Local News

Come Alive Outside’s founder, program director passes the torch

RUTLAND—Come Alive Outside’s founder Andy Paluch is stepping down after eight years of being at the helm of Come Alive Outside’s program delivery to pursue an exciting new career in commercial real estate.

Paluch’s position as program director will be filled by Myra Peffer, founder and former executive director of the Wonderfeet Kids Museum in Rutland. Peffer has been on the board of the directors of Come Alive Outside for the past two years and has worked in partnership with Paluch on a number of projects, including the creation of the interactive Pine Cone Adventure Trail located within Pine Hill Park. Peffer will be working alongside Come Alive Outside Executive Director Arwen Turner and program coordinators Haley Rice and Lissa Schoot-Uiterkamp.

“I am very grateful to have a fantastic team of people in place at Come Alive Outside that allows me to move on knowing that the organization will continue to thrive and have a positive impact on the wellbeing of all of the people who participate in our programs.” Paluch said. “It was a great move hiring our executive director, Arwen Turner, last year. I am very confident in Arwen’s ability to guide the organization in a way that continues to bring joy and meaningful change to people’s lives. I am also very excited and deeply grateful that Myra Peffer will be joining the Come Alive Outside team as our new program director!”

Paluch will continue to stay involved with Come Alive Outside in an advisory role and will also continue living in Rutland. Paluch plans to remain deeply involved in the community through his new role with TPW Real Estate.

“We are so grateful for Andy Paluch’s programmatic leadership over the last several years and we will honor Andy’s energy and vision for Come Alive Outside by continuing to implement excellent programs in a fun and impact driven way,” Turner said.

Come Alive Outside’s programs’ reach has been steadily growing over the last several years and the organization has seen a substantial leap in program

participation numbers this year. With anxiety and depression levels being extremely high due to Covid-19, individuals and communities are looking to Come Alive Outside to help them connect to the outdoors to relieve stress, lift their moods, and stay active.

There are currently 1,700 people participating in Come Alive Outside’s summer “100 Miles, 100 Days program,” an increase from 520 in 2019.

This year Come Alive Outside distributed 4,500 Summer Passports to families with elementary school students in Rutland County, an increase from 2,600 in 2019. In addition to the Summer Passport for elementary students, Come Alive Outside also created a new Summer Passport for Adults with partners in the newly formed Rutland Wellness Cooperative. This group consists of worksite leaders from RRMC, Heritage Family Credit Union, VT Country Store, Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce and the VT Health Department— 1,200 adults are currently participating in this exciting new program!

“We wish Andy all the best in his next endeavor. Andy is exceptional and will succeed wherever he puts his energy,” said Russ Marsan, Come Alive Outside board chair. “As for Come Alive Outside, we are moving forward at full speed. Over the last several months, it has become increasingly more evident that the organization needs to double-down on our impact within Rutland County. As we lean into the next phase of Come Alive Outside, we want to share our deepest gratitude for our local supporters Regional Medical Center, The Vermont Department of Health, Heritage Family Credit Union, Casella Waste Management, United Way of Rutland, the Vermont Community Foundation, VNA Hospice of the Southwest Region, and Community Health Rutland and all of our partners and program participants who make the important work we do possible.”

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