Charter House Chatter Newsletter: November 2018

Community Lunches Helped by New Kitchen!

If you’ve never participated on one of our weekday community lunches, you’re missing something special. Lunch is served from 11:15-12:15 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on Mondays and at Charter House Tuesday through Thursday. The atmosphere is convivial, the food is superb, the décor is upbeat, and it costs from zero to whatever you want to donate. It is not unusual to have 50 or more guests in the dining room with take outs available.

The meals served by different faith communities and interested groups are using our newly renovated kitchen facilities at Charter House. It has made meal preparation easier and safer for lunches and the meals associated with our shelter programs.

 Bill and Jean Fifield admire the new Charter House kitchen.

Bill and Jean Fifield admire the new Charter House kitchen.

SHELTER OPENED EARLY NOW FULLY OPEN FOR SEASON

When someone took note of homeless people sleeping around Middlebury last summer a vibrant community discussion started. People who were usually overlooked were given attention and Charter House Coalition did something about it. We opened our home for individuals in need on September 1, 6 weeks ahead of our customary opening date of October 15. Around a dozen people were served every night. Several people were generous with donations to help us defray added expenses. We are very grateful for their help.

On October 15, Charter House opened the family shelter and the full program for individuals who need of a place to live. To date, the family shelter has been at or near capacity with many children under the age of five. The shelter for individuals has a capacity for 24 men and women and has increased usage as temperatures drop. 

Neighbors Helping Neighbors, we live by that principle at Charter House Coalition – and we love seeing it become a reality in Addison County.

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Neighbors Helping Neighbors: A Three-Year Campaign to Repair Charter House to Better Serve People

After a year and a half of careful planning and prioritization, Charter House Coalition unveiled a funding drive to renew our 220-year-old house. Starting last summer, we began reaching out to individuals, foundations, and businesses to help pay for these vitally needed projects. 

We have an attractive booklet that describes what we would like to accomplish and a “pay as we go” strategy for how the projects will be done. If anyone hasn’t seen the booklet, we’d be glad to send one. Contact us through our website at charterhousecoalition.org. Our goal is to raise $550,000 over 3 years. We have pledges for $375.000 to date. Thanks to all who have given or pledged so far!

The renovation of our kitchen, needed electrical repairs, installing fire doors, and raising railings to meet safety codes are examples of projects already accomplished. Our current priorities are to install a mandated accessibility lift and replace a 70-year-old heating plant. We will keep you updated as we go.

Volunteers helping from afar...

Weed - population 20 (or 60…depending if you believe this sign, or Wikipedia) - is a rancher community in the Sacramento Mountains in the southeast corner of New Mexico. In the higher elevations, it might snow in the winter months during the night, but by noon time all the snow is melted away and folks are out enjoying the crisp sunny skies. They have winter in Weed…but not like in Vermont.

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Elaine and Michelle live in Weed, and when Elaine heard about Charter House from her brother Walter who is a volunteer, and how lots of guests – including families with little kids – spend the winter sleeping in the shelter, they put a notice in the local newsletter inviting people to knit some hats for our guests. They wrote:

“My brother lives in Middlebury, Vermont. It is an idyllic small town with a beautiful college and seems pretty prosperous. However, just like everywhere else in our wonderful country, there are folks there who aren’t doing well and who need help. Winters in Vermont are long and very cold. They need warm hats in all sizes and styles - for babies, kids, teens and adults. If you have extra yarn, let me know and I will come pick it up and use it to make more hats. Or maybe you want to make some hats.”

The response was fantastic!! Here is a picture of Elaine and Michelle getting ready to pack up dozens of hats up to ship to Vermont.

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And here are Louise and Jane unpacking the hats at Charter House, just in time for the onset of our cold winter season.

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It is so wonderful that we have so many great volunteers making the Charter House Coalition mission happen – but we can always use more. And isn’t it so cool that we now have super knitter volunteers from Weed, New Mexico who made dozens of really warm and beautiful hats in all sizes…even some for our smallest toddlers and infants!!

Way to go New Mexico!!

Some of our neighbors could use your help!

While most of us do not notice them, many of our fellow citizens have been living in tents, cars, under bridges, and under decks this past summer.  Just getting by each day becomes increasingly difficult as the colder weather approaches.  Thanks to the work of volunteers who maintain and improve the living quarters at Charter House our community provides safe haven, food, basic needs, and a friendly welcome to up to 22 individuals and 5 families.  Our shelter and food programs are possible because over 1200 people from Addison County contribute over 24,000 hours of volunteer time, donate thousands of pounds of clothing, prepare 35,000 free meals, and pay for most of the cost of operating and maintaining our programs and building.

There are many ways you can help:

·        volunteer to staff Charter House during the day or early evening for 2 – 3 hour shifts

·        help with food preparation for the breakfasts, lunches, and suppers

·        donate prepared meals, bread/rolls, and fruit/cookies/deserts

·        donate adult size winter clothing especially socks, boots, gloves, sweat suits, underwear, warm coats

·        make a financial contribution (Charter House Coalition, 27 North Pleasant Street, Middlebury, VT 05753)

Ways to learn more about Charter House and volunteering:

Open House: On Saturday October 13 from 9:30 to 11:30 am all are invited to join us for refreshments and a tour of the facilities including our new commercial grade kitchen.  Board members and staff will be available to talk about our programs and answer questions.

Attend a Volunteer Orientation and Training Session at Charter House:

Monday, October 1, 7:00 pm

Thursday, October 4 at 7:00 pm

Saturday, October 6 at 9:00 am

Monday, October 8 at 10:00 am

Saturday, October 20 at 10:00 am

The first 30 minutes of these sessions will be devoted to discussing opportunities to support the food and housing programs of Charter House Coalition.  For those interested in volunteering to staff Charter House, training will follow the information session and will take about 60 minutes.  New volunteers are always paired up with experienced volunteers for their initial volunteer work.

Charter House is a place where community comes together in a way that uplifts all who are part of it.  All are welcome to join the Charter House Team. Contact Samantha Kachmar (mskachmar@gmavt.net) if you have questions or would like to discuss any aspect of Charter House

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