Having real and genuine relationships with our community matters to us at Union Street Media, and because the season of giving is upon us, we wanted to highlight a local charity that’s near and dear to our hearts.

Spectrum Youth & Family Services is an organization located in Burlington, Vermont that empowers youth ages 12-26 and their families to turn their lives around. Spectrum provides services like Drop-In Centers, Supportive Housing, Counseling, a Youth Health Center, Skills Programs, Mentoring, and so much more. I was on the Spectrum Youth & Family Services board for nine years from 2007 to 2016, terming out after three 3-year terms.

When I joined the board, we had just had our best fundraising year, having generated $250K. Mark Redmond, the Executive Director, loves to tell the story that in a meeting I said, “The work this organization does is worthy of $1M a year in philanthropy.” This past year, we raised more than $3 million!

There are so many things I love about Spectrum that it’s hard to articulate just one. When I used to do dumb things (as we all did as a teenager/young adult) my dad would say, “You’re not a finished product.” What I love about Spectrum is that it gives a second, third, or maybe more chances to people who aren’t finished products yet. By helping turn around a life at that age, Spectrum gives back so much to both the individual and the community. I have always loved organizations that have huge impacts on individual lives and Spectrum is a model of one that does just that.

There are many ways in which Spectrum helps young people and one of my favorites is Detail Works, which I helped concept and launch along with several other board members and entrepreneurs. It’s a social enterprise that helps Spectrum Youth get their first job experience — and it’s also the best place to get your vehicle detailed!

I’ve always felt that we’re all in this together, and the past two years with COVID have shown that to be the case more than ever. Realtors are active in supporting their communities because they are the ultimate promoters of the communities they serve — and that includes everyone in them, regardless of whether they’re clients. I continue to be inspired by organizations like Spectrum and all of the organizations our clients support. If you have a suggestion for who to feature next, we’d love to hear from you!