News

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
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Denise Harlow, Chief Executive Officer
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202-860-1020

Want Free Help To File Your Taxes?

FREE TAX ASSISTANCE 

2020 Tax Season Information

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. Experienced IRS-certified volunteers are trained and ready to prepare tax returns for area taxpayers with household income up to $66,000. Appointments are available on select dates in Westminster, White River Junction, and Windsor 1/27- 4/9. 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 

  • · St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in White River Junction on Mondays

  • · Windsor Resource Connection Center on select Thursdays

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 800-464-9951or 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.

Facing a Heating Crisis? Crisis Fuel Assistance Now Available

Well before the official start of winter, Vermont has seen lower-than-average temperatures and an unseasonably early snowstorm, raising the prospect of another cold, harsh winter. With higher fuel prices this year, hundreds of area households will likely find it difficult or impossible to keep the heat on. In fact, households with low incomes spend an average of about $2,000 more than they can afford on energy costs every year. While many get some assistance through the state’s Seasonal Fuel program, what happens when that’s not enough? For low-income households in Windham and Windsor Counties that are facing a heating emergency, SEVCA’s Crisis Fuel program can be their lifeline. And, as of November 26, that lifeline is once again available.

                “When your fuel is down to a quarter tank or you are facing an electricity disconnection, call us and we’ll do our best to help,” said Pat Burke, Director of SEVCA’s Family Services Program, which provides Crisis Fuel assistance. “But don’t wait until you completely run out of fuel, because it could take 5 – 7 days before a fuel delivery can be arranged, and the Crisis Fuel program cannot cover the fee for a special delivery (or fees for leak and pressure tests for empty propane tanks).” 

          To be eligible for Crisis Fuel assistance, households must have had extenuating circumstances that led to the heating emergency (defined as being very close to being out of fuel or out of fuel without money to buy more), and income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which is based on household size; e.g., $4,184/month (gross) for a family of four. Most households must first apply for and receive Seasonal Fuel assistance before they can be considered for Crisis Fuel. Burke urges all qualified households to apply as soon as possible for the Seasonal Fuel program, so that their application for Crisis Fuel, should they need it, is not delayed. Generally, only one Crisis Fuel assist is provided per household receiving Seasonal Fuel assistance per year (two assists for those who don’t qualify). SEVCA may also be able to arrange an emergency furnace repair or replacement for qualified homeowners whose furnaces stop working or become unsafe to operate.

For more information, call SEVCA toll-free at (800) 464-9951 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday. Applicants in northern Windham County may also call that number to schedule an appointment. Brattleboro area applicants should call (802) 254-2795; Springfield area applicants, (802) 885-6153; and White River Junction area applicants, (802) 295-5215. Applicants must bring paystubs or other proof of income, know how much fuel is left in their tank, and provide information about their fuel dealer. Crisis Fuel Assistance is available from November 26 until the second Friday in April.

For Crisis Fuel Assistance on weekends and holidays ONLY, call 1-866-331-7741 (starting December 1), and for furnace repair or replacement assistance on weekends, holidays, or for after-hours emergencies (starting November 26), call 1-877-295-7998.

                To help bridge the gap between what is covered by the state’s Crisis Fuel program and what is needed by a particular family in crisis, SEVCA raises money through grants and donations. To help keep low-income families warm this winter, individuals may donate to our “Share the Warmth” fund online at http://www.sevca.org/share-the-warmth. Checks may also be sent to 91 Buck Drive, Westminster, VT 05158.

"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