News

Help Make Our Search for Volunteers Less Taxing: Become a VITA Volunteer Today!

SEVCA and Granite United Way of NH are partnering to offer the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program in upper Windham County and Windsor County, VT. VITA helps low- to moderate- income households by providing free federal and state income tax return preparation services. SEVCA is now recruiting volunteers for the upcoming 2019 tax filing season to help as many families as possible claim the tax credits and refunds available to them.

We are looking for individuals who are willing and able to commit 3 to 4 hours per week from the end of January through April 15, 2020. Prior tax preparation experience is not necessary, but a commitment to training and certification is required. You’ll receive specialized training from a certified VITA instructor, plus IRS online courses. SEVCA provides all needed materials and software, along with a very supportive training structure. Continuing on-site training and supervision is provided during the tax season.

SEVCA operates VITA sites in:

  • Westminster – SEVCA’s offices at 91 Buck Drive, Westminster, VT
  • White River Junction – St Paul’s Episcopal Church, 749 Hartford Ave, White River Junction, VT
  • Windsor – The Windsor Resource Center,1 Railroad Ave, Windsor, VT 05089

We can meet your schedule and needs! We are most in need of volunteers in Westminster, but could use more volunteers at any of the sites.

There are two types of volunteer positions. Both work under the supervision of a local Site Coordinator.  Our specific needs are for:

  • Intake Specialists—Greet tax filers, conduct an intake review to make sure all documents are present for a complete and accurate tax return, and offer resources for other financial needs filers may have.
  • Tax Preparers—Interview taxpayers using standardized IRS forms and prepare and submit relevant returns. No previous tax or finance experience necessary, just general computer aptitude and a willingness to learn.

To learn how you can make a difference in your community by becoming a VITA volunteer please contact Leslie Wood at (802) 722-4575, ext. 199 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please put VITA VOLUNTEER in the subject line of your email.

Energy Savings Celebrated at SEVCA’s Solar Program Kickoff and Annual Celebration

 On September 16, members of the community gathered to celebrate the launch of Southeastern Vermont Community Action’s (SEVCA’s) Community Solar for Community Action (CS4CA) program, which will help reduce the excessive energy burdens of at least 50 households with low incomes by providing virtual credits on their electricity accounts. Complementing its home Weatherization and Crisis Fuel programs, CS4CA will be an important new tool in SEVCA’s efforts to ensure that vulnerable households can meet their energy needs now and in the future. A number of CS4CA subscribers who will benefit from the project were in attendance.

The event featured presentations by Haley Pero, representing the Office of Senator Bernie Sanders; Vicki O’Day, representing the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL); and Steve Geller, SEVCA’s Executive Director. Presenters reflected on the importance of creating renewable energy solutions, like community solar projects, that were accessible to households that did not have the means to install their own solar panels. RREAL and SEVCA are working to promote national expansion of the model, proposing that the extensive network of Community Action agencies throughout the country could play a key role. SEVCA’s solar array, fully completed in May, has produced over 70,000 kWh of electricity so far, with an estimated annual yield of almost 120,000 kWh annually. The expected energy savings for each participating household is estimated at $400/year.

SEVCA worked in partnership for over a year with the Minnesota-based Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) to develop this Community Solar for Community Action (CS4CA) project, as part of the national Solar in Your Community Challenge, a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). SEVCA’s is one of several community solar projects RREAL developed during the competition period, and RREAL was awarded the runner-up prize in the competition. Catamount Solar, a Vermont-based, employee-owned solar contractor, was selected to install the array.

SEVCA would like to thank all of its project supporters, including the U.S. Department of Energy, the Windham Regional Commission, the Thompson Trust, VLITE, the Vermont Community Foundation, and the dozens of local contributors who made this project possible. To find out more, contact Daniel Quipp at 802 254 2795, ext. 103, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Exercise Your Savings Skills and Get Your Finances in Shape This Fall!

SEVCA is inviting participants to register for its upcoming “Financial Fitness” workshop series, to be held in Brattleboro starting September 10. This 7-part workshop series will help participants improve their relationship with money, develop strong financial habits, and take steps toward prosperity. SEVCA’s instructors will utilize tools from the acclaimed Your Money Your Goals curriculum developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Topics covered include: saving, budgeting, credit, home buying, insurance, purchasing a car, and saving for college. The instructor will also provide individualized financial coaching, as needed, to help participants and their families become more financially secure.

The workshop series is free and open to the public. It will be held every Tuesday at Red Clover Commons, 30 Fairground Rd., Brattleboro from 5:30-7 p.m. from September 10 through October 22. 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..

Those who complete the course may be eligible to join SEVCA’s SaVermont matched savings program. Participants earn a match for every $1 they save (up to $1,000) if they save a minimum of $25 each month toward home purchases or repairs, obtaining education or job training, starting or enhancing their own business, or car purchases or repairs needed for transportation to work.

Last Updated: August 19, 2019

Keeping Kids and Families Fed During the Summer Months

3SquaresVT helps make sure that people in need don’t go hungry by providing monthly food assistance to eligible families and individuals through a user-friendly EBT card. Eligibility is determined by household income; for example, a family of four with a monthly income of up to $3,970 may be eligible. SEVCA’s Family Services staff are available by appointment to assist households to apply for 3SquaresVT. To schedule an appointment, call 1-800-464-9951. To apply for 3SquaresVT benefits online, visit www.vermontfoodhelp.com.

The children of families who receive 3SquaresVT are automatically eligible for free school lunches, which can help kids maintain their health and their ability to learn. But summer can be a difficult time for many families to meet their nutritional needs. Fortunately, free summer meal programs for children are offered in many communities. Visit Hunger Free Vermont to find a summer meals program, or call SEVCA for help locating a program.

Eating the right food is critical to good health, and additional resources are available to qualified households to help increase the volume of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets, such as Farm-to-Family coupons and farmer’s market incentive programs.

Farm-to-Family coupons help families in need purchase fresh produce at farmers markets. SEVCA is distributing coupon books worth $30 each to eligible low-income households on a first-come, first served basis. Unfortunately, walk-ins cannot be accommodated. The coupon books go quickly, so interested families and individuals are urged to contact SEVCA at (800) 464-9951 as soon as possible to apply. Coupons must be requested prior to September 30 and redeemed by October 31.

In addition, 3SquaresVT has partnered with farmers’ markets across the state to make sure those receiving benefits can use them to get plenty of fruits and vegetables. To locate a farmers’ market near you that accepts 3SquaresVT, visit: https://www.hungerfreevt.org/farmers-markets-3squaresvt/. Most farmers’ markets also offer a program called “Crop Cash” to 3SquaresVT recipients—for every dollar in 3SquaresVT benefits spent, they will provide $1 of free tokens for use at the market, up to a value of $10/day. Ask if your local farmer’s market participates in the “Crop Cash” program.

Grant Awards Leave Shortfall in Homelessness Assistance

The Housing Opportunity Program (HOP), administered by the Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity, recently awarded $246,485 for state fiscal year 2019-20 to fund SEVCA’s homelessness prevention and re-housing efforts. The award provides $177,781 for services in the Brattleboro-area Agency of Human Services (AHS) District, $44,204 in the Hartford (Upper Valley) AHS District, and $24,500 in the Springfield AHS District. The award is renewable for one year (with the exception of $26,900 in GA Alternatives funding which is provided for one year at a time), for a total possible award of $466,070 over two years. It will enable SEVCA’s 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. However, the funding available for direct assistance to help re-house or prevent people from becoming homeless will be close to $10,000 less than last year, prompting SEVCA to launch a fundraising appeal to overcome this deficit and ensure we are able to respond to the continuing need for help (See article, below).

The HOP application included a request for continuation of the General Assistance (GA) Alternatives Pilot Program, which, for the past three years, has funded a part-time case manager to work directly with homeless families and individuals sheltered in motels in the Brattleboro area. The goal is to shorten their motel stay by supporting them to locate a more permanent housing solution as soon as possible. This position was continued for the coming year, but our request to expand this program to the Upper Valley was not funded.

Granite United Way also recently announced their grant awards, which included a $17,500 grant to SEVCA’s Family Services department to provide fuel and housing assistance to Windsor County households in crisis. 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. Unfortunately, the award was less than the $20,000 granted to SEVCA last year.

_______________  

SEVCA Seeks Donations to Help Prevent Homelessness and Re-house the Homeless

Homelessness, or the imminent threat of homelessness, is a persistent problem affecting hundreds of area households annually, yet the funding required to address it doesn’t come close to matching the need. Affordable housing is scarce, and housing costs routinely far exceed the recommended 30% of income for many Windham and Windsor County households, putting pressure on scarce resources and leading to a housing crisis for many. SEVCA is currently seeking private donations for its eviction-prevention and rehousing work, to help cover the gap in funding due to recent reductions in grants for this purpose (See article, above).

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, from 2007 – 2017 in Vermont, the number of severely cost-burdened households (paying over 50% of their income on housing) increased by 28%, coinciding with an 18% increase in homelessness over the period (including a 21% increase in family homelessness and a 47% increase in homelessness among veterans). The most recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (2019) found Vermont to have the 9th most expensive housing in non-metro areas in the nation; and the 6th highest gap in the nation between the average renter wage and the “Housing Wage” (the hourly wage needed to rent affordably).

SEVCA helps re-house or prevent homelessness for over 400 Windham and Windsor County households annually through a combination of private and public resources, providing crisis intervention, counseling, case management, and financial assistance to help them secure or maintain a safe, affordable place to live. We also provide budget counseling and follow-up services to improve the financial stability of these low-income households, and work closely with local coalitions of service providers to effectively coordinate services.

Donations from the public, businesses, and other non-governmental sources are critically important because they give SEVCA the flexibility to meet the complex needs of those who might not qualify for help from more restrictive funding sources. To donate to SEVCA’s Housing Assistance Fund, used exclusively to provide direct assistance to households at risk of, or already experiencing, homelessness, CLICK HERE (indicate the purpose of the donation in the ‘notes’ section), or send checks to SEVCA Housing Assistance, 91 Buck Drive, Westminster, VT 05158. For more information about donating, contact Becky Himlin, Director of Planning and Development, at 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)