Local News, State News

For the greater good: Escape from the dark winter days using your head, and your heart, and your hands

By Liz DiMarco Weinmann

As many of us look forward to a happier 2022, Covid is still ruling our world, and we are facing the most sunlight-challenged months of the year. No wonder many of us want to hunker down under a weighted blanket in front of a merry movie marathon, swilling gallons of cocoa, while being sure to mute all those commercials for diet plans and exercise equipment.

The Killington-Rutland region offers a lot of other ways to focus on what’s good, and finding purpose, pride and fun, inside as well as outside. Focusing on what’s good could mean thinking differently about personal goals, switching up family activities, expanding your friend groups, or devising more constructive approaches to work challenges. It could also mean learning something new; contributing your experience and expertise to a community cause; showing compassion in ways you hadn’t considered before; marveling in awe at winter creatures in their natural habitats; or exercising your creativity through music, writing, dance or the culinary arts.

Admired corporations and thriving nonprofits alike are developing programs to help their teams explore and contribute their own personal best and highest strengths, through “head, heart, and hands transformation,” as Jim Hemerling, Julie Kilmann, and Dave Matthews from Boston Consulting Group wrote in a blog of that title a few years ago.

So, how about you? Following are just a few local resources for making the best and highest use of your own head, heart, and hands. Most organizations below offer online options but be sure to check their websites for updates about Covid protocols, hours, and volunteer opportunities.

Stafford Technical Center – Stafford offers hundreds of courses to engage your head, heart, and hands – for fun as well as career enhancement. The earnest positivity of Stafford’s Director of Adult and Continuing Education Bill Lucci is hard to tamp down, and why would anyone want to?

Rutland Humane Society – If you haven’t acquired a “pandemic pet” yet, but you’re obsessing about it so much that you’re counting Bernese puppies as an insomnia remedy, then volunteering at Rutland Humane Society could be your ideal entry into pet parenting.

Rutland Free Library – Randal Smathers and his RFL team provide safe access to books and other media for hundreds of patrons. Volunteer for RFL and you’ll have the best excuse for “I’m in a meeting,” while scrolling through thousands of educational e-books, audiobooks, and streaming video on RFL’s website.

Phoenix Books – Don’t be fooled by the store’s small footprint; its conscientious team can order almost any book. The selection of products by Vermont artists is worth more than a quick browse.

Rutland Recreation Community Center – How can anyone resist the inclusive ebullience of an organization whose website landing page declares, “Let’s Go Play!”

Chaffee Art Center – Beyond its compelling art exhibits, the Chaffee also offers classes and volunteer opportunities that appeal to various skills, interests, or time availability.

Killington’s abundant recreation – Besides downhill skiing and snowboarding at “The Beast,” try ice-skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, fatbiking, snowmobiling or stroll down the sidewalk and pop in and out of shops and restaurants along Killington Road.

Rotary and Kiwanis – No rural community is complete without its service clubs. Rutland South Rotary, where I’m a member, is committed to funding projects that support education, and its guest speakers are top-notch. The Kiwanis Club’s annual spring fishing derby draws hundreds.

Vermont Institute of Natural Science (Quechee) – VINS is most popular for its awe-inspiring exotic birds, and the “avian rehab” VINS staff provides to the wounded ones. Where else could you adopt a Snowy Owl – complete with an official adoption certificate! See also: Rutland Audubon Society, for volunteer opportunities and “birding hotspots.”

Lastly, dream up your own Freezing Frolic Film Fest. Here are some “plotlines” – with more than a little help from my friends:

  1. Surround yourself with upbeat people or volunteer with a nonprofit that attracts them. You don’t need to write a big check: Google “7 Faces of Philanthropy” and you’ll see all the other ways and reasons for why people give.
  2. Help to build someone a house with Habitat for Humanity, or volunteer to cook a meal at one of our region’s shelters.
  3. Heed the advice of some of my most effervescent friends: get outside every day, even if it’s for 10 minutes. Start a weekly walking group, explore different neighborhoods.
  4. Warm things up with a chili cookoff commotion, hot cocoa competition, or s’mores smackdown – outside! Check out the hot yoga at downtown Rutland’s Triumph Studio. Or delve into the Himalayan Salt Cave and other indulgent activities at Pyramid Holistic Wellness Center.
  5. Learn to play a musical instrument, and practice often. Check out or buy the book, “Your Brain on Music,” and you’ll see why it’s a good idea even if you think you are tone deaf.
  6. Be inspired by St. Albans’ Adam Monette, this year’s grand-prize winner ($25,000!) of the Food Network’s holiday baking contest. Monette, a culinary instructor at Northwest Career and Technical Center, also coaches his students in cooking for charity events.

Even if all you do is click on the websites of a few of the organizations above, perhaps during those annoying commercials interrupting your winter-wonderland-watch-a-thon, you’ll be inspired. It’s the perfect way to gear up for the final half hour of your movie’s inevitable tangles, twists, and turns, just before the gorgeous snow-queen (i.e., Crystal, or Nevada, or Bianca) finally gets her gala, gown, and guy (i.e., Vinter, or Coldwell, or Douglass). The real-life heads, hearts, and hands that can guide you to find purpose, pride, and fun, will be waiting for you, right here in the Rutland region.

Liz DiMarco Weinmann, MBA, is principal and owner of Liz DiMarco Weinmann Consulting, L3C, based in Rutland, serving charitable and educational institutions lizdimarcoweinmann.com.

Mountain Times Newsletter

Sign up below to receive the weekly newsletter, which also includes top trending stories and what all the locals are talking about!