Novalee comes from a large, close-knit family in Rutland. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she and her family, already struggling to make ends meet, lost everything in a house fire. A foot infection resulted in the amputation of her leg. Novalee, who has spina bifida, is proud of her ability to work through things independently. But the events that happened were difficult and isolating.
Soon after Novalee’s leg was amputated, her family welcomed the help of the Easterseals VT Compass program.
Novalee’s Compass Youth & Family Stabilization Coordinator, Lana, got to know Novalee at bi-weekly sessions. She supported Novalee in transitioning back to school. She connected the family to resources like the Spina Bifida Association of Greater New England and The Lead Out Foundation, which provide financial assistance for clothing, gas money, and medical family weekends, and mentoring support groups.
Lana earned Novalee’s trust. “When you can gain that trust, there’s so much you can do to help individuals and families achieve stability,” Lana says. These days, she is helping Novalee explore her dream of becoming a firefighter, a career that runs in Novalee’s family. They’ve visited many fire stations in the area, and Novalee plans to attend a junior firefighting program this spring.