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NOVEMBER 2020 e-NEWS
BIG NEWS from our Executive Director, Josh Davis
 

You may be aware that Groundworks has adapted the way we are operating just about all of our programs during this pandemic.  Among the many temporary changes we’ve made is our shift to supporting over 180 people (over 100 households) currently sheltering in Brattleboro motels.  When COVID arrived in our community in March, Groundworks closed the Seasonal Overflow Shelter (SOS) and Day Shelter and moved our staff and operations to meet the people who need us where they are—in Brattleboro motels.  While the State is expected to continue the emergency motel voucher program through March 2021, we’ve been working for months to determine where we can collaborate to find permanent housing for as many people as possible between now and then. 

 

We have never been more clear about the sheer numbers of our neighbors who are in need of stable and sustainable housing and we’ve been working on solutions despite the extremely low vacancy rate and lack of housing stock in our community.  We realized we had a real opportunity here, with unprecedented resources in our community right now because of the CARES Act.  With a great deal of advocacy through our statewide partnerships, we’ve helped to secure over $30 million in CARES Act funding throughout the state to create as many homes as possible for Vermonters experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. 

 

We’ve teamed up with Windham & Windsor Housing Trust (WWHT) to replicate the successful model we’ve built at Great River Terrace over the past two years.  WWHT has purchased and is in the process of renovating the former Dalem’s Chalet on South Street in West Brattleboro. 

 

Now known as The Chalet—the former motel will become 27 new units of permanent supportive housing for people currently sheltering in Brattleboro motels. 

This proven model—permanent supportive housing—requires three key components to ensure a successful end to chronic homelessness: 

  1. availability of housing units; 
  2. subsidies to bridge the gap between the cost of rent and what a resident can afford to pay; and
  3. supportive services. 
Subsidies have been secured through the Vermont State Housing Authority and the Vermont Agency of Human Services.  CARES Act funding, which must be spent by December 2020, cannot be used to fund the ongoing supportive services for residents of The Chalet.  As such, Groundworks and WWHT have been working on a joint-fundraising campaign to fully fund the services for the next five years. 

 

Groundworks will coordinate and staff the on-site supportive services provided to all residents of The Chalet.  We are currently hiring for three new positions to begin in the coming weeks:  a Site Manager, Case Manager, and program Advocates will staff the property seven days a week from 8am-11pm. 

 

The last few months have been a roller coaster to say the least, but the renovations are coming together very quickly and all units will be occupied by January 1st.  I thought I would also share some thoughtful words and accolades from WWHT’s Executive Director Elizabeth Bridgewater: 

“We are so fortunate to have Groundworks as a partner. They are fierce advocates and are creative in their thinking.  We experienced so many bumps along the road while working through the details of a complicated project, but we never wavered from our commitment to our partnership and from what we were trying to accomplish together.  We knew we were stronger together and what’s truly exciting is the deep community impact this project is going to have.”

AN UPDATE ON THE SEASONAL OVERFLOW SHELTER
 

As mentioned above, the State of Vermont’s emergency motel voucher program is set to continue providing motel rooms as COVID-safe shelter through March 31, 2021.  We are beginning to see an increase in the number of people who are not being granted state-funded motel rooms and we need to continue to ensure safety for anyone in need of shelter throughout the coming winter. 


We have put together a plan to open an Overflow Shelter in the conference room of a local motel, with a tentative start date of November 30th.  This plan will allow emergency shelter beds for folks who are new to us—no one currently in a motel room will have to leave.
 

Our staff are applauded for this creative approach to making shelter space available while continuing to provide robust supports to people sheltering in motels and without splitting our staff to open a separate program in a different location.  
 

The Day Shelter will open in the new building on April 1st, when we can transition our staff out of the motels and fully open the new Day Shelter.   The 2021/2022 Seasonal Overflow Shelter (SOS) will open in our new building at 54 South Main Street in November 2021.  

SOS Meals

We are incredibly grateful to the host of community partners involved in supporting meals for over 180 people sheltering in Brattleboro motels this year.  Special thanks to the Westminster West Breakfast Team, the local school lunches program, Loaves & Fishes, and Everyone Eats. Some of this support is forecast to be reduced at the end of the year, but for now it nearly covers all of our needs. For the time being, we do not need to activate our cadre of volunteer Meal Teams for regular nightly meals. 

Since we will not have a community Thanksgiving meal to rely on this year, our hope is that some of you wonderful supporters would be willing to contribute to potluck style meals for Thanksgiving lunch, Christmas dinner, and New Year’s Eve dinner.

If you would like to participate in providing items for a potluck-style Thanksgiving meal, or if you have questions regarding the process, please email: Meals@GroundworksVT.org

Thank you! 

Huge thanks to Akhil Srivastava—Groundworks Shelter Advocate and owner of Lifestream Films—for making this beautiful video to promote our GIVE 60 CHALLENGE! 

WHY 60?

DIGNITY HAS AN ADDRESS: 60 South Main Street has been our community’s Drop-In Center—the entry-point for those seeking help with shelter, housing support, and emergency food—for decades. Scores of our neighbors in need use 60 South Main Street as their mailing address for lack of permanent housing and will continue to do so when we move back in after restoring dignity to the structure with our current renovation project.

 

WE ARE HERE TO SUPPORT YOU!  If you have any questions or need a little encouragement, please reach out to us: jmills@GroundworksVT.org 

We are grateful for the generosity and flexibility of the sponsors of this year’s Hike for the Homeless and GIVE 60 CHALLENGE:  Silver Forest, Against the Grain Gourmet, Abatem Exterminating, Brattleboro Food Co-op, Connecticut River Conservancy, Trust Company of Vermont, Brattleboro Tire, Farnum Insulators, Costello Valente & Gentry, Goodenough Rubbish Removal, and Richmond Auto Repair.
THANK YOU SO MUCH!

We did it!  With your help, we met and exceeded our goal to raise $25,000 selling handcrafted bowls in lieu of an Empty Bowls Dinner this year.  

Enormous thanks to:

  • Sara Ryan, Beth Kiendl, Bonnie Stearns, and Julianne Mills for all of their work in organizing the details

  • All of the incredible potters that donated their beautiful bowls: 

Beth Armour, Natalie Blake, Shirley Chancey, Owen Coursin, Allison Cram, Arlene Distler, Will Finkel, Marcie Freeman, Paula Fuller, Monica Hastings, Sally Geldard-Hewes, Brooks Heley, Jen Henske, Christie Herbert, Teta Hilsdon, Annie Lauterbach, Deems Leonard, Naomi Lindenfeld, Jo Majonen, Andi Matthews, Sarah Meehan, Matthew Meunier, Gosia Mosiej, Denise Paasche, Jaye Pope, Carol Ross, Sara Seinberg, Walter Slowinski, Billie Stark, Bonnie Stearns, Alan Steinberg, Matthew Tell, Marco Yunga Tacori, Claudia Teachman, Z Pots, Shari Zabriskie, Laura Zindel, Bronna Zlochiver

  • And all of our Student bowl makers at:

Brattleboro Clayworks, Creating with Clay, Leland & Gray High School, The Putney School, Wheelhouse Clay Center

  • To Kirsten Ulrich and the C&S Print Shop for our beautiful graphics and materials

  • All of the stores that sold bowls: 

    • Brattleboro Food Co-Op

    • Zephyr Designs  (still has bowls for sale!)

    • The Kitchen Sync

    • Everyone’s Books  (still has bowls for sale!)

    • The Shoe Tree  (still has bowls for sale!)

    • The Putney Food Co-Op, and 

    • the Putney General Store (still has bowls for sale!)

  • And to all of our generous sponsors!  

Silver Forest of Vermont, Trust Company of Vermont, Brattleboro Food Co-op, Brattleboro Savings & Loan, Ceres Natural Remedies, King Arthur Baking Company, Southern Vermont Wellness, Rod’s Towing & Repairs, Savings Bank of Walpole, Dead River Company, Farnum Insulators, Abbiati Monuments, A.L. Tyler & Sons, Howard Printing, Sidehill Farm, West River Marina, Downey Pieciak Fitzgerald & Company, Burrows Specialized Sports, Costello Valente & Gentry, and Richmond Auto.

THANKSGIVING UPDATES

Foodworks and other members of the Everyone Eats! Brattleboro coalition have been planning an alternative to the Annual Thanksgiving Community Meal which has been canceled this year due to COVID-19 concerns.

Anyone in need of a meal this Thanksgiving can head to 80 Flat Street from 4-6pm on Wednesday, November 25th to get a special Thanksgiving feast made by Brattleboro-area restaurants!

No sign up is required—just drive or walk up and get the number of meals you need for your family and any neighbors who can't make it. There will also be a small number of deliveries happening for those with no one to pick up meals on their behalf—please call 817-888-5125 to request a delivery.

 

Foodworks and St. Brigid's Kitchen are teaming up this year to safely distribute turkeys for those who prefer to cook on Thanksgiving. Please call 802-490-2412 (Foodworks) or 802-254-6800 (St. Brigid's Kitchen) to sign up before Friday, November 20th.

Our greatest needs at Foodworks this month:  
  • Large Bottles/Cans/Containers of Juice
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Canned Proteins (chicken, tuna, ready-meals, etc.)
  • Protein Drinks
  • Cereals
Contact Foodworks ...
  • if you are in need of food,
  • if you are interested in volunteering, and/or 
  • if you have any questions! 
802-490-2412  or   Foodworks@GroundworksVT.org

Support our community’s largest annual food drive,
Project Feed The Thousands,
on #GIVINGTUESDAY (December 1, 2020)

Our Foodworks food shelf program relies heavily on Project Feed each year to keep our shelves stocked with food for our neighbors in need.  This year, Groundworks is putting all of our #GivingTuesday marketing efforts toward helping Project Feed reach our community goal of raising $85,000 and 250,000 meals.  You don't need to wait for Tuesday, 12/1, you can give today

CHECK OUT THE PROGRESS ON OUR NEW SHELTER ON SOUTH MAIN STREET!
The Day Shelter will open in the new building on April 1st, when we can transition our staff out of the motels and fully open the new Day Shelter. The 2021/2022 Seasonal Overflow Shelter will open in our new building on South Main Street in November 2021. 

Huge thanks to EVERYONE who contributed to make this project possible!  Individual donors have given and pledged over $1.5 million!  
For more information about this project and complete drawings of what will be on this site (our community's Seasonal Overflow Shelter and Day Shelter/Drop-In Center), visit the Capital Campaign page on our website:  groundworksvt.org/capital-campaign

To make donation arrangements please contact Laura Chapman: 
802-490-3935 (call or text) or LChapman@GroundworksVT.org 

Toiletries:

  • Shampoo & Conditioner 

  • Moisturizing Lotion without perfumes

  • Tampons 

  • Epsom Salts

Pharmacy items:

  • Benadryl

  • Daily Pill Box Organizers 

  • Antibacterial Ointment

  • Rubbing Alcohol and/or rubbing alcohol pads

  • Cough Drops & Cold medicines

  • Pain relievers (Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, Aspirin)

  • Sleep Aids (Melatonin)

Kitchen Items:

  • Environmentally friendly dish soap

  • Hot Chocolate

  • Coffee & Sugar

  • Powdered Drinks (iced tea, lemonade, water flavors)

Other Items Needed This Winter:

  • Various size adult Winter Coats and Boots

  • A Crib & Crib Mattress 

  • Fitted Crib Sheets

  • Large plastic totes or plastic underbed storage containers - preferably clear

  • Flashlights

Make a DONATION here to be used where it is needed most.
If you're shopping on Amazon this holiday season, don't forget you can set up Amazon Smile to donate a small percentage of what you spend back to Groundworks Collaborative!

Families like yours have made provisions in their wills to include Groundworks Collaborative. Naming Groundworks in your Will or charitable trust is a meaningful way to create a legacy—ensuring our future as we continue providing food, shelter, and supportive services to our neighbors in need. Whether you’re taking those first important steps toward planning your estate or updating your estate plan, you can help Groundworks Collaborative ensure our future.

If you have any questions about making a planned gift or if you would like to let us know that you’ve already included Groundworks in your estate plan, please contact Libby Bennett, Director of Development & Communications, at LBennett@GroundworksVT.org or 802-451-0622.

Rugs = Food = Love Raffle

You could win a unique wool rug, plus donate the proceeds of your rug's drawing to the food bank of your choice!

Help in the fight against food insecurity during COVID-19 by purchasing raffle tickets to win a beautiful handmade rug. 
More than 160 rug hookers and braiders, including Brattleboro's own Kris McDermet, have volunteered to make wool rounds, designed and woven into beautiful rugs. 
The rugs will be offered via an online raffle drawing on December 14 at 5pm EST. 
For more information email: rugs.food.love@gmail.com

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