BRATTLEBORO—From their small, grape-colored home on South Main Street, the non-profit Brattleboro Area DropIn Center provides a variety of services to locals seeking basic needs such as food and shelter.
The Drop In Center offers case management, a day shelter, a year-round food shelf, job referrals, advocacy, and housing assistance programs. In addition, it operates an overnight shelter and evening meals during the winter months in Brattleboro’s First Baptist Church on Main Street.
Operating since 1988, the Drop In Center — and other local social-service organizations providing basic human requirements — sees community need increasing, in spite of economic forecasts claiming the economy is on the upswing.
In an article published in the Jan. 14, 2015, edition of The Commons titled, “Entergy to continue supporting Drop In Center programs, services,” Project Feed The Thousands co-chair Kelli Corbeil noted, “the hunger epidemic has grown in our area.” Also in the article, the Drop In Center reported this year it “will support more than 20,000 individuals” through its variety of programs.
Entergy — the owner of Vermont Yankee, which is in the process of decommissioning — has pledged to continue its support. Also, the future of the Baptist Church is in question. At its January 25 annual meeting, a majority of members voted to sell the property, and are negotiating with a buyer, according to the church’s website.
With those clocks ticking, and with greater pressure on the center because of increased community need, the need for local organizations and individuals to help continue the center’s mission also increases.
A few local musicians have contributed the fruits of their labor to bring awareness — and cash — to the Drop In Center and its crucial work for the greater Brattleboro community.
Low Lily, a Brattleboro-based folk trio that recently launched a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo to produce their upcoming album, opted to donate 50 percent of money they raise beyond their $8,650 goal to the Drop In Center.
Low Lily singer and fiddler Lissa Schneckenburger has volunteered at different times at the Drop In Center, adding that she has also donated “gently used clothes and books” to the organization.
“We are so lucky to have something like the Drop In Center in our town!” she said.
“Music gives back to the community on its own of course,” said Liz Simmons, who provides Low Lily’s vocals and guitar (her husband, Flynn Cohen, sings and plays mandolin and guitar). Simmons added, “However, it’s nice to also give in a more concrete way."
Also, Damaris, a long-time area musician who has fronted numerous local bands and has toured as a solo musician, is returning to the stage after a hiatus of almost 10 years on April 18. She will donate 25 percent of the proceeds from her show at the Hooker-Dunham Theater to the Drop In Center.
“It feels good and, for me, it’s the right thing to do,” said Damaris.
Although she said she’s “actually never had any direct contact with the Drop In Center beyond dropping off clothing or furniture a few times,” she noted, “there is clearly a great deal of homelessness, hunger, and need in our community. Likewise, there are many, many people in this community who dedicate their days and their lives to doing this tremendously important and unglamorous work to assist others."
“So, in addition to whatever small financial contribution we can make from the concert,” she said, “this is also an opportunity to acknowledge and draw attention to the steadfast commitment and good works of many, mostly anonymous, people in our community."
“There’s also a very large gap, right here in our very own One and Only Brattleboro, between those of us who have more than enough and more than we need, and those who, for whatever reason, don’t have the bare necessities,” said the musician.
“At the very least,” Damaris said, “I am compelled to ask myself – what can I do, how can I help?”