January Coalition Meeting

January 26, 2017 – GFC Coalition Meeting

Join us for our monthly coalition meeting at Parks Place on Friday, January 26, 2018 from 12 to 1:00pm at Parks Place. Come learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermont.  Lunch will be provided.

Bringing Hope Home BBQ

The “Bringing Hope Home Barbecue” will be held at Parks Place Community Center on 44 School St in Bellows Falls on Saturday, September 23 from 1-3pm.

This family-friendly barbecue is a celebration of National Recovery Month and some very exciting news. Recovery Coaches from Turning Point of Springfield will now be available in Bellows Falls.

The barbecue is potluck style and hamburgers and hotdogs will be provided. Please bring a dish to share. Come share your story, connect, and celebrate stories of recovery. You will leave inspired! This event is co-hosted by Turning Point Recovery Center of Springfield and Greater Falls Connections.

Gina DeCampo Wins 2017 ACE Award

Congratulations to Gina DeCampo for winning our 2017 ACE Award.

In an effort to recognize the inspired, positive action happening every day, Greater Falls Connections (GFC) is excited to announce Gina DeCampo of Bellows Falls as the recipient of the 2017 Active Community Engagement (A.C.E.) Award. Recipients of this award are the unsung heroes within our community who foster positive change and are dedicated to creating safe, healthy and fun options for youth, families and the community at large.

DeCampo, a volunteer firefighter with Saxtons River Fire Department and also a volunteer with GFC’s Advanced Above The Influence (AATI) youth group, was announced as the latest recipient of the A.C.E. Award by Greater Falls Connections at the annual GFC BBQ at the Rockingham Rec Center on July 27. The staff members of Greater Falls Connections, Laura Schairbaum, Deb Witkus, and Scott Sharland, presented the award to DeCampo. She was awarded for being a strong role model and mentor for the youth of the community.

DeCampo has volunteered for the GFC coalition for several years. She helps facilitate weekly AATI youth group meetings and has helped members learn more about youth mental health first aid to prevent substance abuse, suicide, and depression. She has been a key part of planning and running the annual Park-A-Palooza community block party in June. Following the closure of the Bellows Falls Boys & Girls Club in June 2016, DeCampo began volunteering with the Friends For Change (FFC) youth group, which has been creating a new club for area youth. Besides working directly with the youth members, she has spearheaded recruiting additional volunteers for the club.

According to Schairbaum, “Gina gives selflessly to so many things seen and unseen, and cares deeply about the youth in this community. We are so grateful for all that she does and her strong commitment to everything she is a part of.” DeCampo accepted the award and stated, “If I could tell you only one thing, it would be if you walk by someone on the street who may be struggling, say hello and give them your smile, it will make a huge difference.” DeCampo was nominated by both Emma Wetherby and Hailee Galandak-Cochran. According to Galandak-Cochran, “Gina is committed to building a better community and is passionate about keeping our youth safe. She cares deeply about connecting with young people who need support. She goes above and beyond to create a safe place for the most vulnerable in our community.”

For this year’s award, DeCampo faced strong competition from several other nominees: Bonnie Anderson from the Bellows Falls Community Bike Project, Doreen Stoodley from the Great Falls Regional Chamber of Commerce, Emily Petretti from FFC and GFC; the staff members of Our Place Drop-in Center, led by Lisa Pitcher, were also nominated. DeCampo joins Sam Fletcher, Sam Maskell, Christine Bullard, Barbara Ternes, Ryan Stoodley, and Mike Malick as A.C.E. Award winners. The A.C.E. Award is sponsored by Greater Falls Connections.

GFC October Coalition Meeting

Oct. 25 Community Meeting on Youth Empowerment: The Power of a Trauma-Informed Approach

Greater Falls Connections and Friends for Change invite you to join us for a community meeting to learn how youth are affected by traumatic events, known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s). Youth from Friends for Change will share how a trauma-informed approach makes positive change by emphasizing trust, relationships, authenticity, strengths, and connection.

Join us at the Rockingham Free Public Library in Bellows Falls on Wednesday, October 25 from 6-7:30pm. How can we change the lives of our youth in the Greater Falls area? Participate in this important discussion and help make a difference. Parents, kids, school staff, and all others are welcome. Dinner will be provided. Prevention through Inspiration!


GFC Monthly Coalition Meeting

September 22, 2017 – GFC Coalition Meeting

The next monthly coalition meeting will be held at Parks Place on Friday, September 22 from 12 to 1:30pm at Parks Place. Come celebrate National Recovery Month and help make a difference in the community. Lunch will be provided.

Annual BBQ on July 27

Join Greater Falls Connections on Thursday, July 27 at the Rockingham Rec Center for the annual Greater Falls Connections July BBQ from 5:30-7pm. This is a fun summer potluck to celebrate inspiration, community and prevention. We will be making the official announcement of this year’s ACE Award (Active Community Engagement) winner. If you would like, you can bring a dish to share. We will provide the hamburgers and hot dogs. Prevention through inspiration!

June Coalition Meeting

Join us on June 23 from 12-1:30pm at Parks Place for the monthly coalition meetings for Greater Falls Connections. This month’s topic is Trauma & Prevention. Voting for the candidates for the coalition board will take place, along with amendments to the coalition bylaws. Updates on our work will be provided. Come learn, share, and be part of community-oriented solutions. Meetings are open to everyone. Lunch will be provided. Prevention through Inspiration!

The Opiate Effect on 4/5 at RFPL

The Rockingham Free Public Library and Greater Falls Connections will be showing the documentary The Opiate Effect on Wednesday, April 5th at 7:00pm at the Library. The film viewing will be followed by a discussion with Skip Gates, father of the UVM student featured in the film. The showing is free and open to the public.

The Opiate Effect is a powerful 22-minute film, that tells the story of UVM student Will Gates, who overdosed on heroin, and the impact that experience that had on his family. Skip Gates, Will’s father, will be present to share his experience and to educate about the dangers of opiate prescription drugs and heroin. Captain John Merrigan, Commander of Special Investigations with the VT State Police, will join Mr. Gates to speak to the scope of the drug epidemic in Vermont.

Following the discussion, Michael Johnson and Brandy Cheney of Turning Point Recovery Center of Springfield will talk about the hope that recovery centers have to offer. Attendees will also have the option to participate in a free, 10-minute training on how to administer the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan. Greater Falls Connections will be in attendance to connect community members with local efforts to prevent prescription drug abuse. Finally, to close the event, there will be a candlelight vigil to honor those we have lost, and those who we hope will find a path to recovery.

The Rockingham Free Public Library is located at 65 Westminster St, Bellows Falls, VT. This event is hosted by The Rockingham Free Public Library and supported by Greater Falls Connections. For more information call the library at 802.463.4270 or go online to www.rockinghamlibrary.org.

March Coalition Meeting: Highlights from DC Visit

Greater Falls Connections will host the monthly coalition meeting from 12-1:30pm on Friday, March 24 at Parks Place Community Center on 44 School St in Bellows Falls. Highlights and ideas will be shared from a recent visit to Washington, DC, where two coalition members attended a national leadership forum. There will also be an update on this year’s Kick Butts Day activities. Kick Butts Day is a nationwide initiative that empowers student advocates to lead the effort to stop youth tobacco use. Lunch and good company will be provided at the meeting. Prevention through Inspiration!

Community Meeting Jan. 26

We will be hosting a Community Planning Meeting on Thursday, January 26 at 6pm to plan our activities for 2017. Food will be provided. Come lend your voice to the coalition’s work. Prevention through inspiration!