News

Helping Federal Workers Weather the Shutdown

Services available to low-income households to help them avoid eviction or keep their homes heated may be resources for federal workers affected by the extended government shutdown. Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) is reaching out to unpaid federal workers who are temporarily unable to afford their basic living expenses to let them know about programs that could help avert a crisis.

                “Federal workers impacted by the shutdown may not be aware of the many programs SEVCA offers because they haven’t needed our help before,” said Steve Geller, SEVCA’s Executive Director. “In addition to offering services like homelessness prevention and crisis fuel assistance, SEVCA can work with them to access other community services they might need due to this predicament that has nothing to do with them. We want them to know that we value the work they do, object to the way they’re being treated, and sympathize with the difficult position they’ve been put in because of this senseless shutdown.”

Windham and Windsor County residents in need are invited to call SEVCA toll-free at (800) 464-9951 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday to learn about ways the organization can help. They may also contact SEVCA’s local offices at the following numbers:

     Brattleboro area: (802) 254-2795

     Springfield area: (802) 885-6153

     White River Junction area: (802) 295-5215

Those who currently qualify for assistance programs, such as 3SquaresVT (food stamps), and are worried about how the extended shutdown may impact their benefits are also invited to call SEVCA for information and assistance, or they can get information to contact the relevant state office directly at https://dcf.vermont.gov/mybenefits.

                While the furloughed workers and those forced to work during the shutdown won’t necessarily meet the specific eligibility criteria for all programs, SEVCA will use some of its existing flexible resources and seek additional donations to try to help where possible. The organization will also gladly accept donations of gas cards, grocery cards, and cash contributions to its “Share the Warmth” emergency fuel assistance fund to help meet the need. Individuals may donate online at http://www.sevca.org/share-the-warmth or send checks or gift cards to 91 Buck Drive, Westminster, VT 05158.

               SEVCA would also like to know about businesses and other organizations that are offering free services, special discounts, or benefits to federal workers during the shutdown. We will be compiling this information and posting it on our website and through social media. Please contact Becky Himlin at (802) 722-4575, ext. 163 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to help get the word out.

SEVCA X 1,000 = National Impact

WASHINGTON D.C. – The National Community Action Partnership released today the first National Community Action Impact Report: Building Opportunities for All. This unique and comprehensive report looks at how Community Action Agencies across the country impact the lives of 15 million people each year, creating pathways to prosperity.

The Community Action Network is robust local force of 1,000 local Community Action Agencies, reaching children and families in 99 percent of all U.S. counties. Agencies connect families to approaches that help them succeed and promote community-wide solutions to seemingly stubborn challenges in cities, suburban, and rural communities. This report outlines the needs families face in today’s uneven economy, the reach of Community Action coast to coast, and the impact Community Action has in communities every day.

“This report tells the broad story of Community Action and all of the incredible ways our members are making an impact in their local communities,” said Denise Harlow, Chief Executive Officer of the National Community Action Partnership. “For 55 years, our network has developed innovative solutions to improve family well-being and directly impact and engage local communities.”

Spotlight stories throughout the report highlight successful initiatives across America relating to jobs, asset building, health and well-being, community development, children and families, and housing. One spotlight, for example, discusses a successful community project in Clare, Michigan which not only created jobs and stimulated the local economy, it brought the community together to preserve a historic landmark. Another featured spotlight reviews a Community Action initiative which dramatically reduced the wait time to get recovery treatment for Ohioans suffering from addiction.

“Community Action addresses a number of factors that contribute to poverty, and it does so at the local level,” said Harlow. “Our network’s holistic approach to assist families in their journey to economic security is inspiring. We believe this report illustrates how their work strengthens lives, improves communities, and makes America a better place to live.”

To access the report, visit www.communityactionpartnership.com/impactreport. 

CONTACT: 

Johnny Eudaly, Communications
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 
Denise Harlow, Chief Executive Officer
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202-860-1020

Want Free Help To File Your Taxes?

Good News for SEVCA’s VITA Program!

 SEVCA’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program was recognized by the national SaveYourRefund Team as a Savings Champion for going above and beyond to promote tax-time saving during the 2019 tax season. The organization stated, “Thanks to your commitment to encouraging taxpayers to save and enter SaveYourRefund, nearly 3,000 tax filers entered SaveYourRefund and saved $2.4 million during the 2019 tax season.” Congratulations to Leslie Wood and all of SEVCA’s dedicated VITA Volunteers.

2019 Savings Champions 2

FREE TAX ASSISTANCE THROUGH VITA WILL BE AVAILABLE STARTING IN JANUARY 2020. PLEASE CHECK BACK.

Information from 2019 Tax Season:

Income-eligible Winsor and Windham County residents can now schedule an appointment for free tax preparation assistance through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, offered by SEVCA in collaboration with Granite United Way. SEVCA has experienced IRS-certified volunteers trained and ready to prepare tax returns for area taxpayers with household income up to $54,000. Appointments are available on select dates in Westminster, White River Junction, and Windsor starting January 28 and continuing through the second week of April. Residents of nearby communities in New Hampshire may also make appointments at these sites.

SEVCA will provide free tax assistance by appointment only at the following locations: 

  • · SEVCA’s main office in Westminster on Tuesdays (8:45 am – 4 pm)

  • · St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in White River Junction on Mondays (10:45 am – 7:30 pm)

  • · Windsor Resource Connection Center on select Thursdays (9 am – 3:30 pm)

VITA volunteers can help with special credits, such as the Earned Income Tax  and the Affordable Care Act’s Premium Tax Credits.  They also prepare state income tax returns, Homestead Declarations for property tax adjustments, and Renter’s Rebate claims. In addition to free tax return assistance, VITA sites offer free electronic filing. Individuals taking advantage of the e-file program receive their refunds in half the time compared to returns filed on paper — even faster, when tax refunds are deposited directly into a bank account.

Appointments will fill up quickly, so taxpayers are urged to make an appointment as soon as possible. Appointments in Westminster can be made by calling 800-464-9951. For appointments at White River Junction or Windsor locations, call 866-444-4211 (or simply 2-1-1 from a NH phone), or use the online scheduling system at http://nhtaxhelp.org/ (go to “Schedule an appointment now,” navigate to the White River Junction or Windsor site listing, and click on an available date and time). Be sure to provide your contact information, including address, email, and phone number so you can be notified in case of weather cancellations.

Important Information:

 What to Bring to Your Tax Appointment

 

Update: Community Solar Array

NEW ARTICLE!  Read all about the project in the national publication, Energy News Network.


SEVCA Solar Project Dedicated to the Memory of Harald Schmidtke

On October 25, SEVCA celebrated the achievement of a critical milestone in our new project, Community Solar for Community Action (CS4CA): the completion Phase 1 of the project, the ground-mounted solar array. Vermont State Representative David Deen (also a former SEVCA Executive Director), State Senators Becca Balint and Alicia Nitka, and Sheila Reed, representing U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, attended the event, which was held to dedicate the project to the memory of Harald Schmidtke, SEVCA’s Weatherization Director of 25 years. Harald’s children, Carolyn, Max, and Nicole, also attended the event, and Max spoke movingly of his father’s commitment to SEVCA and the people we serve. CS4CA will be a fitting memorial to Harald, whose dedication to improving the lives of our neighbors and the sustainability of our community was unwavering throughout his tenure at SEVCA.

The energy produced by the array, which will ultimately produce an estimated 119,500 kWh of electricity annually, will be used to reduce the high energy burdens of approximately 50 area households with low incomes, helping them to keep their homes heated and their utilities on. Complementing our home weatherization and crisis fuel programs, CS4CA will be an important new tool in our efforts to ensure that all vulnerable households can meet their energy needs now and in the future.

CS4CA was developed in partnership with the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) as part of the Solar in Your Community Challenge, a national competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Catamount Solar, a Vermont-based, employee-owned solar contractor, was selected to install the array. We would like to thank all our project supporters, including the Windham Regional Commission, the Thompson Trust, VLITE, the Vermont Community Foundation, and the dozens of local contributors who have made this project possible. CLICK HERE to read about the event in the Brattleboro Reformer.

 

Be Healthier for the Holidays: 3SquaresVT Can Help!

We all know that eating right is critical to good health, but with the high cost of food, fuel, housing, and health care, a lot of people can’t afford to buy enough nutritious food for themselves and their families. This can be especially challenging with the added pressure of the holidays. 3SquaresVT can help families, seniors, and others in need to stretch their budgets and put more healthy food on the table.

3SquaresVT is Vermont's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, designed to help households who can’t afford their monthly food expenses. Whether they are experiencing a short-term financial crisis or longer-term challenges, 3SquaresVT helps seniors, families, and individuals with lower incomes make ends meet. In fact, 1 in 8 Vermonters already receive 3SquaresVT benefits. Monthly benefits come on a debit card accepted at most grocery stores and many farmers' markets, making it easy for households to use them. Having 3SquaresVT enables families to buy enough food, which is good for them and good for the local businesses they shop at, too.

Many people don’t know they qualify for 3SquaresVT. A family of four earning up to $3,871 per month (gross) may be eligible, and households can have a savings account or an asset like a car or home and still qualify. There are special rules that make it easier for households that include a senior or a person with a disability to receive benefits. For more information on whether you might qualify for this assistance, visit: https://www.vermontfoodhelp.com/do-i-qualify

Households that qualify for 3SquaresVT benefits can access many other programs to make life more manageable, such as free school meals for children and the VT Earned Income Tax Credit. Households may also use 3SquaresVT at many farmers’ market locations, including many Winter Farmers Markets, and double their money with “crop cash”-- households can use their EBT card at the market and get $1 worth of “crop cash” for every $1 they spend in 3SquaresVT benefits, up to $10 in free crop cash per market/per customer. Households may also receive crop cash if they receive cash assistance. Shoppers should visit the Manager’s Table at the market prior to making their purchases. 

SEVCA's Family Services staff are available by appointment to assist households to apply for 3SquaresVT. For more information, call SEVCA at 1-800-464-9951. Households can also apply online at www.vermontfoodhelp.com.

“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