Roots Rules!

It’s not every day a non-profit organization gets the opportunity to enjoy a full weekend of sunshine, fabulous conversations, local food and sensational roots music. Not to mention, the chance to share our important work with everyone in attendance. Well, that’s exactly the opportunity we had during the 15th Annual Roots on the River Music Festival that took place in Rockingham June 5th through the 8th.


Ready for conversation!

On behalf of its staff, board and members, Greater Falls Connections would like to thank the organizers of Roots for their generous and passionate support of our work. Greater Falls Connections, a local community organizing and substance prevention group, was chosen as this year’s non-profit partner. With that distinction, we were able to promote our efforts to achieve a supportive, nurturing and connected community. Additionally, through a 50/50 raffle, we were able to raise nearly $300 that will help increase our efforts to prevent substance abuse, de-stigmatize addiction and support recovery. Countless numbers of festival-goers shared their stories and their support for our work.

We would like to especially thank festival organizers Ray Massucco, Andrea Bernard and Ezra Veitch for publicizing our involvement beforehand, announcing our participation throughout the weekend and assisting with our booth, signage and the raffle on two of the busiest days. Additionally, we would like to thank them for their dedication to making the festival a smoke-free weekend.


Greater Falls Connections is a community-driven organization and it would not exist without the support of individuals, businesses and organizations such as Vermont Festivals. We are humbled and thankful for the opportunity and support.

Greater Falls Connections

A.C.E. Brings Sunshine to Greater Falls

As I sit next to the window, soaking in as much sunshine as humanly possible (finally, yes!), I’m struck with how much sunshine we’ve got right here in our community. Cheesy analogy, sure, but it needs to be said from time to time. I’ll own the cheese.

Last week, Greater Falls Connections announced our second A.C.E. Award recipient. What’s A.C.E. you ask? In an effort to recognize the inspired, positive action happening every day, we created the Active Community Engagement (A.C.E.) Award. A.C.E. recipients 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.

Makes sense, right? So who’s our March A.C.E.? Congratulations goes to Sam Maskell, Youth Services Librarian for the Rockingham Free Public Library (RFPL). 

Deb Witkus (left) presenting Sam Maskell (right) the A.C.E. Award.

Deb Witkus (left) presenting Sam Maskell (right) the A.C.E. Award.

Sam started as a part-time assistant in 2001. As the Youth Services Librarian, her role is to support youth from birth through adult-transitioning become curious, engaged members of the community. Sam oversees the Youth Department programs, which fosters creativity and leadership. The Teen Advisory Council meets monthly and plans various activities and programs at the library. Programs include: an annual lock-in, Teen Tech Week, “Magic” tournaments and Teen Tabletop Game Nights. Sam sees libraries as “community centers” and “moving from passive to proactive” institutions within communities. In addition to making sure the collection of youth books are “fun and inspire learning,” Sam is determined to making sure “information is available anywhere” by maintaining an active web, social media and instant message presence.

“Sam is committed to providing a safe, welcoming and judgment-free environment for our young people. She is generous, creative and has a huge amount of integrity,” says Deb Witkus, Parent Outreach Coordinator.

Sam’s passion and love for the library is unwavering. But it is her commitment to youth and the community that make her an A.C.E. Congrats to Sam Maskell and the entire Rockingham Free Public Library.

Stay sunny Greater Falls!
The ChadderBox

Update From D.C. What’s New In Prevention?

Happy February y’all! GFC staff is back from attending the CADCA National Leadership Forum & SAMHSA’s Prevention Day in Washington D.C. What an amazing, inspiring four days! We’ll be sharing everything we learned from the conference at our upcoming coalition meeting Friday, February 21st (postponed from 2/14) from Noon-1:30pm at Parks Place. Click Here to RSVP on our Facebook event page. In the meantime, check out Chad’s “mini-recap” below.

January is National Mentoring Month

Happy New Year! Feels a bit late throwing that out there, but this is our first blog post of 2014. We’ll get on that this year, for reals. We hope everyone had a beautiful holiday and finding ways to stay warm during the prolonged freeze. Burrrrrr.

During our January 17th coalition meeting, we had the opportunity to hear from two amazing local organizations and discuss the power and importance of mentoring. January is National Mentoring Month. And while it’s only celebrated one month a year, the role mentoring plays in strengthening the community can be felt 24/7, 365.

Michelle Bos-Lun from Youth Services and Adrien Bagatelle from Big Brothers Big Sisters each talked about the numerous mentoring opportunities available within the Greater Falls community.

Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Windham County, a program of Youth Services, is dedicated to matching adult volunteers with children in a one-on-one mentoring relationship. There is currently a list of young people waiting to be matched with a Big and several opportunities to become a mentor. Adrien talked about a new school-based mentoring program starting up at Central Elementary School this year. Click Here to read local mentoring stories. For details, volunteer registration or to enroll a child, contact Adrien by email or calling 802.257.0361 x 138.

Youth Services provides programs and services that promote the healthy development of local youth and families in Southeastern Vermont and help them gain the skills necessary to lead constructive lives within the community. One of those programs is RAMP (Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program), a high-tech, career-focused mentoring program for youth. Area youth meet weekly to discuss life goals, career options and build community. Adults, businesses and community organizations come in to talk about their work and role within the community. Youth also have the opportunity to do site visits. Check out the video below for more information about RAMP. Interested in being volunteering? Contact Michelle by email or by calling 802.257.0361 x 120.

We are very blessed to have such passionate, dedicated people in our community. Mentoring builds trust, relationships and a connection to the community. We may only have a few more days left of January, but mentoring a young person can have profound, life-long impact.



As we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, we wanted to express how thankful we are. Thankful for the opportunity to work alongside so many beautiful, inspiring people. Thankful for the wonderful energy and resilience this community has to offer. And, thankful for the place Greater Falls Connections calls home: Parks Place. Watch and share this clip of all the thanks we have for Parks Place and the role it serves in building a strong community. Cheers!

Catching Up with Allen Bros

Chad and Laura had a chance to catch up with Stacey Allen at Allen Bros to chat about the best ways to display fresh products, tobacco visibility and bringing back fresh cider. They also donated a bag full of apples for visiting trick-or-treaters! Check out what’s new with Allen Bros!


Looking Back & Forward

Guest blogger and parent Rita Fletcher welcomes you to our new site, recaps an amazing summer and looks forward to the new school year.

Greater Falls Connections

As an involved parent of our community I a mom of three beautiful daughters, one granddaughter and one granddaughter on the way, I would like to welcome you to be part of our new community organization: The Greater Falls Connections. The Greater Falls Connections is a real place where teens, parents, and community members can access updated informational resources, upcoming events, and special events.

It is our mission to connect the Windham Northeast by inspiring and empowering people through education and collaboration to promote wellness and prevent the abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Donations and Volunteers are welcome.

On behalf of the Greater Falls Connections, parents, and organizers, we would like to share a jubilant thank you to many people, businesses, and organizations that contributed to the success of our 2nd annual park-a-Palooza Neighborhood Block Party on June29, 2013. The Park-A-Palooza is totally community-driven, old school crazy-fun block party. Through   creative play using the games our parents and grandparents taught us. Park-A-Palooza is another example of community driven change in action. Community – led activities such as this builds character, trust, and a nurturing connection.

This year’s festivities took place at the Central Elementary School playground and included: potato sack racing, jellybean contest, and bicycle smoothies. Yummmm!! LOL. And…apple bobbing, face painting, dodge ball, baseball bat spin off, and egg spoon race, and a water balloon throw down.” Plus with a little help from our friends at the Bellows Falls Fire and Police department, kids and (some adults!) were able to cool off and play around a gushing hydrant. Yeahhh!!!

Thanks to our two grill masters, Dominic Pratt and Nathan Elmore, as well as several other volunteer chefs, and community members who brought a dish to share, people were able to eat and snack all day. We look forward to seeing some new faces and old ones too and members of our community to join us for our next Park-A-Palooza. Photos were taken by: Jeff Woodward of Woodward photography. Thanks for creating a positive and meaningful day.

Thank you to the following local businesses, community organizations and individuals for your generous contributions that were vital to the days success: Parks Place, Dari Joy, Lisai’s Market, Bellows Falls Boy’s and Girl’s Club, The Bellows Falls Bike Project, Greater Falls Pharmacy, Rockingham Recreation Center, Hannaford’s and Barbra Stickney.

The Greater Falls Connections held its second annual cook out at the Rockingham Recreation Center in Bellows Falls where family and community members brought a dish. The Greater Falls Connections presented an award called the  (“Ace Award’), which means- Active Community Engagement, to Samantha Fletcher, who worked tirelessly to make a difference. Sam is a volunteer and board member and a dedicated advocate for the Saxtons River Recreation Area. Congratulations to a real team player in the community you deserve the award for all your dedication to making communities better. Thank you to our chefs Christina Bennicoff , Rita Fletcher, Chad Simmons and out little chefs Ryan Childs and Sierra Parker-Fletcher and many more who hung out the signs to welcome community members and families to this event. The children enjoyed adventuring in  supervised grilling. This was just another way for families to get acquainted with our Recreation Center families meeting families  and other activities that are available. A special thank you to Ryan  and The Rockingham Recreation Center for the use of the Rec for our cook out.

For upcoming events, check out our “Events” section. But I should mention VT Adult Learning (V.A.L) Barbra Caine Mondays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Jay Callahan will be taking over Barbara’s classes in Bellows falls  she will sadly be missed as she is my teacher as well new times and days will be posted as it happens

Positive Parenting is Prevention Public Service Announcements will run on FACTV starting this fall.

The parenting and caregiver workshop Guiding Good Choices will begin this fall. Contact Deb Witkus at 802.463.9927 x 212 for details.

WOOL 100.1 check it out teens always looking for volunteers to learn the ropes from Nadine Fletcher and Dominic Pratt as radio voice if you want to learn how to be a radio personality  ask Chad Simmons how. Chad Simmons can be reached at Parks Place 1-802-463-9927 leave your name and number and a brief message.

Coming soon to the blog recipe of the day more information to come on that soon

Finally, a special thank you to numerous individuals who volunteered there time and help create this site.

There are opportunities for everyone both teens and adults so come join the fun. I helped create this blog and the web  design in a group  the learning experience alone was something great. Look for updates. Until next time, this is Rita Fletcher signing off!!!!



Welcome to the new us! With the enthusiastic support and energy of our community, the Greater Falls Prevention Coalition will now be Greater Falls Connections. While the focus on substance prevention will remain the same, Greater Falls Connections will place a special emphasis on strengthening community, creating connections and focusing on the positive attributes of the Greater Falls area.

Check out our new website and all new resources, including totally revised social media sites. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram! Not sure what those are?
No problem! Learn right along with us (we’re pretty new to them as well).

Now, we’ve been working hard to get everything up and running, but being the community-driven organization we are, this is YOUR site! Let us know what ideas, changes, or resources you would like to see related to strengthening community and preventing substance abuse. Have an idea? Send it our way!