Author Archives: Benjamin Rackliffe

New Homes in the Works at Habitat for Humanity of Addison County

About – Habitat for Humanity Addison County

Habitat for Humanity of Addison County (H4HAC), an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, is a non-profit organization that creates opportunities for people to live in decent, affordable, energy efficient homes.  The exciting news is that H4HAC will be building, not one, not two, but FOUR new homes over the next four years in Booth Woods, on the south edge of the town of Vergennes (less than a mile walk from the town center).  These homes have been designed by several classes of Middlebury College architecture students under the guidance of John McLeod, professor of architecture and a practicing architect in Middlebury.  The first home designed, in 2017, for 51 Seymour Street in Middlebury, is complete and just received a design distinction honors award from the American Institute of Architects.

Habitat House at 51 Seymour Street

The Booth Woods residences are two, three and four bedroom homes, ranging from 1,100 to 1,250 square feet.  Three of the four are single story.  The structures are of the highest energy efficiency and will cost little to heat and cool.  

Families qualify with combined annual incomes in the $40,000 to $70,000 (depending on the number of children) and with relatively good credit ratings (perfect is NOT necessary).  The mortgages of the finished homes will range from $170,000 – $190,000; and are held by H4HAC at 0% interest.  These homes would typically market for high $200k’s.  Habitat homebuyers also invest hundreds of hours of their own labor, called “sweat equity”, and receive financial education.

To apply, simply go to the H4HAC website and click on Apply for a Home:

Additional opportunities for Addison County homeownership (including a program with a significantly lower income requirement) can be found on Vermont 211’s database by going to and clicking on the blue rectangle that leads to the search engine.  You can discover the details of H4HAC’s program, and other programs that can help you become a homeowner, by entering the following terms in our Keyword Search (be sure to enter your ZIP Code first):

  • Subsidized Home Acquisition
  • Housing Down Payment Loans/Grants
  • Housing Counseling for Homebuyers

And remember, you can always reach a Vermont 211 Community Resource Specialist by dialing 211 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), or by texting your ZIP Code to 898211 (Monday-Friday 8:00am – 8:00pm).

Covid Cost-Share Waiver from Cigna

Cigna Extends Cost Share Waiver for Covid Testing and Treatment

At-Home Covid Testing Available

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Cigna has taken important steps to provide easier access to care and ease the financial impact customers may experience with COVID-19 testing and treatment. As federal guidelines evolve with the COVID-19 pandemic, Cigna is adopting a position that considers the federal public health emergency (PHE) period extension.

Extension Dates
Out-of-pocket costs will continue to be waived for COVID-19 testing and testing-related services including the office visit, whether in person or virtual, through the PHE period, currently scheduled to end on January 21, 2021.*

Cigna is also continuing to waive out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatment-related visits at all sites of care, virtual or in person, and for both in- and out-of-network providers until December 31, 2020.*

It’s important to understand diagnostic tests are covered for individuals with symptoms of a COVID-19 infection or who had exposure to someone with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection, as well as for individuals before an elective hospital admission or procedure. Non-diagnostic and antibody tests are not covered by Cigna’s standard coverage, but may be covered as required by state law. For more on testing, please download the Cigna testing brochure on the Returning to the Worksite web page. At-Home Testing If your healthcare provider recommends a test or you complete the on-line Cigna symptom checker you will be able to request an at-home diagnostic test. Cigna has created the Coronavirus Resource page (, which includes more information about testing and screening, helpful tools, insights into available solutions, and tips about effective preventive measures such as the importance of wearing masks and social distancing.

Flu Vaccines (Updated)

It is likely that influenza (flu) viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both spread this fall and winter. Healthcare systems could be overwhelmed treating both patients with flu and patients with COVID-19. Annual flu vaccines are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for all U.S. citizens older than six months of age, barring any medical contraindications. The CDC also notes that vaccination reduces the burden of respiratory illness due to COVID-19 and the likelihood that an individual would need to quarantine if they develop respiratory symptoms. This means getting a flu vaccine during 2020-2021 is more important than ever.  While getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, there are many important benefits, such as:

  1. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death.
  2. Getting a flu vaccine can also save healthcare resources for the care of patients with COVID-19.

You can get your flu vaccine at your primary care practice or at many local pharmacies. For a list of Cigna in-network pharmacies click here. Staying in network for your vaccine will ensure that your vaccine is covered, and you don’t incur any unexpected costs. 

In addition, Addison County Home Health and Hospice is hosting a drive-through flu clinic for members of the public 18+ on Friday, November 20 at their office located at 254 Ethan Allen Highway (Route7) from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The standard dose of the influenza vaccine, not the high dose version for individuals 65+, will be administered. The clinic will be by appointment only and reservations must be made by calling the ACHHH office at 388-7259 by 5 p.m. on November 11. There is no cost for this clinic however donations to ACHHH to cover administration costs are gratefully accepted.

What’s on tap for well-being…. weeks of October 26 and November 2nd

“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it.”
― Mary Oliver

Parents…we want to hear from you:  GMHEC Well-being is interested in pulling together resources and/or a parents alliance to address your concerns and support your well-being though this most challenging time and we need your input.   In your experience and/or from what you’re hearing from other working parents, what are some of your most pressing challenges right now? What might help you cope better? What might help you effectively manage through what you’re facing and feel more empowered and positive while doing it?   Please reach out to and share your thoughts.  All responses will be kept confidential.  If you prefer to talk by phone, you can reach me at (802) 443-5476.  Your input in most appreciated. 

While we’re on the subjects of parents…are you interested in some good old-fashioned family fun?  How about a corn maze?  A corn maze is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, get some physical activity and have some fun with the family.  It’s fun for adults too and there are some great options around our State.  

Feeling a little frazzled?  Would you like to be more centered and focused going into your day?  Then join the Morning meditation with Beth.  Join Beth, yoga, meditation instructor, navigational coach and bodywork therapist as she guides you through a powerful morning meditation.  Using your breath and visualization you’ll be guided to have an opportunity to feel into your future self.  All you need is a quiet space, a comfortable cushion or chair and twenty minutes of no outside distractions.  Meditation experience is not necessary.   For the record…Beth’s definition of meditation is the art and act of just becoming familiar with…that’s all.  Mondays and Wednesdays beginning November 2nd 7:30-8:00 am EST.  Zoom Meeting ID: 510 175 4836

Prefer to start your day with some movement?  Then Join Kim Jacobs, ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor for Strength & Core with Kim.  This 45-minute total body strength training class will increase your strength, support your joints and increase your flexibility. This class emphasizes functional strength exercises to improve your movement in life. It is helpful for participants to have hand weights (one set of heavy weights and another of light) and a set of resistance bands.  Mondays and Wednesdays 7:15-8:00 am EST.  To sign up for this class email Kim at

Let’s get cooking! Join Nancy Wind, coach, yoga instructor and founder of Peaks and Poses for a plant-based cooking series.  Recipes will be made available ahead of time.  Register for one session or all four.  Click here to register.  All workshops will be offered from 6:00-8:00 pm EST.

  • Monday, October 26th:   Learn about Ayurveda, food prep tips and eating with the seasons
  • Wednesday, November 4th: Plant based holiday cooking
  • Monday, November 16th: Plant based holiday cooking
  • Monday, December 7th: Self-care during the holidays and beyond

Finances are always a hot topic and Covid has certainly heightened financial stress for many of us.  Check out these live webinars brought to you by the team at My Secure Advantage and enhance your financial well-being.  Middlebury College employees are eligible for free financial coaching through My Secure Advantage

  • Getting & keeping good credit: Tuesday, November 10th 12:00-1:00 pm EST.  Register here
  • Your debt free game plan: Thursday, November 19th 12:00-1:00 pm EST.  Register here

Commit to get fit: If you’re ready to optimize your health and well-being, The Edge online 90 Day Commit to Get Fit Program is just what will help you do it.  The next program will be kicking off on Wednesday, October 28th and there is still time to register.  This comprehensive online wellness program is designed to provide an education to enrich your life and help you become healthier. Over the course of 13 weeks you will work with a health coach, a Registered Dietitian, and a personal trainer to support you to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle behaviors. Topics will include fitness, nutrition, stress management and behavior modification. This program will help you build a customized wellness plan, reduce your health risk factors, reduce body fat and gain muscle, better manage stress and learn how stay on track.   There is a fee associated with this program, but a portion may be covered by your health insurance and GMHEC will kick in a portion of the payment.  Sessions will be held on Wednesdays from 6:00-7:00 pm ESTTo learn more, contact Nicole Williams, Director of The Edge Preventative Care at

EDGE Next Steps Nutrition & Exercise to Improve Type II Diabetes Program:  Do you have type II diabetes?  Would you like to gain the knowledge and confidence to improve your health?  If so, join the team from The Edge for this comprehensive eight-week program focused on the positive impact of nutrition and exercise to improve Type II Diabetes.  Over the course of the 8 weeks you will get: 

  • Weekly virtual group nutrition sessions
  • 3 one on one virtual nutrition sessions with a Registered Dietitian
  • Pre and Post Health Risk Assessment Screenings
  • In home or EDGE Exercise Plan designed by a certified exercise specialist
  • Access to discounted EDGE membership
  • Meal and Recipe Ideas to fuel your body and improve your insulin sensitivity

This program may be FULLY covered by your insurance plan.  Begins Wednesday, November 4th.   6:00-7:00 pm EST.  For more information or to reserve your spot contact or 802-951-2320.  Learn more about this program here

Supporting Remote Workers: Balancing family and work:  This is the second live webinar offered as part of the State of Vermont Worksite Wellness Workshop Series.  Join Natalie Glynn of Let’s Grow Kids to discuss strategies for how workplaces can support employees during this challenging time.  Thursday, November 5th 9:00-10:00 am EST.  Space is limited so register now. Register here

5 Ways to Improve Connection and Engagement with Remote Teams: Remote work looks different for every organization. But no matter if this is the first time 100% of your employees are working remotely, you have a hybrid system made of office and front line workers, or if only a handful of employees work from home a few days a week, we’re all challenged with the same thing, creating meaningful connection with our remote teams. So how are we able to fill the human connection gap? During this interactive webinar Director of Talent Development & Culture at BizLibrary, Libby Mullen, will explain simple ways to foster genuine conversations and bring your remote teams together.  Thursday, November 5th noon-1:00 pm EST.   Preregistration required.  Click here to register.  

Organization for Life:   Is your motto “organized chaos”? If you crave organization but struggle to achieve it, this webinar is for you.  Join the experts from New Directions Behavioral Health (NDBH) and come away with practical tips to overhaul your organization skills.  NDBH is the EAP provider for Champlain College, Middlebury College and St. Michael’s but this session is available to faculty and staff from all GMHEC colleges.  Wednesday, October 28th noon-1:00 pm EST or 3:00-4:00 pm EST.  Registration required.  Click here to register.  

Leading Through Adversity: Adapting to Uncertainty and Supporting Your Employees in the Face of Fatigue:  People face different adversities in the workplace, and it’s important for leaders to address those. This past year has challenged us to think about ourselves as humans first and leaders second.  In discussing adversities in the workplace caused by lack of racial justice, and also her very own journey in battling cancer, join Charlene Wheeless, CEO of advisory company Charlene Wheeless, LLC and chair of the Page Society for a conversation about how leaders can lead with compassion and overcome adversity in order to better connect with, engage and support their employees.  Wednesday, October 28th 2:00-3:00 pm EST.  Preregistration required. Click here to register. 

Feeling a little stiff or sore lately?  Wondering about the ergonomics of your at-home work station? Check out this short video presented by Brian Mitchell, Certified Ergonomist, and learn some tips and tricks that you can implement to help you set up a more ideal work station. 

And of course, our lunch time fitness classes with Jeff and Yoo-Sun continue as does our partnership with True Center Yoga.  The yoga schedule is posted on the calendar so check it out.  The calendar password is GMHECWell-Being.

2020 27th Pay Period Premium “Holiday”

For the VT campus, the first standard bi-weekly pay day of calendar year 2021 would have fallen on Friday, January 1st. However, because New Year’s Day is a national holiday the pay day will be moved to Thursday, December 31, 2020.  This will create a 27th pay day in 2020. 

What impact will that have on paychecks?

In terms of earnings it will be a standard pay period with employees receiving pay for work conducted from December 14 – December 27. However, because most benefits premiums are calculated based on a 26 pay periods in a year, employee deductions for standard core plans will be skipped in the 27th pay period of the year.  This applies to health, dental, vision, voluntary life/ADD&D, flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts contributions. 

If you have any questions about your last check of the year please contact

Updated pay periods for 2020 and 2021 can be found here:

Benefits Open Enrollment 2021 Begins October 30th

For current benefits-eligible employees, annual open enrollment for 2021 benefits will take place October 30 – November 15. This year, employees will complete open enrollment via self-service within Oracle HCM. The process will be supported by our partners at the Green Mountain Higher Education Consortium.

Learn More

There will be live Benefit Overview Sessions for you to attend via Zoom. There will also be an Overview Session from Cigna on the medical & dental plans and Health Equity on the Health Savings Account.  If you cannot make a session there will be recorded videos of the Overviews, Medical & Dental Plans, Health Savings Accounts, Vision Plans, Flexible Spending Accounts and Unum benefits for you to view.

Information on these sessions and the 2021 Enrollment Guide will be available on a new website Friday October 23rd oracle-hcm/open-enrollment or enter go/openenrollment from the Middlebury website.

If you have questions about your current benefits or open enrollment please contact or call 802-443-5485.