Each month, Community Pouch donations collected during Sunday Morning Worship Services are split/shared with one or more local organization(s) or group(s) which support(s) the “serve human need” portion of our UCM Mission. Last church year (2019-20), UCM donated over $15,000 to these various community groups (see past Annual Reports for additional details)
UCM Community Pouch recipients in recent years have included: Planting Hope, Central Vermont Refugee Action Network (CVRAN), UCM Community Lunch, Good Samaritan Haven, Migrant Justice/Justicia Migrante, Girls Boyz First Mentoring, People’s Health & Wellness Clinic, Friends of the Winooski, Just Basics, Inc., Circle Vermont, Outright Vermont, Good Beginnings of Central Vermont, Another Way, OUR House of Central VT, Have Justice Will Travel, Central Vermont Community Harvest, and Days for Girls International.
Organizations have traditionally been selected in September of each year.
April 2022 Recipient: VTIPL Ellie Cressey Webster Memorial Program
The UCM Climate Action Team (CAT) has selected Vermont Interfaith Power and Light (vtipl.org) to be the April Community Pouch recipient. VTIPL is a faith based organization that is taking action on climate change. They work with members of the faith and spiritual communities in Vermont to advocate for our Earth and future generations.
Currently VTIPL has only one matching grant program to help support energy efficiency. This program only supports Christian churches, primarily in Vermont, because of the benefactor’s requirement. UCM member Harris Webster (member of the VTIPL Board) believed that VTIPL should have matching grant programs that supported all Vermont faith communities.
Recently Harris and his family generously provided the initial funding for the Ellie Cressey Webster Memorial Program at VTIPL. This fund will support those other faith based communities in Vermont not eligible for the current VTIPL program. Ellie, a longtime member of UCM, “was a doer and wanted to solve problems quickly. She would have supported starting this new fund to address the needs of all faith based communities in Vermont” says Harris. The donations received this month will be designated for the VTIPL Ellie Cressey Webster Memorial Program.
March 2022 Recipient: Downstreet Housing and Community Development https://downstreet.org/
Downstreet is renovating a 100 year-old building in Barre to create a Recovery Residence for mothers in recovery from Substance Use Disorder and their children, only the second home to serve these families in Vermont. The building will be re-configured to provide two family units on the first floor, and one transitional unit which will serve up to four families on the second and third floor. This shared common space will create a family-like atmosphere, where members are nurtured and energized by others who share similar experiences, struggles, values and goals. Vermont Foundation for Recovery will manage the property, connecting members with support and services in the community.
February 2022 Recipient: Vermont Center for Independent Living http://vcil.org
The Vermont Center for Independent Living (VCIL) is a statewide nonprofit directed and staffed by people with disabilities. Since 1979, it has provided services to help people with disabilities develop an Independent Living Plan, access home modifications and transportation, raise children, go to community outings, volunteer and gain employment.
VCIL provides technical assistance to business owners and municipalities on the Americans with Disabilities Act. It provides Meals on Wheels to people with disabilities. VCIL is home to the Vermont Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program, which provides equipment to enable Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing individuals communicate by telephone.
January 2022 Recipients: Vermont Releaf Collective and Salon Black Walnut
The Vermont Releaf Collective is a network by and for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in Vermont who are passionate about land, environment, agriculture, and food systems. Releaf stands for Racial Equity in Land, Environment, Agriculture, and Food (our four focus areas). Launched in 2020, Releaf has already proven to be a statewide leader in the four focus areas, growing strongly as a community with over 210+ members from 13 of 14 counties. Releaf has emerged as a critical resource for BIPOC in Vermont to build community and co-create a vision and strategy to support BIPOC to thrive in the state.
Salon Black Walnut is a culture-building, invitational residency that draws BIPOC artists from the region to perform, collaborate, share and create in Central Vermont. Artist residencies culminate in “Nama Farm Nights of Arts and Culture” which include Farmhouse Suppers by Farmer Ama with multi-medium BIPOC creators and Vermont community members of all ages.
Farmer Ama is a poet, farmer, organizer and founder of “Salon Black Walnut.” She is also a channel for direct reparations in Central Vermont and the region. She creates Nama’s Farmhouse Preserves, hosts Community Canning Parties, and is a Cooperative Gardens Commissioner for VT.
December 2021 Recipient: Migrant Justice – https://migrantjustice.net/
Migrant Justice is a grassroots organization founded and led by Vermont’s community of immigrant farmworkers, dedicated to organizing for human rights and economic justice. Over the past decade, Migrant Justice has been key to winning ground-breaking achievements that have transformed the lives of farmworker families and inspired others around the country. UCM members have been strong supporters of Migrant Justice, standing in solidarity with immigrant farmworker neighbors over the years. Donations to the Community Pouch will propel the organization’s work forward in 2022: improving labor and housing conditions in the dairy industry and advancing equitable treatment for immigrant Vermonters.
November 2021 Recipient: Just Basics, Inc. (Montpelier Food Shelf) – https://justbasicsvt.org/
Just Basics Inc. is the parent organization of the Montpelier Food Pantry. Just Basics, Inc. brings together and structures programs that work with members of the greater Montpelier area to address their basic needs and confront cycles of injustice. They serve the communities of Montpelier, East Montpelier, Calais, Middlesex, Berlin, Worcester and Adamant. They are open providing food pick-up three times a week. During this pandemic they are no longer receiving the usual plentiful supply of food and personal care items donations. The Local Food Shelf was the choice of the Community Lunch Advisory Committee.
October 2021 Recipient: Abenaki Helping Abenaki – https://abenakitribe.org/aha%2C-inc
Abenaki Helping Abenaki strives to support and promote the Abenaki culture and celebrate their rich heritage while sharing it with the wider community. The Abenaki Landlink project is one of AHA’s main ongoing projects. Gardeners and farmers from around the state volunteer to cultivate a portion of their land with Indigenous seeds of corn, beans and squash provided by the Nulhegan band of Abenaki. At the end of the season, this food is harvested to provide food to members of the tribe as well as food shelves for the wider community in the Northeast Kingdom.
September 2021 Recipient: People Health and Wellness – https://www.phwcvt.org/
People’s Health & Wellness Clinic provides free healthcare to uninsured and underinsured people in Central Vermont. Services include medical, mental health, and dental care, and other specialties. In response to COVID-19 the Clinic shifted to telehealth services and continues to offer a hybrid of virtual and in person visits to keep patients, volunteers, and staff safe. This year, the Clinic moved into a new facility at 51 Church Street in Barre. This beautifully renovated space is a welcoming, accessible, and central location to better serve the healthcare needs of the community. The Clinic is incredibly grateful for UCM’s continued generosity.
June 2021 Recipient: Vermont River Conservancy (VRC) https://www.vermontriverconservancy.org/
VRC was the winner of the Kids Choice vote at UCM’s Kids Annual Meeting in April, 2021. The children are excited to help the dream of Confluence River Park become a reality. This will be a fully accessible public park that helps everyone connect with the Earth our home, and will be just down river from the church. They love the idea of going there as part of church programs! VT River Conservancy is managing this project. The money from UCM will help build a weatherproof kiosk along the bike path to go up this fall, to re-engage the public with this idea and the current vision for what it will look like.
May 2021 Recipients:
North Branch Nature Center – https://northbranchnaturecenter.org/
& VT Interfaith Power & Light – https://vtipl.org/
North Branch Nature Center’s core values are community, equity, engagement, and stewardship. We believe all people need and deserve equitable access to nature and nature education, and we understand that real barriers exist. We have hired the Peace and Justice Center to help our entire staff and board examine our own biases, actions and inactions, and we are also hiring BIPOC and other consultants as we work to center the needs and interests of underserved, marginalized and diverse populations. We are grateful for your Community Pouch support, which NBCN will put towards these vital partnerships.
Vermont Interfaith Power and Light (VTIPL) is a faith-based organization formed by people from different faith communities who wanted to take action to address the climate crisis. We seek to empower members of faith and spiritual communities to advocate for our Earth and future generations in Vermont. We also create and share educational programs and help Vermonters take action in their houses of worship, homes, and workplaces to conserve energy, and increase the use of renewable energy.
April 2021 Recipient: Good Beginnings of Central VT – http://www.goodbeginningscentralvt.org/
Good Beginnings’ mission is to bring community to families and their babies. Hundreds of families each year are matched with a Postpartum Angel, visit the The Nest, or attend early parenting workshops or babywearing clinics. Any family with a new baby is eligible. Our Free Carrier Program and Emergency Fund are available to help families experiencing financial hardship. During the pandemic, staff and volunteers continue to support families through expanded virtual services, home deliveries of food and essential supplies, and responding to increased need for mental health referrals and financial assistance. Together with other local partners, we formed the Family Connectivity Project to keep families with young children connected to the internet during the shutdown.
March 2021 Recipient: Barre Area Senior Center – http://www.barreseniors.org/
The Barre Area Senior Center provides access to programs and resources that help older adults live independently and remain active. The senior center is a 501c3 non-profit that relies solely on grants, donations, and fundraisers. We strive to make BASC our member’s “home away from home.” We focus on programs and events that will benefit the aging community on many levels while offering a place that affords them with a fun and social atmosphere.
February 2021 Recipient: Central Vermont SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice)
Central Vermont SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) is a chapter of a national network of groups and individuals working to undermine white supremacy and work for racial justice. Active since 2015, Central Vermont SURJ’s goal is to build community and healing through anti-racist education, mutual aid, outreach, repair and the inner-work of acknowledging our own bias. https://www.facebook.com/CVtSURJ/
January 2021 Recipients: Migrant Justice/Justicia Migrante & Vermont Freedom Fund
Migrant Justice/Justicia Migrante: Throughout the pandemic, migrant farmworkers continue to work producing the milk and dairy products that line supermarket shelves. Farmworkers also continue to organize for their rights and to expand the groundbreaking Milk with Dignity program. Milk with Dignity brings together farmworkers, consumers, farmer owners, and corporate buyers towards building a sustainable Northeast dairy industry that advances the human rights of farmworkers, supports the long-term interests of farm owners, and provides an ethical supply chain for everyone.
Vermont Freedom Fund: When non-citizens without immigration documents in Vermont go anywhere away from home, such as to the grocery store, they risk being arrested and jailed in New Hampshire by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). They may be imprisoned indefinitely unless they have help. Vermont Freedom Fund pays for lawyers to request release on bail. If the Immigration Judge allows bail, a VT Freedom Fund volunteer pays bond and brings the person home to Vermont. We are considering expanding to pay pretrial bail for jailed Vermonters who are too impoverished to pay their own bail. All jails are dangerous in this pandemic.
December 2020 Recipient: People’s Health & Wellness Clinic
People’s Health & Wellness Clinic provides free healthcare to uninsured and underinsured people in Central Vermont. Services include medical, mental health, and dental care, and other specialties. COVID-19 forced the Clinic to shift to telehealth services, which remain our primary mode of treating patients, even as in-person visits resume. In addition to our technological growth, the pandemic has illuminated the limitations of the Clinic’s building. In order to follow COVID-19 precautions, the Clinic is operating out of a temporary site and we are at the beginning stages of a project to create a new long-term home for the organization.
Special Christmas Eve Service Community Pouch Recipient: Good Samaritan Haven
Good Samaritan Haven is central Vermont’s homeless shelter. Since Covid, we have scrambled to keep everyone safe. Besides providing a bed, food, and basic services, we also now help our guests navigate a pandemic world. Currently, we assist over 300 individuals experiencing homelessness — our highest caseload in our 35 year history. Most of our guests are in motel rooms supported by the state. More are housed in our main shelter in Barre and some are in transitional housing in Montpelier. In November we opened the Christ Church warming shelter in Montpelier, providing a safe alternative for those living outside. In motels, shelters, and on the streets, we work to keep our homeless neighbors safe.
November 2020 Recipient: Community Harvest of Central Vermont.
Community Harvest of Central Vermont (CHCV) is a volunteer-driven community service program which utilizes the generosity of local farmers and volunteers – many UCM members and friends – to address food insecurity, increase local food system awareness, and reduce waste. CHCV brings our community together through gleaning to recover surplus nutritious food produced on 36 area farms which is donated to 25 recipient partners who feed more than 10,000 Central Vermonters experiencing food insecurity. In response to increased need this year, CHCV expects to donate 125,000 pounds of fresh food in 2020, nearly doubling our previous record of 65,000 pounds in 2019!
We welcome donations to our Community Pouch partners at any time throughout the year. You can donate online here and select ‘Give to Community Pouch’ from the drop down menu, or, if you prefer, you may also donate by check — please write ‘Community Pouch’ in the memo line. Make checks payable to ‘Unitarian Church of Montpelier,’ mailing address: 130 Main St., Montpelier, VT 05602.
Thank you for your generosity!