"Each of us has a story," says Madison, a member of Kurn Hattin's Class of 2015.
Twenty-six eighth graders graduated from Kurn Hattin Homes for Children this year, the largest graduating class in Kurn Hattin's 120-year history.
That's 26 stories.
Each Kurn Hattin's child's story is different, and there are now thousands of stories that make up our history, but they all share the same central themes that define our organization and its mission.
Earlier this year when Executive Director, Connie Sanderson, announced her plans to retire after 27 years of service, she called upon members of all departments to share their ideas about the values they see upheld in their work, in order to provide the incoming leadership with a clear sense of who we are and what we believe as an organization.
The result has been a wonderful coming-together of colleagues, who collectively agreed on the following five Core Values that have defined and will always define the work we do at Kurn Hattin Homes for Children:
Sense of Worth
Watch the video to hear Kurn Hattin staff and members of the class of 2015 share pieces of their stories, and discuss the ways that these Core Values have touched their lives.
“We rise by lifting others.”
~ Robert Ingersol
They come to read books to the children, help with academics, lend a hand in the horsemanship and music programs, share their knowledge about farming and maple sugaring, chaperone choir and band field trips, attend sports events, and offer friendship and support to the children.
The kind and generous volunteers who offer the gift of their time and energy around campus throughout the year help us to enrich the children's experiences and provide every child with a little extra individualized attention to ensure that he or she has the opportunity to truly shine in all areas of life here on campus.
"Kurn Hattin is like quicksand," you sometimes hear veteran staff members say to explain why they've stayed on for so many years.
Music Program volunteer Chris Goding agrees. A Kurn Hattin volunteer for the past 10 years, Chris is one of the dedicated people who make Kurn Hattin a great place to be and helps give the children their chance to shine.
Meet Chris Goding:
Kurn Hattin thanks our volunteers!
"Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
~ Melody Beattie
With the holiday season upon us, the spirit of giving and of thanksgiving provides an opportunity not only to be grateful for the good things here and now, but also to reflect on the events of the past, the decisions and actions of others before us, and the serendipitous twists of fate that have led us here to the present.
For the children living and attending school here at Kurn Hattin Homes in Vermont, a parent or a relative may have made the often difficult choice to place them here during a time of turmoil at home. Or perhaps a concerned teacher, neighbor, or friend suggested Kurn Hattin as one option to help a child reach his or her full potential. Whatever the circumstances that have led them here, all of the children--both past and present--arrive to find a loving, caring community of adults and peers, and a place where they can learn, grow, heal, and experience the joy of childhood.
Earlier this year, we took the opportunity to reflect on Kurn Hattin's history and path to the present as we combed our extensive archives compiling photos, documents, and records dating back to the late 1800's, in order to create a traveling historical exhibit, entitled A Legacy of Caring: Adapting to the Changing Needs of Children and Families
Completed last summer to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the Homes' founding, the exhibit highlights the important trends, events, and milestones that have shaped Kurn Hattin's approach to child care and alternative education, and introduces the key characters whose vision to better the lives of young children in need and their families serves as our main mission in the present day.
The following are excerpts from the exhibit, which introduce Kurn Hattin's founder, Reverend Charles Dickinson, a man whose gifts of kindness, selflessness, dedication, and perseverance paved the way for the work we do today and are a legacy of caring for which all of us here at Kurn Hattin Homes are very grateful.
Click the images for a larger view
Click HERE to watch the video presentation about Reverend Dickinson
Gwen, a current Kurn Hattin 6th grader, entered a recent drawing and was the lucky recipient of "Palomita," a handmade doll from Peru with a very special story to tell.
Photos: Jeff Woodward Photography
Gwen and Palomita will be featured in an upcoming documentary by local educator Teresa Savel. Teresa and her camera crew visited campus last week to film Gwen and Palomita's first meeting.
As an early childhood educator involved in humanitarian work, Teresa Savel says she always felt a certain pull as she drove past the campus of Kurn Hattin Homes for Children on her way home in nearby Westminster West, Vermont. "I knew that Kurn Hattin does great things for children, and I had always wanted to reach out and make a connection," she said, "But I wasn't sure what that connection could be, until now."
Now well established, the connection reaches from the campus of Kurn Hattin Homes for Children, a Vermont residential and day school for young children in need, to the small village of Andahuaylillas in the Andes Mountains of Peru, where a group of local women work to create beautiful handmade dolls, which are then sold to support the livelihoods of the women and their families.
Having made the long journey from the Andes to the hills of Westminster, Vermont, one of these dolls, "Palomita," is now settling in nicely with the other stuffed animals in Gwen's cozy cottage room. Gwen described her reaction to winning the drawing, "When they called my name at lunch, I couldn't believe it, I was so overwhelmed!"
Teresa Savel says she wanted to include a Kurn Hattin child in her film project, in part because of the parallels she sees between the kind of work being done at Kurn Hattin and at the Q'ewar Project, the organization in Peru that creates the dolls.
Started in 2002 by Julio Herrera and Lucy Terrazas, Q'ewar is a social work initiative that helps indigenous women to break the cycle of poverty and sets them and their children on a path to a brighter future. Teresa learned about the Project several years ago when purchasing dolls for the early childhood program she ran in Westminster, and has been involved in supporting Q'ewar's efforts ever since.
Teresa notes a number of similarities in the missions of Q'ewar and Kurn Hattin, in particular in that both organizations focus on supporting children and families in need in order to effect social change and bring about lasting positive impact. "It's the seed," she says,"Both organizations are planting and nurturing seeds so they can grow into flowers. Then they continue to support that growth, so that there can be more seeds, and the cycle can continue." She adds that both Kurn Hattin and Q'ewar bring together individuals who may have experienced hardships such as poverty, hunger, or abuse. Coming together, those individuals learn that they are not alone, and find great strength in supporting and connecting with one another and being part of a healthy community.
"We're so fortunate--and the children are fortunate--to have a place like Kurn Hattin still in existence," she added. We are sure that Palomita will be very happy in her new home with Gwen. Thank you Teresa, for bringing Palomita, Gwen, and their two worlds together!
Patricia “Pat” Driggs Kelsey, a longtime friend and supporter of the Homes, and Board President from 1997-2000, died Saturday, August 30 at the age of 91 at her home in New London, New Hampshire.
Pat was born August 2, 1923, in Philadelphia, PA. She earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from Russell Sage College in 1945, and went on to teach Physical Education and coach field hockey at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire.
An avid golfer, Pat won the New Hampshire women's amateur golf championship in 1955, 1956 and 1958. In 1974, she married the late Lt. Col. Robert “Bob” Pratty Kelsey Jr., a decorated WWII veteran.
Together Pat and Bob joined forces in many public service endeavors and offered generous philanthropic support to various charities and organizations over the years, including The Dana Farber Cancer Institute,The Jimmy Fund, Colby-Sawyer College, and of course, Kurn Hattin Homes for Children. In addition, Pat served as chair of the New London Recreation Commission and was active with the New London Garden Club. She was a member of the First Baptist Church, New London, N.H.
Of the many legacies she left to various organizations, including Kurn Hattin, one in particular lives on at the Homes in a very personal, tangible way today: Pat's stepson, Charles P. Kelsey, is the current Kurn Hattin Board President, having been inspired by his stepmother to get involved with Kurn Hattin as an incorporator 25 years ago.
Kurn Hattin's Executive Director, Connie Sanderson, shared these remarks in remembrance of Pat.
Of the many things I am grateful for in my Kurn Hattin career, meeting Pat will always rank at the top of the list. When I became employed at Kurn Hattin Homes in 1988, Pat was a steady friend and ally and remained so until my last visit with her on July 19th. For those of you who knew her well, wherever Pat was, fun followed. When she became President of the Kurn Hattin Board, the first thing she did was shake up our Annual Meeting format, exclaiming, “Where are the kids?” And you can bet they were included from then on!
Pat was a treasured friend and colleague, and I will miss her always. Her impact at Kurn Hattin Homes will live on forever. She lived a rich and unique life, and I am thrilled to have been part of it.
Pat is survived by her son, Eric H. McGahey; her daughter Lynn E. McGahey; her stepson Charles P. Kelsey and her stepdaughters Deborah Kelsey Watts, Dabney Kelsey Hahn and Heather Kelsey Thomas.