Chocolate + Mental Health
We have heard for some time about the increasing evidence that eating chocolate (especially dark chocolate) can be good for our mental health. At Washington County Mental Health Services, we have also discovered that just being around and working with chocolate can be beneficial, as well. (Not that it stops us from eating some, too!)
For the past four years, Vermont Chocolate For Change has been helping local youth in transition or at-risk to develop their social and vocational skills by making truly delicious, handcrafted Belgian chocolates that are intentionally paired with exceptional local and organic ingredients and eco-conscious packaging. This unique culinary-based, life-skills program then reinvests 100% of the proceeds of every sale back into the program to help keep it going and to help it grow.
Some of our students may have significant trauma histories or be diagnosed with a developmental disability or emotional/behavioral challenge and are in need of a safe and supportive environment in order to take the risk of trying something new. Other students just love the opportunity to learn the art of making chocolate and then come to also enjoy working alongside and learning from other youth they may have not otherwise had the chance to meet and get to know.
While the students are, without question, successfully creating truly delicious chocolates and confections, this program is really about helping to increase their self-esteem and self-worth as they surprise themselves and others with how talented they really are - we just happen to have a delicious and decadent way to help them get there!
What We’ve Accomplished So Far!
This month, thanks to the help of grants from The Vermont Community Foundation and Ben and Jerry’s, Vermont Chocolate For Change has been able to purchase and begin using a much needed high capacity chocolate tempering machine. As our program continues to grow, we are training more students and making more incredible handcrafted chocolates and confections every week. This new machine will go a long way to ensuring that our program can keep up with the growing demand for our programming and our products. Perhaps most importantly, this generous contribution has gone even further to validate for our students that they, and their efforts, are recognized as valuable and worth investing in!
How Do I Refer a Student to VTCFC?
Chocolate-Making Classes are currently being offered to students ages 16-22 in 8-week sessions throughout the year. Participation is subject to approval and on a first come, first served basis. For more information about referring a student to our Chocolate-Making Classes, please contact our Class Instructor and Kitchen Manager, Heather Houle, at: Heatherh@wcmhs.org.
I Want to Make Chocolate, Too!
Chocolate-Making Workshops are also available for local agencies, groups and organizations and are a great option for staff celebrations and team building. We can schedule a private workshop here in our kitchen, or we can also come to you if you are in Central Vermont. If you are interested in booking a private Chocolate-Making Workshop, please contact us for details, availability and pricing at Nicoleg@wcmhs.org.
Where Can I buy VTCFC?
COMING SOON! We will begin selling our chocolates online starting in 2015!
We hope that you will choose Vermont Chocolate For Change for your holiday “Gifts that Give Back” and we invite you to visit our website for more information about Custom Orders for Special Events, How to Get Involved and How to Donate to this small but mighty program!
We THANK YOU for supporting this sweet initiative!
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