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Volunteer Cindy Cykon, of Montpelier, holds a baby at the Nest Warming at Good Beginnings

Good Beginnings asks for Community Support at Town Meeting Day

To the Editor:

Town Meeting Day gives Vermonters the opportunity to have a say in community matters, from school budgets to environmental policy. But it’s also important to remember that you decide how to support Volunteer-based programs in your area. These decisions are about the essential means of building your community, by giving to those organizations tackling the most pressing social issues in Vermont. Our organization, Good Beginnings of Central Vermont, depends on individual donors, local companies, and voters in roughly 20 different Central Vermont towns on Town Meeting Day. 

For nearly 30 years, Good Beginnings of Central Vermont has brought much-needed support to families with new infants, families that may struggle with little parental leave, little extended family, and little funds to afford childcare. Our Postpartum Angels are trained community volunteers who visit families weekly in the first months of a new baby’s life – providing an extra set of hands, conversation, and support where isolation can so often contribute to postnatal mood swings. Research has overwhelmingly shown the importance of stability for children for later social and professional success, and that importance begins in the very first weeks of life. Our program aims to give that stability in the places where children and parents need it most.

Last year, allocations from the towns we serve made up 8% of our modest $100,000 annual budget. We are honored to be a part of so many families’ lives each year, and we ask that you hold us – and the families we support – in mind on Town Meeting Day this year.

Those allocations allowed 70-plus volunteers to support 82 local families through 1021 volunteer hours. Hundreds more families visited the Nest parent drop-in center, participated in peer support groups in Barre and Montpelier, and attended free educational workshops. Families in crisis may access an Emergency Fund for assistance with basic needs such as housing, food resources, heat, infant formula, and transportation. We increasingly provide guidance around perinatal mood disorders, connecting individuals and families with therapists and support they need. We serve all families regardless of income; in 2019 more than half of the families we served reported that they qualified for WIC nutritional assistance through the Vermont Department of Health.

The allocations on Town Meeting Day keep these vital programs alive. They also contribute to the health and well-being of your newest community members, those who become the next generation of voters. Don’t underestimate the value of your votes for the success of these programs dedicated to us all.

Kyle Pivetti and Anna Milkowski,
Volunteer Board Members