Introductory Workshops in Westminster and Brattleboro
Southeastern Vermont Community Action’s (SEVCA’s) new 110 kW solar array, located at its Westminster office, is now complete, and the organization will soon be selecting approximately 50 households with low incomes and high energy burdens to receive free credits from the power produced by the array. Households in Windham and Windsor Counties that have a Green Mountain Power account are invited to apply during an open application period up until July 15. SEVCA will then select program participants according to criteria that include household income, energy burden, and housing cost burden. The households selected will receive credits on their GMP electric bill based on the power produced by the solar array, which will reduce their electricity costs. Benefits are expected to amount to approximately $400/year per household.
SEVCA has 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’s project is expected to produce an estimated 119,500 kWh of electricity annually, and will help address the excessive energy burdens that households with low incomes face each year. Complementing its home weatherization and crisis fuel programs, CS4CA will be an important new tool in SEVCA’s efforts to ensure that all vulnerable households can meet their energy needs now and in the future.
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, the High Meadows Fund, and the dozens of local contributors who made this project possible.
SEVCA’s Head Start program provides comprehensive early childhood education and family support at no cost to low-income children and their families in Windsor County, each year serving 80 – 90 children ages 3- to 5-years old at locations in Windsor, White River Junction, Springfield, and Chester. Since 2015, when the lease for its location at the Old Windsor Firehouse was not renewed due to the sale of the building, the Windsor program has been looking for a new home. SEVCA is now excited to announce that it recently purchased the former Masonic Hall at 4 Dunham Avenue in Windsor, VT to serve as a permanent Head Start site. The new Head Start center will open in September 2019, after planned renovations are complete.
The search for a new Head Start site in Windsor was an extended one. After its lease at the former location in Windsor was not renewed, SEVCA determined that purchasing a building was the best option to ensure a permanent location in this community. However, finding a suitable property proved challenging, given program requirements and the high safety standards that a building serving as a preschool needed to meet. The building eventually purchased had to undergo a rigorous assessment process, and it has been undergoing renovations to ensure the space complies with all building codes and applicable Head Start, state and local regulations. SEVCA received a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, the federal agency that administers Head Start, to cover most of the renovation costs, with a matching contribution from the Vermont Building Communities Grant program.
“We would like to thank numerous people and agencies within the community that have continued to support our Head Start program, including Mt. Ascutney Hospital (Jill Lord and Dr. Mary Binder), the Windsor Resource Center, WIC, and the Windsor Zoning office (Bob Haight and other members),” said Lori Canfield, SEVCA’s Head Start Program Director. “We would also like to thank our realtor, Amy Messina, for helping us find a ‘forever home’ for our Head Start program in Windsor!”
Head Start helps children reach their full potential by providing age-appropriate developmental opportunities, educational and developmental assessments, and health screenings. Head Start supports the entire family, providing parents with the information and support to become effective parents as well as to work toward their own goals that enable them to most effectively support their family’s well-being.
In addition to the Windsor site, a full-day program is available in Springfield (M – F, 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM), and the other Head Start centers in Chester and White River Junction offer a 5-day, 30 hours/week program. Applications are being accepted for all locations at this time.
SEVCA is inviting participants to register for its upcoming “Financial Fitness” workshop series, to be held in Brattleboro starting April 2. 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.
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: March 15, 2019