News

Don't "Fall Back" into bad financial habits--Get Financially Fit!

Free Financial Fitness Workshops to Start Soon!

SEVCA is inviting participants to register for its upcoming workshop series, “Your Money, Your Goals,” to be held in Brattleboro starting September 13. This 7-part workshop series will help participants improve their relationship with money, develop strong financial habits, and take steps toward prosperity. Topics covered include: saving, spending, credit, home buying, insurance, purchasing a car, and saving for college. The instructor will review participants’ credit reports and offer recommendations to build healthy credit or resolve credit issues, as well as provide individualized financial coaching to help participants and their families become more financially secure.

The workshop series is free and open to the public. Those who complete the course may be eligible to join SEVCA’s Individual Development Account (IDA) matched savings program. IDA participants earn matching funds (subject to state and/or federal appropriations) for every dollar they save (up to $1,000) if they save a minimum of $25 each month toward purchasing a home, obtaining education or job training, or starting or enhancing their own business.

The course will be held at Marlboro College, 28 Vernon St., Brattleboro from 5:30-7 p.m. on Wednesdays, September 13 through October 25. Pre-registration is required. Please call to register at 802-722-4575, ext. 151, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Strong Performance at SEVCA's "Chipping Away At Poverty" Benefit Golf Tournament

Over $12,000 Raised for Area Residents in Need

BRATTLEBORO – Though thunderstorms threatened at times, not a drop of rain marred Southeastern Vermont Community Action’s (SEVCA’s) 16th Annual “Chipping Away at Poverty” Benefit Golf Tournament at the Brattleboro Country Club on June 23. The four Tournament Co-Sponsors--Mutual of America, IPG Employee Benefits Specialists, Westview Terrace Apartments, and Sunset Tool, Inc.—along with 16 other major sponsors, 20 other donors, and 18 teams of golfers--raised over $12,000 to support SEVCA’s essential anti-poverty programs serving low-income individuals and families in Windham and Windsor counties.

                Longstanding supporters and new friends from local, regional, and national businesses, SEVCA’s Weatherization and Crisis Fuel program vendors, local service providers, staff members, and the community sponsored and/or engaged in friendly competition to raise funds for the agency’s services. A Hole-In-One Contest sponsored by Subaru of Keene gave participants the chance to win a new Subaru Legacy and other valuable prizes, while Leone, McDonnell & Roberts sponsored the Putting Contest with its $5,000 grand prize. No players won the grand prizes this year, but Melanie Boese came closest to the pin in the Putting Contest final to win a $100 prize. New this year was the popular Air Cannon Contest, sponsored by Mutual of America, in which participants shot their golf balls out of an air cannon from the Hole #18 tee. Tim Kangas from Westview Terrace Apartments landed his ball closest to the pin and won a 7-night stay at one of over 3,000 vacation resorts.

                Tournament winners were:

                1st Place Team – Mutual of America

                2nd Place – People’s United Bank

                3rd Place – Tom Burke’s Team

                Women’s Closest to the Pin – Thalia Holmes

                Men’s Closest to the Pin – Jim McAdams

                Women’s Longest Drive – Kathy Orben-Hall

                Men’s Longest Drive – Jason Gaskell

In addition to the sponsors listed above, SEVCA wishes to thank the following businesses, organizations and individuals for their sponsorships and other support:

‘Double Eagle’ Level Sponsors: Kinney-Pike Insurance, The Stove Depot, Inc., First Light

Golfer Bag and Gift Sponsor: IPG Employee Benefits Specialists

Golf Ball Sponsor: Clark’s Quality Foods

Breakfast and Luncheon Sponsor: Westview Terrace/Springfield Housing Authority

Hole Sponsors– Clay Point Associates, Cocoplum Appliances, Cota & Cota, Durand Automotive Group, Inc., EFI, First Light, IPG Employee Benefits Specialists, Kinney Pike Insurance, Northeast Delta Dental, Simon Operation Services, Streeter, LLC, The Stove Depot, Inc., Sunset Tool, Inc., the Windham Foundation, and WW Building Supply.

Team Sponsors: Brattleboro Country Club, Canon Solutions America, Dillon Chevrolet, Farnum Insulators, First     Light, Mutual of America, Paul & Carol McDonnell, People’s United Bank, the Stove Depot, Inc., Sunset Tool, Inc., and Westview Terrace Apartments.

General Supporters – the Abare family, Burtco, Inc., Hugh Haggerty, Lucas Industries, Magee Office Products, Newcomb’s Masonry, Northern Safety & Industrial, PayData Workforce Solutions, Springfield Financial Corp., Stewart Property Management, and Westminster Auto Service.

In-Kind Contributors – Best Buy, Bellows Falls Country Club, Brattleboro Country Club, Crown Point Country Club, Grafton Village Cheese, Putney Food Co-op, Raven Bay Associates, Shona Grill, Walmart.

Special thanks go to Brattleboro Country Club and their staff for their assistance, generosity and high quality service in hosting our tournament this year.

Give Your Preschooler a Head Start…Now With Expanded Classroom Hours!

SEVCA’s Head Start program, with classrooms in Springfield, Chester, White River Junction, and Windsor, is now accepting applications for the 2017-18 school year. Head Start offers a free, high quality early education program to families with children ages 3 to 5, along with parenting education and family support services. Children must turn age 3 by September 1, and families must be income-eligible to enroll.

Head Start is excited to offer expanded hours of classroom instruction in the coming year! Previously, children were in the classroom for four hours/day, four days/week (a total of 16 hours of instruction). Now, 15 Head Start children at the Chester Community Preschool and all children at the Windsor and White River Junction centers will have 6 hours of classroom time, 5 days/week (30 hours). This will make it easier for children with working parents to attend, and help them achieve even better developmental and educational outcomes.

To enroll, please contact SEVCA’s Head Start Program Director Lori Canfield at 802-885-6669 or 1-877-535-3497, or send her an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Good News! Grant Awards for Energy Efficiency, Health Navigation, Housing

SEVCA Granted Major Award for Health Care Navigator Program

SEVCA was just awarded a 3-year grant for $97,704 from the Fannie Holt Ames & Edna Louise Holt Fund (BACCGF), Bank of America, N.A., Trustee to support health care access for low-income and vulnerable households in Windham and Windsor Counties.

The award will enable SEVCA to continue our existing successful Health Care Navigator program in the face of extremely limited government funding for this vital service, which currently helps over 400 area low-income households per year to access coverage. It also includes expansion of services to elderly and disabled households that require assistance with Medicaid Supplemental, Medicare Savings, VPharm, and disability insurance (SSDI) programs.

“This grant comes at exactly the right moment, as state funding has all but dried up for the Navigator program at the same time that efforts to eliminate or significantly reduce coverage for millions of households nationwide are moving forward in Congress,” said Steve Geller, SEVCA’s Executive Director. “Without advocates to assist them, the negative impacts of an increasingly challenging health insurance environment on lower-income households will be even worse, and hundreds of local families, seniors, and individuals could be left to fend for themselves as they try to maintain their coverage and obtain appropriate care and treatment. This grant means that, at least in Southeastern Vermont, vulnerable families will have someone on their side.”

SEVCA’s experienced Navigator, who has been helping residents with low incomes access health insurance for the past four years, will work diligently to help them obtain and maintain coverage wherever possible. And, if legislative changes begin to limit access to coverage, she will also collect and share information about what happens to some of these households in terms of cost increases, losing access to coverage, and the resulting impacts of no longer receiving adequate health care, in order to raise awareness about the need for affordable universal health insurance.

SEVCA also received a small grant of $8,300 from Vermont Health Connect (representing a steep cut from the $45,000 grant awarded last year), which will also support the Navigator program.

 

New Grant from Efficiency Vermont Helps Achieve Energy Savings

Efficiency Vermont awarded SEVCA an 8-month grant of $ 27,090 to introduce energy-efficient technology and practices to area households with low incomes.

SEVCA’s Emergency Home Repair (EHR) Coordinator will conduct free home visits and provide education on how to maximize cost savings through additional energy-efficient practices, products, and resources; install/provide various energy-efficient devices; and recommend further energy-efficiency improvements (such as Weatherization). On-site interventions during the home visit include direct installation of efficient products such as LED bulbs, advanced power strips, low-flow showerheads, pipe wrap, and caulking, all at no cost to the resident.

The program runs through December 2017, at which time further funding may be made available to extend the program. Windham and Windsor County households interested in a home visit should contact John Nielson at 802-722-4575, ext. 138 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Two Grant Awards to Help Homeless and At-risk Households Renewed

The Housing Opportunity Program (HOP), administered by the Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity, recently awarded $225,800 to fund SEVCA’s homelessness prevention and re-housing efforts. The award provides $152,683 for services in the Brattleboro-area Agency of Human Services (AHS) District, $45,667 in the Hartford (Upper Valley) AHS District, and $27,453 in the Springfield AHS District. The award is renewable for one year, subject to funding availability, for a total possible award of $451,600 over two years. It will enable SEVCA’ Family Services program to continue to provide housing assistance and case management services to at-risk and homeless families throughout our Windham and Windsor County service area.

The HOP application included a request for continuation of the General Assistance (GA) Alternatives Pilot Program, which, in the past year, funded a part-time case manager to work directly with homeless families and individuals sheltered in motels in the Brattleboro area. The goal was to shorten their motel stay by supporting them to locate a more permanent housing solution as soon as possible. SEVCA had also requested to take over a project that had been initially funded through Groundworks Collaborative, in which apartments were master-leased to provide temporary emergency housing. Funding for the GA Alternatives grant came from GA program funds and was evaluated through a separate process; unfortunately, due to anticipated program cuts, only 3 months of funding was provided to continue the part-time case manager, and no funding was provided to lease the emergency apartments. The state is currently in the process of assessing whether it will be able to extend the funding beyond that initial period.

Granite United Way also recently announced their grant awards, which included an $18,000 grant to SEVCA’s Family Services department to provide fuel and housing assistance to Windsor County households in crisis. The award was slightly less than the $20,000 awarded last year. GUW funding enables SEVCA to help households that might not meet the strict state program eligibility criteria for the HOP or Crisis Fuel programs, and is essential to meeting the needs of vulnerable Windsor County households.

Federal Cut to IDA Program Leaves Future of Program Uncertain

Over the past two decades, the Individual Development Account (IDA) program has emerged as a proven strategy for helping families with low incomes build savings and assets. However, the program just suffered a setback when it was de-funded by Congress in the latest budget approved for the current fiscal year. Although the state of Vermont did include IDA matching and operating funds in its budget for FY18, it is unclear at this time if the state is still committed to releasing those funds, given the cut in the federal funds they were intended to match. If the state chose not to release this funding, it would have major implications for the future of the program, and even for the ability of current participants to continue saving and purchasing assets with their matched savings.

The federal government incentivized savings through the IDA by providing matching funds to households who saved money to acquire an asset-- buying a home, getting further education, or starting/expanding a business. Many states, such as Vermont, provided matching funds, resulting in a $2 match for every $1 saved, a great incentive to get households moving in the direction of greater financial stability. SEVCA, like the other Community Action Agencies (CAAs) in the state, still has several cohorts of IDA participants in the saving phase, and staff are needed to support them as they complete their savings and access their matching funds. Since the CAAs have to a great extent relied upon state funding for program operations as well as the match, and it is uncertain whether those funds will be forthcoming, the program is in jeopardy. Currently, the CAAs are advocating for the state to release the funds they appropriated for the program and working to locate alternative sources of funding.

SEVCA will continue to update its stakeholders on this developing story. Any ideas to raise funds for the IDA program are very welcome and can be shared with Steve Geller at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Supporters are also urged to let their state legislators know how valuable the IDA program is in helping people lift themselves out of poverty and transform their lives, and how essential it is to release the state funding. State legislators are listed HERE.

“Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the world. ”

Jane Addams (U.S. social worker, 1860-1935)