Without the hard work and support of local community members, the Ottauquechee Health Foundation could not fulfill its mission of fostering health and wellness in the towns we serve. In this newsletter, we take a look back at how it all began. And it all began with community.
Every day, the Ottauquechee Health Foundation continues to support the health and wellness of our local communities, thanks to the steadfast work and dedication of local community members. And that local support is exactly how it all began.
For the Foundation, the first seed was planted with the creation of the Ottauquechee Health Center. In 1958, citizens of Woodstock and surrounding communities raised funds to acquire Simmons House, purchase medical equipment and hire medical staff including a physician, a dentist and nurses. While most health centers were created by government, business or medical organizations, the local residents took the unique path of undertaking this effort on their own.
Fifteen years later, the need to expand was clear, and the Center’s trustees built a new building behind Simmons House in 1973 – the same building that houses OHC today. By 1996, it was no longer feasible to operate a free-standing clinic, so an agreement was reached with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center to run the Health Center. That arrangement, along with significant support from a local community member, paved the way for the formation of OHF. The Ottauquechee Health Foundation was created in 1996, largely seeded by the estate of longtime Woodstock resident and philanthropist Gertrude Mertens to carry out her wishes that all community members continue to receive health care in the community.
Over the years, additional changes have been made to improve delivery of care at the clinic, including transferring operation to Mt. Ascutney Hospital & Health Care Center in 2007.
During its 27-year history, OHF has provided support for education, initiatives and grants to help our neighbors get the health care they need. Since 1998, the Ottauquechee Health Foundation has committed more than $4.1 million to help improve the health and wellness of our communities. That includes over $2 million in Community Grants, over $1.4 million in Good Neighbor Grants, as well as grant money for homecare and scholarships.
Grants through OHF pay for crucial services patients couldn’t otherwise afford, such as dental work, eyeglasses, mental health or caregiver support, just to name a few examples. Thanks to our partners and supporters, OHF has been able to provide consistent grant funding to help people in times of great need, including over the past few years.
Through much hard work and collaboration, OHF has positioned itself to address the future health and wellness needs of the community as they arise. OHF looks forward to continuing its support of these critical health care resources far into the future.
New Board Member: Meet Meet Vali Stuntz
The Board of Trustees welcomes Vali Stuntz as its newest member, though she is certainly not new to the local area.
Vali has worked professionally in the mental health field for her entire adult life. Her background in drug and alcohol treatment, serving at-risk youth, and working as a family therapist, eventually led her to her current position of School Counselor at Woodstock Union Middle and High School. For the past 21 years, Vali has been supporting the emotional and social health of her students to ensure that they are able to access their education, and develop and achieve their life goals.
Vali has a B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of Vermont, and an M.A. in Contemplative Psychotherapy from Naropa University. Born and raised in New England, Vali met her husband while “ski bumming” in Telluride, Colorado. From there they lived in Boulder, Los Angeles and Seattle, before returning to Vermont to raise their two children in the Green Mountains. Vali enjoys alpine and Nordic skiing, hiking, mountain biking, gardening and generally being outdoors as much as possible.
What is it?
A scavenger hunt for kids 12 and under who live in our catchment area to encourage them to go outside and explore their community. It will take place from June 24th-August 17th, 2023.
We decorated rocks with “OHF” on one side and a number on the other side. Rocks are hidden in locations, listed on a passport, within our catchment area. Once kids find the rock, they will write the number of the rock next to the location on the passport where they found it. Prizes are available if they are able to find 15 or more rocks!
Passports are at the following locations:
Abbot Memorial Library
Norman Williams Public Library
Plymouth Community Center
Woodstock Rec Center
Barnard General Store
Ottauquechee Health Foundation
(in the box outside our door)
Passports will soon be available at:
OHF’s website: ohfvt.org
Reading Public Library
Examples of Locations:
Eshqua Bog (we recommend going here first!)
Woodward Reservoir Boat Launch
To return a passport kids can come see us at our booth at Taste of Woodstock on Saturday, August 12th from 10am-6pm. Or drop it off at our office Monday-Thursday during our drop-in office hours.
A very special thanks to board members, members, Beth, and community members for placing rocks at over 40 sites in our catchment area!
- We had so much fun hosting a booth at the WCSU Health Fair in April! About 75 people visited our booth and played hook-a-duck. We’re looking forward to participating again in the future!
- We recently provided a community grant to help cover the costs of author Jane Dwinell’s presentation of Alzheimer’s Canyon at Thompson Senior Center to 22 patrons. Board member Carla Kamel attended and shared the following, “The audience was able to walk in Jane’s shoes as she guided us through her journey as a caregiver for her husband, Sky. Sky had both Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body dementia. The couple’s experience as written in Sky’s words ripple throughout the audience with raw emotions. ‘Welcome to Alzheimer’s Canyon, there is one way in, and no way out.” Caregivers in attendance were appreciate to hear Jane’s voice of expertise and inner strength. She brought comfort and wisdom to all.”
- Many board members and their spouses volunteered at area races – Race Around the Lake and Covered Bridges Half Marathon.
- Good Neighbor Grants: to-date we have approved 149 GNGs, totaling $118,000.
- Look for us in the new issue of Woodstock Magazine or read it here.
- As we are distributing OHF Rocks passports to local libraries and community centers, we are also distributing Good Neighbor Grant applications. GNG applications can/will be found at Norman Williams Public Library, Abbott Memorial Library, Reading Public Library, Sherburne Library, and Plymouth Community Center.
Membership event: If you are a member, or if you are interested in becoming a member of Ottauquechee Health Foundation, come see us on Wednesday, July 19th from 4-5pm in our Conference Room on the 2nd floor of the Simmons House. (Please note that this is not handicap accessible.) This is a great way to learn more about the organization, discuss any health-related concerns in our area, connect with Hali and Beth, or meet other members. RSVPs are encouraged – please call 457-4188 or email email@example.com. If we outgrow the space, the meeting will be moved to a different location.
Taste of Woodstock: We will host a booth at Taste of Woodstock on Saturday, August 12th from 10am-6pm. We are looking for volunteers for this event. If you are able to do a 2-hour shift, please let Hali know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Partnership Highlight: The HUB
The HUB has just served its 102nd applicant!
The HUB works with non-profit partner funders–such as OHF, Faulkner Fund and Barnard Helping Hands–to provide applicants with the resources they need during a personal crisis, through direct financial help or links to other resources. The HUB launched in late November 2022 as a project of Woodstock Community Trust and in collaboration with OHF.
Since then, the HUB has made 146 grants to 102 applicants. 58% of grant dollars paid for heating and utilities support, 17% for housing needs (rent, mortgage, repairs), 13% for vehicle repair, and 12% for other needs like phone bills and household goods.
In one instance, the HUB helped to get a driveway plowed to allow Meals on Wheels to deliver food to a resident who had no funds to pay for snow clearing. When it became clear that the resident was down to their last pieces of wood, the group also arranged for a cord to be delivered. The HUB continued to work with the resident to help build a more sustainable support system.
The HUB also assisted three area residents with basic living costs so they could continue degree programs that would allow them to achieve greater financial stability. Two are now nurses, one of whom is committed to working locally as a way to repay the generosity shown to them.
When an elderly applicant was overwhelmed by debt, the HUB arranged for a professional financial advisor to develop an overall plan to move forward. This applicant recounts sleeping better than they have in years and the advisor donated their time!
Thanks to the workings of The HUB’s network, many of the region’s school-aged children will be able to afford Summer SOAK or MoonRise Therapeutics camp experiences.
Many applicants have written to The HUB to express their gratitude. One, whose words reflect the sentiments of many, said: “That is a tremendous help! I suddenly feel a deep relief. We all need each other at some point. I will pay this forward whenever I can.”
The HUB can help residents in Barnard, Bridgewater, Killington, Plymouth, Pomfret, Reading, or Woodstock. There are four ways to contact The HUB: complete an online application at apply.thehubneighbors.org/form; phone 802-457-7214; email email@example.com or pick up an application outside the OHF office.
Change Lives With Your Donation to OHF
The Ottauquechee Health Foundation assists hundreds of community members in overcoming the financial stress that health and wellness challenges impose on our neighbors every day.
The Ottauquechee Health Foundation continues to be there for our communities, one grant, one neighbor, one friend, and one need at a time. We need your help, one donation at a time, to ensure that we are adequately funded to continue meeting the needs of the people we serve.
Your donations don’t just help; they change lives.