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.

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 – Nancy@VitalCommunities.org – We want to know.

New Directors Join Vital Communities Board

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Left to Right: Barbara Barry, Rick Mills, and Nancy Merrill

In September we welcomed three new members to the Vital Communities Board of Directors. Barbara Barry, Rick Mills, and Nancy Merrill join 10 incumbent board members, as well as new Revers Board Fellows from the Tuck School of Business, Catherine Boyson and Rene Bystron, in supporting Vital Communities’ mission and strengthening our work over the next several years.

Woodstock resident Barbara Barry recently retired as co-owner and innkeeper of Applebutter Inn Bed and Breakfast after 15 years. A founding board member of Sustainable Woodstock, Barbara was a volunteer for the Solarize Pomfret-Woodstock campaign we helped coordinate in 2014-2015.

South Strafford resident Rick Mills, JD, has been the Executive Vice President at Dartmouth College since September 2013. He is responsible for the management and coordination of the administrative operations of the institution including financial, facility, human resources, and other administrative operations.

Nancy Merrill, a resident and former city councilor in Lebanon, is the Director of Planning and Economic Development for the City of Claremont, where she focuses on reinvestment and adaptive reuse as a driver of economic growth. She also serves as a Commissioner at the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission.

“Barbara, Nancy, and Rick all bring incredible knowledge and new perspectives to the Vital Communities Board,” said Executive Director Tom Roberts. “Each one has a passion for our mission of bringing people together to find collaborative solutions to regional challenges facing the Upper Valley. We’re so fortunate to have them with us to strengthen our work into the future.”

Additional changes include Jenny Levy stepping in as our new board chair this year, succeeding Bill Geraghty. Many thanks to Barbara, Rick, and Nancy, and to our entire Board of Directors, for your commitment to Vital Communities.
Find all of our Board members at VitalCommunties.org/Board.

Local First Business of the Month

Introducing a new way to celebrate our wonderful, community-building, locally owned businesses:

Local First Alliance Business of the Month (BOM)!

Throughout the year we will be highlighting specific Local First Alliance members by celebrating with in-store promotions and engagement opportunities.

Our friends and neighbors are the people behind the amazing locally owned business and the BOM program is a way to learn about all the ways they support our communities (job creation, charitable giving, civic engagement, economic impact) and to thank them for all they do to make the Upper Valley a great place to live, work, and play.

Visit the BOM during the promotion and learn about the often overlooked value that locally owned  businesses contribute to our communities while taking advantage of the personal attention,  expert service, and unique products they provide.

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Join the Celebration September 18-30 – Free Stuff!

Visit King Arthur Flour Bakery + Cafe from September 18-30 to thank them for being such valuable community members and pick up a free baguette! Learn about Local First Alliance , snag a Love Local bumper stickers and a coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase from King Arthur.

Keep your dollars circulating through our economy and support our locally owned businesses!

Future BOMs:

October – Hubert’s Family Clothing & Skinny Pancake

November – West Lebanon Feed & Supply

Locally Owned Businesses Drive Our Local Economy

The following opinion article appeared in the Valley News last week after the closing of Everything But Anchovies, a local Hanover restaurant that had been feeding Dartmouth and our larger community for 38 years. You can also read the May 17 Valley News article about the restaurant’s closing.

Local First Alliance supports independent locally owned businesses by promoting shopping local in the Upper Valley. Scroll down to learn the benefits to our community when you keep it local!

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We’re Losing More Than EBA’s Pizza

Thursday, June 8, 2017 — The closing of Hanover’s Everything But Anchovies has left us with more than just hunger pangs. The shuttering of a local business — be it a restaurant like EBAs or any other enterprise — weakens our regional economy in ways not easily corrected.

Hardest hit are the workers. Even a short disruption in cash flow makes it hard to retain housing or buy necessities. These neighbors deserve our empathy and encouragement as they hustle to replace lost income. When we choose to do business with locally owned businesses, our patronage lowers the risk of layoffs and creates more jobs.

Chain restaurants, stores and franchises do have considerable impact on local employment. These firms employ our neighbors, who offer friendly service and work hard to earn our business and trust. National and international chains have deep pockets, but their owners and shareholders live outside our region, so more of their profits flow out of the Upper Valley.

Locally owned businesses “play a key role in forming the foundation of community life,” notes Judy Wicks in her book, Good Morning, Beautiful Business. 

Owners of local businesses make extraordinary contributions to social programs, the arts and charitable organizations. While some businesses based far away make generous contributions to local needs, some have policies that restrict giving.

Small businesses are the “best contributors to economic development,” adds Wicks, an entrepreneur and founding member of the localism movement. According to a 2010 Michigan State University Study, $73 of every $100 spent at local businesses stays in local economies. By contrast, only $43 of $100 spent at non-local businesses stays close to home. Local businesses and local patronage power local economies.

If we all did at least 10 percent of our shopping at locally owned businesses, we’d give a substantial financial boost to them. The negative effect on big chains would be slight. But — as the closing of Everything But Anchovies demonstrates — if customers shift 10 percent of their dollars away from locally owned businesses, the impact can be disastrous.

Spending locally may ask us for an added measure of faithfulness. Our loyalty may mean driving a little farther, or spending a bit more on goods and services. But shopping locally supports a vibrant business landscape. Only local spending can ensure us access to local goods and services, from the service station that keeps your car running to banks committed to local investment.

As we lament the loss of Everything But Anchovies, let’s use its closing as motivation to increase our patronage of local businesses. At our Co-op, we know that businesses, farms, food producers and service providers nourish community by cultivating cooperation. It takes work and commitment from all involved, but we all share in the long-lasting benefits of homegrown prosperity.

Bill Craig, President,

Ed Fox, General Manager

Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society 

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A Strong Economy and Vibrant Community

When you patronize a local business instead of a chain store or shop online, you are helping to keep our community economically strong and diverse. Here are just some of the benefits:

BUILD COMMUNITY! The casual encounters you enjoy at neighborhood–scale businesses and the public spaces around them build relationships and community cohesiveness.  They’re the ultimate social networking sites!

STRENGTHEN YOUR LOCAL ECONOMY! Each dollar you spend at independent businesses returns 3 times more money to your local economy than one spent at a chain (almost 50 times more than buying from an online mega-retailer) — a benefit we all can bank on.

SHAPE OUR CHARACTER! Independent businesses help give your community its distinct personality and character.

YOU CAN BUY IT WHERE YOU TRY IT! Local stores enable you to try on and try out items before you buy — and get real expertise — saving your time and money.

CREATE A HEALTHIER ENVIRONMENT! Independent, community-serving businesses are people-sized. They typically consume less land, carry more locally-made products, locate closer to residents and create less traffic and air pollution.

GIVE BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY! Small businesses donate more than twice as much per sales dollar to local non-profits, events, and teams compared to big businesses.

LOWER TAXES! More efficient land use and more central locations mean local businesses put less demand on our roads, sewers, and safety services. They also generate more tax revenue per sales dollar. The bottom line: a greater percentage of local independent businesses keeps your taxes lower.

ENHANCE CHOICES! A wide variety of independent businesses, each serving their customers’ tastes, creates greater overall choice for all of us.

CREATE JOBS AND OPPORTUNITIES! Not only do independent businesses employ more people directly per dollar of revenue, they also are the customers of local printers, accountants, wholesalers, farms, attorneys, etc., expanding opportunities for local entrepreneurs.

LFASlider 
Keep it local and look for the logo!

Find a Local First Alliance business

 

Closing Remarks for Heroes & Leaders from Markell Ripps

Thank you all for joining us to celebrate the young leaders who are being honored tonight, and thank you to Vital Communities for recognizing their important contributions to our community. It is so important to make a point to pause in our busy lives to recognize those around us who make our community what it is—the Upper Valley. As we all know, each year Vital Communities honors a different category of heroes and leaders. So the natural question that I am tasked to answer tonight is “Why are young leaders important?” It just so happens I have been asking myself this question since I first joined the Upper Valley Young Professionals in 2012, the year the group was founded. After five years being on the group’s board, and serving as its co-chair and chair for several years, I find that while I don’t feel as young as I did back then, through furthering the group’s goal of supporting young leaders by connecting them to one another and to their community, I have learned quite a bit about this subject.

The first thing I have learned is that the Upper Valley is especially scant on young professionals. If you are under 40 and accidentally walk into any non-profit board meeting in the Upper Valley, you will almost certainly be sweet-talked into joining. My own fiancé made the mistake of missing just one Grafton County Bar Association meeting, and—oops—he was voted onto the board and was deemed the group’s website guru! Now that isn’t to say that young professionals don’t want to join non-profit boards—they certainly do, like many of the leaders being honored tonight. The problem is that there just aren’t enough young leaders to go around. In the 2015 census, the populations of both New Hampshire and Vermont had a higher average age than almost all the other 50 states.

Perhaps partly due to this fact, being a “young person” in a field or community where your colleagues are usually in a different demographic category than you are can be quite challenging. Many young people in the Upper Valley’s workforce find themselves here to take on a new career opportunity or start a new educational program, and many are moving from more populated areas around the country. Our young professionals group would hear that many in this category arrive in our area feeling somewhat isolated. Many of the Upper Valley’s workers not only live in one town and work in another, but they don’t congregate in the same city center during the day, as is the case in metropolitan areas. This means that there is less chance to strengthen social interactions among members of our workforce unless we make those chances more readily available ourselves. We also often hear that many of our young professionals may be the only ones under 40 in their offices, and sometimes even in their whole fields. Once they get here to the Upper Valley, they are faced with being not only a newcomer, but also someone in the dreaded “young” category.

We all know being in the “young” category often does not have positive connotations when you are trying to be successful in your career or be a leader in your community. We have heard how our honorees tonight have been quite successful in their fields, but I also wanted to give a voice to our other peers, who may have trod a more difficult path. “Young” is often associated with “inexperience,” which means it can be difficult to have one’s voice be heard and taken seriously in some scenarios. I have heard from several of my peers that even though groups and businesses are eager to welcome young people, those peers then often face challenges when offering a new idea or solution, when it has been done the same way for a very long time. However, it is imperative for young leaders to be able to contribute to the cause they are interested in, because when they can, in turn they will feel invested in the business or group’s success. Likewise, professionals in the mentor class can pass down their experience and expertise. This helps a business or group remain relevant and resilient, and by including a young person in your business or group, it builds in continuity and succession planning for the future.

How can we help a young person to succeed? As an example, when I first joined Dan Grossman in law practice, he made a specific point to encourage everyone in the office to refer to me as just another lawyer in the office—not a young one; not a new one. You don’t want your brain surgeon to be introduced as the young, new brain surgeon. That does not instill confidence. Words matter. Just this week, a colleague and I were referred to as “girls” in a professional setting. I know it was not intended to be a slight, but when you speak to someone who is a professional peer, it doesn’t make them feel like one if terms such as “young” or “girls” or “boys” are used. Often, the person using these terms doesn’t even realize the effect this can have, but that’s exactly why I wanted to talk about it. Our young professionals group has even considered that maybe including the word “emerging” professional in our mission would be more accurate than “young.” We all know what is meant by the term “young,” and if used correctly, it can be worn as a badge of pride, like it is tonight for our honorees, who are in a special class of leaders that deserves to be celebrated due to that specific circumstance and the challenges they face because of it. However, in certain contexts, it can be used in a way that is not helpful to promoting one’s sense of confidence and ability. All of us of all ages need to think about how we can best support this special type of leaders and professionals.

So why are emerging leaders important to a healthy and vital community? Well, let me tell you another quick story. When I first became a lawyer in my mid-twenties, some fellow professionals and clients would tell me that I looked too young to be a lawyer, or that I couldn’t possibly be a lawyer because I was the same age as their own children. To which I would respond, “Old lawyers don’t grow on trees.” And guess what—experienced professionals, those who create jobs and pay taxes, they don’t grow on trees either. They have to ripen over time. In other words, seasoned professionals just don’t show up out of nowhere. The community has to plant the seeds that encourage young leaders to move here. As a community, we have to provide them with affordable shelter and affordable education; we have to mentor them, listen to their ideas, and support them in their goals. If we are lucky, they will decide to put down their roots here, contribute to our economy, populate our schools, pay taxes, shape local policy, stabilize our community, and plan for its future. This takes work on all of our parts.

Young leaders reinforce why the Upper Valley is such a great place to live. If you ask the person sitting across from you at the table today why they chose, out of the whole country, to live here, you will most likely get a response identifying the area’s work/life balance, natural beauty, community cohesiveness, availability of social services, opportunity to be involved in local government, or friendly corporate environment. When you work here at a local business, most of us can call up any one of our competitors if we need help. You can call your neighbors when your car gets stuck during mud season. Or when your neighbors find your goats in their own yard, eating their flowers, they will bring them back to you—an experience I can personally attest to. These qualities just don’t happen by accident. They are created by a balanced community that strives to take care of all the needs of its members. A community where every little bit can go a long way and a new idea can spark real change. Our region provides fertile ground for fostering this cohesiveness, and with the right amount of care, our young leaders have demonstrated for us the amazing results that can be grown from it.

Our honorees today help to weave these very intangibles together to provide the fabric that is our sense of place. Some of them have overcome moving from across the country, far from their own families and friends; have started a new career or new educational program; have developed a new business; and even started new families, all while taking what little precious personal time they have left to give back, for the benefit of all of us in this room. Despite these challenges, our honorees today have made amazing contributions to our community’s health care, environmental, economic development, finance, technology, corporate social responsibility, disability awareness, international advocacy, civic engagement, entrepreneurship, athletic, and education spheres. They were not afraid that they didn’t have enough experience. They were not afraid that their voices wouldn’t be listened to. They were not afraid of trying something new that perhaps hadn’t been thought of before. They were not afraid that they couldn’t make a difference, or that it wasn’t worth trying. They started by giving back a little bit a time, and their success and impact grew and grew.

We celebrate your hard work, your perseverance when facing these obstacles, and your dedication to an idea greater than yourself. An idea that connects all of us in this room together. An idea we call the Upper Valley.

You should all be proud to be called a “young” leader, and we know you will give back to whatever community you live in—even though we truly hope you will continue to make the Upper Valley your home.

Delivered at Heroes & Leaders celebration 5.24.2017 honoring Young Leaders by Markell Ripps

Partner Spotlight: Hypertherm

Hypertherm: Social Responsibility at its Core

A global company founded and headquartered right here in the Upper Valley, Hypertherm has been a champion of community engagement and environmental responsibility since its founding in 1968.

“Our founder, Dick Couch, has always believed that as a business, we’re a citizen of this community, and we’re only going to be as strong as our associates and community and environment allow us to be,” said Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility Jenny Levy, a member of the Vital Communities board.

Hypertherm is a 100 percent associate-owned manufacturer of industrial cutting systems, with 1,100 associates living and working in the Upper Valley. “Our associates want the company to succeed, and they want our region to be strong and resilient,” She said. “There’s a very strong connection between the two when the owners of the business live in the region.”

With these values at its core, Hypertherm has been a natural key partner of Vital Communities.“It’s important to our associates to have safer, more economical, and more environmentally sound commuting options. It’s important that they are aware of the region’s challenges and inspired to be part of the solutions. It’s important that we share our best practices and learn from others so we can all move toward greater energy efficiency for our region,” Jenny said. “Vital Communities pulls us together across state lines, town lines, and sectors to address these critical regional issues.”

An advocate for Leadership Upper Valley, Hypertherm has made it possible for associates to participate annually since 2010. The experience benefits the associate, the community, and the workplace, said Community Citizenship Manager Stacey Chiocchio, who has both graduated from and taken a guiding role in the program.

“It gives you a much more in-depth understanding of the issues in the region from experts in the subject matter,” Stacey said. “And you get to share the experience with 29 other people who have different perspectives.” Associates who participate not only bring valuable ideas and networks back to Hypertherm, they become more involved in the community, she said.

Hypertherm has also provided many hours of volunteer support for Vital Communities, encouraging employees to help with everything from data entry to monitoring Valley Quest boxes. In 2016, 12 associates participated in two Valley Quest “blitz” days, ensuring the hidden treasure boxes for nine Quests were in place and fully stocked. Hypertherm even hosts a Quest written by their Technical Writing Team on the trails at its Hanover location (you can find it at VitalCommunities.org/ValleyQuest).

In addition to its community work at the corporate level, Hypertherm’s HOPE Foundation makes grants to a range of nonprofit organizations, including Vital Communities. Associates volunteer to serve on the committee that makes the funding decisions, choosing how to multiply the company’s local impact.

“Vital Communities does impressive work to make the Upper Valley stronger, convening our region around very important topics for an employer like Hypertherm as well as for our associates who live in the Upper Valley,” Jenny said. “We want to be part of that work and part of the solutions.” –Jenny Levy. Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Hypertherm

To learn more about how your business can partner with Vital Communities, e-mail Rachel@VitalCommunities.org

Spring Into Bike Riding Season…

…with practical skills training to get you riding more!

What is Everyday Bicycling?

It’s using your bike for those everyday trips that we all make — grocery shopping, getting to work, or even picking up the kids from school. It’s about making the choice to leave your car behind when you can, in favor of getting outside, exercising, and saving gas!

How can I get involved?

Vital Communities offers a range of bike skills trainings for groups of adults (and mature teens). We can hold one workshop or a whole series at your workplace, community center, or town park.

What kinds of workshops are offered?Pumping tire

Basic Everyday Bicycling (practical tips on everyday bicycling) 60 minutes long (indoors)
On-Street Bike Skills (build your street riding skills) 60-90 minutes long (outside, with your bike!)
Basic Maintenance (tire change, basic adjustments and troubleshooting) 60-90 minutes long (inside or outside, with your bike!)

What does a workshop provide?

• Practical tips from experienced Everyday Bicyclists on incorporating bike travel into any lifestyle
• Expert advice and guidance
• Low-cost gear: bells, lights, helmets, reflective vests, and more!
• Free informational resources

tom-bikeWhat is the time investment?

• We strive to make hosting a workshop very easy for you.
• We offer highly flexible scheduling.
• We provide all of the marketing and promotional materials that you need.

How much does it cost?

• FREE for Upper Valley Transportation Management Association (UVTMA) members. (If you’re not a UVTMA member, give us a call!)

• FREE for Vermont communities and workplaces, thanks to support from Local Motion and Go! Vermont.

How do I get started?

Contact Bethany Fleishman at 802.291.9100 x111 or Bethany@VitalCommunities.Org