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.