The Vernon Volunteers' Collaborative In 2020
|Tankerhoosen Lake dam in Winter. |
The Vernon Volunteers’ Collaborative supports 13 volunteer nonprofit community organizations that make Vernon a special place to work and live.
Usually our events are held throughout the year, particularly in the warmer months, but 2020 was anything but a normal year. However, we didn't go into hibernation, but found ways to bring events and information to you working behind the scenes to repair or prepare our properties for the eventual reopenings - hopefully soon.
This newsletter is to share with you some of the things our 13 organizations were able to do in 2020 - some you can see online, some you can visit now, and the outdoor trails and gardens are ready for whenever you want to get outdoors. During a difficult year we are fortunate to live in a town with diverse offerings and so many dedicated volunteers.
We hope you will support our organizations by participating online or in person. It would help too if, as a New Year Resolution, you joined one or two. Most have very low dues with links below or on our VVC website.
Usually these newsletters alert you to upcoming events and we hope to be doing it again soon. In the meantime if you would like advanced notice by email of events please join our MeetUp Group. We also send reminders on our Facebook Page. And you will also find upcoming events listed on the Vernon Volunteers Collaborative website under the 'Events' tab.
Click on the images for larger pictures.
» Go to The Tankerhoosen website.
Arts Center East
Arts Center East (ACE) kept busy all year. While closed to the public through August they created online galleries and offered Zoom art classes. This provides opportunities for you to develop new skills while locked down.
ACE reopened to the public in September, although with limited hours. Gallery hours are Friday & Saturday from 1-5 p.m.
Their current exhibit is the Annual Photography Exhibit, also available online. Each year Arts Center East dedicates an exhibit to the art of photography. All forms are included: film, digital, digital manipulation and Polaroid.
Next month will be a Wearable Art Exhibit. From textiles and hats, to repurposed trash fashion, hair art, or fashion photography, they are gathering forms of creativity and self-expression through wearable mediums.
Classes available include drawing basics, collage, pastels and landscape oil painting.
» Explore all Arts Center East's offerings.
Friends of Hockanum River Linear Park
|Boardwalk at Pleasantview Marsh. |
The highlight of the year for the Friends of HRLP was completion of the state grant work for the Suspended Bridge on Windsorville Rd, and the Boardwalk at Pleasantview Marsh. The final report to the State of CT (DEEP) was submitted in July.
Total value of the project was $236,250. The DEEP grant provided funding of $189,000, and Vernon Greenway Volunteers and Town staff provided matching funds labor valued at $47,250 - a remarkable achievement!
Come check out Vernon's very own boardwalk.
» Learn more about the Friends of the HRLP.
Friends of Valley Falls
|Valley Falls Stable. |
Even under Covid circumstances, progress was made on the soon to open Valley Falls Farm Heritage Center through the Summer. Electrical work was completed, including the new underground line to the stable and the track lighting to highlight displays. The outbuildings were cleaned, sorting through 100 years of stored 'stuff,' and culled out the items that tell the story of Valley Falls Farm. They are delighted with their finds, and pleased to say that they can tell the story with ONLY the artifacts found on at the Farm, making it a truly local and authentic experience for visitors.
The final phase - organizing, cleaning, and labeling the artifacts, and setting up the displays, has begun. In keeping with the goal to use only on-site artifacts, they will 're-purpose' old tables, barrels, and crates found on the Farm to show the vintage pieces.
» Learn more about the Friends of Valley Falls.
Friends of the Vernon Arts Commission
The Friends of the Vernon Arts Commission (FVAC) support and supplement the work of the VAC by serving on project committees and promoting an appreciation for the arts through community outreach.
Their mission is to promote artistic and cultural activities for Vernon citizens; to encourage arts education and appreciation, to provide opportunities for artists to produce and present their work; and to pursue artistic and cultural collaborations.
Last year they raised and provided support for the Mayor's Concert Series, the new Rails to Trail Mural project, The Vernon Chorale, Arts Center East's Poetry Rocks series and Vernon Elementary School writing projects.
New England Civil War Museum
The New England Civil War Museum is the only museum in Connecticut devoted to the fighting men of the War of the Rebellion and they are located inside the longest continuously used Civil War veterans hall in the United States at Town Hall in Rockville.
Although unable to hold programs or have visitors for much of 2020 members used the shutdown to update and freshen displays.
They were able to reopen in the Fall to visitors, by appointment only, every Sunday, 12-3 p.m., except major holidays.
If you have never visited this could be an opportunity to take the family on a nearby outing.
» Learn more about the NECWM.
Northern CT Land Trust
The Northern CT Land Trust (NCLT) owns over 1700 acres in the Vernon, Ellington, East Windsor, Enfield, Somers, and Stafford area. Most have hiking trails maintained by members.
In Vernon they own seven properties including the Webster Preserve above Valley Falls Park and Talcott Ravine along the Tankerhoosen River in Talcottville.
As were all Vernon's trails NCLT's were heavily used in 2020. Although some regular hikes were cancelled KARL HASEL did lead the annual Kayak & Canoe outing on Upper Bolton Lake in May and the annual Webster Preserve hike in October.
» Maps can be found on NCLT's website.
Strong Family Farm
Although Strong Family Farm was unable to hold its larger events in 2020 it is a farm and, as farmers have done since farming began, they find ways to keep going in hard times.
They had to adapt to a constantly shifting set of rules - cancelling some events and postponing others. For example:
- The April Chicken Run became a virtual Chicken Run in June.
- The Farm Store did well as people more than ever want fresh local food.
- The Backyard Chicken Program for children continued with a few modifications.
- The 16 Raised Bed Gardens were fully utilized.
- The October Scarecrow Contest brightened Autumn along West Road.
» Learn more about the Strong Family Farm.
The Vernon Chorale
The Vernon Chorale canceled its three live concerts planned for the year, however, they adapted to the times by recording a series of Zoom performances.
The Vernon Chorale canceled its three live concerts planned for the year, however, they adapted to the times by recording a series of Virtual performances. Choir member CINDY TRENHOLM described the process: "We all record separately. Our conductor records himself conducting the piece, our accompanist records a track of the song watching our conductor, then each singer listens through headphones, sings while watching our conductor, and records on their phones. Each singer then uploads their recording to a Drop Box for recording engineers to synchronize the audio to the visual. The most interesting thing about the process is the rehearsals. We rehearse on Zoom on mute. We singers never hear the song until it's put together and posted on our youtube channel."
They have recorded four songs to date. Listen to the just released 'Flight Song'.
» To hear all their music visit The Vernon Chorale website.
Tolland County Agriculture Center
|TCAC's People's Garden. |
The Tolland County Agricultural Center (TCAC) provides an environment for agricultural education, ecological landscape education, family studies and leadership education that is available to people of all ages. They also host activities throughout the year, including the popular and kid friendly August 4-H Fair.
Most events couldn't be held last year, including the 4-H Fair, but TCAC also owns, manages and maintains the grounds and trails at their 80-acre Center. The Blue-Blazed Trail passes through their property and there are many gardens and trails to explore, including the Spring Daffodil Labyrinth.
A great place to explore any season of the year.
» Learn more about the Tolland County Agricultural Center.
Vernon Education Foundation
|A few of the 200 books distributed last year. |
The Vernon Education Foundation's (VEF) mission is to support educational excellence in Vernon-Rockville. Two key programs include providing new, individually selected reading books to every Vernon Public School 1st grader, and teacher mini-grants for innovative learning projects. A new grant program was added in 2020 for projects that address race and equity issues. In 2020, the VEF provided:
- 118 reading books for Craig's Kitchen's Easter basket giveaway;
- 217 reading books to 1st graders;
- 3 grants for Race & Equity projects;
- 4 teacher mini-grants to Maple Street School 5th graders; the RHS TALC program; a VCMS school store; and a "Faces of Vernon's Diversity" photo exhibit by VCMS art students)."
» Learn more about VEF's 2020 grants.
Vernon Garden Club
|The Garden on the Green. |
Although the Vernon Garden Club wasn't able to hold its monthly programs last year, or work with the school's Jr Gardeners' Program it did keep busy maintaining Vernon's gateway gardens at Vernon Circle (the Garden on the Green) and Lafayette Square (the Northeast Gateway Garden). These are the first things visitors see as they enter Vernon from the East or West and, as with any garden, take a lot of work through the long season.
The Club began these projects in 2002 creating colorful 4-season perennial gardens. They were also busy last Summer maintaining the historical Herb Garden at Valley Falls Farm.
» Learn more about the Vernon Garden Club and their activities.
Vernon Greenways Volunteers
2020 was an extremely active year outdoors and the Vernon Greenways Volunteers kept busy maintaining the trails and gardens. Most of the tasks could be done with small crews or were the responsibility of a few individual so the work could be done safely.
Major projects included replacement of the Rail Trail Mural and leveling the Hop River Trail.
Founder and Lead Person DON BELLINGHAM was given the Connecticut Volunteer of the Year Award for 2020 by the Connecticut Recreation and Parks Service for his 15 years of service in that capacity.
» Learn more about what the Vernon Greenways Volunteers do for us.
Vernon Historical Society
The Vernon Historical Society was able to hold their planned program in January and March before closing down.
For their Fall program they created an online video “History in Plain Sight: Monuments & Memorials in Vernon Connecticut.” It was designed to highlight places in town with historic significance. Another purpose for the film was to encourage viewers to visit these places, in effect combining education with exercise.
The annual Vernon Historical Society Book Sale was postponed from the end of April, but was held at the end of June. The 2021 Book Sale is planned for the end of April as usual. Book donations are now being accepted. See their website for details.
The research room is open by appointment only. Please call the Museum at (860) 875-4326.
» View the "History in Plain Sight" video.
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