News

SEVCA Open House Encourages Open Dialogue

This year, SEVCA’s Annual Celebration took the form of an Open House at our Westminster location on May 13. Members of the public, state officials, and representatives of various community organizations throughout Windham and Windsor counties were invited to visit educational displays and interact with staff representing each department. After the socializing and networking portion of the afternoon, participants gathered together for a presentation of the year’s highlights and to recognize some of the many volunteers, clients, and community partners who are helping to make SEVCA’s mission of overcoming poverty a reality.

The courageous story of Amanda Reed was one of the highlights of the event (see picture, below). Amanda has overcome an addiction to opiates that began when she was prescribed painkillers for a torn disc in her lower back. At one point, she was incarcerated and temporarily lost custody of her three children. But through determination and the support of various social service and employment support programs, including SEVCA’s Ready for Work program, Amanda was able to get her life back on track. Committed to helping others who are facing similar issues, Amanda is now employed at Our Place Drop-In Center in Bellows Falls, and is working towards a Human Services degree at Community College of Vermont. She and her children are together again and thriving, and she remains drug-free. Head Start also recognized one of its participating families, Kyle and Cathy Riendeau and their daughter Alyiah.

Many heartfelt tributes were offered to people working for organizations that SEVCA collaborates with to deliver services to low-income families and individuals. Ellen Paquette, our Crisis Fuel Coordinator, recognized Allen Brothers for going above and beyond to help those facing winter heating emergencies by offering discounted fuel for all of SEVCA’s fuel assists, not just those made through the state Crisis Fuel program. Karen Thompson and Stacy Allen accepted a certificate of appreciation on behalf of Allen Brothers. SEVCA Housing Case Manager, Susan Howes, honored Tim Callahan of the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust for continually displaying his firm commitment to housing people most in need by serving as one of SEVCA’s key partners in our homelessness prevention and re-housing efforts. Other community partners recognized for outstanding service to our most vulnerable residents included Stephanie Kalina of LISTEN Community Services, and Louise Luring of the Greater Falls Warming Shelter.         

A number of health care providers were recognized for their commitment to improving the health and well-being of low-income community members, including Trevor Hanbridge of Springfield Medical Care Systems for his participation on the Springfield Community Health Team; Head Start Health Advisory Committee members Lt. Mark Fountain and William Fritch; and Cathy Howland, a Springfield Hospital emergency room nurse.

Among the many dedicated SEVCA staff recognized this year, Darline Rhoades stood out for her willingness to step into the role of Interim Director while the Director was forced to go on extended medical leave. She has provided leadership during a difficult time in which one of our Thrift Stores and our entire Textile Recycling program had to be closed.

As we do every year, SEVCA expressed its gratitude for the dozens of volunteers who selflessly contribute countless hours to SEVCA’s programs, especially our VITA tax assistance and Thrift Store volunteers.

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Increase in Local Support for SEVCA This Year

Each year, along with many other nonprofit organizations, SEVCA applies for town funding to support the services we provide to residents of the towns in our service area. This year, 34 Windham and Windsor County towns voted to provide funds to SEVCA amounting to a total of $81,575, a slight increase over last year’s total allocation of $80,052.

SEVCA utilizes these funds to help meet the needs of town residents with lower incomes, enabling us to provide our full range of program services to them, including 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.

The actual cost of the services we provide typically exceed town allocations many times over, as SEVCA is able to leverage significant state, federal, and private grants with the funds contributed. Typically, our town funding is only 1–2% of the total value of services provided to residents.

The following towns voted to allocate funding to SEVCA for the 2016-17 fiscal year:

Andover, Athens, Baltimore, Brattleboro, Bridgewater, Brookline, Cavendish, Chester, Dover, Dummerston, Grafton, Guilford, Halifax, Hartford, Hartland, Jamaica, Londonderry, Ludlow, Marlboro, Newfane, Norwich, Putney, Rockingham, Springfield, Townshend, Vernon, Wardsboro, Weathersfield, West Windsor, Westminster, Weston, Windham, Windsor, and Woodstock.

“We would like to thank the many towns who have consistently supported SEVCA over the years. This is a critical flexible source of revenue, and we simply could not do as effective a job of meeting community needs without it,” said Steve Geller, SEVCA’s Executive Director.

SEVCA Announces Free “Financial Fitness” Classes in Springfield

March 23, 2016. SEVCA announced today that there is space available in its upcoming workshop series, “Your Money, Your Goals,” to be held in Springfield starting April 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 $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 the Meeting House, Springfield Hospital, in Springfield, VT from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays, April 13 through May 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..

Need to get a job or upgrade your workplace skills?

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.

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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"If I could give you one thought, it would be to lift someone up. Lift a stranger up--lift her up. I would ask you, mother and father, brother and sister, lovers, mother and daughter, father and son, lift someone. The very idea of lifting someone up will lift you, as well."

Maya Angelou