Introduction To Vernon's Volunteer Nonprofits

Greetings new Vernon state legislators - JAIME FOSTER, KEVIN BROWN, TAMMY NUCCIO and JEFF GORDON.

As most of you are not from Vernon, this is to introduce you to Vernon's volunteer nonprofit organizations. Vernon is proud of our many dedicated volunteers whose efforts make our town a special place to live and work.

In 2014, we formed the Vernon Volunteer's Collaborative (VVC) to coordinate, share information and work together on common challenges. We are now 13 volunteer nonprofit organizations that meet quarterly.

Through periodic email newsletters and social media announcements, VVC promotes our organization's events and activities. As an organization, we are better able to communicate with and support the town administration.

The missions of the 13 organizations of the VVC are one or more of the following:

• Preservation or beautification of Vernon's open space, parks and environment.
• Preserving and sharing Vernon's history and historic properties.
• Encouraging appreciation of and participation in the arts.

Below we introduce six of our unique VVC organizations. The other seven members that you can learn about on our website are: Friends of Rockville Public Library, Friends of the Vernon Arts Commission, Northern Connecticut Land Trust, The Vernon Chorale, Tolland County Agricultural Center, Vernon Education Foundation and the Vernon Garden Club.

You can learn more about us at

Our next quarterly meeting is Monday, March 13 at 9 a.m. and we invite you to join us to meet our leaders and learn about our plans and challenges for 2023.

We look forward to meeting and working with you, and invite you to visit our facilities and attend some of our programs.

Jon Roe, VVC Facilitator

Click on images for a larger view.

Arts Center East

Arts Center East's (ACE) mission is to advance the arts for everyone through education, exhibits, events, and performances.

They are home to a rich artistic community where visual artists from across the state exhibit and sell their work through juried shows and member exhibits.

ACE hosts numerous exhibits and special events including receptions, children's programs, paint nights, gallery tours, and music, dance, puppetry, and theater performances.

They offer classes for children and adults in drawing, acrylic, watercolor and pastel painting, music, photography, and writing. They are home to the Dionysus Theater Company and host Poetry Rock! readings throughout the year. ACE and its programs partner with Rockville High School students, the Vernon Historical Society and other local organizations.

Located in historic Vernon Center at 709 Hartford Turnpike in an historic school building they are the heart of the arts east of the river.

» Visit Arts Center East's website.

Friends Of Valley Falls

The Friends of Valley Falls, Inc. (FOVF) was organized in 1972. Their mission is to preserve the historical and natural resources at Valley Falls Farm and Valley Falls Park. Located in the Tankerhoosen River Valley, the area is considered the most scenic in Vernon, and is known as ‘Vernon's Jewel.' It has a rich historical background and is a popular outdoor recreational site.

Valley Falls Farm, an 8-acre property at the corner of Bolton Road and Valley Falls Road in Vernon, is owned by the Friends. The property includes an historic 1850s farmhouse and six farm outbuildings. Valley Falls Park is a 196-acre public recreation area that is owned by the Town of Vernon.

The iconic 'gentleman's farm' buildings take us back in time to 19th century Vernon. The Vernon Garden Club maintains the herb gardens, beautiful in the spring.

The Friends host a biennial 'Plein Aire Artists' Day,' and this year will see the opening of their Heritage Center museum in the stable.

They are located at 345 Valley Falls Road next to Valley Falls Park.

» Visit the Friends of Valley Falls website.

New England Civil War Museum

The New England Civil War Museum (NECWM) is the only museum in Connecticut devoted to the fighting men of the War of the Rebellion.

The museum and its library work to convey the lessons of the American Civil War. They perpetuate the memory of the Civil War and of those who helped save the Union through the preservation and display of relics of that war.

Housed in an original Grand Army of the Republic hall in Vernon's Town Hall, the museum contains numerous one-of-a-kind artifacts from the Civil War, with an emphasis on Connecticut's contributions. The library and research center contain hundreds of books and periodicals for research and study.

Throughout the year the NECWM hosts national speakers, holds ceremonies at local cemeteries, and runs a Civil War Day Camp for children at Strong Family Farm.

They are located at 14 Park Place in Rockville.

» Visit the New England Civil War Museum website.

Strong Family Farm

The Strong Family Farm is an historic agricultural education center where children, individuals, families and community groups can experience an authentic family farm environment.

Their season begins in the Spring with the 5k Chicken Run road race and culminates in the fall with a Harvest Festival and scarecrow contest. During the season they have a backyard chicken program for children, offer raised bed gardens to the public, and hold Sunday programs for gardeners and families.

Strong Family Farm has a seasonal farm store selling local products and is a distribution site for Mon Soleil CSA bringing healthy local food to the community. They partner with Rockville High School Vo-Ag programs as well local nonprofits.

A few years ago the community raised $1 million to purchase Meetinghouse Hill preserving 50 acres of historic farmland that Strong Family Farm stewards.

They are located in historic Vernon Center at 274 West Street in Vernon.

» Visit the Strong Family Farm website.

Vernon Greenways Volunteers

Vernon is known for its over 35 miles of trails, including a section of the Hop River Rails to Trails system. An ongoing survey shows we are the third most used multi-use trail in Connecticut. It is a wonderful recreation resource for walkers, runners and cyclists.

The Vernon Greenways Volunteers (VGV) was founded in 2005 by Don Bellingham to assist the Vernon Parks and Recreation Department through the maintenance and enhancement of the 30+ miles of trails in Vernon. Don was named 2020 volunteer of the year by the Connecticut Recreation and Parks Association for his efforts.

During the season volunteers perform tasks such as maintaining the gardens on the Rail Trail, weed whacking the hiking trails to keep them open, removing over growth from the Braille Trail, and repairing trails from wear and weather.

The Vernon Greenways Volunteers has over 100 volunteers providing over 400 hours of volunteer time per year keeping the trails clean and safe while raising $4,500 in donations to support these efforts.

» Visit the Vernon Greenways Volunteers website.

Vernon Historical Society

The Vernon Historical Society's (VHS) goal is the preservation of our local history and making that history come to life for the community. The Museum building serves as a repository for a variety of collected materials that are available to the general public for research. These collections aid historians, genealogists, and interested citizens in research, and provide source materials for exhibits, publications and programs.

Programs on history are held four times a year. In the Spring VHS's two weekend book sale, the largest in the area, draws bibliophiles from across the state raising funds for the organization.

The research and archive room holds probably the best collection in Tolland County. This includes full copies of the Rockville Journal and other newspapers dating back to the mid 1800's. VHS is currently raising funds to digitize the papers to make the collection available to genealogists and researchers everywhere.

The Vernon Historical Society is located in Vernon's historic Grange building at 734 Hartford Turnpike in Vernon Center.

» Visit the Vernon Historical Society's website.

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