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United Way starts COVID-19 Response Fund

BRATTLEBORO — United Way of Windham County has launched a COVID-19 Response Fund designed to rapidly mobilize resources to support organizations on the front lines of COVID-19 relief efforts.

According to a news release, all dollars given through this fund will be used to support organizations, businesses, and individuals in Windham County. The COVID-19 Response Fund has been jump-started by a generous gift from the Thomas Thompson Trust, which will match, dollar for dollar, all contributions up to $25,000.

The United Way says the COVID-19 Response Fund will roll out in two phases.

Phase One will address the needs of nonprofit agencies and other organizations in Windham County to pay for unexpected costs related to COVID-19 relief efforts. Phase Two will address the needs of individuals who have lost income directly related to policies that have forced their employers to close or alter their business models.

To make a contribution to the COVID-19 Response Fund, text “Response” to 313131 or go to www.unitedwaywindham.org/responsefund.

For more information on how and when these funds will be available, contact Ruben R. Garza, the United Way of Windham County director of development and community impact, at communityimpact@unitedwaywindham.org or 802-257-4011.

MOOver, Current bus services still in operation

Both divisions of Southeast Vermont Transit — the MOOver and the Current — remain focused on their efforts to mitigate the coronavirus impacts on its riders and staff.

According to a news release from Southeast Vermont Transit CEO Randy Schoonmaker, demand-response riders are being screened ahead of time for their medical appointment, meal site, and shopping trips, as are the drivers and volunteers who transport them.

The company has restricted seating in the rows behind and beside the driver’s seat in an effort to maintain a 6-foot personal zone for drivers. Vehicles are sprayed and wiped down daily before each shift. Fares have been eliminated in the effort to reduce areas that may be a surface to spread infection.

SEVT joins the Centers for Disease Control and the Vermont Department of Health in encouraging riders to stay home or self-transport if possible. If you must ride the bus, riders are asked to maintain a 6-foot distance from other passengers and drivers.

Schoonmaker wrote that the virus has caused the Current to change several routes, effective March 23.

• The Route 73 morning run from Bellows Falls-Hanover will be stopped, but riders needing to get to Hanover should ride the Route 74 morning run that leaves at 6:15 a.m. — one hour later. The Route 74 services all the stops on the Route 73’s morning run. Route 74’s afternoon run will operate as scheduled.

• In Brattleboro, the Current will run the Saturday schedule on a daily basis starting Monday, March 23. Stops at the Brattleboro Music Center, Winston Prouty Center, Cotton Mill, Groundworks Shelter, Omega Optical, Exit 1 Industrial Park, and the Guilford Country will not be served.

• There are no route changes at present on the MOOver routes.

• In the event that more route changes are necessary, riders are asked keep in touch via SEVT’s Facebook pages, websites (www.crtransit.org or www.moover.com), or sign up for notifications on their Transit app.

Urgent need for masks, face coverings for first responders, medical professionals

BRATTLEBORO — If you sew or can source materials for those who sew, join thousands of volunteers across the country and create masks for health care providers, patients, and caregivers.

You can follow this basic pattern here at www.deaconess.com/How-to-make-a-Face-Mask or use this beginner tutorial created by local Brattleboro business owner Alix Joyal at youtu.be/PT3TX572x2s.

If you would like help or support while creating, consider joining an ongoing Facebook group such as Mask Drive: Help Our First Responders. If you have masks ready in the meantime, contact Joanna Phillips at joannawilsonphillips@gmail.com and they will be put to immediate use.

Groundworks continues shelter assistance

BRATTLEBORO — Rhianna Kendrick of Groundworks Collaborative has offered this information regarding emergency housing procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic:

• Economic Services has extended the Adverse Weather Condition motel rooms for seven days starting March 22, and will assess this again next week.

• There are no longer any periods of ineligibility.

• They are no longer referring clients to emergency shelter first before placing them in a motel through General Assistance. ESD staff are working on issues around GA motel capacity.

• The state is actively working on strategies to consider where current GA clients are housed.

• Shelters and transitional housing programs that don’t have separate bedrooms and bathrooms for clients are recommended to stop accepting new clients into shelter, and instead to refer them to GA for a motel voucher. Groundworks is following this recommendation. If you run into any issues, let Kendrick know and she can troubleshoot solutions.

• It has been recommended that agencies with their own motel funds also follow the above recommendation.

• The process to access a motel room is to call the benefits center at 800-479-6151, and then the local office will call people back. If you run into issues with access, let Kendrick know and she can help solve them, either with ESD or 2-1-1. After 4:30 p.m., it is no longer the local office supporting GA motel rooms, and folks will instead need to call 2-1-1.

For more information, contact Kendrick at rkendrick@groundworksVT.org or 802-275-7179.

Foodworks puts out call for food donations

BRATTLEBORO — Foodworks Foodshelf said Friday that it is seeing an increased need for food donations as grocery shelves are becoming increasingly bare.

Donations of food to Foodworks will be accepted weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Groundworks Drop-In Center at 60 South Main St.

There is a particular need for ready-to-eat meals, pasta and sauces, peanut butter, dry milk, soups, and canned protein such as tuna, beans, and meat (zip-top cans preferred), crackers, rice and instant potatoes, juices, and cereal.

Call 802-490-2412 for more information.

Local food shelves work to stay open

BRATTLEBORO — The Windham Region Hunger Action Council has been coordinating plans around food access and offers these updates on food shelf availability:

• Agape Church on Canal Street in Brattleboro has canceled its Sunday meals until further notice.

• Brigid’s Kitchen on Walnut Street in Brattleboro started take-out meals March 16 and will try to supply as much additional food for those who can cook at home or those who need to self-quarantine. They will continue to offer hot meals and fruit/nuts on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

• Townshend Community Food Shelf plans to have normal operations.

• Guilford Cares Food Pantry will be open on Thursdays, as usual, from 5 to 6 p.m.

• Deerfield Valley Food Pantry plans food distribution on Thursdays, from 1 to 3 p.m., and Saturdays, from 9 to 11 a.m. Delivery will be made directly to vehicles. For more information, call the Food Pantry and leave a message at 802-464-0148. Food donations may be dropped at Shaw’s supermarket, the West Dover and Jacksonville post offices, and at People’s United Bank.

• Putney Foodshelf will maintain its usual hours, 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and 9 to 10 a.m. on Saturdays, but food delivery will be made directly to vehicles. Volunteers will greet each car, determine what is needed, and prepare a bag for each household.

• Chester-Andover Family Center has closed its thrift shop, but its food shelf remains open. Until further notice, recipients may pick up a pre-packed box of food in their parking lot, during regular food shelf hours; Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They ask that recipients come to the door and read the posted instructions regarding how to retrieve their food box.

For additional queries about food shelves around Vermont, call 2-1-1 or visit vermont211.org.

Diocese of Burlington suspends all public celebrations of Catholic Mass, sacraments

BURLINGTON — Effective March 20, all regularly scheduled public celebrations of the Catholic Mass, sacraments, and devotions are suspended until further notice.

Priests of the Diocese of Burlington will continue to celebrate Mass privately for the intentions of their community and the Church. Baptisms, funerals, and weddings may take place but will be strictly limited in attendance to immediate family members.

In a news release, Bishop Christopher J. Coyne said the Diocese took this course of action following the advice of local public officials and the Centers for Disease Control guidelines to limit gatherings to 10 people.

Check the Diocesan website at www.vermontcatholic.org/covid-19 for all TV Mass options and the latest updates.

Humane society open by appointment only

BRATTLEBORO — Due to coronavirus, the Windham County Humane Society is open to the public by appointment only.

To make an appointment to: get a rabies vaccine for your pet (waiving income requirements); make a Pet Care Assistance appointment with our vet; get pet food (income requirements in place, apply online); meet adoptable animals; surrender an animal; or bring in a stray animal; call 802-254-2232 or email info@windhamcountyhumane.org.

Brattleboro Area Hospice, Experienced Goods closed to public

BRATTLEBORO — Brattleboro Area Hospice’s office, at 191 Canal St., is closed to the public until further notice as a safeguard for all visitors, clients, and volunteers.

This closure includes their Medical Supply Loan Closet. Staff are continuing to work at the office.

Anyone needing end-of-life or bereavement support, or help completing an Advance Directive, may contact care coordinators at 802-257-0775 to discuss support services offered during this temporary closure.

Experienced Goods on Flat Street will be closed until further notice and will not be accepting donations. Donors are asked to not leave bags and boxes outside the store while it is closed.

Local mutual-aid groups form

BRATTLEBORO — Localized mutual aid has been organized in Brattleboro and Putney and in hyper-local neighborhoods in Marlboro. Anyone whose community doesn’t have mutual aid or who can’t find it may sign up to volunteer or ask for help if needed.

Whether you can help pick up or make food, donate food or supplies, offer rides or childcare, organize volunteers, make calls to find volunteers, or anything else, there are many ways that everyone can help during this crisis.

Sign up at www.brendaforvermont.com/cms/help-your-neighbor.

Event cancellations for this weekend

• Main Street Arts’ production of Cabaret at the Bellows Falls Opera House has been indefinitely postponed.

• The Latchis Theatre in Brattleboro will remain closed until at least April 6.

• This year’s Women’s Film Festival in Brattleboro, originally slated for March 20-29, has been rescheduled to Sept. 18-20.

• All upcoming events scheduled for the Williamsville Hall have been postponed and/or cancelled until further notice.

• With the River Garden closed to the public until April 6, all scheduled noontime Brown Bag Lunch events are also postponed.

• Hooker-Dunham Theater and Gallery in Brattleboro has suspended all its upcoming shows and events until further notice.

• New England Youth Theatre in Brattleboro has suspended all its programming, events, and performances.

• Evening Star Grange in Dummerston Center has canceled its annual sugar-on-snow supper scheduled for Saturday, March 28.

• River Gallery School’s “Off the Wall” art lottery and fundraising dinner, originally planned for Saturday, March 28, has been postponed.

• The Historical Society of Windham County’s annual Soup Fest and Silent Auction, scheduled for Sunday, March 29, is canceled.

• The Brattleboro Branch of UVM’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute announces that the spring 2020 program, scheduled to start on April 6, has been canceled.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #554 (Wednesday, March 25, 2020). This story appeared on page A2.

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