Supporting Vermont youth for 27 years

Jackie Hanlon, WCYS Executive Director. Photo provided.

LUDLOW, Vt. – Windsor County Youth Services (WCYS) is excited to announce our 28th year of operation. WCYS was founded by the late Viola Wynne, a teacher and drug and alcohol therapist, who had a vision to provide short-term shelter for run-away youth or those who, for one reason or another, simply were not able to live with their families. Thus in 1995 “Mountainside House” was established to house eight youth from Windsor County who were experiencing a crisis in their living situation.

The goal was to provide a safe and structured environment for youth who were in need of either basic shelter or a stable home for a short period of time. WCYS offered support groups, counseling, overall emotional development including anger and stress management, workshops focusing on substance abuse, and the general knowledge and tools to live a healthy lifestyle. The ultimate objective was to work with the residents and their families for successful reunification.

The program continued to expand and eventually opened a second house, the house at Twenty Mile Stream in Proctorsville for girls. The original house, Mountainside, was then designated for boys. As a result of this growth, the program was able to accommodate a greater number of teenagers from around the state.

A tutorial program was added so that the residents of both houses could continue their education while living away from their communities. The head teacher works with every student’s home school to get lessons and materials so that they can continue the learning process. In addition to the basics the students learn life skills, have the opportunity to go on educational field trips, and experience community service work.

An important component of the residents’ program is community service. They genuinely look forward to and enjoy the opportunities they have working on projects within the community. These community outreach experiences, which give the residents a chance to interact with people outside the houses, certainly benefit both them and the sponsoring organizations. Over the years, they have enjoyed working at the Rotary Chili Cook off, Green Up Day, and on projects at Fletcher Memorial Library and Black River Good Neighbors. They are eager to offer their assistance to additional programs and projects.

A transitional living program was added for older teens that have aged out of the regular program but still needed support. An independent living arrangement was created in each of the houses, whereby emerging adults could continue to get support while working at a job and learning how to live on their own.

Unfortunately, when the Covid pandemic hit, WCYS was forced to close The House at Twenty Mile Stream due to health and economic restrictions, and staffing issues, so we are currently only operating Mountainside House, accommodating both boys and girls. According to Jackie Hanlon, the Executive Director, as the economy recovers and staffing improves we hope to return to full operation operating both houses.

The not-for-profit organization receives support from the Department of Children and Families, through various state and federal grants and contracts, and through private donations. WCYS has been successful in supporting young people for 27 years, due in large part to a very supportive community. We so appreciate all who have supported the organization through gifts and donations over the years. In addition to individual contributions, we wish to publicly acknowledge and thank The Ludlow Garden Club, The Ludlow Area Rotary Club, Okemo Mountain Resort – Vail Fund, The United Church of Ludlow, The United Church of Bellows Falls, The Church of the Annunciation in Ludlow, The Tyson Ladies’ Aid, People’s United Bank, M&T Bank, Heritage Family Credit Union, the Ludlow Police Department, and the employees of the Town of Ludlow.

If you have a need, wish to make a contribution, or are interested in becoming a part of the dedicated staff at WCYS, please feel free to contact Jackie Hanlon, Executive Director, at 802-228-6880.

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