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The Commons

Overflow shelter needs volunteers

Originally published in The Commons issue #180 (Wednesday, November 28, 2012).

BRATTLEBORO—The Overflow Shelter at the First Baptist Church of Brattleboro on Main Street has opened this week, but volunteers are still needed.

“A lot of my volunteers who started the first year have burned out,” said Lucie Fortier, the executive director of the Brattleboro Area Drop In Center, who organizes the winter shelter, now in its sixth year of operations.

Fortier said the shelter runs in two shifts: one from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., and the second from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. She seeks two volunteers for each shift.

Duties are light, and include minor cleanup and, for the overnight shift, making coffee in the morning. Fortier noted that Internet is available and volunteers often do work while staffing the shelter, which can serve anywhere from 12 to 20 people, depending on the weather.

For those who earn the trust of the shelter guests, the experience can be really rewarding, Fortier said.

“You learn their stories,” she said. “It’s not all about drug or alcohol addiction. One guy had a nasty divorce. Another just had surgery and was released and had nowhere to go.”

“I think if people gave it a chance and did one or two nights just to see what it’s like, they’d discover how polite they are,” she said.

For more information, call Fortier at 802-257-5415 ext. 103 or 802-579-7645, or email her at

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