Better Living Audiology Opens in South Burlington

September 18, 2014  
Filed under Business

By Phyl Newbeck
Julie Bier is the owner of Better Living Audiology, a practice which opened in March in South Burlington.
Bier credits a college advisor with setting her on her career path. In high school, she studied American Sign Language and continued taking ASL courses in college while on a pre-med track. Her advisor suggested she take an introduction to audiology class and she was immediately hooked.
Bier received her doctorate from the University of California in San Francisco and stayed in California for several years after that. Her family was on the East Coast so she eventually relocated to New York, but as the grind of the city became a bit much, she began to look towards New England. Bier got a job at Fletcher Allen but she had always wanted to open her own practice and this spring she decided to make the move.
Better Living Audiology is a full-service practice, performing evaluations, hearing aid consultations and fittings, and repairs of most manufactured hearing aids. Bier specializes in tinnitus and hyperacusis. The former is a ringing of the ears and the latter is a sensitivity to loud noises; both of which can be linked to hearing loss. Bier has clients ranging in age from babies to 105. She finds it very rewarding to work with children and watch them hear things they’ve never experienced before, but she stresses that people of all ages should have their hearing checked. “It’s never too late to do something about hearing loss,” she said “but the sooner you do things, the better. The auditory part of the brain is a muscle just like any other part of the body and if you don’t use it, you lose it.”
Bier said there are constant advances in the field of hearing aids. “Every six to 12 months there is something new coming out which makes my job exciting,” she said. “I see some patients with three-year-old hearing aids come in and try something new and they say it’s like night and day.” Many of the advances focus on background noises as well as size and visibility. “Hearing aids are much smaller than they used to be,” Bier said. “There are some nearly invisible devices which are semi-implanted by an audiologist or ear, nose and throat physician.”
The downside to those devices is they need to be replaced every few months by a physician. Other hearing aids sit deep in the hearing canal and can be removed by the patient when the battery goes down.
Bier said the most popular hearing aids are miniature devices which sit behind the ear and are connected with a wire. “They are very comfortable and almost invisible,” she said. The hearing aid cases are almost waterproof, although Bier doesn’t recommend using them for showering or swimming. One of her patients wore his while kayaking and capsized for the first time ever. He was able to retrieve the aid which fell out of his ear under water.  After drying out the battery over the weekend, it was as good as new. Some of the newer hearing aids have Blue Tooth connectivity and can be connected directly to an iPhone, iPad or television. “The sound is tailored to your hearing loss,” Bier said “and you can hear it in both ears. The audiology world is a lot of fun because everything is always changing.”
Bier loves having the opportunity to improve the quality of life of her patients. “On an almost daily basis when I’m fitting someone for hearing aids, I can see the change,” she said. Bier said often a son or daughter will accompany a parent to their first visit. “She’s yelling and repeating herself,” said Bier “and she’s getting frustrated. I see them two weeks later and they’re able to communicate without any of that.”
Bier said she is often told by a grateful son or daughter that his or her parent is now able to be part of the conversation at dinner and to hear what their grandchild is saying. One client told her he had no idea there were birds outside his home until his new hearing aid allowed him to hear them chirping. Another noted that he learned he had to fix a step in his house because he had just discovered that it creaked. “Reconnecting people with the world in that way and with their family and friends is really rewarding,” she said.
“Hearing loss is more common than people realize,” said Bier. “One out of every three people over the age of 60 has hearing loss and as general rule it takes a person about seven years before they accept that fact.”
Bier noted that treating physicians make referrals for a variety of issues, but only a small percentage check for hearing. “It’s more of an invisible impairment,” she said. “Making sure that’s on people’s radar is important.”

Hiring a Home Healthcare Worker? Follow These Important Tips

March 31, 2014  
Filed under Business

By Kurt Kazanowski

Whether it’s to help the elderly with daily needs like bathing and toileting, or perhaps a patient with a debilitating condition such as ALS, home healthcare workers play an important role in the lives of many.

In recent times, however, a few bad apples have brought about a bad name for the industry.  In a recent case in Detroit, a home healthcare worker was hired to care for an 80-year-old woman with dementia. Not only was the patient neglected, the worker allegedly stole more than $1.5 million from the family that hired her.

This horrifying story demonstrates how vulnerable the elderly can be and how naive some families are when hiring a caregiver or home care agency. The time to address this problem is now because the need for in-home care will continue to grow as the aging of America crests in 2030.

Despite these unfortunate incidents, home healthcare workers play a vital role for many people who otherwise would be forced out of their homes and into a long term care facility. The industry is filled with plenty of hardworking, honest and caring professionals. As a consumer, you want to ensure the best care for a loved one, and you can by doing your due diligence. 

Shop around

Chances are you wouldn’t buy the first car you test drive or settle for the first pair of jeans you spot hanging in the store, so why would you settle on the first home healthcare company you find or meet with? Start by reviewing the company’s website. Check the reviews from other families who have used this company.  Visit for reviews and feedback about in-home care companies. 

Background checks must be ongoing 

Find out if the home care agency completes a national criminal background check, as well as conducts a motor vehicle background review every six months. One background check upon hiring is not enough. Screening must be an ongoing process. Never hire a company that doesn’t take this simple step to ensure the safety of its patients.

Regular quality assurance checks

Find out if the home care company does regular quality assurance checks. A quality assurance check is a regular spot check on the caregiver to make sure all is well in the home and that the care plan is being followed. It ensures that your loved one is properly cared for, bathed frequently, takes medication as prescribed and is living in a clean and healthy environment.

Status reports

Find out if the home care agency you hire meets with you or speaks to you on a regular basis to update you on the care being delivered to your loved one, and answers any questions you have.  A reputable company will do this on an ongoing basis or as frequently as you request.

Meet with the healthcare worker ahead of time

When you meet with a homecare company, often times you meet with an administrator or someone whose job it is to sell you on the company. Request to personally meet the healthcare worker who will be providing care for your loved one in advance of him or her showing up to your home. Any reputable home healthcare agency would be willing to arrange that. Also, make sure and speak to the families of other patients your home healthcare worker cared for and ask for their honest feedback. 

Family members must remain active in the process

Also remember that family members play an important role in looking after a loved one: keeping an eye on credit card statements, checking and saving account balances and other important financial documents; having important mail forwarded; making unannounced visits to the parent’s home; getting and reviewing receipts from home care workers for any shopping or payments made on behalf of your loved one.    

Many people believe they can hire a private caregiver through the Internet for less money than hiring a personal care company.  And while this may be true, be sure you understand the potential downside before you make that decision. 

If the caregiver is injured on the job, you are responsible for damages. Caregivers working as independent contractors are typically not bonded and insured, and any loss you experience through theft most likely won’t be recovered. Who is going to pay the mandated taxes and withholding? Finally, you truly don’t know who you are letting into your home as a background check won’t be completed, unless you want to shell out the money and do these on your own twice a year.  

The world’s population will always be aging and the need for in-home care will always be a top priority for a lot of families. With some good due diligence, you will find a personal care home health company that will provide both excellent care and give you peace of mind.

Kurt A. Kazanowski, MS, RN, CHE is a health care executive with more than three decades of experience.  He owns Homewatch CareGivers.  For more information, visit

De-Clutter Me!

March 31, 2014  
Filed under Business

Eliminating clutter can change the whole feel of a space. (Courtesy photos)

By Phyl Newbeck

At 61, Ellen Gurwitz of Shelburne may have found her calling. Last year, after prodding from friends, she began her new business De-Clutter Me! Gurwitz provides consultations for those looking to eliminate unnecessary clutter from their homes. “It’s a lot of fun to help people get through the process,” she said. “I’ve seen concerned frowns soften into happy smiles. People say they feel lighter. It’s almost spiritual.”

Gurwitz said an important talent she brings to the job is a strong customer service orientation. She used to own and manage a retail mail order business in Burlington and also did customer service for a large company based in the city. “I listen and hopefully respond properly,” she said. “I gain people’s respect fast.”

Gurwitz realized she had a talent for talking to people when she ran for Selectboard in Richmond in the mid 1990s. After only two and a half years in town (“five minutes by Vermont standards,” she joked) she challenged an incumbent who had lived there for most of his life. Walking the streets of Richmond in the winter was the ultimate in “cold calling,” Gurwitz recalls, but she won the race. “I realized I gain trust quickly,” she said. “I know I’m approachable and that helps people relax, as well.”

Although De-Clutter Me! is relatively new, the business is growing, mostly by word of mouth. Gurwitz’s worry is that embarrassment might keep people from contacting her. In fact, some clients told her they wanted to clean up before she arrived. Gurwitz convinces them not to be concerned with the disarray since it’s her job to sift through what’s there and help people determine what they’d like to keep. Many of her clients require multiple visits, in part because Gurwitz has found that after about three hours people begin to burn out. “It’s a lot of work,” she said “but also in the case of inherited items, it can be highly emotional.”

Gurwitz confesses to never having seen the current crop of television shows on hoarding but she believes their existence may have heightened awareness of the problem. None of her clients has reached that level and she believes if she ever found a hoarder, she would recommend counseling in addition to her services. Gurwitz thinks many of her clients call her because they have tired of the “acquisitive culture” in which we live. “They’ve been told that they’ll be happy if they have more stuff,” she said, “but that’s not true.” Other clients contact her when they move into smaller domiciles and simply don’t have room for their accumulated possessions.

Gurwitz said it’s hard to have a rule of thumb for when to get rid of something since each individual situation is unique. However, she generally believes that if something hasn’t been used for six months (unless it’s seasonal), it can be discarded or given away. Clothing that hasn’t been worn in a year should also be culled, particularly for those who have lost weight and no longer have need for their “fat clothes.”

Gurwitz has read that the average person has 88 articles of clothing in a closet and wears 25 of them. Rather than step into a closet and pick out clothes to give away, Gurwitz tends to ask people to point to their favorite clothes and favorite colors, find other items which go well with them, and then take a close look at what’s left.

A sticking point for many homeowners is memorabilia or other items of emotional value. Gurwitz has found that sometimes people simply need someone to listen to the story of the item. After she “bears witness,” they might be willing to let go.

Gurwitz said one way of looking at clutter is to think of all the other people who might benefit from your extraneous possessions. There are a wide variety of options for selling or donating items ranging from Front Porch Forum, Craigslist and Ebay to various charities, the Freecycle Network or just the Re-use stations at solid waste transfer facilities. She estimates the average homeowner has $5,000 worth of unused items in their home.

In her spare time, Gurwitz sings with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and Bella Voce, and produces a two-hour Internet music show called Stone Soup. She also volunteers for a variety of cultural institutions including the Lois McClure schooner.

Gurwitz hopes she can bring her talents to more homeowners to help them rid themselves of clutter while helping others to benefit from new (to them) possessions. “There’s no way to know what to do until you get started,” she said. “It’s all about the forward momentum.”

For more information, call 598-3639 or email

Growing the Perfect Christmas Tree

December 18, 2013  
Filed under Business

Christmas tree farming is a year-round industry that culminates in flurry of the winter holiday season. (Courtesy photo)

By Phyl Newbeck

Some of you may still be wondering where you’re going to get your tree this year. Thankfully, the folks who grow those trees are way ahead of you. They get started with their tree farms in the spring, working through the summer and fall to give you the centerpiece for your holiday joy.

One of the first jobs for a tree farmer is getting rid of last year’s stumps. Marcia Urie of Urie’s Tree Farm in Williston begins that process as soon as the snow is gone from the ground. Both she and Mike Isham of Isham’s Farm, also in Williston, start planting in early May. In Morrisville, Tom Paine of Paine’s Christmas Trees starts even earlier. Paine plants his seedlings at the end of April, as soon as the ground has thawed, with the belief that wetter ground gives them a better chance of getting established.

Those seedlings need tender loving care so most growers use a little bit of fertilizer and then some light herbicide, while mowing the rows as often as once a week in the height of the growing season. Isham, Urie and Paine all try to use the least invasive products possible to prevent weeds from taking over the trees. While some growers also use insecticides, Isham believes his location in an open field with the wind blowing across the land has helped keep him free of insect problems.

Even Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree had one solitary branch on top, which is known as a leader. Since not every tree grows that way, farmers go from row to row, shaping them into the conical figure most people prefer. Paine gets started early, often beginning his trimming the first week of July and sometimes finishing up by the end of September. Isham also starts his pruning in July but Urie, who has the smallest operation of the three, admits that if it’s really warm during the summer months she waits until September to shape her trees with a machete.

After the tops of the trees are shaped, there’s work to be done at the bottom. A process known as basal pruning provides trees with a “handle” which allows them to be easily carried and put in tree stands. Isham said basal pruning is generally not done until a tree is four years old because in younger trees, the branches grow back. Basal pruning has the added advantage of providing growers with material for wreaths, which explains why Urie does it as late in the season as possible.

Even with all this TLC, not every tree survives long enough to be decorated with tinsel and family heirlooms. This May was so hot and dry that Urie had to haul water to her trees; something she’d never done before. Then the rains came and she lost a number of firs due to the saturated ground. The constant rain caused Isham to lose almost a third of his new plantings and close to 50 of his older trees.

“When I first started I thought I could use marginal soil,” he said “but I’ve learned the hard way that it has to be well drained.” In 2012, Isham’s problems were at the other end of his trees. Birds —particularly crows—landing on the top branches broke many of the leaders. Urie hasn’t had much trouble with birds, but deer have been known to munch on the tops of her trees.

Isham and Urie favor Fraser firs while Paine is partial to balsams. Balsams have a stronger aroma while Frasers hold their needles better and are harder to grow. Paine is able to grow Frasers because his land is mostly sand and gravel; Frasers aren’t fond of wet soil. Urie also grows some spruce trees but found there isn’t much demand for them.

Farmers say it’s hard to figure out how many trees to plant, given their uneven mortality rates and the fact that most people are looking for trees in the eight- to 10-foot range. Last year, Isham closed his stand on Dec. 9 to make sure he would still have mature trees to sell this year.

“I didn’t want a reputation for just having four or five foot trees,” he said. “I’m fortunate that I live in a good community where people support local agriculture. The public allows farms like mine to stay in business, which, in turn, allows us to keep the land open. Vermonters are great that way; they’re willing to support local farms.”

Those agri-friendly Vermonters are what keep these farmers going.

Epic H2O: Building a Business One Sip at a Time

August 9, 2013  
Filed under Business

Dr. Robert Tyzbir (left) with wife, and business partner, Elaine. (Courtesy photo)

By Phyl Newbeck

It all started with a smart-alecky student.

Dr. Robert Tyzbir, a University of Vermont faculty member for four decades, was explaining to his sports nutrition class the best substances to promote recovery after physical activity. He suggested that one of them could become rich by putting together a product combining those substances and a student asked why he didn’t do it himself. Tyzbir explained that his job was education, not manufacturing, prompting one wag to bring out the age-old adage, “those that can, do; those that can’t, teach.” Faced with that challenge, Tyzbir decided to give production a try and his company, Epic H2O, was born.

Tyzbir, who founded UVM’s sports nutrition program and has a PhD in biochemistry, began mixing ingredients in his Williston kitchen. He used his own money for the start-up company so he would not be beholden to anyone. Tyzbir believes the increase in obesity in America is due at least in part to sugary soft drinks, so it was crucial that his product contain pure glucose and no fructose. Additionally, he refused to use high fructose corn syrup, table sugar, lactose, caffeine or other stimulants, or artificial colors or sweeteners.

After a great deal of experimentation, Tyzbir found the formula for Epic—glucose, a blend of essential amino acids that help rebuild muscle after exercise, electrolytes and water-soluble vitamins and antioxidants. The lemon flavor of the product was tweaked after experimentation with various members of UVM’s athletic teams. Epic comes in powder form in small cylindrical containers and is designed to be mixed with a minimum of eight ounces of water. It can be drunk before, during or after exercise.

Epic has been tested by the World Anti-Doping Agency and found to have no harmful ingredients. Several UVM athletes use Epic, but the university can’t buy it for its teams because NCAA rules prohibit athletic departments from purchasing products with amino acids. Tyzbir said the rule was created because these products are expensive and schools with better endowments would have an unfair advantage over poorer institutions. Student-athletes can purchase Epic on their own.

Once he had his product, Tyzbir approached a former student, Chris Rivard, who was working for Bariatrix in South Burlington. It was Rivard’s idea to use the formula to make sticks of powder rather than a liquid. The packaging currently reads “made in Canada,” which is Bariatrix’s home base, but soon it will be made in Vermont.

“Every ingredient is highly purified and natural,” said Tyzbir.

While Robert Tyzbir created the product, he credits his wife, Elaine, another nutritionist, with doing all the post-production work. She went door-to-door visiting chiropractors, health food stores, physical therapists and sports shops. The couple also did demonstrations at various establishments and provided free samples at local races. Epic is carried in stores throughout Chittenden County including Natural Provisions and the Vermont Center for Chiropractic and Sports Medicine in Williston.

The company was launched in 2010 and although the Tyzbirs had testimonials from users, they had no empirical evidence their product was working. That changed when UVM undergraduate Danielle Leahy commenced a study with Professor Stephen Pintaro. Several non-athletes were asked to come in for a four-day exercise regimen, after which they either took Epic or a placebo that looked and tasted like Epic. They took three weeks off, then repeated the procedure—except the students who had Epic were given the placebo and vice versa. The women in the study experienced a 45 percent decrease in delayed muscle soreness and the duration of the soreness was shortened by one day with Epic. The men also had a decrease in both the delay and the duration but it was not statistically significant, leading Tyzbir to believe they should have had an increased dosage.

The Tyzbirs are not counting on getting rich from their company. Some of the proceeds will go to the Tyzbir Scholarship for needy students majoring in nutrition at UVM and some will go to Smile Train, a nonprofit which repairs children’s cleft palates. The couple also sells the product at cost to nonprofits like the Chittenden County Nordic Soccer Team. Last year, the girls team went door-to-door selling Epic to raise enough money to go to Scandinavia for a tournament.

Elaine Tyzbir said the couple’s goal was to create a healthier alternative to what was on the market. They were gratified at a recent RunVermont event where Epic was requested so often they ran out of product.

Robert Tyzbir said he is proud of the fruits of his labors.

“This stuff really works,” he said.

For more information, visit

Vets Get Mortgage Deal

June 13, 2013  
Filed under Business

By Terry Savage

Veterans can get a very special deal on mortgages through the VA loan program.

If they meet the qualifications, a vet can get a home mortgage with ZERO down payment — a rarity in this day of extreme bank scrutiny of mortgage applications.

And the current fixed rate on a 30-year mortgage is 3.625 percent (3.713 percent APR), also a very good deal.

The VA does not “make” the loans. Instead it guarantees the loan, up to 100 percent of the appraised value of the property. And there is no mortgage insurance payment. In essence, the VA is guaranteeing the loan payments to the lender on your behalf, as a reward for serving your country. A VA loan can only be used for a personal residence, not an investment property.

So if you know someone who served a minimum of 90 days service active duty in wartime, or 181 continuous days of service during peacetime, and was honorably discharged, you should encourage them to look into getting a VA loan — either for a purchase or a refinance. (There is a two-year requirement for enlisted vets who began service after Sept. 7, 1980, or for officers who began service after Oct. 16, 1981. And there is a six-year requirement for National Guard and reservists.)

There are some other key criteria:

  • Credit Score above 640
  • Demonstrate steady income, or a two-year history of self-employment, or a stream of retirement benefits.
  • Spousal income can help qualify, and some spouses of deceased vets can qualify if the spouse died of a service-related disability.
  • Total debt payments cannot be more than 43 percent of total income.
  • No unpaid liens or judgments.
  • Must wait two years after a bankruptcy to apply.

Since there is no age limit to apply, even older vets can use this program. And if you have previously used this benefit, there may be some remaining eligibility left.

A VA loan can also be used to take cash out of your home. Since the mortgage is guaranteed up to 100 percent of the home’s value, many vets choose to refinance even non-VA loans into a new VA loan in order to withdraw much needed cash from home equity.

To get started on a VA loan for either a new purchase or a refinance, you need a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). This certificate may be used to purchase a property with no down payment, refinance an existing conventional loan up to 100 percent of the home’s value or streamline refinance an existing VA loan into a lower rate. Once you have that certificate, most lenders work with the VA to get the loan guarantee and process your mortgage.

The place to start is at the Veterans Affairs website, in the section that explains the home loan guaranty program. Or go directly to the VA eBenefits portal. Or you can call the eBenefits Help Desk at 800-983-0937, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern.

If you’re already registered with the VA, your lender may be able to get you an immediate certificate of eligibility (COE) through this online portal. Many lenders specialize in VA loans.

Even if it takes a little extra effort, it’s a shame to lose out on this special opportunity to finance (or refinance) your home.

The VA guarantees an average of 2,400 home loans every working day of the year. In fact, there were 20 times as many refinances in 2012 than in 2007. And with increasing numbers of vets returning from worldwide conflicts, the number of VA home loans is expected to continue rising. The benefit is justified: Vets have a superior record of repayments on their home loans.

Terry Savage is a registered investment adviser and is on the board of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. She is the author of the new book, “The New Savage Number: How Much Money Do You Really Need to Retire?”  — CNS

Sabrinajoy Milbury: Dancing With Plants

April 24, 2013  
Filed under Business

Sabrinajoy Milbury

By Marianne Apfelbaum

A wide, grass-green streak of hair is the first hint that Sabrinajoy Milbury is not your garden-variety business owner. “When I work with plants, I feel as if I am dancing with them. Sometimes I am the leader, sometimes they are,” she wrote on her blog in explanation of the naming of her company, Just Dancing Gardens & Greenhouse in Williston.

The dance began 16 years ago when Milbury decided to start her own business after stints as an office worker, home daycare owner, Mary Kay consultant and volunteer at her daughter’s school in its gardening program, which she created, and where she enjoyed sharing her knowledge and passion for gardening with the children. “I loved going around to different classrooms with my little cart…building gardens…planting trees,” she said.

After participating in “Growing Places,” a Women’s Agricultural Network program designed for women interested in starting or growing an agricultural-based business, Milbury set up shop in her South Burlington backyard, where she built a local following of both gardening enthusiasts and those with brown thumbs. “I don’t have a green thumb, but I wanted lots of plants,” says Leslie Holman, a Shelburne resident and one of Milbury’s longtime customers.

Holman brings her pots to Milbury every spring – “Isn’t it Sabrina time yet?” she laughs — and as Milbury’s clients often describe it, “Let’s her do her magic.”

Milbury’s potted plant creations are “visually and aesthetically phenomenal. They are a mélange of textures. I could never recreate that,” says Holman. “It’s her love of flowers that does it. She literally brightens my life. It is the highlight of my spring when I bring her my pots.”

The art of gardening

Milbury agrees that her approach to her work is a unique one. “I am an artist. I use plants and soil as my medium.”

Her “paints” are an eclectic and broad collection of high quality flowering and vegetable plants, many of which are not the norm at other garden centers. “One of my favorite plants is crossandra. I adore this plant and haven’t seen it anywhere else,” she says. “It has amazing orange flowers with shiny, glossy leaves and it flowers all through the summer.”

Milbury says one advantage she provides to customers is that she has more flexibility as a small grower to carry these types of unusual plants. If she sees or hears about a plant that intrigues her, she says, “I’m just gonna try this plant!”

She is very selective about what she offers. “The only zucchini worth growing is Costata Romanesco,” she asserts. “It is firmer and less watery (than other types) with a nutty flavor, not as seedy, just yummy.”

She also speaks admiringly about the benefits of container gardens.  “I love the convenience of them. You don’t have to kneel or weed. They are easier to maintain and move around – in this business, a lot of what you do is move plants.”

Growing business

After more than a dozen years, 57-year-old Milbury’s business was so successful it began outgrowing her backyard greenhouse, so she started looking to move her business. A friend referred her to Mike Isham, who runs the Isham Family Farm on Oak Hill Road in Williston. She visited the farm in August of 2011 and she immediately thought, “Oh, this is a pretty cool place.”

She and Isham worked out an agreement and she opened her greenhouse behind the Isham barn last spring. For his part, Isham likes Milbury’s “positive and outgoing” personality and that she offers “much higher quality” and is not trying to compete with Wal-Mart or Home Depot.

Just Dancing is the first in what Isham hopes will be a series of collaborations on the farm to create an “agricultural center for Williston. I don’t want people to think of Williston as just a shopping center,” he says.

Milbury is happy to be on board. “The Isham family has welcomed me with open arms. I love this family. It’s a great place to be.”

Habitat for Humanity Opens ‘ReStore’ in Williston

September 20, 2012  
Filed under Business

By Stephanie Choate

Redoing your kitchen cabinets and not sure what to do with the old ones?

Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity is starting a new initiative to raise money for affordable housing and keep reusable items out of the landfill.

The organization opened a Habitat ReStore earlier this month, selling donated used and new building materials and home goods.

“The main mission of the ReStore is to be able to build more affordable housing,” said David Mullin, Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity executive director. “Right behind it is the environmental aspect—keeping tons, literally hundreds of thousands of tons, of material out of landfills.”

Mullin said that approximately 20 percent of items going into landfills is building materials. The Habitat ReStore will take those unwanted materials, resell them at low prices and put the earnings directly toward local affordable housing projects.

Habitat is now looking for donations to fill the warehouse, including furniture, appliances, windows, home décor items—anything that would go in a home.

“Everything including the kitchen sink,” Mullin said.

For example, Green Mountain Habitat recently received a donation of 800 gallons of Cabot stain, which it will sell at a discount of 50 to 80 percent.

There are approximately 750 Habitat ReStores nationwide. Vermont is one of two states to not yet have one.

“Habitat found that the ReStore idea was a great way to generate money for Habitat that we could put towards building more affordable homes in the community,” Mullin said. Last year, Habitat ReStores nationwide brought in $77 million.

“We’re really excited to have the first one in Vermont,” Mullin said.

Mullin noted that the Habitat ReStore will not compete with other local resale stores, such as Goodwill, since it focuses on building supplies and home-related goods.

“We’re not competing with (other resale stores), we’re competing with the landfill,” he said.

The Habitat ReStore is located at 528 Essex Road (Route 2A) in Williston. To schedule a time for Habitat workers to pick up your donation, call 922-5184.

‘Love is’ In-Home Care Opens in Craftsbury

September 20, 2012  
Filed under Business

Love is, LLC is a new non-medical, in-home care company based in Craftsbury, Vermont.

Owners Peter and Amanda Smyth live in Craftsbury with their four school-aged children. Peter was employed in the airline industry for 14 years, but left his piloting career when it became increasingly clear he should be doing something more meaningful with his life. Amanda has worked in the in-home care industry where she gained experience and insight into what it means to run a business that provides compassionate and outstanding care. Both have always enjoyed spending time with the elderly.

Love is strives to provide service that will allow people to stay in in the comfort of their own homes rather than go to a facility. Services range from personal care and homemaking services to companionship and respite care. While Love is primarily serves the elderly, it is not limited to the elder population. Love is can provide help to anyone after a surgery, illness or with a disability.

Love is employs more than caregivers. All Love is caregivers have undergone extensive background and reference checks, and are insured and bonded. The company serves Lamoille, Orleans, Washington and Caledonia counties and surrounding areas. For more information call (802)-586-9133 or

AARP, SBA Partner to Offer Resources to Start, Grow Businesses

June 7, 2012  
Filed under Business

The U.S. Small Business Administration and AARP are launching a strategic alliance to provide counseling and training to entrepreneurs over the age of 50 who want to start or grow a small business. Through SBA’s online training courses and its nationwide network of business mentors and counselors, the two organizations expect to train 100,000 “encore entrepreneurs.”

“No matter what your age, if you have an idea or a business that’s ready to move to the next level, the SBA wants to make sure you have access to the tools you need to start and grow,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills.

SBA has set up a dedicated web page for those over the age of 50 featuring: an online self-assessment tool to help potential small business owners evaluate their readiness to start a business as well as information that will help with business planning, shaping a winning business idea, professional counseling, financial services and information to find local resources in your area. This web page can be found at:

SBA and AARP also will jointly develop and host a customized online course, self-assessment, and webinar series for older entrepreneurs. SBA already offers a suite of online courses for people who want to start and grow their business. To take a course, go to under “online courses.” Course topics include start-up basics, finance strategies, marketing tactics, overseas trade and more.

For more information on SBA’s programs and services, please visit

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