Kickoff 2020

The Silver Lining: celebrating community connectedness in a time of COVID

Join us online on Thursday, October 1 from 8:30 am – 9:30 am for our annual Kickoff celebration. This year’s virtual event allows us to feature a very special speaker, Dr. Mark Levine, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health. You may be familiar with Dr. Levine from his frequent appearances on Governor Scott’s COVID press conferences. Dr. Levine’s leadership has been steady and has helped Vermont and Vermonters to stay safe, support one another, value the community spirit of doing difficult things during the pandemic.

In addition to hearing from Dr. Levine, we will have our Annual Directors Address with Executive Director Tawnya Kristen giving our supporters and partners an update on what United Way was able to do thanks to our incredible partners, supporters, and collaborators in 2019 & particularly since March 2020, as well as inspire us to keep the spirit of finding the shining Silver Lining in difficult times alive for each of us as we move forward into 2020 and 2021 – and our annual awards. New this year, we will be hosting an online Auction! Stay tuned for more details!

Please register here and you’ll receive a Zoom link the week before the event. We are so thrilled to see you and to share this celebration with you!

A HUGE Thank you to our 2020 Bronze Sponsors:





New this year, we have an Online Auction as part of our Kickoff Event! This Auction is a way to support your community and take home fabulous items donated by our incredible community supporters, partners, and businesses.

Featured Auction Items:

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Tatum’s Totes Back-to-School Item Drive

We are taking the opportunity of the delay in the start of school to hold a back-to-school drive for foster children and children experiencing homelessness. Please see the list of the items we need below. All items can be dropped off in the drop box at our new office located in the Green Mountain Community Fitness building, 652 Granger Road, Barre, first floor. Ideally we would like to have items delivered by September 8 so we can get them to children across our five-county region.

Thanks to Bear Pond Books in Montpelier. You can purchase age-appropriate books through their website and leave them at Bear Pond for our staff to pick up! Support a local business by supporting children in our community, win-win!

Items needed for Back-to-School Drive

  • Child-sized masks
  • Backpacks – child and teen sized, gender-neutral and all colors
  • School Supplies:
    • Markers
    • Pens
    • Pencils
    • Pencil Sharpeners
    • Pocket Folders
    • Spiral Notebooks
    • Composition Books
    • Erasers
    • Calculators
  • Age-Appropriate Books – list available to buy at bearpondbooks/tatumstotes
  • Arts and Crafts Items:
    • Colored Pencils
    • Watercolor Pencils
    • Brushes and Watercolors
    • Sketchbooks
    • Journals
    • Origami Paper
  • Playing Cards
  • Games
  • Puzzels
  • Mad Libs
  • Maze Books
  • Activity Books
    • Math Activities
    • Literacy/Spelling
    • Map Activities
    • Other activity books

Questions about the back-to-school drive? Email Carrie at cstahler@gmunitedway.org.

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Orleans-Northern Essex County Mask Project

In partnership with the Orleans Northern Essex County Response Team, we are working to supply the community in our region with masks for free. We have been generously supported by Vermont Teddy Bear Company & many community volunteer stitchers. Masks are currently being distributed at locations throughout the region and we are doing the best to continue to supply these locations with masks for patrons or community members who need them.

If you need a face covering, the BEST place to contact is one of the towns on the Vermont Emergency Management list of municipalities who are working with the State of Vermont to distribute thousands of donated face coverings – sizes are good for smaller adult faces or larger adult faces:

Local locations where you can get free face coverings:

  • The Glover Store, Newport Center
  • Hillikers Store, Newport Center
  • Hoagies, Newport location
  • Boutin’s, Troy
  • Troy Country Store, Troy
  • West Main Deli, Newport
  • Vista Foods, Newport
  • Brown Cow, Newport
  • Wendy’s, Newport/Derby
  • Domino’s Pizza, Newport/Derby
  • NEKCA Youth Services, Newport
  • NEKCA – Main Street, Newport
  • Newport Farmers Market
  • Food Truck Rally, Thursdays in Gardner Park, Newport
  • Please continue to check back, more locations will be added as they become available

Seniors in the NEK in need of masks can contact the NEK Council on Aging’s helpline to get a mask: 802-748-5182 or 800-642-5119

We are always looking for stitchers to join our project.

If you are interested in stitching masks, please use the form linked below to volunteer and we will be in touch to get you kits to sew!

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Internet Connectivity

Resources, Updates, and Suggestions for staying connected during COVID-19

Since March, the internet has become a new “Basic Need” for almost everyone in our communities. Whether you’ve worked or schooled from home, tried to order groceries from the local store, Zoomed into your local Select Board meeting, met friends for “Virtual Coffee”, or accessed telehealthcare services, you likely now depending on reliable, high-enough-speed internet to help life go on during the pandemic.

Our work with the Central Vermont Family Connectivity Project has brought us face to face with what happens when the lack of reliable internet does not offer the continuity that most of us enjoy from regular internet access. It means that kids can’t get the care they need, expecting moms can’t get the healthcare they, kids in foster care can’t see their biological parents… it means that life is even more drastically different than it is for those of us who have internet access (like you do if you’re reading this blog!).

Knowing this struggle is not going away, I’ve put together a list of potential resources anyone can use to bridge the internet gap. Let’s be clear, this information is meant to give you options if you can’t afford cable, or the DSL line ends right before your house, or the back road you live on is nowhere near high-speed internet territory. These are temporary solutions at best, and it is our hope that the many projects currently in the works in our rural region are able to help solve these problems in the long term! For now, try these:

There’s no high-speed internet at my house

We hear you, and the Department of Public Service want to know where you are, so put yourself on the map! https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/interactive-broadband-map

Try a public wifi hot spots near you: https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/wi-fi-hot-spot-project

If the lines are close, the Line Assistance Customer Assistance Program (LECAP) provides funding to extend broadband to homes (there are limits) https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/vermont-covid-19-line-extension-customer-assistance-program

Do you get cell service? If so, find a cell provider who supports using your phone as an internet hotspot (we’ve tried Visible but there are others out there)

Affordability

If it is difficult for you to afford high-speed internet, check out these programs to see if you might qualify. If you are not sure, call them anyway:

Lifeline Telecommunications Program https://publicservice.vermont.gov/publications-resources/consumers/lifeline

Comcast Internet Essentials https://www.internetessentials.com/

Spectrum Internet Assist https://www.spectrum.com/browse/content/spectrum-internet-assist

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We Moved!

Our office has moved and we’ve joined the incredible community at Green Mountain Community Fitness at 652 Granger Road in Barre. Our phone number is the same (802-613-3989) but our office space is not! We now have lots of parking, plenty of room for social distancing, and incredible neighbors in Green Mountain Community Fitness, The Washington County Youth Service Bureau, and hopefully more like-minded organizations and individuals, soon!

Our new bright space is quietly waiting to welcome folks in once we are safely gathering again. In the meantime, enjoy some photos of our new gorgeous office space filled with sunshine, some sparkle, & plenty of twinkly lights!

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Woman wears a mask and places her hands over her heart

Masks On, Vermont!

Love Vermont? We do too! To keep our state safe, healthy, and thriving, please wear a face mask or covering over your nose and mouth when you’re out and about. Masks are a simple and effective way to protect others around you as some people can have COVID-19 and not even know it.

Wearing a mask or face covering is a simple way to stop the spread of COVID-19—it also helps Vermonters get back to work, which helps keep our economy going. Face masks that cover your nose and mouth also protect others around you if you are infected with COVID-19 and don’t know it.

Not sure when to wear a mask?

Here are some tips:

When to Wear a Mask:

  • Whenever you’re unable to always stay 6 feet apart from others who you don’t
  • live with (for example, at work, riding the bus, on a ride share, or at school)
  • On a busy and crowded street, trail, or bike path
  • At home, if you have symptoms and you live with other people
  • Going to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor, or hospital

Never put a mask on a child under the age of 2, someone who needs help to remove the mask, someone who is in respiratory distress or unconscious. People who have trouble breathing, such as people with asthma, can wear a light-weight bandanna or cloth covering tied to be open at the bottom or face shield.

Thanks for doing your part and masking up! Get more mask tips at HealthVermont.gov/MasksOnVT

Nonprofit and Business Partners:

You can do your part, too. The State of Vermont has put together posters, social media graphics, and language for you to use to help spread the word!

Access The State of Vermont Mask On Vermont Campaign Materials here.

Access Working Bridges or Green Mountain United Way branded posters here.

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Orleans No. Essex Mask Project

The CDC and VT Department of Health are recommending masks or cloth face coverings when we are out in public to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. To address this right here in our communities, the Orleans Northern Essex (ONE) Response and Recovery Team is working on a project to provide masks to everyone in our region who needs them.

Please click the button below if you need to request a mask please know we are working on getting this project off the ground. You should contact NEKCA in Newport to find out if they have masks available at this time. When we have masks available we will post a request form here.

Currently, we are seeking stitchers to help sew masks from kits. The ONE Team has been the recipient of a generous donation of mask kits (including fabric and elastic to make adult and child-sized masks) from Vermont Teddy Bear Company – we just need stitchers to sew them! If you sew or know folks who do and are able to volunteer some time to sew masks for our neighbors, please fill out the Volunteer Stitcher Form below or use this link, We would also love your help to share this message with your networks to help us find volunteer stitchers who can help!

If you have questions, please direct them to Carrie Stahler at Green Mountain United Way at cstahler@gmunitedway.org.


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Summer of LIVE UNITED

While we were disappointed that we have had to postpone our Golf Classic until 2021, we are making the best of 2020 with a virtual event – Summer of LIVE UNITED!

There are three ways YOU can join us to LIVE UNITED that we’ll be sharing right here all summer long! To submit your entries, email them to liveunited@gmunitedway.org. At the end of August we will put everyone’s names in a hat and draw a winner – winners will receive a gift certificate to the local restaurant of your choice!

Option #1: GOLF!

Same sport, but definitely not the same tournament format we’ve always done. The Country Club of Barre is open for business and is welcoming golfers. They are currently offering one player per cart (but are shifting and changing as the State of Vermont offers new guidance, so check their website for the most up-to-date information.)

Go play a round then send us a selfie of you on the greens, your score, and, if it is possible for you, donate to Green Mountain United Way to help us continue our work supporting Vermonters through Health, Education, and Financial Stability initiatives.  This work has never been more important and your support makes it all possible.

Option #2: Show us how YOU LIVE UNITED

Send us a selfie of your own version of what LIVE UNITED means to you in your town, business, or community – it could be volunteering, caring for your grandchildren, spending a day at the lake. Whatever it is, please consider a donation to Green Mountain United Way so together we can pay it forward to Vermonters in need of support, resources, and care during this difficult time.

Option #3: Inspire all of us to LIVE UNITED

For those who are not selfie-inclined or who love to shine the light on those who inspire them, share a story of someone who has inspired you and make a donation to Green Mountain United Way in their name. Email us to tell us why they inspire you or send a short story of something inspirational they have done and we’ll share it right here!

Summer of LIVE UNITED Gallery

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Our Response to Racism and Unrest

Dear United Way supporters, friends, partners, and colleagues,

The tragic deaths of Black Americans George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others have shocked and outraged people around Vermont, around the country, and around the world. Their deaths have been a representation of the insurmountable loss created through the undeniable systematic racism within our nation. As an agency whose mission is to fight for the well-being of all people, we have a responsibility to stand up and speak, because silence is not an option in the face of this tragedy. With that understanding, we want to be explicit in saying we honor and value the voices and experiences of those in our community who are Black, Indigenous, and persons of color. We stand with you and your fight for equality in our communities, our state, and our country. This tragedy has opened a space for conversations about inclusivity and opportunities for accountability. We heard the call when Governor Phil Scott, in creating Vermont’s Racial & Equity Task Force, said that each of us must take action to make change.

We also consider this a call to hold ourselves accountable, not just in words, but in action in order to create pathways to ensure that opportunity is accessible to all Vermonters. We understand that this work will require courage, discomfort, and an honest look at the ways we as a community are perpetuating or benefitting from these systems and the power we have to change them.

We pledge to do better. We urge you to join us. Together with our volunteers, our partner nonprofit agencies, all members of our communities, we are dedicated to making our Vermont UNITED. We invite you to join us in this work to create the equitable and inclusive communities that we have been called to create. The power one person holds is strong, the unified power of a diverse and responsive community is invincible.

With Gratitude,

The team at Green Mountain United Way

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United Way COVID-19 Relief & Response Fund Grantees

This week, we took the incredible generosity of Vermonters from across our region and were able to fund 19 nonprofit organizations doing critical work to support individuals and families in a huge variety of ways throughout the community. we want to share with you what your incredible support was able to do for those in our communities whose lives have been turned upside down by this pandemic.

With your help, we raised over $17,000 in the Relief & Response Fund by last 5/8/20. United Way has worked quickly and collaboratively to invest your contributions to our COVID-19 Relief & Response Fund back into the community to address immediate needs and support working families, the most vulnerable Vermonters, and the well-being of our community.

To those of you who donated to the Relief & Response Fund, we have been humbled and inspired by the ways big and small that you, our friends, collaborators, and donors, continue to LIVE UNITED in support of our Central and Northeastern Vermonters. Thank you for demonstrating how generous our community is and for using philanthropy to make a difference.
Below is a list of the organizations that have received grants. We are happy to announce that because of the generosity of our donors, in this first round, all applying organizations received some level of funding. However, this has exhausted current funding, but we continue to fundraise as we do not see the needs ending even as the State of Vermont moves into a Recovery phase and particularly because of the extension of the Stay Home, Stay Safe order. If you are able to help, please consider a gift to the Relief & Response Fund to help neighbors in our community.

Organization Name Region Funding Detail
Barre Community Justice Center CVT Housing support
Burke Senior Meal Site NEK Kitchen equipment to meet increased demand for senior meals
Catamount Film & Arts NEK Production of PPE for healthcare & community, employee support
CVHHH CVT Personal Protective & Telehealth Equipment
Danville Senior Activity Center NEK Materials to package meals for seniors to meet increased demand
Downstreet Housing CVT Critical and stable housing support
East Burke School NEK Digital equipment to connect students to remote education
Enough Ministries CVT Support of meal preparation for formerly homeless guests now living in hotels
Family Center Washington County CVT Support of families with young children to maintain connectivity
Good Samaritan Haven CVT Housing support for those formerly housed at shelter in Barre, now in hotels, retrofits to shelter to continue to serve guests
North Country Hospital NEK Support for furloughed workers and families
Town of Charleston NEK Continued service of emergency food for seniors in West Charleston
Umbrella NEK Food for seniors, shift in continuation of services for those impacted by domestic violence
United Way Lamoille County/Lamoille Family Center NEK Creation and distribution of education packets for home bound families in Caledonia County

Phase 2 Grantees

Organization NameRegionFunding Detail
Easter Seals of VermontCVT & NEKTelehealth for families, direct support for families including grocery cards, gas cards, fuel assistance, PPE
Faith In ActionNEKIncreased need for food, cost of food and food transportation
Island Pond Community ServiceNEKCooking equipment to support expanded Meals on Wheels services
Northeast Kingdom Human ServicesNEK Support for Zero Suicide Initiative Team Weekly Virtual Wellness Classes
Central Vermont Home Health & HospiceCVTConnectivity-specific funding to connect 5 families to telehealth services
Waterbury Area Senior CenterCVTSupport for increased needs and expenses for Meals on Wheels program

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