Imagine, after so many things have gone wrong all day, slipping into bed, smelling fresh clean sheets and resting your head on a soft pillow. Imagine feeling safe and warm after fighting with the deep winter cold all day. Can you imagine this and factor in that you are homeless? Helping to provide clean sheets and a safe space for the homeless in Chittenden County is just one piece of the work that UVM Medical Center (UVMMC) does for our community.
On Thursday, May 17, the UVMMC will be presented the Northern New England Community Action Community Service Award at their annual conference at Sunday River Resort in Newry, Maine. Eileen Whalen, President of UVM Medical Center will accept the award on behalf of the Medical Center.
The UVMMC is a champion of addressing homelessness within our community first by supporting the ongoing low-barrier Emergency Warming Shelters with funding and hands-on volunteer help. John Collinsworth and his exceptional crew in Supply Chain at UVMMC have provided daily fresh linens for three warming shelters for the past four years. Individuals and entire Medical Center departments have provided meals, daily living supplies and hand and foot warmers on frigid winter days and nights. And more than needed supplies, they have given their volunteer time to staff these shelters.
But there’s more. The UVMMC created the Housing Is Health Care Campaign in collaboration with community partners to make Harbor Place (a motel), and Beacon Place and the Bel Air (former motels) into places where some of our most vulnerable Vermonters, including some facing homelessness, could find temporary or permanent housing with support services on site. Their leadership has worked with and been present at the Chittenden Homeless Alliance meetings and events. The Medical Center Foundation funded and supported Coordinated Entry when there was a funding gap and the need was immediate. Medical Center interns are present at the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf to directly aid those in need with foot care, blood pressure checks and community wellness intervention. CEO, Dr. John Brumsted, met with Rob Meehan, Director of the Food Shelf, to learn, listen and brainstorm about the needs of those served. Three key employees have given generously of their expertise serving on the board of the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO).
The vision of UVM Medical Center is to work with community partners in improving people’s lives. They walk the miles needed in meeting their mission by integrating patient care, research and education, and they do it all in a caring environment. This happens within their buildings, but also on the street, and in the places where people live. Jan Demers, Executive Director of CVOEO, says, “The UVM Medical Center’s relationship with the community is both personal and corporate, creating new avenues of health and wellness, and innovative ways of addressing poverty. They are a valued and faithful partner.”
ABOUT VERMONT COMMUNITY ACTION PARTNERSHIP
The Vermont Community Action Partnership is comprised of BROC Community Action (serving Bennington and Rutland Counties), Capstone Community Action (serving Washington, Orange and Lamoille Counties; Granville and Hancock in Addison County; Pittsfield in Rutland County; Barnard, Bethel, Rochester, Royalton, Sharon and Stockbridge in Windsor County), Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (serving Addison, Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties), NorthEast Kingdom Community Action (serving Orleans, Essex, and Caledonia Counties), and SouthEastern Vermont Community Action (Windham and Windsor Counties, except for Barnard, Bethel, Rochester, Royalton, Sharon and Stockbridge in Windsor County).