Skip to Content

Joe Halko retires from Northwestern Counseling and Support Services

Back to List

Posted: Jun 27, 2024| Categories: Featured , Uncategorized

Written by Bridget Higdon

ST. ALBANS — “I was meant to work at a human services nonprofit,” Joe Halko said. “I’ve been involved in so many different industries, but there’s nothing better than going to work knowing you’re making a difference in people’s lives.”

Halko is retiring this week, after almost 25 years at Northwestern Counseling and Support Services in St. Albans.

Over the years, he helped to destigmatize mental health care and disabilities by organizing events, marketing campaigns and local fundraisers. With his signature smile and big laugh, Halko has a talent for bringing people together to both discuss big issues and to celebrate successes.

“Any time you talk about mental health, that stigma gets in the way, and that’s why so many people don’t seek treatment,” he said. “We’ve got to get to a point where people talk about it just like we do our physical health needs.”

Halko started at NCSS in 1999, as head of sales and marketing for Vermont Republic Industries, a now-defunct manufacturer that employed a mix of workers, many of whom were people with disabilities. Located on Lemnah Drive, the business cleaned and repurposed materials for companies like Ben & Jerry’s, IBM and Energizer.

“It really was an opportunity for people who typically wouldn’t get opportunities to make a contribution,” he said. “I got such gratification watching everybody do their jobs.”

In 2005, Halko got a call from then-NCSS director Ted Mable about also taking on the title of director of community relations for the entire organization. Halko said he liked the idea of getting better acquainted with NCSS’ other services. When Vermont Republic Industries closed in 2009, he stepped into community relations full-time.

His goal? To better share the work of NCSS with the local community. But because the agency serves everyone from infants to older adults with programming ranging from mental health care to therapy for developmental disabilities, the task was a big one.

One of the many ways Halko shared NCSS’ stories has been through the “Here For You” show he hosts monthly on Northwest Access Television. In each episode, Halko and experts have heartfelt and meaningful conversations about a difficult topic, like suicide prevention, substance use or youth mental health.

Over the last 15 years, he’s hosted more than 150 episodes.

“I have walked down the streets here in the summertime and people yell, ‘Saw the episode, loved it,’” Halko said. “Everybody’s not going to watch it, but if I can get one person to seek treatment who wouldn’t have, that’s worth its weight in gold.”

Todd Bauman, executive director of NCSS, said Halko makes the entire team better and he will be deeply missed. 

“He has been an incredible ambassador for NCSS, helping to keep the community informed about the services we provide,” Bauman told the Messenger. 

Read More…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *