News

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SEVCA and Vermont Adult Learning Present "Ready for Work" Program

“Ready for Work” consists of a free, 6-week employment readiness course along with intensive, one-on-one support to help participants improve their resume writing and interviewing skills, overcome employment barriers, search for and apply for jobs, and transition successfully into the workforce. Classes begin February 2 at Vermont Adult Learning's facility in Brattleboro.

Click here for all the info.

We Want YOU! ....to file your taxes for free!

Are you sure you're getting all the tax credits you're entitled to? If you are income eligible and live in Windham or Windsor counties, you can get tax help from SEVCA for free!

Get all the details HERE.

 

SEVCA Consolidating “Good Buy” Thrift Stores in WRJ

Sales Will Accompany Close Out

SEVCA’s Board of Directors recently made the difficult decision to close its “Good Buy” Thrift Store at the White River Junction Recycling Center and consolidate its operations with the “Good Buy” store at 676 Hartford Ave., which will remain open for business. Despite SEVCA’s best efforts to keep the Recycling Center store open, which included expanding into additional space provided by the town on a 6-month trial basis, revenues were not sufficient to sustain operations. The last day this store will be open is Saturday, January 23.

The sustainability of the Recycling Center store has been challenged by a variety of factors. Since curbside recycling was introduced, fewer people visited the Recycling Center, which cut down on customer traffic considerably. In addition, the location is not accessible by public transportation and is no longer a stop on the Wednesday senior bus route. It has also become clear that the local market is not strong enough to support two thrift stores in close proximity to one another—SEVCA’s two stores are only seven miles apart. Consolidating SEVCA’s thrift store operations at its larger, higher volume, and more accessible Hartford Avenue location simply made good business sense.

To thank the community for its longstanding support of SEVCA’s Good Buy Stores at both locations, the organization is holding a 4-week sales event. From January 16 through January 23, all items at the Recycling Center site will be sold at a 20% discount. After that site closes, customers will receive discounts at the Hartford Avenue Good Buy Store. From January 25-30, customers will get a 20% discount on their purchases at that site; then for the week of February 1-6 the discount will be 15%; and finally, from February 8-13 all customers will receive a 10% discount.

SEVCA Executive Director Steve Geller expressed SEVCA’s continuing commitment to serving White River Junction and the Upper Valley community at the Hartford Ave. store, saying, “We have greatly appreciated the town’s help in our effort to keep the Recycling Center store open, but it is now clear we need to ‘right-size’ the business to ensure the long-term sustainability of our thrift stores and thus preserve this affordable source of clothing, furniture, and household goods to meet the community’s needs. We regret any inconvenience to our loyal customers, and urge everyone to visit our Hartford Ave. store.”

The closing of the Recycling Center store will affect three part-time employees. SEVCA is committed to working with the dislocated employees to help them obtain unemployment compensation and identify suitable opportunities to enable them to make a successful transition to new jobs.

The “Good Buy” Thrift Stores are part of SEVCA’s multi-pronged strategy to combat poverty in Southeastern Vermont. In the past year, SEVCA served over 10,000 people in Windham and Windsor counties through a range of programs such as crisis fuel assistance, homelessness prevention, weatherization, home repair, business start-up and support, job readiness and skills training, financial fitness, asset building, Head Start, food stamp outreach, access to affordable health care, budgeting/savings, and information & referral, as well as the thrift stores. Not only do the stores offer products that meet people’s basic needs at very low prices on a daily basis, they often provide those items free of charge to households experiencing especially difficult crises. In addition to assisting its own clients, SEVCA has a strong partnership with The Upper Valley Haven, providing free clothing and household goods to help the homeless families they serve to get back on their feet.

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Annual Appeal Highlights Stories of SEVCA's Impact

Dear Friend,

The holiday season is upon us, and we know you must be wondering how to sift through the many appeals from worthy organizations asking for your support and choose those nearest to your heart. As you consider your gifts, Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) would like you to know about the impact that the generosity of so many people like you has had on some of our most vulnerable neighbors, such as:

*  the young, single mother doing her best to care for her children while upgrading her employment skills through  SEVCA’s “Ready for Work” program so that she will be able to get a decent job;

*  the family who would have become homeless if not for the assistance SEVCA’s housing case manager provided to help pay their back rent and create and stick to a sustainable budget so they could afford to remain in their home;

*  the elderly man in poor health who was freezing cold each winter in his mobile home before SEVCA weatherized it;

*  the middle-aged couple, in a financial crisis due to a recent job loss, who found themselves unable to afford their next heating fuel delivery and turned to SEVCA’s Crisis Fuel program to stay warm;

*  the families displaced by the recent fire at an affordable housing development in Brattleboro, who are being helped by SEVCA to meet their basic needs, secure alternative housing, and acquire essential personal and household items to help them begin again.

Families and individuals who are struggling financially come to us with their own unique histories, circumstances, and stories to tell. We listen, empathize, assess, and determine the support needed to get them back on their feet and moving forward with their lives.

To help them, SEVCA offers a comprehensive array of programs and initiatives developed over the course ofour 50-year history and continually adapted to meet local needs. Crisis fuel assistance, housing assistance and homelessness prevention, home repair, weatherization, early childhood education, financial fitness education, budget counseling, small business counseling, job readiness training, matched savings accounts, income tax preparation, and emergency clothing and furniture are some of our key services.

We can provide these critical services to the thousands of Windham and Windsor County residents who fall on hard times each year because you and others like you are willing to provide the resources needed for us to respond quickly, effectively, and compassionately.

CLICK HERE to read just a few of the many true stories of determination, caring, and hope that are made possible by SEVCA’s supporters. We hope they help you understand how your donation directly benefits your neighbors, and we urge you to give what you can to help us maintain a strong safety net for those who need it the most. 

Your support is especially important because, unlike many of our other funding sources, it provides us with the flexibility to respond to whatever our clients’ specific needs are, from resolving all types of immediate crises to developing innovative solutions that help people stabilize their lives and move toward self-reliance. Please DONATE HERE today.

Thank you for your generosity.

Sincerely,

Steve Geller,                                                                     Amanda Rundle,
Executive Director
                                                         Board President   

In Wake of New Poverty Data, SEVCA Releases Results of Community Assessment

SEVCA's Survey of Local Households with Lower Incomes Reveals Hardships of Poverty

On September 17, the Census Bureau released its annual American Community Survey, which includes state and local data on a host of indicators, including poverty rates, income, wages, unemployment, housing cost burdens, etc. While data for the U.S. as a whole shows a slight improvement in the poverty rate and income levels, in Vermont household incomes have remained stagnant and the poverty rate stands at 12.2%, no significant improvement from the previous year. Click here to find out more.

SEVCA also conducted a recent survey on the needs of lower income residents in its service area, which portrays a troubling picture of the difficulties so many of our neighbors face as they struggle to make ends meet. SEVCA distributed surveys to many of the people who use its services, and also asked various other community organizations to complete the survey and help distribute it to their clients to complete, as part of its Community Assessment. Community Action Agencies like SEVCA conduct such an assessment at least every three years to inform its strategies to address the needs and service gaps in the community. Over 350 lower-income residents responded. While the survey is not necessarily representative of the low-income population as a whole, it does offer some insights into their experiences. Highlights of the results include the following:

  • Households with lower incomes struggle just to meet their basic needs.  64% of those surveyed said their household income is not enough to meet their family’s basic needs (i.e. food, shelter, clothing, medical care, etc.). 69% said they have had to borrow money or use their credit cards just to pay for their basic needs.
  • Chronic lack of adequate income or even a period of financial stress can lead to a debt trap for many lower-income households. 60% of survey respondents said they can’t afford the monthly payments on their debt, and 68% said they can’t get credit or have bad credit. Only 17% of those surveyed said they are able to save money regularly.
  • Few opportunities other than low-wage work are available to this population. Among lower-income workers surveyed, 85% said that most of the jobs they can get don’t pay well, and 85% said they and/or their partner had to work more than 40 hours/week just to pay the bills.
  • More education and/or training is needed to help households move out of poverty. 66% of respondents said they need more education or training to get a better job, and 79% of this group said they are not able to afford the education or training program they need. 50% said they would like to start a business but need more support and training.
  • Lack of transportation and lack of affordable child care are common employment barriers.  43% of respondents said they had trouble getting or keeping a job due to problems with transportation, and 34% had trouble getting or keeping a job because they could not find affordable child care. In general, 71% of respondents said that public transportation does not go where they need to go at the times they need it, and 69% of those with a car said they had a hard time maintaining it.
  • Many people in lower-income households are no longer able to work. A large proportion of those we surveyed were disabled and unable to work (28%) and/or retired (20%) and on fixed incomes.
  • Housing costs represent one of the most persistent barriers to sustainability for low-income households. 86% of respondents agreed that it is hard to find affordable, safe housing in their area, and 68% said that they have a hard time paying their rent and/or mortgage. 40% said they are behind in their rent or mortgage payments, and are therefore at risk of homelessness.  Housing subsidies are scarce: only 12% of those surveyed had rental assistance or lived in affordable housing.
  • Housing quality is also a concern, with 80% of lower-income homeowners surveyed saying that their home needs major repairs but they can’t afford them. 68% of all respondents said that their home or apartment was cold in the winter and/or not insulated well.
  • Most lower income households have trouble making ends meet despite receiving at least some public benefits. For example, 80% of survey respondents received 3SquaresVT (Food Stamps ), yet 60% of those surveyed said they sometimes skip meals to save money on food, one of the indicators of food insecurity. 28% said they don’t have enough nutritious food to feed themselves and their families.
  • Lack of access to dental care emerged as a major issue among the households surveyed, with 66% saying that they have a hard time finding dentists that take their insurance. In comparison, only 19% said they had a hard time finding doctors that take their insurance. 63% of the respondents indicated they had Medicaid/Dr. Dinosaur, 36% had Medicare, and 18% had a VT Health Connect medical plan.
  • Mental health is also a significant concern for many lower-income households. Sometimes poor mental health is a contributing factor to a household being in poverty, and other times the stresses of living in poverty are at the root of the mental health problems experienced. 58% of survey respondents say they or someone in their family needs help with a problem like depression, anxiety/stress, or other mental health issue.

SEVCA’s Community Assessment also included surveys of organizations throughout Windham and Windsor counties (91 responded) and SEVCA staff to get their perspectives on community needs. A more complete description of survey results and key findings is available HERE.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead