News

Thank You For Caring!

Contributions from Local Partners Make Our World Go 'Round

Thank you Springfield Food Cooperative! The Co-op is raising funds for SEVCA throughout the month of December through its “Change for Change” program. The program collects donations from its customers by asking them to “round up” the amount they pay for their purchases to the next whole dollar amount. Remember to shop at the Co-op this month and contribute to a great cause. Those pennies really add up to “change” in your community!

Thank you Marlboro College staff!  During a Day of Service at Marlboro College, a crew of volunteers cut, split, and delivered a truckload of wood for SEVCA. The wood will be distributed to households who are financially struggling and facing imminent loss of their heat this winter. It will help keep many families warm while awaiting a fuel or wood delivery provided through SEVCA’s Crisis Fuel program. We very much appreciate this continued support from the College to alleviate hardship for our neighbors in need!

Thank you to Brenda Eno and her students from Bellows Falls Union High School, who come by every year to help SEVCA stuff envelopes for our Annual Appeal, which helps us raise many thousands of dollars annually. We love hosting this enthusiastic group of young people—thank you for your helping hands! 

SpringfldCo op

Hannah at the checkout at Springfield Food Cooperative, where customers are being asked to “round up” their
purchases this month to benefit SEVCA. 

Facing a Heating Emergency? You may qualify for Crisis Fuel

The nights are getting longer and there’s a chill in the air-- it’s time for everyone to bundle up against the cold when venturing outdoors. But for those who can’t afford to heat their homes adequately, that chill is inescapable and they need to bundle up indoors, too. In fact, households with low incomes spend an average of about $2,000 more than they can afford on energy costs every year. While many get some assistance through the state’s Seasonal Fuel program, what happens when that’s not enough? For low-income households facing a heating emergency, the Crisis Fuel program can be their lifeline. And, as of November 27, that lifeline is available to those who qualify.

                “Depending on how cold the winter is, anywhere from 800 – 1,600 households may need Crisis Fuel assistance in Windham and Windsor Counties,” said Pat Burke, Director of SEVCA’s Family Services Program. “We do our best to make sure no one in need has to go without heat.”  SEVCA can also arrange an emergency furnace repair or replacement for homeowners whose furnaces stop working or become unsafe to operate.

                To be eligible for Crisis Fuel assistance, households must have had extenuating circumstances that led to the heating emergency and income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which is based on household size; e.g., $4,100/month (gross) for a family of four. Most households must first apply for and receive Seasonal Fuel assistance before they can be considered for Crisis Fuel. Only households between 185% and 200% of FPL are eligible for Crisis Fuel without having to apply for Seasonal Fuel assistance (since they don’t qualify for Seasonal Fuel). Burke urges all qualified households to apply as soon as possible for the Seasonal Fuel program, so that their application for Crisis Fuel, should they need it, is not delayed.

                Generally, only one Crisis Fuel assist is provided per household receiving Seasonal Fuel assistance per year (two assists for those who don’t qualify).      For more information, call SEVCA toll-free at (800) 464-9951 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday. Crisis Fuel Assistance is available from November 27 until sometime in early April.

                To help bridge the gap between what is covered by the state’s Crisis Fuel program and what is needed by a particular family in crisis, SEVCA raises money through grants and donations. To help keep low-income families warm this winter, individuals may donate to our “Share the Warmth” fund online at http://www.sevca.org/share-the-warmth. Checks may also be sent to 91 Buck Drive, Westminster, VT 05158.

 


WHO DO I CALL FOR HELP WITH A HEATING EMERGENCY?

Northern Windham County:   (800) 464-9951 (toll-free)

Brattleboro area:  (802) 254-2795

Springfield area: (802) 885-6153

White River Junction area: (802) 295-5215.

Crisis Fuel Assistance on weekends and holidays ONLY: 1-866-331-7741,

Furnace repair or replacement assistance on weekends, holidays, or for after-hours emergencies: 1-877-295-7998.

To apply for Seasonal Fuel, apply online at www.mybenefits.vt.gov or call (800) 479-6151. 

 

Volunteers Still Needed for SEVCA’s Free Tax Assistance Program

Great Way to Make a Difference in Your Community!

Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) will provide free tax preparation for lower income taxpayers for the 2018 tax filing season through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. In order to help as many families as possible claim the tax credits and refunds available to them, SEVCA is now recruiting volunteers to work at sites in White River Junction, Windsor, and Westminster during tax season. We especially need volunteers in Westminster-- training at this site is taking place on Tuesday afternoons in December and January

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who have low to moderate income, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free federal and state income tax return preparation with electronic filing.

Don’t know that much about taxes? Don’t worry — you’ll receive specialized training from a certified VITA instructor plus IRS online courses. We are looking for individuals who are willing and able to commit 3 to 4 hours per week from January 30 – April 10, 2018. Although prior tax preparation experience is not necessary, a commitment to training and certification is required. Training sessions will be held in Westminster during December & January and at your convenience using online IRS self-study training materials. Continuing on-site training and supervision is provided during the tax preparation season.

To learn how you can make a difference in your community by joining a great group of dedicated VITA volunteers, please contact Leslie Wood at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (802) 722-4575, ext. 199.

 

  VITA volunteers

VITA volunteers practicing tax prep skills

Addressing Climate Change: Opportunities or Pitfalls for People with Low Incomes?

How is addressing climate change a potential business opportunity? This was the question considered at a September 12 public forum in Brattleboro, sponsored by Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) and the Vermont Natural Resources Council. Speakers talked about the growth of the clean energy sector, and the jobs that have been created through making homes and businesses more energy efficient and/or pursuing alternative energy sources. SEVCA Executive Director Steve Geller broadened the discussion to include a consideration of the impact on people with low incomes.

While agreeing that new policies to address climate change would have long-term positive effects for us all, Geller provided some cautionary comments on proposals that would mean that people with lower incomes might face increasing costs in the short-term that they are in no position to afford. For example, the Carbon Pollution Tax proposal introduced in Vermont by State Rep. David Deen (also presenting at the forum) would significantly increase fuel costs for home heating and transportation. Geller pointed out that each year, low-income households pay over $2,000 more than they can afford on home heating costs, with those earning less than 50% of the poverty level forced to pay about 46% of their income for home utility costs (heating, cooling, electricity). Policies aimed at reducing emissions should not result in even more excessive cost burdens for people who can’t even afford to meet their basic needs, and incentives for introducing energy efficient technology need to be structured so that people with lower incomes can utilize them.

Read more HERE.

Program Deadlines Loom: Energy Efficiency Program and Jobs for Independence

Free Energy Assessment and Energy Efficiency Improvements Available

SEVCA is providing home-visits to install energy-efficiency improvements to area low- and moderate-income households in order to help reduce their energy bills. A Vermont Community Energy Partnership Program grant has made it possible for these free services, which include:

  • Direct installation of efficient products: LEDs, advanced power strips, low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, pipe wrap for domestic hot water, and caulking and weatherstripping.
  • Identification of energy-saving opportunities: assessment of inefficient refrigerators, freezers, and clothes washers; opportunities for reducing heating and cooling costs; eligibility for energy-efficient mobile home replacements; eligibility for the Weatherization Assistance Program or other programs

Interested Windham and Windsor County residents should call John Nielson at (800) 464-9951, ext. 138 for more information and to schedule a home visit. Current funding ends in December, so don’t delay!

Want Help Getting a Job? Hurry to Sign Up Before "Jobs for Independence" Recruitment Ends!

Vermont’s SNAP Program, called 3SquaresVT and administered by the Department for Children and Families (DCF), was awarded a three‐year $8.9 million dollar grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a job readiness and training pilot program for people getting or eligible to get SNAP benefits.

            Vermont’s pilot, called Jobs for Independence (JFI), will be closing the application process in December, so potential participants are urged to apply now! So far, SEVCA has enrolled 367 participants, and statewide, 75% of the expected 3,000 participants have been enrolled.

            JFI can help people even if they: don’t have stable housing; have a mental health issue; are struggling with substance abuse or recovery; or have a criminal record. Vermonters who get or are eligible for 3SquaresVT benefits may be eligible to participate. Those selected for the program could get help to:

  • Resolve issues that may be keeping them from work (e.g., criminal record, mental health, substance abuse, or unstable housing)
  • Find new or better jobs
  • Gain work skills and knowledge
  • Pay for things they need to work like car repairs and work clothes
  • Earn the Governor’s Career Ready Certificate at the Community College of Vermont (CCV)
  • Achieve industry‐recognized certification (e.g., in CDL or IT Software)

3SquaresVT participants who are interested in JFI should call SEVCA to see if they qualify. In Windham County, contact Elizabeth McEwen at 802 376-0362 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In Windsor County, contact Elizabeth Meuse 802 376-0361 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“Unless the investment in children is made, all of humanity’s most fundamental long-term problems will remain fundamental long-term problems.”

UNICEF "The State of the Children" (1995)