In other words...
Our ambassadors, supporters and visionaries are irrevocably committed, unparalleled assets to our organization. Cultivating a new nonprofit organization in Vermont - one with modest, unique and clear goals for a specific, identified population, amidst a global health pandemic, in a state ranking one of the highest in the nonprofit industry, is a tremendous undertaking. One that is worthy of the effort, worthy of the trepidation and worthy of the chance of falling short of our goals. Each individual we have the potential to serve is worthy of being set up for a successful, sustainable second chance. Each community we in turn serve is worthy of enacting social responsibility and redefining how those who have put forward a demonstrated effort to address their criminal charges, address their substance use disorder, mental health and any other contributing determinants to redirect their lives, are now treated as contributing, productive citizens and neighbors.
Vermont Roots and Wings Alliance was created by those nearest to one of the most underserved and underrepresented programs in operation, one which has maintained chief consistent statistics when addressing substance use disorder and individuals involved with the criminal justice system - Vermont Treatment Court dockets. Since 2002, these dockets have operated in Chittenden, Washington, Windsor and Rutland Counties. Operating in accordance with and adherence to national best practice standards, this program has been thoroughly studied to determine what actions and policies provide the best outcomes for participants and communities since nationally implemented in the 1980s.
The email below shares more on what our organization is preparing to do, and how we plan to do it in a summarized context, in the words of one of our founding friends.
Those involved with the participants and alumni daily have clear insight (quite a direct view), into what would allow each person they were working with the individualized support needed to fulfill and engage with the obligations and demands of Treatment Court. Any or all of which may include: regular attendance at treatment (transportation/childcare), appearing at scheduled appointments with community providers (transportation/childcare), fulfilling commitments related to their probation/parole (or other supervision), establishing and maintaining consistent employment (transportation/childcare/schedule), maintaining safe, substance-free housing, and beginning to build the recovery capital that successful, continued recovery is built upon. Treatment Team members and participants (and their families) witness the impact that ethical contingency management by qualified providers has on behavioral modification, self-directed engagement, choices and impulse control. They witness positive reinforcement replacing years of survival-directed behavior, choices based on needs regardless of right and wrong, and seeing people chase praise over substance, connection over isolation, and develop a sense of self-worth and respect - some would say a parallel to a spiritual awakening, others the opportunity to enact newly acquired life skills and appreciate realized choices before them based on the effort invested into themselves.
Treatment Court dockets are, quite literally, one of the only opportunities a Vermonter may have to access the recommended and proven 18-24 months person to person supported recovery statistics repeatedly point to when continuous, fulfilling recovery is researched. The participants (and alumni) have demonstrated a willingness to utilize tools and resources before them to implement necessary changes in their lives to repay a criminal offense and simultaneously rebuild what are often very broken lives.
We at VRWA are here because we believe these individuals are deserving of the support to grow roots and wings to fly. They are worthy of maintaining all they worked for, of investing in and helping them as they help themselves to achieve milestones and goals never dreamed possible in their former lives… days where realized impacts of systemic poverty and intergenerational trauma, substance disorder and mental health variables dictated priorities and actions. Those of us on the leadership team who are openly in recovery also authentically believe it is our duty to use the privilege we realize to improve the lives of those with more barriers and fewer opportunities, who want today the exact same things we wanted at the point we found recovery.
We want to connect with each individual reading this, whether aligned with social responsibility, criminal justice reform, rebuilding community and/or the authentic belief that recovery is real and attainable. I hope the message below conveys more on who we are as an organization, and as a growing community. With gratitude - Fawn Montanye
Hello All! As I’m sure you are all aware I’ve been working with an incredible group of people to establish a nonprofit organization to support Treatment Court participants and Treatment Court teams. This organization is called the Vermont Roots and Wings Alliance, Inc. We have a part time executive director who is working full time on raising capitol for this organization.
She is also working on spreading awareness of the work that treatment courts do and to this end, we are trying to identify 2 current Treatment Court participants, 2 Alumni and 2 Alumni that might have struggled a bit after graduation, but have been able to refocus and are on a good track.
This organization, as most organizations in Vermont do, has the risk of becoming very Chittenden County centric and that is not the goal, so I’m reaching out to all of you to ask that you nominate some candidates for this project.
The intent behind it is to highlight the work that treatment courts are doing on the VRWA website (vtrootsandwings.org) and in monthly news letters as Fawn spreads the word and asks for cash infusions to support our work.
To give you a little more information about the goals/mission of this organization:
First and foremost the mission is to support treatment court participants. Right now the focused goal is to be able to assist with incidentals that really cause significant barriers to our clients, e.g., help with fixing cars, assistance with accessing sober living, dental work, etc. But the sky is the limit goal would be to “sponsor” persons newly in recovery to remove stressors and allow for undistracted concentration on the early work of recovery. Fawn shared with me recently a dream she has of building “nests” i.e. sober houses for our folks. A shorter term goal we are currently working towards to help establish alumni associations for each existing program and to incentivize engagement after graduation.
The second prong of the mission is to provide incentives for contingency management and to help teams use this vital engagement strategy with our participants. The second half of that prong is to make sure that all treatment court professionals have access to ongoing training and eventually the hope is to provide scholarships to attend training that are not covered by grants.
Last, is to let Vermont know that our programs exist as a strong alternative to incarceration. AND to create access to treatment courts for all Vermonters.
If you have nominees, please reach out to Fawn.
Last, [Name], I don’t know the defense attorney on your team. If you want to pass this email along to them, please do, but I see your passion and belief in Treatment Courts and feel confident you can help send some nominations our way!
I hope you all are well.