Jan Demers

02/03/2020
I can hear Laura Mistretta singing as she walks down the hall. Her office is diagonally across from mine. Occasionally, I can hear her on the phone. Her voice is calm. The person on the other end of the line has all her attention. When her door is closed, because of a private conversation, I see her gesticulating to the unseen bringing life to the space around her. Laura is a Resident Organizer and advocate for the Mobile Home Program at CVOEO.  Vermont has 238 mobile home parks with 7,096 lots. In addition, there are over 15,000 mobile homes sited outside of parks. Mobile homes make up 7.2%...
12/23/2019
The call came into our Crisis Fuel Office after hours. We could tell it was an elderly gentleman. He stated he “really needed help with emergency fuel.” He left his name and phone number. This was the first time he had called. What he didn’t realize is that he didn’t hang the phone up after leaving a message. We could hear him talking to his wife. “Well, maybe I could try to sell my tools. I‘m not sure who would want to buy them, but they’re worth something.” A toolbox is of great value. Some toolboxes are solid wood, well built and a treasure themselves. The one I found, and use, in my...
11/25/2019
I keep two winter coats in my office year round now: a man’s and a woman’s coat. The “why” takes me back to last winter when Jonathan came into the office to ask for help. I’ve known Jonathan for five years. I’ve seen him in the worst of times under the influence of drugs and alcohol with no place to lay his head for the night and little hope for the present. I’ve known him in times when he was working a plan for safety and security. At this visit he had spent a very short time in jail and just needed a bus ticket home. Along the way he lost his coat, gloves, wallet and phone. He didn’t know...
11/18/2019
She is a single mom with a toddler who was living at the Lund Family Center. Brittany was surrounded by people who were pulling for her to succeed. Making a $50 a week stipend, though an extremely small amount, didn’t stop Brittany from looking for a way that she and her daughter could make a secure future for themselves. She knew that education was a way out and her first step was to take CVOEO’s Spend Smart and Keys to Credit classes.  “I learned a lot from the classes. I learned ways I could build my credit. I learned about tracking money. I think one of the biggest things was saving money...
10/06/2019
I remember the cold coming on when I lived in the Northeast Kingdom. Seeing the first of the early morning frost and hearing trucks backing up to homes and dumping loads of cut logs. The logs were split into manageable sizes and tossed down bulkheads into the basement. We would stack and fill the basement high with dry wood to prepare the old Vermont parsonage for the winter months.  In our offices at CVOEO now is the time that families with young children and older Vermonters come in asking for money to help with notice of electricity disconnections. It is a sign that the cold is coming. It...
08/29/2019
“I hungry, Gamma”, said my two-year-old granddaughter. I would rend heaven and earth to make sure she had something to eat. And it was easily done with good options. Still, my heart stopped when I heard her words. Vermont is in a struggle to feed 4,619 children verbalizing the same words, “I’m hungry,” because the Federal Nutrition Services proposed a rule on July 24, to close the broad-based categorical eligibility that presently allows children up to 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level to receive benefits. That affects 5,204 households in Vermont. This is a proposed rule. We have until...
08/08/2019
On any given Sunday evening volunteers at a local church in Burlington feed between 80 and 130 hungry people. The food is homemade, nutritious and delicious. The crowd is intergenerational. Some are homeless, some are food insecure and some appreciate the company and the safe space offered. With two tables laden with food and volunteers at the ready to serve, the first items on the line to be depleted are the vegetables and the second is the salad. Homemade apple sauce with no added sugar and whole fresh fruit is gone before the meal is over. “Time” magazine reported on Oct. 3, 2018, that “...
07/01/2019
She is a single mother of two children aged 8 and 10 years. The family became homeless initially due to domestic violence. She coped by staying at a motel while occasionally couch surfing at a family member’s home for nearly four months. The family found an apartment and applied for security deposit assistance through the Housing Opportunity grant. The family’s gross monthly income is $2,407. The Area Median Income eligibility cut off for a three person household for the assistance is $2,067 gross monthly income. Her application was denied by the Housing Review Team due to being over income...

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Addison County Independent

58 Maple Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100