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e-News | March 2021

A note from Executive Director, Josh Davis:

We have responded to the demands of the last year tremendously. The first hints of spring fuel my optimism that the end of this surreal COVID experience is on the horizon. We are as poised as ever—flexible and ready for the twists and turns that await us.


I’ve also been of two minds recently—I’m optimistic about the virus receding and about where we are as an organization. I feel the weight of our work and what the next few months may bring for those we serve. The work we’re doing now is in some ways the work that we’ve always done, but with an amplified scale and intensity.
 

I’m especially struck by the age old adage: “The only thing that is constant is change.” We continue to roll along and adapt to changes, both big and small, as they arise. 


One of the main things that I love about this organization is the people that are called to be a part of Groundworks. I feel fortunate to get to work with a team of competent, passionate, supportive and all around fantastic human beings. 



We ask quite a bit of people when they join the staff of this organization:  flex, step up, don’t give up on folks, sit with suffering, push back, connect, hold boundaries, laugh, administer narcan, advocate, call 911, be a last safety net, raise more money, mourn, give a ride, stay late, quarantine, support, cover a shift, build a building, move boxes, carry food, smile, go to the meeting, be compassionate, try again. We ask these things because this is the work. This is the work that moves us toward ending homelessness and ensuring everyone has food—person by person, day by day, year by year.


As I reflect, I’m struck by the way we’ve been able to navigate incredible growth and maintain and build upon the core of what makes this organization great.  While change is constant and we can’t control what will happen next, we can control how we respond—navigating change as gracefully and effectively as we can.


We owe a great deal of gratitude to each and every person, family, foundation, business, organization, church, and group who have supported us through this year of extremes.  We know—even as we approach the light at the end of the COVID tunnel—that the impacts of this experience (described by some of our staff early in the pandemic as being "like going to war each day") will linger in our community.  The support we've received to help us meet this dramatically increased need has made all the difference in keeping our staff and clients safe and healthy.  Please know that this intrepid team is giving 120% each day to meet basic needs with dignity.

Thank you. 

An update on The Chalet

As we continue to welcome the final remaining tenants moving into newly-created housing at The Chalet, we're looking back on a fast-moving process that has developed new homes for 27 households having previously been sheltering in Brattleboro's motels.  

We worked in lock step with Windham & Windsor Housing Trust (WWHT) to move through a complicated housing development process to bring newly-renovated permanent supportive housing units on line quickly.  Beginning in the summer of 2020 with an idea inspired by our successful model at Great River Terrace, Groundworks and the Housing Trust advocated for the use of Corona Relief dollars ("CRF Funds") to help address the immediate and overwhelming need for more affordable housing in the Brattleboro area.  Fundraising has been very successful, tenants have been approved one by one with housing vouchers through the Vermont State Housing Authority, and Groundworks' on-site support staff at The Chalet continues to grow! 

The model:  Permanent Supportive Housing combines a three-legged-stool approach to creating stability in housing—represented largely by three organizations working in collaboration:  
  1. The availability of housing units—Windham & Windsor Housing Trust is the property owner and property manager for all units at The Chalet;
  2. The subsidies to make rent affordable to tenants at 30% of their income—Vermont State Housing Authority is providing the housing vouchers for the units; and
  3. The supportive services to help tenants maintain housing permanently—Groundworks Collaborative is providing support with staffing from 8am-11pm, seven days a week.
Foodworks is maintaining an on-site food shelf at The Chalet—a very welcome resource, especially as we're all trying to leave our homes less often these days.  We have been able to purchase a van (shared with our program at Great River Terrace) to make regular trips to grocery stores, pharmacies, medical appointments, vaccine clinics, etc.

WWHT has been awarded additional funds to complete a second phase of renovations and will continue to make this historic property a safe and beautiful place to call home.  

For a more in-depth look at the property and program model, watch the remarkable video below!  Many thanks to Akhil Srivastava—Owner of Lifestream Films and Advocate at Groundworks Shelter—for making this beautiful video capturing the history and future use of this West Brattleboro landmark.

WELCOME HOME.

Funding for The Chalet has been made possible by:

Vermont Housing & Conservation Board
TD Bank
Vermont State Housing Authority
Vermont Agency of Human Services Department of Corrections
NeighborWorks
The Thomas Thompson Trust; and
a number of generous individual donors

THANK YOU!
 
JOIN US IN CONGRATULATING
VICKIE COON 

for 20 years of service to Morningside Shelter and Groundworks Collaborative! 

Vickie—pictured here in this snowy photograph—is our keen and exacting Bookkeeper, our longest serving employee, and has notably never missed a payroll in 20 years! 
She works tirelessly to ensure the nitty gritty details of the finance office are well handled.  Here's to Vickie taking a longer vacation in 2021!  Thank you so much for all of your years of service and commitment to the health of this organization Vickie!  
Meet the newest members of our Healthworks Team! 

Meet Al Koonz, BSN, RN—our new embedded nurse from Brattleboro Memorial Hospital!

 

My name is Al and I’m excited to be a part of the Healthworks team! I have been a nurse for over 10 years and my varied work experience includes community health, hospice and most recently the Emergency Department at BMH. My work in healthcare is rooted in social justice and a belief that it is our responsibility to take care of each other. I live locally and am raising 2 young children!

Meet Tanya Sourdiffe—our new embedded HCRS Case Manager! 


My name is Tanya and I am a Case Manager for HCRS—newly embedded at Groundworks. I am focusing on outreach, assisting with access to services, and substance abuse counseling. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology with a focus on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling, and am working towards my ADC certification. Prior to my role with HCRS, I worked as Substance Abuse Counselor for an inpatient facility providing clinical stabilization services for individuals in early recovery. During my free time I enjoy the outdoors—I love hiking, nature, and gardening.

Tanya and Al join seasoned Healthworks provider, Zach Wigham on our once again fully-staffed Healthworks team.  Zach has been Groundworks' embedded provider from the Brattleboro Retreat for several years now.  As a clinical mental health counselor, Zach leads various groups and meets 1:1 with residents of our shelters providing formal psychotherapy and informal mental health support.

Groundworks comes home . . .

An Update From Executive Director, Josh Davis:

I’m very pleased to share that we are nearly ready to move into a brand new building that will meet the needs of our community with dignity. We’re heartened by the generous support we’ve received from our supporters in the first and second phases of this project.

As we enter the third phase of the project—the reworking of 60 South Main Street (our existing Drop-In Center)—we continue to face uncertainty around the future of this old and venerable building.



In Phase One of this project, we moved our food shelf program to Canal Street—renaming it “Foodworks” in the process. Phase Two has been the construction of our new Day Shelter, Seasonal Overflow Shelter, and a consolidated location for administrative offices at 54 South Main. Phase Three is the reworking of 60 South Main Street. This building will provide critical programming space to allow us to meet our mission.

Together, the three phases of this project will:

  • Relocate Foodworks—increasing accessibility to serve more of our neighbors facing any level of food insecurity. 
     
  • Create a permanent home for the Seasonal Overflow Shelter (SOS), which has been without a home of its own for the last 5 winters.
     
  • Create an adequate space for our community’s Day Shelter: Groundworks Drop-In Center.
     
  • Provide adequate space for Case Management services, Healthworks collaborations with the Brattleboro Retreat and Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, and other supportive services.
     
  • Centralize and co-locate our administrative offices.
We are inching ever closer—slowly moving into our new building at 54 South Main. While some work remains on the exterior and landscaping (to be completed in the coming weeks this spring), the interior of the building is approaching 100% completion. 

The building will be very sparsely populated until we have a firm plan on changes to the State's Emergency Motel Program. As long as that program continues, our primary base of operations will be the motels. It is a relief to know that moving forward, post-COVID, we’ll have this amazing asset to support the work we do.


HUGE THANKS TO ALL WHO CONTRIBUTED SO GENEROUSLY TO MAKE THIS NEW BUILDING A REALITY FOR THIS COMMUNITY!

Stay tuned for more updates on our capital building project! 

Huge thanks to everyone who gave coats! 

With special thanks to Nancy Shepherd, who organized a coat drive for warm winter gear for the people we serve—we have now collected over 300 coats, exceeding our need for warm winter gear.  This effort has certainly warmed our hearts and the bodies of our neighbors experiencing homelessness during this most challenging of midwinters.  THANK YOU SO MUCH! 

VISIT OUR UPDATED WEBSITE!
With many thanks to Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation and Muse Arts, we have made a number of updates to our website at GroundworksVT.org.  Changes to the site are slight, but impactful for improved use on mobile platforms.  Funding for these upgrades was made possible by a grant from the Restart Vermont Technical Assistance Program (ReVTA)— designed to deliver critically important technical assistance to hundreds of businesses and organizations trying to adapt to new practices, retrofit their physical spaces, and access new technology. 

Foodworks continues to serve more of our neighbors in need of emergency food than ever before.  On January 4th, the Foodworks team shifted hours of operation to look much more like our pre-COVID hours.  The program continues to offer deliveries one day per week to those who cannot make it to Foodworks during open hours.  

Hours for Curbside Pickup:
  • Mondays 11am-4pm
  • Wednesdays 1pm-6pm
  • Fridays 12pm-4pm, and
  • The last Saturday of each month from 9am-noon.
  • Tuesdays are reserved for deliveries for anyone who cannot make it to the program during open hours.
We continue to rely on our incredible team of volunteers—who make deliveries, pack two-week food boxes (customized for particular needs in each household), and stock shelves and refrigerator cases to keep up with the increased need.  THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS!  
A note from Foodworks' Coordinator, Christine:

Over the past year,
Foodworks has consistently distributed twice as much food
as in 2019.  


We are reaching a wider net of people both geographically and people new to needing help.  We're preparing 1,000 orders (and making 400 deliveries) each month.

We are so grateful to all who've contributed to help us meet this extraordinary need over the past year. 
THANK YOU!
Read the University of Vermont's Gund Institute for Environment study:
COVID-19 Food Insecurity Hits Record Levels in Vermont
Huge thanks to everyone who has made donations from all or part of their stimulus checks! 

We are so grateful for the help and all it makes possible for the people we serve.


Here's what a few of our donors have had to say when doing so:

"Those of us who are fortunate enough to do so can return this windfall to organizations in the community that support those in need and contribute to the social fabric which makes greater Brattleboro the compassionate community that it is."

" I am doing alright during these challenging times. I have a home and enough food to eat. So, I decided the money would be better used to support those that are not so lucky."
 
"This just appeared in our account from the Feds - you know what to do with it! Thanks so much!"

"We can pay our bills, so we wanted to pass along this "windfall" to you." 
 
"Dear Josh & Groundworks Staff, We have watched with great appreciation, your progress and work since 2015. Enclosed is a check in the amount of $1,200, which we encourage you to use in any manner that best furthers your work. The $1,200 is our stimulus amount that we feel can be better used by all of you. Take care and stay well - you are all inspirational in your patience and persistence."

"Sharing my C-19 check with those who need it more!"
 
"Groundworks, I know you can put this "stimulus check" amount to better use than I can. Thank you for all your good work."

If you are able, consider giving some or all of your "stimulus" recovery funds to Groundworks Collaborative.  COVID-19 has caused a dramatically increased need for the services we provide and these generous contributions are allowing us to stretch to meet the need in our community.  While we may be starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the impact on our community will be felt for months and years to come.  Thank you for your support! 
Make a donation here to be used where it's most needed.
SAVE THE DATE!
Groundworks' 9th annual
CAMP FOR A CAUSE
will take place
Friday, May 21st!  
Camp in a spot of your choice (in your garage, on your deck, in your yard, on your couch, in your car, get creative!) and raise funds to support Groundworks in providing shelter and supportive housing services to help our neighbors experiencing homelessness to find and maintain stable housing.
As we did in 2020, we'll live broadcast an evening of updates and feature your campsite photos as we come together virtually in support of this important mission.
Stay tuned for registration information in the coming month!  Subscribers to this e-Newsletter list will receive an invitation to register right in your inbox! 
If your business is interested in being a sponsor of this year's Camp for a Cause, please reach out to us by Friday, March 26th at: JMills@GroundworksVT.org
Each of our programs keeps a wish list of items we need or wish we could provide to our clients.  A Consolidated Wish List of all items we need across all of our programs will soon be available in a dynamic Google Doc on our website.  The list will change in real-time as needs are fulfilled and as new needs arise.
For the time being, you can access the list here! 

After visiting the list, if you have questions about items you wish to donate, please contact Laura:  LChapman@GroundworksVT.org
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
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