Two months after celebrating its 11th year of providing service, Vermont 2-1-1, a United Ways’ statewide telephone information and referral program, has another reason to celebrate. Read more…
Emergency Housing in Vermont
Through a partnership with the State of Vermont’s Economic Services Division, Vermont 2-1-1 administers the After Hours Emergency Housing Program beginning at 4:30pm weekdays, throughout weekends and on state/federal holidays. Housing in Vermont has reached a critical need.
Vermont 2-1-1 Information and Referral (I&R) Specialists responded to 106 calls regarding housing needs. I&R specialists provide needs assessment, problem-solving support, and information and referrals to a wide range of services to each caller. Review Vermont 2-1-1’s Emergency Housing Report for May here.
May’s call volume of 2,079 begins to reflect the traditionally quieter call pattern that a reduction in emergency cold weather shelter and home heating bill payment assistance that the warmer days of the summer months brings. The average number of calls per day in May dropped to 67 and when compared to February’s daily average of 135 calls, becomes an excellent illustration of just how challenging even the mildest of Vermont winter months is for many residents. An interesting exception to the reduced number of calls for emergency shelter during May was Caledonia County where the number of housing and shelter requests rose. This is potentially a result of the seasonal closing of Caledonia County’s first and only cold weather shelter on the last day of April.
While calls for Housing/Shelter dipped as temperatures rose, calls for utility assistance, primarily due to impending electricity disconnects, increased. Between November 1st and March 31st there can be no disconnect or termination of electricity if the temperature is less than 10° F or less than 32° F for households with elderly age 62 and older, nor can there be a disconnect of service if a customer agrees to and adheres to a payment plan. For many financially fragile households, pulling together electric utility bill payment funds from family, community support services, and/or local faith-based organizations is the only way to keep the lights on.
Bennington County water quality issues continued to contribute to the increase in calls under Environmental Protection and Improvement in May. The discovery of PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) in private wells and public water systems continued to prompt residents of the area to call for information on water testing, blood testing and agricultural issues.
School is out soon and local gardens are already producing! Vermont has an abundance of farmers’ markets and the variety of fresh produce continues to grow each year. This year over 40 farmers’ markets are able to accept 3SquaresVT food benefits on EBT cards. An added 3SquaresVT benefit is the “Crop Cash” coupon program that can help to stretch the food budget and increase access to healthy food choices, while supporting our local farmers. If you spend $10 from the EBT card at a farmers’ market for fresh fruits or vegetables, you get an additional $10 in coupons to purchase more!
Summer fun in the sun means that growing kids’ appetites are strong and there are a host of free summer meal programs available statewide for children under 18 years old. By the end of June, updated summer meal program locations, times and registration information will be posted on www.hungerfreevt.org.
Remember to dial 2-1-1 and speak with our Information and Referral Specialists to learn more about additional summer food resources.
Vermont 2-1-1 Launches Mobile App!
United Ways of Vermont and Vermont 2-1-1 is excited to announce the launch of the Vermont 2-1-1 mobile app to help community members navigate the complex system of health and human services. The app will allow users to get to the assistance they need quickly, anonymously and from the convenience of their mobile device.
In 2015, the Vermont 2-1-1 call center, which has the most up to date, comprehensive directory for social services information, handled more than 38,000 calls, each representing a person in need of assistance. From mothers who need food for their children, to working families who cannot afford to pay their utility bills, or a dialysis patient trying to coordinate transportation to medical appointments, 2-1-1 can direct users to thousands of social service resources. The app also makes it easy to call 2-1-1 directly when a human touch is required.
“The Vermont 2-1-1 app will streamline access to social services information, ensuring crucial information is available when and where it is needed,” said MaryEllen Mendl, Director.
Users can simply download the app from the app store and enter their zip code to connect to the most relevant resources based on their needs and location. Users can either find these resources through a robust set of resource-matching tools to obtain a list of services that closely match what they are looking for, such as a food source, utility bill assistance, low-cost child care and many others.
Help Me Grow Vermont staff and partners attended the Help Me Grow National Forum in Greenville, North Carolina May 23-25th. This yearly forum offers an opportunity to network with providers from other Help Me Grow affiliate states, attend site visits to local Help Me Grow programs/partners and attend breakout sessions on a variety of topics to improve and inform our work. This year’s session topics included capacity building and collaboration, developmental monitoring, parent engagement strategies and early childhood integrated data systems. The Help Me Grow Vermont team returned with insights and ideas to inform and strengthen our work with Vermont families.
Help Me Grow continued our efforts to provide informational materials to programs and providers statewide. As part of this effort we staffed a Help Me Grow/VT 2-1-1 information table at the Vermont Youth Conference sponsored by the Spectrum Multicultural Conference.
Three Ring Binders for the Taking!
United Ways of Vermont has an abundant supply of 1, 2, and 3 inch three ring binders to donate to a good home. Some are new and some gently used. For more information or to arrange pick up, please contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 861-0146 ext. 208.
Vermont 2-1-1 · PO Box 111 · Essex Junction, VT 05453 · USA