Youth Services honors a state leadership award winner

Carolyn Erikson, 21, of Brattleboro, is one of four from Vemont honored

BRATTLEBORO — The Vermont Youth In Transition State Team has bestowed its Young Adult Leadership Award on Carolyn Erikson, 21, of Brattleboro, citing her exemplary leadership and initiative in her own life and positive effect in the lives of others.

Erikson was one of four to receive the award statewide at YIT's fourth Annual Young Adult Voice Movement Conference, held May 31 to June 1 at Community College of Vermont's Redstone campus.

The conference gives young adults aged 16-21 the opportunity to meet peers and let their voice be heard. The event offers social networking, workshops, leadership and team-building events, and empowerment activities.

Erikson was nominated by Alysa Vallender, her Youth Services case manager. As Vallender noted, Erikson transitioned from needing housing to renting her own apartment, working a steady job, completing a licensed nursing assistant course, attending CCV, and contemplating matriculating to a four-year school - all while serving as a valuable peer resource.

According to YIT's award announcement, Erikson came to the organization in 2011 seeking help with housing. The Youth Services and Windham Windsor Housing Trust partnership made it possible for Erikson to rent a room at its Cobblestone building on Canal Street. On completing a year lease, she moved into her own apartment.

Vallender writes that she was amazed by Erikson's resiliency in maintaining her employment at a nursing home even while looking for permanent housing and lacking reliable transportation.

Erikson also is credited with demonstrated budgeting skills. She saved money to buy a car and pay for her education at CCV so she could move on to greater life and education goals.

Vallender also lauded Erikson's self discipline, positive decision-making, and responsibility.

“As Carolyn's life has stabilized, I have begun to see a leader developing,” Vallender said. “As she has learned about various community resources and how to access them, she has begun to help other young adults.”

Vallender noted that Erikson has represented youth and the community at the statewide Youth In Transition Grant Executive Board and at various local meetings concerned with community development.

“Carolyn is constantly thinking about others and pushes herself to do [community-minded] things even if it is out of her comfort zone, like recording a public service announcement on the radio for a recent fundraiser,” Vallender said.

“I'm thrilled that Carolyn is being honored for her efforts, hard work, and dedication to improving her own life and those of other young adults and her community in general.”

Erikson's next step: She's been invited to join the Vermont Youth In Transition State Team at a national conference about excellence in young-adult leadership.

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