At their 49th annual meeting, Clara Martin Center honored staff and community members, while celebrating the accomplishments of the agency.
Executive Director, Linda Chambers, said that while the agency continues to face challenges regarding health care reform, economic stressors and higher demand for services, they remain fiscally sound and served over 4,000 community members. Several significant accomplishments were achieved throughout the year, including major renovations to East Valley Academy in East Randolph, program preparations that will lead to same-day access in all programs, redevelopment and training of staff to meet several new federal and state regulations.
“Overall, a successful year.” Chambers commented.
Keynote speaker, Shirley Jefferson, Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Diversity at Vermont Law School (VLS), spoke of the school’s “love affair” with Clara Martin Center. She described how VLS used to contract with Clara Martin Center for services, but opted to cancel the contract to use an Employee Assistance Program instead. When students came to Jefferson asking her to bring Clara Martin Center back, she got in touch with Executive Director, Linda Chambers who immediately sent a team of clinicians out to provide on-site services.
Jefferson said that recent suicide tragedies of a professor and two former students “took over” the students on campus. Recognizing a need, she said “I don’t care if we’re a law school, they need help!”
Jefferson explained that lawyers often don’t want to show stress, anxieties or substance use issues because they want to be seen as strong with no weaknesses, or they fear that these issues could get in the way of their careers. Jefferson is working to change this culture at VLS, and in the community, saying that “We all need help…it’s okay to say I need to talk to someone.”
With Clara Martin Center at her side, Jefferson has worked to reduce stigma around mental illness, as well as increase access to mental health care. Weekly on-site clinicians available to help students and staff, Mental Health First Aid Training for student ambassadors, and Clara Martin Center’s participation on panels and presentations has brought an awareness and access to this campus community.
Longtime board member John Larson was honored for his 17 years of service to the agency as he retires from his seat, and treasurer role this year.
David Kovaka, the Lead Behavioral Consultant at Clara Martin Center was honored and credited for his contribution to school service programs. He passed away unexpectedly this year. His wife, Jocelyn accepted the honor.
The annual Community Award was given to Jennifer Doyle, owner of Riverbend Residential Care Home, for going above and beyond for her residents and community. Doyle has provided housing, a supervised apartment, free clothing for those in need as well as encouraging and enabling residents to go to the senior center and weekly farmers market.
The Family Award was awarded to Anna Dustin, a devoted mom who opened her home for men’s group and case manager meetings, and has played a key role in Clara Martin Center’s service program.
Scott Benoit, Store Manager of Randolph’s new Subway, was presented with the Vocational Award. When Subway rolled into town they worked with Clara Martin Center’s Vocational Services program to fill open staff positions and were willing to give participants a chance.
The Brewster Martin Excellence Award was presented to Joy Appleton, an administrative assistant who has been with the agency for 15 years. Candidates for this award are nominated by their staff and peers. Appleton was called the backbone of the Bradford site, as the impact of her kindness has reached thousands of children and families. Appleton accepted her award to a standing ovation from the room.