While we are disappointed we can't see you in person this year, we hope that holding our meeting virtually will open up new opportunities for engagement. Tune in at 4pm on Tuesday, May 19 for a live update as we elect Directors, revisit highlights from the past year, and look forward to what we hope to accomplish in the year ahead. Got questions or comments about our programs and what we are doing to address housing needs in Addison County? The meeting will include an open forum with ACCT leadership from our staff and Board.
Tuesday, May 19, 4-5pm
Join via Zoom or phone, no sign-up required
Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83261494200
Dial-in: (301)715-8592 Meeting ID: 832 6149 4200
The agenda is available at www.addisontrust.org/annual-meeting
We hope you will join us!
In some ways, week three of home confinement has been the hardest yet, as the days of staying indoors, not seeing friends and coworkers, and living with uncertainty grow long. In the midst of all this, our community has been a glimmer of sunshine. We asked for help, and you responded by raising over a thousand dollars so far to help us keep going through this crisis. We know people are struggling and many of our residents haven't been able to pay April rent, but thanks to our loyal donors like you, we know we can get through this.
We are so grateful to be a part of this community that has stepped up in so many ways to help neighbors in need during this crisis. The Addison County Responds campaign led by the United Way is another great example. Thanks to this effort, ACCT was lucky enough to receive an emergency mini grant to purchase some additional laptops for employees who weren't set up to work remotely. A laptop and printer may seem like a small thing, but it's what's keeping us in communication with our residents and getting the word out about resources like United@Work, another program Addison County Responds has supported and that is now available to anyone in Addison County who may be experiencing hardship due to the crisis.
I want to close this post with a little reflection on service and gratitude. I hope it brings a glimmer of sunshine to your day.
Thank You For Your (Robert) Service
When I first started at ACCT in 2015 and took over after (the previous Executive Director) Terry's tragic and sudden passing, I would come in on weekends and clean out boxes upon boxes of old files. It was a pretty bleak time at the organization and I literally didn’t know if we were going to be able to keep the lights on. I had just moved back to VT from DC and was wondering if I’d made a huge mistake. But I decided one concrete thing I could do was to keep showing up and soldiering on. So anyway I went through all of these bankers boxes and manila folders that were rarely labeled according to the actual contents. Old development pro formas, emails and correspondence, even printouts of itineraries from trips Terry had taken. Anyone who knew Terry knew he was a poet. One particularly rough day, in a file marked MHP Legal or 2002 Board Minutes or something similar, I came upon a printout of this little gem:
It’s a different song when everything’s wrong,
When you’re feeling infernally mortal;
When it’s ten against one, and hope there is none,
Buck up, little soldier, and chortle.
This poem fragment was like Terry speaking to me from beyond the grave; it knocked the wind out of me. It’s still pinned to my bulletin board and I think about it a lot. I can even conjure a knot in my chest remembering how I felt when I found it. I didn't realize it at the time, but it turns out Terry had changed one tiny thing in his transcription—the punctuation. The last line ends with a colon, not a period, because it’s a snippet of a longer poem by Robert Service. Here is a link to the full poem: http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/service/carry_on.html
The whole poem is wonderful and particularly poignant for the challenges we are facing now with coronavirus. Today though I’m thinking about the last stanza which is sweet and optimistic:
But to labor with zest, and to give of your best,
For the sweetness and joy of the giving;
To help folks along with a hand and a song;
Why, there’s the real sunshine of living.
With the situation rapidly evolving, it can be overwhelming to keep up with the various programs and resources that are out there. Here's a roundup of some of the resources that are out there:
If you have lost wages or income: Eligibility for Unemployment Insurance (UI) has been relaxed to include 1099 workers and those who have lost hours. The first step is to get your initial claim started at https://vermont.force.com/DOLClaim/s/.
If you are an ACCT resident and you won't be able to pay your rent this month: Contact your property manager (Chris for MHPs or Jeff for Apartments). As many people are awaiting federal stimulus checks or for a UI claim to be processed, we will work with you on extended repayment plans and getting caught up once we are on the other side of this crisis. Housing assistance may also be available on a limited basis through area service providers such as CVOEO and HOPE (contact info below).
Meanwhile, Addison County has suspended evictions through mid-April, and the legislature is working on a formal freeze on evictions and foreclosures. A bill has passed the senate as of 4/10/20 and will go to the house next. It freezes active writs of possession but does not change tenants' responsibility to pay rent to landlords. Emergency evictions (where resident safety is threatened, for example by drug activity) can still go forward.
If you are in need of food: Both CVOEO and HOPE Food Shelves continue to operate but calling first is recommended.
The Boys and Girls Club is also doing a meals for all program in Vergennes: https://bgcvergennes.org/meals-for-all.
The food commodities program is operating but doing a double delivery in April and none in May to cut down on contact. ACCT's SASH Coordinator will still be coordinating April delivery at Armory Lane.
For other nutrition assistance, see this Food Access COVID-19 Handout.
If you need shelter: Both Charter House and John Graham Housing and Services continue to operate and can make arrangements for those who might need individual accommodations due to COVID. Economic Services (1-800-479-6151) is also waiving some eligibility requirements for General Assistance/Emergency Housing (e.g. the in-person interview, some income documentation requirements).
If you have other needs: Check out Addison County Mutual Aid at https://sites.google.com/view/acvtmutualaid/home.
Local community members have set up this site to connect people with needs to people who can help, for everything from grocery delivery to masks. This resource guide also has information on some of the services that are available during the COVID-19 crisis, though it was last updated March 25th. Remember you can always call 2-1-1 for up-to-date information.
The United Way of Addison County has also expanded its United@Work program so it is available to all county residents regardless of whether your employer participates. If you or someone you know is experiencing a hardship due to this situation, Trish LaFayette is available by phone, text, or email, and can schedule web meetings when necessary. Please contact Trish at (802) 349-7210 or email@example.com
Utility Information: Green Mountain Power, Jackman's Fuel, Suburban Propane, and Vermont Gas have suspended shut-offs during this time. They may postpone non-essential customer service but are still delivering. Comcast, A&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are also suspending terminations, and some are waiving late fees and removing data caps as well.
If you are a parent at home caring for children: Check out some of the resources below.
Children and Covid, dealing with disruption of routines: https://www.trihealth.com/dailyhealthwire/health-topics/well-being/helping-children-cope-with-covid-19-and-quarantine
Dealing with Co-Parenting during Covid 19: https://www.fatherly.com/love-money/relationships/co-parenting-coronavirus-guidelines-divorced-parents/
250 Creative Ways to Keep Your family Sane During Covid 19: https://rochester.kidsoutandabout.com/content/250-creative-ways-keep-your-family-sane-during-covid-19-crisis
ACCT staff members share news and information about upcoming events.