Just Neighbors Field Notes - 2016 Year End Report

Message from The Presidents

Dear Just Neighbors Community, 
As we look back to 2016 we see that through the generosity of our donors, the work of our Board members, contributing committee members and volunteers, we recognize the positive impact of Just Neighbors on our community.  We were able to assist many; some in small ways and others to a greater degree, but all cases resulting in hope for the future.  Some of our recipients have wanted to give back as they have been helped.  Our hope for the future is that the cycle of receiving help, then giving back, will continue to grow.  

We take this opportunity to thank our fellow board members, our drivers, wood crew and all "friends of Just Neighbors" for their contributions to our community in 2016.

With Appreciation,
Donna and Melina

2016 Assistance Summary

In 2016, Vermont's rural low-income families continued to face unique challenges as they work to achieve financial and energy security.  While heating and public assistance programs are critically important, they're insufficient to cover many expenses, especially through the Vermont winters.

Just Neighbors has traditionally focused on providing firewood as primary heating assistance since its inception.  JN has seen the need grow for aid beyond heating.  JN supports a range of short term assistance that includes housing, electricity, vehicle as well as heating aid in the form of grants. 
While JN's overall heating assistance saw a slight decrease in 2016 compared to 2015, it was likely due to the mild Vermont winter in 2015-2016.  During 2016, heating fuel assistance requests represented a greater share of JN's overall heating aid.  In 2016, some categories of assistance increased over 2015, including Housing (+28%) and Vehicle (+117%) aid.

Just Neighbors Service Area includes the towns of Andover, Bondville, Landgrove, Londonderry, South Londonderry, Peru, Windham, Winhall and Weston.  JN aid to residents of Londonderry and Weston accounted for more than three quarters of the total assistance delivered in 2016.
For the coming year 2017, we expect that heating assistance will continue to be the most essential help JN will supply given the more typical winter temperatures compared to last year.  

Many families live in rural areas without access to reliable transportation.  The Just Neighbors ride program provides on-demand transportation for essential medical appointments as well as Rx pickup and shopping for necessities.  Just Neighbors relies on the generosity of volunteers who donate the use of their cars, fuel and, most importantly, their time.

JN volunteer drivers provided 21 rides (round trip) totaling 1,901 miles in 2016 and are the heroes for many in our community whose essential transportation needs would otherwise go unmet.
In a rural state like Vermont, driving is a necessity.  Many seniors want to remain in their homes and continue driving but that's not an option for many due to financial and health considerations.  Access to critical health care services is essential for seniors who want to continue living in place and JN's ride program helps provide them that access.

More than 80% of the rides provided by JN volunteers in 2016 were for medical and physical therapy appointments.
Our thanks to the ride coordinators and all the volunteer drivers for their time and generosity!
Just Neighbors Partners Program
Just Neighbors realizes that alone it cannot effectively identify all the opportunities to extend assistance to those in need in our community.  To help JN extend its ability to reach those in need, it has established cooperative referral relationships with other community outreach organizations in our service area.  These partnerships have helped identify situations meriting aid beyond JN's perception as just a firewood provider.  

Beyond simply identifying a need, JN's partners are often able to bring a deeper understanding of the situation on a holistic basis.  This helps JN qualify the most appropriate type of assistance and what likely follow-up activities make sense as well as an assessment of the likelihood of a positive outcome.  

Just Neighbor's has connected with community partners which include:
Andover Community Church
Andover Community Fund
Black River Good Neighbors Services
Chester Andover Family Center
Grace Cottage Hospital
Jamaica-Wardsboro Food Pantry
Londonderry Cares
Mountain Valley Medical Clinic
Neighborhood Connections
Neighbors Pantry
Old Parish Church
Second Congregational Church of Londonderry
South Londonderry Baptist Church
Stratton Foundation
The Benedictine Monks of Weston Priory
Thrifty Attic
Windham Community Organization

In 2016 Just Neighbors provided assistance in 26 well qualified need situations that were brought to our attention by our local partners.

Just Neighbors will continue to utilize the synergy created by these valuable partnerships to extend its community aid outreach in 2017.
Board Member Highlight

Laurie Krooss
Rev. Laurie Krooss has served as the Minister of the Second Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Londonderry, VT since June of 2001.  Having grown up in NH she loves the mountains, woods and yes - the winters! - of Vermont. Before coming to VT Laurie served for three years as the Associate Minister of the Orange Congregational Church in Orange, CT.  

She also led a month long international Habitat for Humanity Build to New Zealand and for a year and a half volunteered as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher for refugees from the Bosnian conflict and Africa at Jubilee Partners, an intentional Christian Community in Comer, Georgia.

Laurie lives in Londonderry with her husband Mark Mullen, their son Matthew (who is soon off to college!) and their very hairy Bernese Mountain dog, Buddie. Laurie is very pleased to serve on the Board of Just Neighbors and appreciates the support "JN" offers to the community at large.
Current Just Neighbors Board

• Jon Bliss
• Annie Campbell  (Secretary)
• Laurie DiStasio
• Laurie Krooss
• Merry Kujovsky  (Treasurer)
• Melina Menzie  (Co-President)
• Lee Morsillo
• Donna Taranko-Moulton  (Co-President)
As a charitable organization, Just Neighbors relies on the generosity of individuals, churches, local businesses, foundations and other charitable organizations to fund its community outreach activities.

Donations of funds in any amount, at any time, are always needed and appreciated.  SInce Just Neighbors is a registered, not for profit 501(c)(3) organization (EIN: 201457310), your donation is fully tax deductible.

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