News

Spring Forward with Financial Fitness!

Session Starting Soon! Free “Financial Fitness” Classes in Brattleboro

BRATTLEBORO -- Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) is inviting participants to register for its upcoming workshop series, “Your Money, Your Goals,” to be held in Brattleboro starting April 4. 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 $2 for every $1 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 Tuesdays, April 4 through May 23 (excludes April 18). 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..

SEVCA has served as the federally-designated anti-poverty agency in Windsor and Windham Counties for more than 50 years. In the past year, SEVCA served over 9,000 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, information and referral, and thrift stores.

VITA is Vital! Here's Your Chance to Get Free Tax Prep

File Your Taxes for FREE through SEVCA’s VITA Program

The IRS has estimated that 4 million U.S. residents each year fail to claim tax credits they qualify for, forfeiting nearly $3 billion in tax credits and refunds. Tax benefits like the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) help eligible working families afford better housing, dependable transportation,and quality child care, and pursue further education and training, thus contributing to their long-term financial stability. In addition, they benefit the local economy.

Help SEVCA spread the word about the free tax preparation services we will provide to qualified low- and moderate-income households through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program between February 2 and April 13. Call SEVCA if you or someone you know:

  •  Is unsure of the tax implications of the Affordable Care Act and needs a little extra help to make sure their return is accurate this year
  • Wants to make sure to claim all tax credits they are eligible for, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit
  • Wants to save the $100-$300 they would usually pay a tax preparer to file their taxes

In 2016, SEVCA’s VITA program assisted over 300 tax filers, who received federal and state refunds amounting to over $400,000, including Earned Income Credits worth more than $200,000. This year, we have 26 experienced volunteer tax preparers, who have undergone extensive training in current tax regulations, including those related to the Affordable Care Act. Each return will be reviewed for accuracy by a certified volunteer. Free tax assistance is available by appointment only at the following locations 

  • SEVCA’s main office in Westminster on Tuesdays (daytime appointments)
  • St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in White River Junction on Thursdays (day and early evening appointments available)
  • Windsor Resource Connection Center (Windsor) on alternate Wednesdays, starting Feb. 8

SEVCA is proud to partner again this year with Granite United Way to offer the VITA program to residents in the Upper Valley (White River Junction and Windsor). You can schedule your own appointment at these sites by using the online registration process HERE: just click on "Schedule an appointment now!" and choose White River Junction or Windsor sites on the list that appears. You can also make an appointment by phone at these locations by calling 866-444-4211. Appointments can be scheduled at the Westminster location by phone only; please call 800-464-9951, beginning immediately.

$15,000 VT Building Communities Grant Awarded to SEVCA’s Head Start Program

BuildingCommunitiesGrant2016

Pictured (from l. to r.): Diane Nealy, Agency of Human Services; Governor Peter Shumlin; Steve Geller; and Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell.

A $15,000 Vermont Building Communities Grant awarded to SEVCA by the Department of Buildings and General Services will help pave the way to a new, renovated facility for the organization’s Head Start center in Windsor.  Steve Geller, SEVCA’s Executive Director, accepted the award at a ceremony at the Statehouse on December 13.

SEVCA’s Head Start program provides comprehensive early childhood education and family support at no cost to low-income children and their families in Windsor County, typically serving around 100 families annually. The program has been without a facility in Windsor since the lease for its center-based program at the Old Windsor Firehouse was not renewed in 2015. The organization has been able to continue serving Windsor families since then via a combination of placing some children in its White River Junction center and providing a ‘home-based’ program to some others, but children would benefit more fully from a center-based experience in their own community. The center-based Head Start program consists of a minimum of 16 hours a week of classroom time, which next year will expand to 30.

SEVCA has identified a building on the corner of Main and Bridge Streets to serve as its new Head Start center, and is in the process of purchasing the property from its current owner, the American Precision Museum. The renovation will consist of a complete rehab, including exterior and interior repairs and renovations, minor foundation repair, roofing, interior walls, new windows and doors, bathrooms and kitchen, new plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems, and weatherization. SEVCA is currently assembling funds for the purchase and expects the sale to be finalized within the month and the new center to be opened in time for the next school year in September. View an article in the Valley News with more detail about SEVCA's plans HERE.

When this article was published, the status of a $300,000 grant from the Office of Head Start was not known, but since then, we've learned the grant was approved, and all financing is now in place to purchase and rennovate the new site.

Delayed Tax Refunds for EITC and ACTC Filers

If you’re expecting a tax refund based on filing for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on your income tax return, you might not get it as soon as you expect this year. Due to a new law, the IRS will be waiting until February 15 before they’ll begin making direct deposits or mailing tax refunds. In practical terms, even for those who file in late January, the earliest most will get their refunds will be the week of February 27.

Many people depend on their refunds to pay for major expenses or debt they’ve incurred over the holidays. Starting this year, it’s important to plan for the delay in getting your refund and expecting to pay for those expenses out of existing resources. Tips for coping with the delay can be found HERE.

SEVCA’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program recommends that you save or invest your return, and not depend on it for holiday expenses. Each year, we urge tax filers to participate in the “SaveYourRefund” program, which offers a chance to win prizes for those who save at least a portion of their refund. Please contact Susan Brace at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information about SEVCA’s VITA program, which offers free tax preparation assistance to eligible families and individuals. We will start scheduling appointments in mid-January.

Two Grants Awarded to Emergency Home Repair Program

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.

“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