Field Notes
Thanksgiving 2016 Issue

Thanks from Just Neighbors


Thanksgiving remains a precious day of gratitude for what blessings we have.  It expands our capacity to love and care for others, to remember those less fortunate in the midst of our personal Thanksgiving celebrations.  We can each find concrete, meaningful ways to be helpful to someone else, which in turn impacts our hearts, our families and our community.  This is the essence of Just Neighbors

We would like to give thanks to our Board members, our partners, our supporters and friends of Just Neighbors.  Due to their work and support we have been able to make a positive difference in our community and promote the vision of Just Neighbors.

And to all, whether you're braving the roads or skyways to be with loved ones, or preparing a meal at home, we hope you get to spend quality time with your loved ones.

Our best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving,

Donna and Melina

Community Kudos for Just Neighbors


A friend and supporter of Just Neighbors recently sent this testimonial to our work and asked that it be shared with the community:

To: Jon Bliss
From: Lyman Orton 
Re: Neighborhood Connections and Just Neighbors

In these time when everything is getting bigger – Big Government, Big Business, Big Med, and Big Cities – our group of mountain towns is fortunate to have Just Neighbors and Neighborhood Connections.  They remind me of The Little Engine That Could when it comes to always being there for one another, day in and day out, no matter what or who. 

Help, assistance, or a leg up are always at a personal level, just as their names imply, neighbor to neighbor whether or not it’s actually next door or on the other side of the mountain.  Nobody is forgotten, everybody is a name not a number, and caring is demonstrated every single day.  

A warm hand held out in a time of need and a hug of human kindness is the soul of small town character. Neighborhood Connections and Just Neighbors emerged from that soul and are making a huge difference in our communities. 

Partnership in Action 


Tom Dougherty from Neighborhood Connections provides some insights into how Just Neighbors and Neighborhood Connections cooperate to providing assistance to those coping with challenges of all types.  The partnership between JN and NC strives to maximize the effectiveness of short term assistance and address the long term solutions that can change a future.

"Our community benefits from a strong partnership between Just Neighbors (JN) and Neighborhood Connections (NC).  Unlike the “virtual” nature of JN network of volunteers, Neighborhood Connections has an office open 5 days a week and paid staff including a full time social worker, part time community nurse and community physician and community education programs."

"When JN receives a request for financial assistance, we refer the person to NC’s social worker who does a full assessment of the person’s situation to determine how best to help.  If applicable, public funds are tapped first and a home budget and plan is developed."

"Most folks asking for help are employed on a limited income that can’t always stretch to pay for a car repair or other emergency.  In these cases JN’s help is critical.  Beyond the funds that go directly to the vendor (not the individual), they also link the person to NC’s case management services ensuring our help has the biggest impact." 

Tom Dougherty, Neighborhood Connections

Just Neighbors Welcomes a New Board Member

Laurie DiStasio

I am truly honored and humbled to be accepted as a Just Neighbors board member.  The work this organization and its generous donors of time and resources does to assist our fellow community members in times of crisis is amazing.  

I was born in Vermont and raised in Connecticut where my husband and I met in college, married and had our 3 daughters Grace, Madeline and Sara.  Our love of skiing, hiking, the desire to be closer to my extended family and the beauty of Vermont brought our family here 2 years ago.

I have been a Registered Nurse for 18 years.  I worked in oncology in Connecticut for 15 years and began volunteering in the first aid room at Okemo mountain 4 years ago during the ski season.  Since settling in Vermont I have worked at Flood Brook school as a long term substitute nurse, a per diem nurse at Mountain Valley and more recently I was hired in April as Mountain Valley's Clinical Care Coordinator.  

When I am not working in my profession I can be found coaching Girls on the Run, co-coaching Future City, teaching Sunday school, skiing, hiking, walking our rescue beagle, cooking, sewing and knitting.

I am so excited to impact our community in a positive way.

A Drive To Help

One of Just Neighbors' most appreciated services is providing rides to grounded individuals for critical medical appointments and obtaining prescriptions.  A recent trip by one of JN's volunteer drivers shows the lengths our volunteers will travel to help a neighbor in need.

"It was quite a day!  Turns out his surgery was scheduled for 6:15am (groan!) at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.  He was nervous about being late  so I picked him up at 4:15am.  He didn’t end up  going into the OR until 7:30am.  Surgery was supposed to take an hour….went MUCH longer and he was slow to come out of the anesthesia.  I didn’t drop him off at home until 1:15pm.  Nine hours door to door!  I don’t mind telling you that I am dragging this afternoon!  The nice thing about it all was that I had a long and lovely block of time to read, which I don’t often get to do.  That was a treat!"

Just Neighbors/Vermont Country Store
Wood Splitting Day
Wedneday,  November 9, 2016

Volunteers from the Vermont Country Store (VCS) were on hand for the annual VCS Wood Splitting Day on November 9 at Just Neighbors' wood lot at the Weston Priory.  The VCS employees gave of their time to help JN prepare an ample supply of split firewood to meet the demands of local residents needing fuel during the coming winter season.  VCS generously donates a contribution matching each of their employee volunteers' hours spent helping - a double dose of generosity that will enable JN to reach even more in need this winter.  VCS's outreach to organizations like Just Neighbors is one of the many remarkable reasons we are fortunate to live in such a caring Vermont community.  Our thanks to everyone at VCS!

Jon Bliss, Ed Streeter, Bryan Warner, Ann Warrell, Pam Frett, Jim Szabo, Daire Gibney, Melina Menzie, Alisa Young

A team of Vermont Country Store employees helped Just Neighbors get ready for the 2016-2017 heating season on Nov. 9 with a work session to split and stack wood. Working two log splitters, the group managed to split and stack almost four cords of wood in a cool three hours, making this group among the most efficient and productive that Just Neighbors has worked with! 

“We really enjoy helping Just Neighbors, because the need to keep your home warm is something everyone can relate to,” said Jim Szabo, Director of Retail for The Vermont Country Store, and a Just Neighbors volunteer. “Stacking wood is physical work, but it’s very satisfying. We never have a hard time putting together a team of volunteers to come out for this.

“As an organization, Just Neighbors stays connected to local people in need, and works directly with local community action agencies that can address deeper problems for these families. It’s neighbor-helping-neighbor in a way that’s compassionate and effective, and we are proud to support them,” Jim said.

Current Just Neighbors Board

• Jon Bliss
• Rose Boynton
• Annie Campbell  (Secretary)
• Laurie DiStasio
• Laurie Krooss
• Merry Kujovsky  (Treasurer)
• Melina Menzie  (Co-President)
• Lee Morsillo
• Donna Taranko-Moulton  (Co-President)

Just Neighbors Welcomes Your Support

As a charitable organization, Just Neighbors relies on the generosity of individuals, churches, local businesses, foundations and other 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.

Click the HERE to make a donation via PayPal with your credit card, debit card or PayPal account.







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