Renewals of two major grants for SEVCA’s Emergency Home Repair Program (EHRP)—the USDA’s Housing Preservation Grant (HPG) and a grant from The Thomas Thompson Trust—will help ensure the program’s viability and provide assistance to an estimated 30-40 homes over the coming year. SEVCA was awarded $26,000 from HPG and $10,000 from the Thompson Trust.
EHRP provides and facilitates emergency home repairs for low-income residents of Windham and Windsor Counties, to enable them to address unsafe, unhealthy, and substandard conditions in their homes. EHRP primarily focuses on small-scale emergency repairs of up to $2,000 for households who don’t qualify for or can’t afford to participate in housing rehab loan programs, have an urgent need not met by other programs, or need additional funds beyond what they are able to borrow. By providing the needed repairs quickly and cost-effectively, EHRP enables recipients to stay in their homes, ensures the safety and health of their families, and allows them to focus their scarce resources on other basic needs.
EHRP was designed to respond to a critical need that SEVCA identified through its experience in working with area residents. SEVCA’s Family Services staff commonly encounter low-income homeowners struggling to pay monthly expenses—mortgage, heat and electricity, food, healthcare, etc.—leaving them with nothing to invest in keeping their homes habitable. And SEVCA’s Weatherization staff see firsthand the substandard housing conditions many residents live in; yet too often, they are unable to provide Weatherization assistance, which would stem energy waste and reduce energy costs, due to the unacceptable condition of the ‘building envelope.’ SEVCA’s 2015 Community Assessment survey reinforced the need for the program, with 80% of the homeowners surveyed saying that they had major repair needs in their homes that they were unable to address.
There have been LOTS of changes in the Weatherization department over the past several months, with a number of new hires and a promotion! But “new” is a relative term, since many are actually rejoining SEVCA after an absence of a few years. Here’s the rundown:
Nate Stoddard: promoted to Operations Manager for Weatherization in September. Nate has been with SEVCA since 2009, when he started as an energy auditor. He’s held a number of positions since then, including advanced auditor, quality control, and auditor supervisor. His recent promotion involves the creation of a new Operations Manager position, combining the previous Auditor Supervisor and Production Coordinator positions in the department. Nate is enthusiastic about the increased efficiency in the program’s ability to plan the work flow with this new role, since having the production side and the auditors both report to him streamlines the process and creates better service for clients. Prior to joining SEVCA, Nate worked in the building industry, the automobile service industry, and served 5 years active duty in the Army from 1987-1992. He is a father of two and lives in Westminster.
Tristian Crawford: Auditor, hired in October. Tristian rejoined SEVCA to train as an Auditor, having served as a Crew Chief from 2014-15. He officially became an Auditor this month. A Bellows Falls native, he now lives in Chester with his wife and two boys, ages 6 and 9. Prior to working for SEVCA, Tristian did power line maintenance for 10 years. He says he’s “…happy to be back, and I’m looking forward to being here for a long time.”
Todd Clark: Crew Chief, hired in April. Todd is another staff member who has rejoined Weatherization after an absence. He served as Crew Tech for 3 years and Crew Chief for 7 years from 2003-13. Todd has had a number of other jobs, including 12 years at C&S Wholesalers and most recently, as a Community Outreach Specialist for HCRS, where he still works part time as a member of their Crisis Team. Todd has also trained as an EMT, though he is not certified. This father of five children, ranging in age from 11-26, he has lived in Westminster for the last 20 years, although he grew up in Maine. He says he loves the opportunity to learn different things at SEVCA, and that “it gives me a good feeling to help people.”
Brian Mueller: Crew Tech, hired in November. This former Marine and helicopter mechanic, who hails from Colchester but moved to Bellows Falls 15 years ago with his wife and three kids, has worked for many years in property maintenance and small construction. He first learned about SEVCA through his employer, who was a contractor for our Emergency Home Repair Program (EHRP), inspiring him to join the Weatherization staff as a Crew Tech from 2010-13. He left to work independently for a time, but was happy to come back to SEVCA when the opportunity arose, saying “I feel very welcome here.”
Harrison Rouleau: Crew Tech, hired in October. Harrison is a recent graduate of Kindle Farm High School who comes to SEVCA with a background in carpentry, logging, and farming. In fact, he says he’s a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none!” He values the on-the-job training he is able to get at SEVCA and has shown himself to be a hard worker who has an affinity for weatherization work.
Alexandra Jarrin: Business Administrator, hired in July. Alex, a former AmeriCorps worker in the Northeast Kingdom in the early 1990s, said she was eager to get back to working in the nonprofit sector after working 25 years in the corporate sector. When she saw the job posting as Business Administrator for Weatherization, she said to herself, “This is my job!” In this position, Alex deals with all Weatherization client applications, certifying eligibility and ensuring all the necessary documentation is submitted, and she’s also responsible for billing and reporting. “Every day is different,” she says. “No two situations are alike. It’s extremely rewarding.” A resident of Bellows Falls, Alex is the mother of three sons and has three grandchildren. She has an MBA from the Hagen School of Business at Iona College in New York.
Tawny Staskunas: Office Assistant, hired in July. Prior to joining the SEVCA Weatherization team, Tawny worked with the Rehab Loan Program at Windham & Windsor Housing Trust where she developed a knowledge of the resources available to help low- and moderate-income homeowners have safe and warm housing. Tawny enjoys being able to collaborate with other organizations to provide the best possible outcomes for customers. Tawny has a BA in Human Service Management from Southern Vermont College and spent most of her career at the Vermont Department of Labor, retiring after 30 years. She resides in West Chesterfield with her husband, John and their dog, Gypsy.
John Nielson: Emergency Home Repair Coordinator, hired in December. John worked for SEVCA on a special ARRA-funded project from 2011-12, managing the installation of solar hot water and hot air panels to help low-income households save on energy bills. Now he’s returned as the EHRP Coordinator, based in the Weatherization Department, saying he feels very much a part of the Weatherization team and still knows a lot of the staff. John lives in Westmoreland, NH, and most recently worked in a Maintenance/Security position at the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield, NH, an hour away from his home. Enjoying the much shorter commute from just over the river, John says he’s excited about the opportunity to revive the EHRP, which has been without a Coordinator for much of the year. He brings a long history of construction experience to the position, along with the motivation to help SEVCA achieve its mission.
In the past six months, SEVCA has welcomed a number of new staff to its operations, spanning all departments and most locations. We would like to acknowledge these newest members of our outstanding team and let them know we really appreciate the hard work and dedication they’ve shown:
Elizabeth McEwen; Community Outreach Specialist, Jobs for Independence, Brattleboro
John Synovetz; Housing Case Manager, Brattleboro
“Good Buy” Thrift Stores
Telos Whitfield; Store Clerk, Springfield and Bellows Falls
John Makela; Truck Driver
Susan Dillon; Financial Fitness Coordinator, Westminster:
Todd Clark; Crew Tech, Westminster
Tristan Crawford; Crew Tech, Westminster
Alexandra Jarrin; Business Administrator, Westminster
Harrison Rouleau; Crew Tech, Westminster
Tawny Staskunas; Office Assistant, Westminster
Crystal Simpson; Child Care Services Manager and Teacher, Springfield: In addition to serving as Child Care Services Manager for Head Start, Crystal works in the Sunshine room at Pine Street Preschool. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education with a Vermont State Teaching License. Crystal has three children and lives in Springfield.
Rosalie Worden; Administrative Assistant, Springfield: Rosalie has a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education, and she has been working in this field since 1980.
Theresa Hooker; Teaching Assistant, Springfield: Theresa works in the Rainbow room at Pine Street Preschool in Springfield. She has two children, five grandchildren, and three step grandchildren, and loves working with children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
Jazmin McNeill; Teacher, Springfield: Jazmin is the Lead Teacher in the Garden Room at Pine Street Preschool. A Ludlow resident, Jazmin has an Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Education and is pursuing her Bachelor's degree and teaching license in Early Childhood Eduation/Special Education.
Amanda Harris; Teacher Assistant, Springfield: Amanda is a Springfield resident and works in the Garden Room. She is studying Early Childhood Education, and she has a 16-month-old son. She will be getting married in April.
Lauren Wallace; Teacher Assistant, Springfield: Lauren works in the Sunshine Room at Pine Street preschool. She has a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Keene State College, and worked in child care for four years prior to joining Head Start.
Michelle Emerson-Small; Teacher Assistant, Springfield
Nicole Wilson; Teacher Assistant, Chester: Nicole works at the Chester Community Preschool and lives in Rockingham. She spent the last three years as a stay-at-home mom, and her daughter just entered kindergarten this year.
Jyoti Knisely, Teacher Assistant, Chester: Jyoti is a returning staff member at Chester Community Preschool, having taken a year off to volunteer in Indonesia. She is currently pursuing her Associate's degree in Education.
Luke Parmenter, Food Service Provider, White River Junction: This father of five has been involved in Head Start as a parent and as a substitute for 10 years. He has recently been hired as Food Service Provider at the Northwolds center in WRJ.
Amy Downing; Receptionist/Administrative Assistant, Westminster: Amy works mornings in the reception area at SEVCA's Westminster office. She is working toward a degree in Business Management from Community College of Vermont, and has four children.
Jean Richardson; Receptionist/Administrative Assistant, Westminster: Jean works afternoons in the reception area at the Westminster office. She is a Bellows Falls resident and has an Associate's Degree in Office Education.
Sheila Turner; Accountant, Westminster: Sheila recently returned to the position of SEVCA's Accountant, which she also held from 1998 - 2004. She has an Associate's Degree in Accounting, and 30 years of experience as an accountant and property manager.
With two wonderful Downtown Brattleboro venues, this year's Expo will be a dynamic and lively event. We've listened to feedback from our past events, have kept all the good stuff, and have made a few changes. While we've chosen to discontinue our middle-school educational component this year, our efforts will be focused on connecting businesses with career seekers, and getting the word out about hiring opportunities. We know that networking is an important aspect of career growth, so after the Expo, we'll be holding our Career Social just steps away from the Expo venues.