When people hear of the Rutland Young Professionals, often the first thing that comes to mind are our monthly Mixes. These are opportunities to check out a cool business or organization, meet awesome new people, try some great food and potentially win some neat swag. What more could you ask for? Even though our Mixes are one of the most well-known aspects of RYP, our December Mix is especially unique in that it touches the hearts of so many of our community members in a variety of different ways.

Each December we hold an annual Giving Back Mix where we hear from organizations around the Rutland area whose work is for the greater good of our county. And we replace our standard door prizes with the acceptance of donations to the organization being highlighted. In previous years we’ve heard from and helped support Lenny Burke Farm, Rutland Community Cupboard, MSJ Help, Rutland Regional Medical Center’s Reach Out Program, Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum and others.

This year we’re partnering with the Gift of Life Marathon blood drive to support the efforts of the event and to highlight the high demand for blood transfusions in our hospitals. In 2013, Rutland beat Boston, Mass., for the record of the highest number of pints of blood collected in a single day. It was a remarkable accomplishment that changed the face of Rutland and was a shift in revitalizing our community. The battle continued between Boston and Rutland and strengthened for several years until our city decided to spread the blood drive out among the course of several days. The number of donors had reached capacity for any single day, which goes to show some of the amazing things that our community members can accomplish with just a little time and a lot of determination.

This year’s December Mix, which will be held from 6-8 p.m. Thursday at College of St. Joseph’s Giorgetti Library, will bring our community together to remind ourselves of how this amazing, fulfilling, inspiring and important this event is each year. Sign-up sheets will be available to donate blood for the following day and cash donations will be accepted for the American Red Cross. We’ll hear from Steve Costello from the Gift of Life Marathon Committee on the history of the drive, as well as from Dawn Hill, who will share her personal story on how blood donations have made a life-changing impact on her and her family. Steve and Dawn are also active volunteers within the Red Cross and across Rutland County.

Our December Mix only begins to touch our organization’s commitment and drive to give back. We also offer professional development assistance through our RYP Development Grant, support individual leadership skills through The Leadership Project, help connect and welcome new and potential community members through our Let’s Dish Program, provide professional networking opportunities and much more.

In case you didn’t know, RYP is run entirely by volunteers who possess a tremendous amount of commitment to the Rutland area. Our board and committee members give back in a variety of other ways throughout the community. Many of us serve on other boards and committees, including: the Rutland Area Food Co-Op, Rotary International, the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce, the Rutland County Parent & Child Center, Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum, Friends of Pediatric Services of the VNA and Hospice of the Southwest Region, Gift of Life Marathon, Everybody Wins! Vermont, Rutland’s Makerspace, and the list goes on!

I think it’s safe to say on behalf of RYP, that we really are passionate about our special city and truly believe in the wonderful things it has to offer. Young people are donating more time into their communities than ever before, which goes to show yet another reason why there are so many great things happening in this area — our dedication to serve.

Rutland is an amazing place to live, work and play, and every day we’re reminded by our friends and colleagues of just that. We’re doing amazing things here and every one of us should be proud of ourselves, our places of employment, our local businesses and each other. Sometimes it’s such an amazing feeling to take a step back and look at the positive things we’re all accomplishing here in Rutland — I encourage you all to take it all in! I can’t wait to see and celebrate with all of you at 6 p.m. Thursday at College of St. Joseph — mark those calendars!

Kim Rupe is the assistant director at the Rutland Economic Development Corp. and a board member for the Rutland Young Professionals, chairwoman of the RYP 2019 Gala Committee and outgoing co-chairwoman of the Events Committee.

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