VIA COVID-19 Memorial Service
On September 19th, VIA will hold a Memorial Service on the Vermont Statehouse Lawn to honor Vermonters lost to COVID-19 and to process our grief. The heart of the event will be a ceremonial reading of the names so that each individual who has dies of COVID-19 is recognized. In addition, various clergy will offer brief interfaith prayers and readings.
VIA Corrections Reform Action
In June of 2021, VIA’s Local Organizing Ministry held an Action that included the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and members of the Joint Legislative Justice Oversight Committee. They asked for additional staff and training that would help create a Culture of Wellness for residents and staff. CCP’s Sue Brooks was part of this effort.
VIA Affordable Housing Action
In April of 2021, VIA’s statewide Organizing Committee used a multi-pronged approach to increase General Fund and federal ARPA money of $134 million to transition Vermonters in motels to housing and to construct hundreds more units of permanent affordable housing. CCP’s Virginia Munkelwitz was part of this effort.
Vermont Interfaith Action holds Statewide Convention
In 2020, VIA held its Annual Statewide Convention virtually, and postponed it to November. The same energetic spirit and excellent turnout prevailed, however, despite the challenges of the pandemic lockdown. Leaders who attended heard about Affordable Housing and Homelessness, Immigration, Corrections Reform, and Racial Justice. They also listened to some of our Faith in Action siblings: Charlene Walker, Executive Director of Faith in New Jersey; and Bishop Dwayne Royster, Northeast Regional Lead for FIA. It was an inspiring and energizing event.
Students and Affordable Housing
VIA leaders Virginia Munkelwitz (Christ Church, Presbyterian) and Keith Pillsbury (Cathedral Church of St. Paul) joined Debbie Ingram, VIA Executive Director, to tackle the thorny issue of student housing and Burlington’s exceptionally low rental availability.
Both leaders have been addressing these issues for a long time, so to get a better understanding of the forces that keep rental units as dwelling places for students rather than Burlington families and young professionals, you can view the Channel 17 show here.
Christ Church, Presbyterian Honored by the Presbytery of Northern New England
Four churches in the Presbytery of Northern New England were given grants of $750. They were selected by the Presbytery’s Leadership Commission to encourage the ministries of deserving congregations. CCP was in the first group of recipients. CCP congregants Al and Sue Brooks attended the award presentation in Maine and here is Al’s response to receiving the award (see below).
Vermont Interfaith Action holds Statewide Convention
Vermont Interfaith Action held an exciting and informative statewide convention on August 16. Keynote speakers were Rev. Dr. Alvin Herring, the Executive Director of the national network to which VIA belongs, and Kiah Morris, former state representative of Bennington who was the only Black woman in the Vermont legislature when she ended her campaign for re-election in 2018 because of racial threats and harassment. Dr. Herring spoke about how people of faith are called to stand in solidarity with those who are hurting and treated unjustly, and Kiah challenged people of faith to speak up where we see injustice and not stand idly by. CCP’s own Richard Munkelwitz reported on Restaurant RoundUp and Virginia Munkelwitz reported on Affordable Housing in Burlington.
You can read about the action at https://vtdigger.org/2019/08/18/spiritual-leaders-to-keep-pushing-for-15-minimum-wage/
Use the links below to download a description of the meeting, and to Virginia’s report on affordable housing.
Family Separation Protests
June 30, 2018 – Over 500 Vermonters marched to protest the immigration policies of the Trump administration. At least 11 marchers were from CCP, including Ann Naumann who dressed as the Statue of Liberty. The Burlington march was organized by local politicians and supported by Migrant Justice, Black Lives Matter, and Vermont Interfaith Action.
June 12, 2018–Members of CCP joined St. Paul’s, First Unitarian Universalist Society, Burlington Friends, Ascension Lutheran, and New Alpha Baptist congregations to protest the treatment of immigrants. A petition was delivered to Vermont congressional representatives and the attached report describes our requests, congressional responses, recommendations, and actions.
Community Harvest of Central Vermont wins $10,000!
The Red Sox Foundation presented an IMPACT award to CHCV because they “demonstrated a commitment to improving health and wellness outcomes in their community”. The $10,000 award will benefit an organization that gleans about 25,000 pounds of vegetables from 2 million pounds of unused Vermont farmed vegetables. CHCV gleaners, including CCP’s Lynnne Walther, work from April through November and the food is donated to 17 recipient sites in central Vermont: senior centers, breakfast/lunch programs in schools, the Vermont Foodbank, food shelves in several towns, and the Barre Housing Authority Cafe and the Washington County Wellness Collaborative where low income individuals are trained in culinary programs. Congratulations to Lynne and to all our CCP congregants who support her work!
Wages and Housing
VIA leaders Virginia Munkelwitz (Christ Church, Presbyterian) and Gene Bergman (First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington) took on the topics of “Wages and Housing” in our most recent half-hour Channel 17 show.
The two leaders showed how these issues intertwine to keep families from being able to make ends meet, and how addressing them, as some of our local organizing committees are seeking to do, will create a better quality of life for Vermonters.
CCP alum Working with FEMA in Hard Hit Areas
Rob Stone attended CCP faithfully while he was a UVM student. Last spring he graduated, and joined Americorps. You can read about his work with FEMA in the letter below.
Winooski School Busing Winter Pilot
Thanks to the sustained efforts of Parents and Youth for Change (PYC), many students in Winooski now have bus service to get to school. CCP’s Valerie Visconti is a retired teacher, and one of the residents of Winooski who worked to obtain funding and buses for students. PYC is a group which has been focusing on Burlington and Winooski school districts since “new Americans” moved to these two cities.
Winooski School District has never provided transportation for students, and data has shown over the past 3-4 years that there has been a higher rate of absenteeism/tardiness during the colder months of the year. After several years of PYC voicing the need for school buses to help these students get to school safely, on time and ready to learn, the school board finally agreed to fund this pilot project. With the help of South Burlington School District, they leased 2 school buses and 2 drivers to stop at 2 locations in the city to pick up students. The buses did 2 runs at each location. Parents, community members and PYC staff volunteered as “monitors” to be on the ground and on the buses to supervise students.
The program successfully provided bus transportation from January 16th through March 30th. Over 170 students (grades K-12) made use of the buses on a daily basis! The Winooski School District will fund this program again next year.