Kathryn Guare, Department of Human Resources
"I really appreciate the VTShares program, because not only does it make it easy and efficient for me to contribute to the causes I already know and care about, it helps me discover new ones. This year I added the Children’s Literacy Foundation to my list. I feel like there is a fairly narrow window of opportunity for getting kids interested in reading, and if they struggle at the beginning without assistance or innovative interventions, the impact of that could be lifelong. My parents read to me all the time when I was a toddler, and even subscribed to a children’s book club. They instilled a passion for reading that I carry with me to this day. Low-income households face challenges in terms of access and support that were never a factor in my own upbringing, and reading well seems such an important ingredient to a successful and happy life that if this group can help, I think the benefits will expand to all of us."
Susan Paruch, Department of Public Services Employee
"I think that Vermonters are very generous and VtShares is a really good (and easy) way for state employees to express their generosity relatively painlessly. A little bit donated with each pay period adds up, especially if many people contribute.
Personally I am happy to contribute to the organizations I care about and it’s good that there are so many to choose from through VtShares."
The Family Center of Washington County’s Community Response Program
“What I really loved about this program is that we set goals for ourselves to help us plan out our near future, and what we would like to accomplish. I came into the program as a new mom, and the support that was shown to me pushed me forward, as well as make me feel comfortable to open up, and helped me with my baby. My most favorite part was looking at my little man’s milestones and how far he has come. Another thing I really enjoy about this program with the Family Center is that there are so many other options outside the facility to go to for help if you need it that is recommended to you. I’m the kind of person who never really asked many questions growing up, but this has helped me open up that bubble. And now I’m aware of the opportunities around the area. Thank you for the time you gave me with the Family Center; it means the world to me and my little one.”
Champlain Housing Trust
Two years ago, Linda and Linwood West were paying the mortgage on their house in Swanton, Linda had a job as a geriatric nurse, and their main concern was [Linwood’s serious health issues]. Then Linda lost her job and the problems began cascading. The couple could not make their payments. Eventually their lender foreclosed on the house. The foreclosure, in turn, tanked their credit rating.
“I was humiliated,” Linda shared. “We had never missed a payment on anything before. And I was scared out of my skull, having nightmares. I really thought we’d be out on the streets.” “We used to have no problems; we could go buy a car when we wanted,” added Linwood. “Credit changes your life.” That fact was confirmed for the Wests as they began looking for rentals they could afford, and were turned down due to their poor credit. Fortunately they learned that CHT had a solution: ReadySetRent, a program that helps people improve their credit so they can qualify to rent with us.
Once the Wests enrolled in the program and met counselor Donna Constantineau, they regained hope. Donna pulled out the stops to work with their health needs and get them housed. “Linwood was three times sicker than he is now, and he couldn’t make the trip [to CHT’s office],” recalled Linda, so Donna worked with him by phone while meeting Linda in person. And Linwood saw that “After Linda started meeting with Donna, her stress levels went way down. If she got stressed I’d say ‘go call Donna’ and that would fix it. They bonded.”
With Donna’s help, the couple completed the steps needed to qualify with CHT and found a spacious apartment in Alburgh, in a six-unit building that catches the lake breezes. “We love it here. Our house was a hundred years old, with a leaky roof and punky wood floors,” noted Linda. “My husband’s lungs are actually clearer now. And I’ve never seen as much storage in my life as we have in this place; there’s a separate laundry room and even a pots-and-pans drawer that pulls out, which is easy on my arthritis. I’ve been baking like crazy.” The Wests also appreciate their property manager (“he’s a cutie,” said Linda) and maintenance staff, who came right away when they called in a problem. And they enjoy the neighborly little town with its general store next door and bingo right down the street.
United Way of Northwest Vermont
THE CARING COLLABORATIVE
I’ve always loved my job, but running a childcare center is hard and many of the families we work with are struggling. It meant a lot that the Caring Collaborative was willing to work with our Center to figure out how to give our children what they need.
Caring Collaborative created an opportunity to talk openly about our struggles and needs, and about how our community could come together to provide for children. As a result, our Center has been infused with training, resources, and the space to flourish. We can support the parents, which in turns supports the children being able to come and learn.
The Caring Collaborative brought resources to us and now we are able to offer so much more, including therapeutic services and an on-site meals program.
Everything has changed as a result of the Caring Collaborative. I’m proud of my Center and what it provides. We are part of a community where people are willing to help. Our teachers are supported, our families, and our children. Everyone is lifted up!
– Caryl Corbett, Owner & Director, Little One’s University
The Caring Collaborative is an innovative pilot project to develop a family-driven, comprehensive care model that works with and learns from parents, children and staff within a childcare setting. United Way is a lead partner and funder, along with Howard Center and University of Vermont Medical Center.
Green Mountain United Way - Dale's Working Bridges Story:
Dale* is a single father caring for his three children while working full-time job at on of Green Mountain United Ways Working Bridges program sites.
Last winter his fuel oil tank started leaking but because he had already fallen behind in his mortgage payments, he was unable to pay for repairs on his oil tank. The leak was costing him over $200 month in fuel and still not sufficient to heat his home – he kept his thermostat at just 55 degrees. Last winter was brutally cold and his children were always freezing, but he didn't know what to do to solve his fuel problems. He decided to meet with the Resource Coordinator. When he sat down with her, he simply stated, “I’m really trying, but I’m just so tired of my kids being cold at night”.
The Resource Coordinator was able to help him apply for and receive an Income Advance Loan and gave him Financial Coaching guidance to assist in getting his mortgage payments back on track. Through that help he was able to receive heating assistance which helped to repair his oil tank and now Dale has even established a savings account to pre-buy fuel.
It took three program elements, Resource Coordination, the Income Advanced Loan, and On-site Training to help get Dale fix his oil tank, keep his kids warm this winter, and keep his home.
Pope Memorial Frontier Animal Shelter
Leprechaun who came to us as a local stray with a chain bolted around his neck and frost bitten testicles. He received his full vetting and just a few days ago had surgery to repair a torn ACL.
Copper came to us as a local surrender and had to undergo heart worm treatment. He had already been in several homes by the age of three through no fault of his own. He is now living happily in Canada with a great active family that loves him to pieces.
Flip Flop came to us as a 4-month old kitten with a broken leg from being stepped on. She had to have the leg amputated because of the severity of the break. She was adopted by a great couple who have another kitty from us.
Belle came to us after she got caught in a trap and the circulation was cut off from her leg. She also had to have her leg amputated because the tissue and muscle had died. She is doing fantastic and living a happy life.
These are just some of the many ways that these great donations help us to help the animals!