Now, it is our turn to step up for Melinda

The death of Brattleboro Area Drop In Center executive director Melinda Bussino on March 4 prompted an outpouring of tributes from all over the state.

She earned every one of those accolades, and then some. The work that she did on behalf of those in need was immense, and she will be a tough person to replace.

But for all the praise and kind words after her death, the community, to a certain extent, took Bussino's efforts for granted. In a way, as long as she was on the case, the community didn't have to worry quite as much about hunger, homelessness, or poverty.

She, and the small corps of people who helped her at the Drop In Center and the Overflow Shelter, assumed the heavy burden of taking care of the hungry, the homeless, and the working poor. Some have speculated that the burden might have contributed to Bussino's death at age 65.

Bussino's legacy is all around us. She built the Drop In Center so that it truly was, as its credo proclaims, “a place of welcome, warmth, and peace.” She helped start the Overflow Shelter in the First Baptist Church so that no one would have to spend a cold winter night without a roof overhead. She advocated for those without a voice, and she fought for those who had run out of hope.

Now, it is our turn.

To honor that legacy, it's time for the community to step up.

Bring a bag of groceries to the Drop In Center.

Volunteer for a shift at the Overflow Shelter.

Open up your checkbook and give until it feels good.

Advocate to your elected officials to do more for those in need.

Keep doing these things, and more, because it is not only the best way to say thank you for the life and work of Melinda Bussino, it is also the right thing to do as a caring community.

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