Yellow House Community (YHC) is an intentional residential community located in the walkable village of Middlebury, Vermont based at 29 Seminary Street in a beautiful, historic yellow house.
YHC provides adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities with safe, residential family households, meaningful vocation, and the support to continue developing skills, interests, and relationships. Yellow House provides day programming and assistance with community-based employment and integration for its residents.
Yellow House Is A Community Within The Community
Our supportive family environment encourages and celebrates the unique abilities of every individual with the intention of providing a meaningful adult life for all of our residents and staff. Our culture is one of deep respect, kindness, love, and fun.
YHC was founded in 2019 by two families planning for the future of their adult children with special needs. YHC has become an opportunity to design a future for these young adults that is full of love, joy, and purpose and that extends beyond what families can offer in their homes and after they are no longer alive. YHC recognizes that this is a concern of many families presented with similar circumstances.
YHC founders and staff believe the solution exists in community – both in the community of Middlebury, Vermont to which both founding families are physically and emotionally connected and invested – and also in the creation of another community within Middlebury where adults with special needs live, work, and play side-by-side with individuals and families who are dedicated to creating and sharing this experience. Beyond the house, we have developed and continue to develop productive relationships with many local organizations.
MEET THE YELLOW HOUSE COMMUNITY TEAM
Andrea and Chris Murray
Andrea and Chris have lived and worked in the village of Middlebury since 2003. Andrea grew up in Rochester, Vermont and was delighted to return to the Green Mountain State after many years in New York City, which is where she met Chris. Andrea is Principal and Co-Founder of Vermont Integrated Architecture, P.C. (VIA), a full-service architecture and planning firm in Middlebury.
When not at Yellow House or VIA, Andrea chairs the Board of the Bridge School and is a founding board member and active participant in the Climate Economy Action Center of Addison County. In her “free time,” Andrea hikes, gardens, and plays her guitar and 5-string banjo!
Chris is a fine artist (printmaker and painter) who finds great joy in studying and capturing the human face. Inspired by many years of living in Africa and Asia, Chris collects masks and sculptures that abstract and accentuate the unique features of the human visage. You may have seen Chris’ faces on the silo of the Bridge School on Route 7 north of Middlebury.
When not painting, Chris is at work at the Middlebury College Museum of Art maintaining and preparing the College’s vast collection of works of art on paper. Chris is a racquet sport afficionado. From tennis to paddle tennis and even pickle ball…look out! In addition to their son Pierce of Yellow House, Chris and Andrea have a younger son, Jackson (also a racquet sport master), two dogs, and a very large cat.
Joe and Kristen Brown
Joe and Kristen were both born and raised in Cleveland,Ohio, but it wasn’t until they were both students at Middlebury College that they met. Following graduation from Middlebury in 1990, Joe and Kristen moved to Piqua, Ohio where they began adult life. Joe began work at Hartzell Propeller, Inc. where he has built a career focused on manufacturing operations primarily related to aviation and aerospace. He is an avid pilot and logs hundreds of hours a year flying for business and pleasure.
Kristen has spent her life working with and raising kids. She received a Masters of Education from the University of Dayton in 1995, and taught early education and primary grades, before having children herself.Along the way, she has been an active volunteer and board member for schools, teams, and other organizations committed to healthy kids.
The Browns have four children, Katherine, Bip, Jack, and Joe and enjoy spending as much family time together as possible, preferably on mountains or lakes.
Joe and Kristen long dreamed of returning to Vermont in some way, and as they pondered their daughter Bip’s future, the village of Middlebury seemed an idyllic place. Settling in Cornwall, the Browns now look forward to being neighbors with all of the Yellow House residents.
Elise grew up outside of Seattle, Washington and ventured to Vermont to attend Middlebury College. She fell in love with the Vermont lifestyle and, after graduating in 2004 with a degree in Psychology, was determined to stay in the Green Mountain State. Education presented an opportunity for Elise to combine her enthusiasm for working with people with the desire to impact the community in a meaningful way. She quickly developed a passion for special education, and spent twelve years working for the Diversified Occupations Program (D.O.), a regional special education program located at Middlebury Union High School. As a Special Educator at D.O., Elise was blessed to work with a gifted team of educators who taught her to celebrate each individual’s unique abilities and that all students can be contributing members of the community. She also learned that enthusiasm is contagious and learning can (and should!) be fun.
Elise is excited to have started a new chapter of work supporting this unique population of individuals. Her role at the Yellow House Community has allowed her to build on her commitment to serving adults with developmental disabilities, and presented stimulating challenges in the areas of leadership and entrepreneurship. Elise is thrilled to be giving back to the Middlebury community as a member of such a positive and progressive organization.
Outside of YHC, Elise enjoys spending time with her husband, Zak, and two young children, Tiller and Timber. Gardening, cooking, paddle boarding, and spending time on the lake top her list of extracurricular favorites.
Lis Duckworth has a Master’s Degree in Special Education and over 10 years of experience working with children with disabilities in classrooms and outdoor education programs. She is excited to bring her passion for outdoor sports and nature to the role of Program Director. Lis specializes in behavior support, team building, and establishing systems. She loves to help individuals find their interests and develop their strengths, and she believes that a good playlist can make almost anything more fun!
When not at the Yellow House, Lis enjoys spending time on the trails with her husband and two young children. She is an avid trail runner, skier, mystery novel reader, and bird enthusiast.
Kat Betrus is a current junior at Middlebury College and is studying neuroscience. She joined the Yellow House Community as a winter intern, and is excited to be continuing her involvement as a Sidekick. As a student, she leads the Yellow House Community Club, working to make meaningful connections between the Yellow House and the college community. In her free time, Kat loves running, playing ultimate frisbee, and spending time in nature.
Kathleen Copeland has over 10 years of experience working with children and adults with developmental disabilities. For the last 5 years, Kathleen has worked directly with members of the Special Olympics through BYWIT (Because You’re Worth It), her personal training business. Kathleen has also been an active member in the Middlebury community through various special education roles at Mary Hogan School. When not at the Yellow House, Kathleen enjoys training clients, teaching Spin at Vermont Sun, trail running, and snowboarding with her three kids and husband.
Kate has been exploring different career paths for the past several years and has found the most fulfillment when supporting others and working in her community. She has lived in Cornwall her entire life and through volunteer work, has spent time giving back to her community. After learning the mission of the Yellow House Community, she quickly knew it would be a great place for her. When not at Yellow House, Kate enjoys reading romantic novels, walking the TAM, spending time with her family, and attending Middlebury College.
Kim Franklin collaborates in programming and support with Yellow House Community Friends. Finding herself here at this time feels to her like a lovely progression and culmination as she has worked with young people professionally for the past twenty-five years; as well as being the mother of three. Early education, special education, youth recreation and managing a restaurant dining room in a college town have all informed who and where she is today.
Kim lives in Middlebury with her partner (and colleague) Tom and their 5-6 cats and every day has reason to appreciate all that this area has to offer. Gorgeous scenery, trails to hike and bike and a community of talented and generous people; willing to share their time, passions and gifts. Kim feels it is definitely all about connecting and celebrating.
Georgia Hamilton is the youngest girl and sixth child of seven. She is married to Randy and they reside together in Middlebury. Georgia loves to be by the ocean, play in her gardens, listen to music, and bake goodies. She has worn many hats over the years, most of them working with children. She favors the clown hats she wore while teaching after school clubs in “Clowning Around.” Now, she is happy to say that she gets to hang her hat at YHC!
Henry Johnson is absorbed and enthralled with the practice of overcoming adversity. A born-and-raised Vermonter whose life has been grounded in intentional communities of care like Zeno Mountain Farm in Lincoln, Vermont, and Soteria House in Burlington, Vermont, Henry is of the belief that every human is deserving of community, compassion, joy and friendship. He is passionate about supporting neurodiverse and differently-abled people in ways that foster development and growth while preserving their unique strengths. After attending Bard College where he studied philosophy, Henry is back in school to explore public health and how healthy communities can create healthier people. When not happily buried under a mountain of books, he can be found probing the world through his camera’s viewfinder, or seeking refuge in one of the many secret swimming holes and ethereal forests our beautiful state has to offer.
Carly is a Salisbury, Vermont native and is excited to join the Yellow House team! She is a graduate of Springfield College with a major in Therapeutic Recreation and a minor in Rehabilitation and Disabilities studies. Her variety of experience includes Special Olympics, nursing homes, and a therapeutic ranch in Colorado. Carly enjoys supporting people and believes in the holistic approach which cares for a person’s spirit, mind, and body. In her spare time, she loves to be active outdoors hiking, kayaking, running, and spending time with friends and family!
Delaynah was born and raised in Addison County and is a proud team member of the Yellow House Community! After graduating from UVM in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, Delaynah decided to switch gears and took a job as a paraeducator at Mary Hogan Elementary School. This is where she discovered her passion for working with the special needs community and it is what drew her to get involved at Yellow House.
In her spare time, Delaynah enjoys playing guitar, spending time with her cat, reading cheesy romance and mystery novels, and playing as a rookie skater with Green Mountain Roller Derby. Delaynah hopes to become a special educator in the future.
In October 2020, Jessica retired from a 38-year career in elementary education. She was a classroom teacher for 18 years in Virginia, Massachusetts, and, in Vermont, at Bridport Central School and Ripton Elementary School. For 20 years, Jessica worked as a curriculum leader in Addison Central School District in mathematics and in later years as a Primary Years Program Coordinator. It was a rich and fulfilling career with multiple opportunities for growth. What Jessica liked best about teaching and learning was listening to and learning from her students. Her favorite parts of the school day included playing with children during recess and acting out characters during read aloud.
Jessica found herself repeatedly drawn to the mission of the Yellow House and by all of the people who live and work there. She had to find a way to become a part of this warm, welcoming, and fun community!
When not at the Yellow House, Jessica walks- in towns, down rural roads, and in the mountains. She loves to pursue art. Lately, she has been refinishing and painting tables and doors. Jessica lives with her husband, Peter, who feeds and nourishes her. Jessica’s two remarkable sons, Ian and Micah, keep her curious.
Faye Murphy grew up in Vermont and has lived in the Middlebury area with her husband since 2010. Her many interests have led to a varied career path, including photography, the food industry, child care, elderly care and massage therapy. Her experience has led to the knowledge that she is happiest when caring for others. When not working, she is finding fun things to do with her 5 yr old daughter, swimming, hiking and spending time with friends and family.
Amanda has been been a part of the Middlebury area for the past 15 years. Through her work at The Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op she has built a strong connection to the community promoting local and healthy foods.
Amanda is Yoga Therapist and Reiki practitioner. Her other passions include spending time in nature, cooking vegan/vegetarian meals, creating abstract art and striving towards a minimalist, low impact and sustainable lifestyle.
Tom O’Connor works at the Yellow House Community as a program support person. For 35 years he worked as an educator, primarily at the Mary Hogan Elementary School in Middlebury, VT. His duties there included time as a regular Classroom Teacher (2-6) and as a Special Educator (K-6). Tom currently lives in Middlebury with his partner Kim and many cats.
Jodi Pelkey resides in Brandon, VT with her husband, two children, and three cats. She loves the outdoors: spending time in her garden, hiking, biking, and camping. She believes in a holistic approach to life: addressing the whole person– in mind, body, and spirit–to bring out the happiest, healthiest, version of ourselves.
After dedicating seventeen years to working at UVM Health Network-Porter Medical Center, Jodi changed careers in early 2022 when she became a caregiver at Shard Villa Residential Care Home. That is where Jodi discovered her passion for caregiving. She enjoys supporting individuals in day-to-day living, spending time with them, and building meaningful relationships.
After stumbling upon The Yellow House Community and learning their mission, she quickly knew she wanted to be a part of their warm and welcoming community!
Missy Schauerte has over 20 years of experience supporting individuals ranging in age between 5 and 91 years, with a variety of developmental disabilities, in residential communities, and school based settings. Missy values being a life-long learner and experiencing new things. When not at Yellow House or Salisbury Community School, Missy enjoys spending time with her daughter, her partner, and her mom.
Elsie Sutton has had a love of helping people with intellectual and physical disabilities for her whole life. She h volunteered at Camphill Communities in Ireland and New York, at Zeno Mountain Farm, and most recently Elsie worked for the Counseling Service of Addison County as a service coordinator for people with special needs living and working in the community. When Elsie is not working, she enjoys walking the trails in Middlebury with her dog Lily, traveling, cooking and spending time with her boyfriend and family.
When she was young, Carla lived in Middlebury and attended school in Salisbury, Cornwall, and Middlebury Union High School. Her family then moved away and she attended the University of Connecticut and received a degree in Physical Therapy. For the past 50 years, Carla has happily provided PT in various settings. She recently retired from Addison County Home Health and Hospice.
Carla loves to travel with her husband, Ted, and has recently traveled to Labrador and all the eastern Canadian provinces. They have a little camper, named Sapphire and she is their home on the road. She and Ted live in Middlebury in the Green Mountain Forest surrounded by trees and the mountain, where they log trees and have a sugar bush for maple syrup.
Carla is so happy to join the Yellow House family!
Sally Thodal has decades of experience in special education at Mary Hogan School and the Diversified Occupations Program. A graduate of Middlebury College in Art, she also has studied Plant and Soil Sciences at UVM. When not busy with Yellow House friends, she enjoys adventures with her grandchildren, gardening, and exploring woods and wetlands as a volunteer with the Native Plant Trust.
Cyndy joins YHC with a wealth of experience caretaking as well as substituting in the Special Education departments at Mary Hogan elementary and MUMS. She also works for Understory Farm as their bouquet maker. She’s an artist and looks forward to sharing her creativity and ideas for art projects with Friends.
Cyndy lives with her husband in Middlebury. They love spending time with their dog and family.
Mady Lander was a summer intern at Yellow House in 2021. After the completion of her summer internship she stayed involved in the community, and was hired as a Sidekick sub. She also helped found the Yellow House Community Club at Middlebury College, which works to connect the student population with Yellow House Community. She is interested in continuing the education she started at YHC after she graduates. When she’s not at Yellow House Mady loves to spend her time outside swimming, hiking, or playing ultimate frisbee at Midd.
Hillary Warren, who uses the pronouns she/her/hers, is excited to take on the new role of YHC Program Director. She joined the Yellow House staff after years of working with children and young adults at schools, summer camps, and in private homes in a variety of roles. Hillary has worked on behalf of the State of Vermont for several years, interviewing folks with disabilities about their experience with state funded supports. She brings with her a unique understanding of what life is like for Vermonters with disabilities and the people who love and care for them. She has a deep passion for our environment and loves farming and cooking nutrient-dense and healthy foods. Hillary lives in a yurt on the budding homestead she shares with her husband and old, but still quite frisky, rescue dog.
Mary Gill, RN is grateful to have the opportunity to share her extensive background in Pediatric and Young Adult Health Care to the Yellow House. The primary focus of her nursing practice has been to serve as a resource for parents, teachers, and caregivers as they support children and young adults through the various stages of development. Mary’s career includes working as a Nurse Practitioner in Pediatric Primary Care and the Vermont Health Department’s Child Development Clinic/Children with Special Needs as well as 20 plus years as a School Nurse and Health Educator for the Addison Central School District. She remains committed to families and youth through her various community service programs (Open Door Clinic, ACSD School Board, Charter House Coalition, and Vermont Medical Reserve Corp.) Mary’s favorite activities are swimming, biking, hiking, skiing and spending time with her family, especially her 7 grandchildren!