Hockey, Hanover Community Gardens, Hanover Improvement Society, Storrs Pond Recreation Area, Campion Rink, Ford Sayre Memorial Ski Council, Hanover Rotary, Hanover High School Soccer Program

Copeland Furniture Company Store – Montshire Museum, AVA Gallery, Bradford Conservation Commission, Mentoring Project, Make a Wish, Connecticut Valley Fair

Dan & Whit’s General Store – ​The Norwich Lions Club, Hartford/Norwich Basket Helpers, Upper Valley Trails Alliance, Norwich Women’s Club, Upper Valley Trails Alliance, Upper Valley Hostel, Upper Valley Reptile Group, COVER Home Repair, Norwich Child Care Center, WISE, AVA Gallery, Bayada Nurses for Veterans, Hartford Historical Society, Special Needs Support Group, Upper Valley Humane Society, Norwich Library, High Horses, The Upper Valley Haven​, White River Junction Rotary, VT Prevent Child Abuse, Alice Peck Day Senior Center, Grass Roots Soccer, Upper Valley Aquatic Center, High Horses, Windsor County Partners, Beaver Meadow & Root Dist. Schoolhouses.

ECFiber – Free upgrades to all schools, public institutions, and libraries in its coverage area.

Energy Emporium – Shaker Bridge Theater, Shaker Museum, Whaleback, The Mascoma Music Performing Arts,  Upper Valley Robotics Team #95, the Grasshoppers, Lebanon Opera House.

Got Weeds? – Rural Vermont, NOFA VT, VT Food Atlas, 350 VT, VT Food Bank, Royalton Community Radio, Farm to Ballet, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Upper Valley Haven, Vermont Food Bank

Henderson’s Tree Service – Vital Communities

Hubert’s Family Outfitters of West Lebanon  Hubert’s is a big supporter of  the communities they serve making annual donations to regional youth sports programs including several soccer programs , Lebanon basketball and baseball, and  Hartford, Claremont, New London, Newport, and Peterboro baseball.

Hubert’s is yearly supporter of Lebanon Parks and Recreation program, Newport Recreation Center, Claremont Recreation Centers, Arrowhead, CHAD, the Prouty, Good Beginnings, Valley Regional Visiting Nurses, New London Hospital Days, Valley Regional Hospital Golf Tournament, and many road races to foster the health of community members.

Support for the arts and education include: Lebanon Opera House, Claremont Opera House, New London Barn, Peterborough Players, Newport Art Center, concerts on the common, Newport Winter Carnival, Newport and New London Historical Society. Hubert’s supports library arts centers at Richards, Fisk Free, and Kilton libraries, and a variety of community events such as local school plays, honor society, yearbook, teams, organizations and class fundraisers, and Dollar for Scholars.

We are and have been proud supporters of Grafton County Senior Center, Claremont, Newport Senior Centers Wise, Listen, Turning Point Network, Claremont Soup Kitchen, Newport Food Pantry, United Way, Southwestern Community Services, Shelter From the Storm, Cornucopia, Livable communities, local farmers market, Sargent Land trust, friends of Mt. Sunapee, We have partner with Lebanon, Newport,Claremont Peterboro Rotary and Sunapee lions on specific fundraiser to support local communities

Some of the larger endowment renovation projects include: Twin State Maker Space, Eagle Block, New London Hospital Expansion, Claremont Community Center, The Brown Block, Grafton Senior Center Expansion, Corbin Covered, Newport Railroad covered bridges, Sullivan County Dental Program, Richard Library renovation, Library Arts Center endowment.

The Hubert family have donated countless hours on various committees and boards to support and improve our communities (Richards Library board, NH Fish and Game, Sullivan County Sportsman Club, Economic Corporation of Newport member, New London and Newport Chamber, Newport PTO, Richard School renovations committee, Newport Education Foundation, Citizens Leading for Environmental Responsibility (CLEAR),  Newport Recycling Committee, and ACTs.

Janson Law Office – Lebanon Opera House, Lebanon Rail Trail, Shaker Bridge Theater, City Center Ballet, Second Growth,  NH Charitable Fund, Vital Communities

Longacres’ Nursery Center – Wounded Warrior Projects

Molly’s Restaurant & Jesse’s Steak House – The Upper Valley Haven, Upper Valley veterans

Norwich Bookstore – We support the community in many different ways. Some are ongoing like the 1% of all books purchased through our Rewards Program that is donated to a variety of organizations. Others are event based such as our collaborations with The Book Jam to raise funds for the Norwich Public Library and several area school’s reading programs – Pages in the Pub and mutilple Book Buzz gatherings. Now in it’s 20th year, our Book Angel program collects hundred’s of books annually for local children, some of whom receive their first ever “very own” book. In addition, we donate books and gift certificates to auctions and other fund raisers – Good Neighbor, Norwich Women’s Club, Montshire Museum, AVA, and various libraries throughout the year.

Red Kite Candy – Many schools (Thetford Elementary, Thetford Academy, Oxbow, Bradford Elementary, Open Fields) for raffles, silent auctions, project grad donations, TA’s 7th grade DC Fundraising), Thetford Elementary PTO, area libraries (Strafford Library, Latham Library (Thetford), Peabody Library (Thetford), Bradford Library, and the Howe Library in Hanover.

South Royalton Market – Donates about $4,000, including fresh summer produce, to community meals and local organizations in the White River Valley.

Three Tomatoes Trattoria – CHaD, Vital Communities, Montshire Museum, LISTEN, AVA Gallery, Upper Valley Haven,Change the World Kids, Vermont Center for Ecostudies, Lebanon Opera House, Opera North, VINS, Lebanon Farmers’ Market, West Central Behavioral Health Lebanon, Northern Stage

U.K. Architects – Owner is a board member of Plan New Hampshire (a statewide advocate of good planning, design, and responsible developement) and member of the West Wheelock Gateway Committee. Staff member is starting a nonprofit trails advocacy group in Woodstock

Woodstock Insurance –  Annual donations to non-profits is about $10,000 including the food shelf, the Woodstock Sr. Center, Pentangle  Council on the Arts, Project Graduation, Billing Farm & Museum, The Union Arena, The Library and many others. Serves on Boards for Woodstock Rotary and Thompson Senior Center.

And don’t forget our many members participating in the 19 Days of Norwich for the Upper Valley Haven organized by Local First Alliance member, Dan & Whit’s! To see all of the participating businesses go to the list provided by Upper Valley Haven, some members involved are:
We also have great non-profit members you can support directly:
To see all Local First Alliance members, please visit our local business directory.
If you are a Local First Alliance member not mentioned here, please tell us how you give back – – We want to know.

Giving Tuesday – A Global Day of Giving

Giving Tuesday is a one-day annual campaign that encourages people to contribute to their local communities. Celebrate #GivingTuesday this Tuesday, November 28, by making a donation or volunteering for an Upper Valley organization you believe in. Appreciate, support, and celebrate what makes the Upper Valley such a special place to live, work, and play.STACKED_0Look for #GivingTuesday posts on our Vital Communities Facebook page, where we’ll share some of our work from the past year and celebrate the impact of the community members who make it possible. Leading up to and on November 28, look for the #GivingTuesday hashtag for ideas on how to get involved and use it to share what you’ve done this year for your community.

#GT Heart (1)Learn more about #GivingTuesday.

Gift Thoughtfully this Season!


Every dollar spent at a local, independent business returns 2-4 times more to be re-spent in the community than a dollar spent at a non-local business. With consumers reporting that they will spend an average $967 for holiday shopping this year, according to a 2017 National Retail Federation survey, a shift to local purchases represents a significant contribution to local jobs, taxes, and community support.

This season make sure your gift giving matches your community values and keep your money here at home by patronizing locally owned services and businesses. Search the Local First Alliance directory and shop at stores owned by your friends and neighbors, and enjoy expert service, unique product selection, and know that you are strengthening the Upper Valley by keeping your money circulating in our community.

To encourage shopping locally this season, the Shift Your Shopping campaign highlights the value and importance of thinking local first. Support this effort and visit our wonderful and diverse community of local businesses on these special days:


Plaid Friday, November 24

Turn Black Friday on it’s head and take part in Plaid Friday events this year! Our community is stronger when we all engage with our community (plaid is made up of interwoven fabrics!). Visit these businesses during their Plaid Friday events:

Dan & Whit’s General Store

West Lebanon Feed & Supply


Small Business Saturday, November 25

Shop Small and keep your dollars here at home when shopping at these businesses:

The Country Cobbler, Fat Hat Clothing (free socks with $50 purchase!) West Lebanon Feed & Supply, Dan & Whit’s General Store, Revolution, Norwich Bookstore


Cider Monday, November 27

Appreciate the personal service and community aspects of shopping locally during this special day aimed at combating Cyber Monday. Visit these locally owned businesses and enjoy cider and community cheer as you make shopping a joyful fun event:

The Co-op Food Stores, all locations

Revolution, White River Junction

Norwich Bookstore

Yankee Bookstore, Woodstock

Dan & Whits’ General Store, Norwich


Give the perfect gifts this season: gift certificates to Local First Alliance businesses!

Support our community while giving the perfect that your friends and family will  appreciate AND that strengthens our Upper Valley economy. Make a difference this year and Shift Your Shopping. Think Local First!



Come to Our Open House Dec. 1!

Join us for our annual Vital Communities Open House!

Friday, December 1, 5–7 pm

~ Local snacks and beverages
~ Door prizes and Super Quest prize
~ 6th Annual Volunteer of the Year Award

And in case that’s not enough, it’s a great time to learn more about our work and get to know our staff and other Vital Communities supporters!

Brought to you in conjunction with the biggest White River Junction First Friday Celebration of the year, featuring food, live music, demonstrations, and more.

Find us at:
195 N. Main St.
White River Jct., VT 05001

Second Floor of the Upper Valley Food Co-op building.


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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