BRATTLEBORO—“It’s not often people call you up and say, ‘We’ve got money for you,’” said Josh Davis, executive director of the Groundworks Collaborative.
On Sept. 14, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development awarded four grants, totaling $204,200, aimed at combating Vermont’s opioid epidemic.
The USDA gave Groundworks a $6,400 matching grant.
Groundworks provides services like housing, food, and case management to people who are homeless and low-income.
According to the nonprofit’s 2017 impact report, 253 people total stayed in the organization’s two shelters: the Groundworks Shelter and Seasonal Overflow Shelter. Twenty-seven households (31 adults and four children) found new housing through Groundworks. Case managers also helped 53 households (68 adults and 26 children) remain in their housing. The food shelf fed 3,837 people.
Davis said the USDA funds helped purchase a car for case managers to transport clients. The grant paid for one-third of the car’s purchase price.
“One of the issues we struggle with is transportation,” Davis said.
Davis said the organization recognized the need for the car after it purchased a van to transport clients from downtown to the Seasonal Overflow Shelter at the Winston Prouty Campus on Austine Drive.
Adding the passenger vehicle to the Groundworks fleet will take pressure off case managers who historically have transported clients in their personal cars, Davis said.
“It was really a question of necessity,” Davis said of buying the vehicles.
Davis said Groundworks tried to partner with other organizations to fulfill clients’ transportation needs. All attempts, however, fell through, he said.
In the mornings, staff used the 12-passenger van to take clients to treatment programs, such as Habit OPCO, which provides medicine-assisted services to people struggling with opiate addiction, Davis said.
Davis thanked Brattleboro Subaru for helping Groundworks find the car and van.
The organization also has a box truck that it uses for food pick-ups from the Vermont Food Bank.
In a written statement, members of Vermont’s congressional delegation said, “Vermonters in every corner of the state have been touched by the opioid epidemic and while real progress is being made, we have more work to do. These federal grants will be especially critical to helping Vermonters access treatment and succeed in recovery.”
Organizations in Wallingford, St. Johnsbury, and Burlington received the other three grants.
Recovery House, a treatment facility in Wallingford, received $90,700. The money will fund training programs and facility equipment.
St. Johnsbury received $82,400. The town’s police department plans to purchase three vehicles and additional equipment.
The Vermont Committee for AIDS Resources, Education and Services in Burlington got $24,700 to purchase a van and related equipment. The van will be used for the organization’s mobile harm reduction program for injection drug users.