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An Agency That Wears Many Hats

By Natalie Aines

BROC-Community Action in Southwestern Vermont is nearing its fiftieth year servicing 44 towns as well as Rutland City located in Bennington and Rutland Counties of Vermont. If you live in this region you have probably heard of them, but there's a good chance you don't know the full scope of all the services they provide.

“We always put the client first. We find a way to help every client that walks through here. I'm empathetic, I get it,” said Pam Shambo, Development Specialist and Administrative Assistant. Even if that help comes in the form of a referral, they care that people are getting the services that they need. Two big needs that they have been helping the community with more recently are fuel assistance and also helping people navigate their way through the health care changes and deadlines that were pressing. “That had become a real concern for people,” says Pam.

Many people know of the food shelf, electric assistance or weatherization help that BROC provides but there are two divisions of the agency that are not as well known. The first is SAVES. It works with weatherization and carpentry/handyman jobs. There is no job too small. If you needed handrails put up they could do that as well as any other job that you need done for a small fee. The other is the Good Cents Store located on West Street in Rutland. It is a second hand store where you can pick up clothing, toys, books or housewares. What is remarkable about these is that you can feel good about spending your money with either branch. Not only does the money go back into BROC and all the services they provide, but is also used in their transitional training.

What is transitional training? you ask. It is a program where individuals get on-the-job training. These are people who have found themselves on the Reach Up program through the state but are now looking toward their future and learning skills to help get them there. Deanna DePalo is just one of the individuals who have done well with this. “I almost have my degree in Human Services with a minor is Social Work. My Reach Up worker put me in a place where I can get experience with this. I've been on the other side of the spectrum and used the services but being on this side and seeing how things work has been a wonderful experience for me. I can also put this on my resume. I now have experience with budget counseling, casework and counseling in general. BROC has already told me that when a paying position comes available they will bring me on. The only thing I can express more than anything else is how great the staff has been. I have been very comfortable here,” says Deanna of her time spent at BROC.

Here is a list of the services provided by BROC: Food Shelf, Fuel Assistance, Electric Assistance, Small Business Development, Weatherization, SAVES, the Good Cents Store, Nutritional Education Department, Transitional Housing Assistance and Transitional Training. If you are interested in finding out about any of these programs or if you would like to volunteer or make a donation you may contact them at (802)775-0878 for Rutland, (802)447-7515 for Bennington or 1(800)665-1721. You may also visit them at 60 Center St in Rutland, 332 Orchard Rd in Bennington or at their website www.broc.org.

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Kristen Nugent and Brigid Brown with a few of their friends

Kristen Nugent and Brigid Brown with a few of their friends. Sam’s Good News photo by Natalie Aines.

A New Dog School In Town

By Natalie Aines

Maggie was a rescue dog and Kristen Nugent’s first student at Canine Culture, Dog Day School. She did not like riding in cars and was uncertain of other dogs so she was nervous in her new environment and at times on the aggressive side and nippy. By her second week she was improving but still a little cranky. By her third week she was fine. Kristen says “She's an eight year old Beagle so it goes to show, you can teach an old dog new tricks.” She went on to explain how she saw changes so quickly in her new student “I interrupt the problem - take the pressure off so she doesn't feel like she's handling it on her own. Her mom reports car rides and dog parks, meeting new dogs; all goes very well.”

Kristen was a student at Animal Behavior College where she became certified in canine psychology and education. She remembers telling her father when she was in high school that she wanted to open up a daycare for dogs. She has gone one step further however. She agrees that there is a place for doggy daycare but her passion is in teaching and this is a school for dogs.

This is not Kristen’s first time teaching, “I ran a daycare which I feel is the smartest thing I could have done. Working in the one and two year old room was similar because they're non-verbal. They can't use words because they don't how to yet.” She said that an adult Border Collie has the intelligence of an average five year old. Along with her certifications comes an understanding of body language “I understand the cues that they give off that others would take as play. The hardest part is training the people, the dogs learn quickly enough.”

Alongside Kristen is Brigid Brown who has a background working with rescue dogs and training at another nearby facility. She said, “It's the best job I could ever hope for. In terms of training it's revolutionary, bringing dogs into a place where they have really good manners and learn from other dogs. It's just wonderful.” At Canine Culture they use a common language so that if one of the owners takes their dog to a dog park you would hear other dog parents using the same commands.

For now they are just starting out and are doing so in Kristen’s home where she has a fenced in yard and her garage has been converted into a safe space for her four legged friends. “All the great ideas start in a garage. Bill Gates is huge and he started in a garage,” Kristen stated. However it has been her focus to make sure that it no longer feels like a place for cars but instead like home. She understands that there are certain things a dog needs in order to be happy. “We (humans) cannot give them everything they need. They need to be outside, hunting, playing with the pack. We work 8-10 hours a day, five days a week, they have nothing to do but chew the couch. You have to address their needs. Digging and chewing are instinctual - if you don't provide that they will find it. Everything here is very structured. It's all based on routine. They’re still dogs, they’re still animals.”

At Canine Culture they do not use prong or shock collars. “This is a prong and shock collar free environment. I feel that it inhibits the relationship building because it's pain and avoidance. I don't think people are trying to be mean by any means. It raises the cortisone levels in the body. It causes stress. You know what that does to humans. It's like diet pills or gastric bypass. It works but it doesn't get to the root of the problem, they're just avoiding pain. It takes awhile longer and it's more work but it teaches them to change their behavior. Just like eating right and going to the gym.”

Kristen is writing a curriculum for the future of Canine Culture. “I want to have a school with classrooms and grades, a senior room, a puppy room, where they can graduate from one to the next.”

If this sounds like the place for you and your dog you can contact her at (802) 855-8754 or canineculturevt@gmail.com. Check them out on Facebook www.facebook.com/
canineculturevt. They are open Monday – Friday 7:30-5:30

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“Home run hitters drive Cadillacs. Singles hitters drive Fords.”
Ralph Kiner


Q: Joke How did you make out on the candy exam?
A: I fudged it.

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Sam's Scrapbook

Birth Announcements

Welcome to Abigail Elizabeth Hesse, baby girl, born April 1, 2014 to Jayson Hesse and Jessica Whitney. Maternal grandparents are Craig and Janet Whitney and paternal grandparents are Beth Cijka and David Hesse.


Belated birthday greetings to Helen Shappy of Rutland! Helen celebrated her 89th birthday on April 2, 2014. Sam and staff wish you many more birthdays along with good health and happiness.

Happy 9th Birthday to Liam Crawford on April 18th. We’re very proud of you. Love Mom and Todd.

Charity Fairbanks will celebrateanother Birthdayon Tuesday April 22nd. She may not lookit, but nextyear will be her 40th. Have a great day, Love Mom & Dad.

Our Mom, Charity Fairbanks will be a year older on Tuesday April22nd. Not only is she our Mom, she is also our best friend. She is the greatest. Happy Birthday Mom! We love you, Cassie, Kaylee & Ashlyn.

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