Tag Archives: Uncategorized

Why They Really Support Trump: The View From The Campaign Trail

Last Saturday I attended a Trump rally in Windham, New Hampshire – a relatively affluent town (median income was $127,868 in 2014) of just under of 15,000 people located in the southern portion of the Granite State.  Regular readers will know that I’ve attended several Trump rallies, but this was the first one since I […]

Lessons from Advocacy

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My name is Sarah Karerat and I’m spending this summer working at WomenSafe, an organization in Addison County that works towards the elimination of domestic and sexual violence. WomenSafe’s services include a 24-hour hotline, direct advocacy services, outreach to underserved communities, support groups, supervised visitation for parents, and community education. I primarily work as a direct service advocate. This advocacy consists of providing survivors with whatever kind of support they may need, or directing them to whoever can. Thus, sometimes my advocacy works consists of simply picking up the phone and lending an ear, but it can also involve providing emotional support during relief from Abuse hearings at the courthouse, or facilitating survivors’ entry into an emergency housing program to enable them to flee their abusive partner. The key word here is certainly ‘support’, though I’ve learned that a fundamental part of this job is knowing that we are not here to help survivors, but rather, to enable them to help themselves. After all, it is their strength that has carried them thus far and that will continue to. This has been an incredibly valuable lesson that solidified itself for me at WomenSafe, and is something that I will hold with me throughout my future work in any communities.

As for now, I am glad that the bubble of Middlebury College has popped in my life; it has been incredibly informative and humbling to learn about the realities of poverty in Addison County. I spent half of my childhood living in large cities in India where a significant population lives in poverty, but this summer has shown me that poverty takes on many different personalities. I have started to understand poverty as it manifests itself in Vermont, and the community response to it in this area. My training and subsequent experiential learning at WomenSafe has also vastly increased my understanding of the intricacies of trauma and violence. Despite telling myself to separate my work and my personal life, with work like this, I feel that I have experienced a fundamental shift in perspective that influences all aspects of my life. The way that I view my own behavior, my interactions with others, and relationships and interactions around me has changed. In fact, it would probably be most accurate to say that my perspective has grown; I feel that it will constantly change, hopefully for the better!

Of course, WomenSafe is a nonprofit organization, and I’ve learned from my time spent on meticulous data entry that there are many hoops to jump through in order to do anything community-related. Luckily, among the stress of this all, WomenSafe is an incredibly supportive workplace where self-care is key. The empathy that I see as so essential to my advocacy work is ever-present among colleagues too.

Needless to say, I feel blessed to have this opportunity to learn at an organization like WomenSafe and to have the privilege of witnessing the strength of individuals across Addison County. I look forward to these last few weeks as an intern and volunteering thereafter.

 

Interning at Charter House

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Located in the heart of Middlebury, Charter House provides free community meals seven days a week throughout the year, as well as housing and sheltering services throughout the winter months. Charter House is a multifaceted organization with a number of moving parts and divergent programs that, when woven together by a number of hardworking individuals, fit together to provide a beautiful, largely self-sustaining service for our community. As the intern this summer, I’ve had to opportunity to engage with the people and processes that make our programs run so smoothly.
The majority of my working hours are spent in two locations: the garden and the kitchen. Charter House has two sizable organic gardens that serve as a sustainable, nutritious base for our community meal programs and are used to teach environmentally responsible farming and food preservation techniques to volunteers. In addition to manual work of my own, my job involves coordinating volunteers to help plant, tend, and harvest the thousands of pounds of produce that we grow throughout the summer, ranging from lettuce, tomatoes, onions, summer squash, zucchini, garlic, carrots and kale to beets, broccoli, cabbage, and more!
Then, in true farm-to-table fashion, I get to use these harvests within our community meal programs. Throughout the week, I help prep, cook, and serve meals to the 40-50 guests that we receive on a daily basis. Our home-grown veggies serve as healthy (and tasty) complements to the wide variety of dishes that we have donated to or make onsite at Charter House. Our guests are always well fed—we never say no to seconds and are always happy to package additional food in take-home containers to keep our guests nourished throughout the day. And still, there’s always enough food for me to grab a plate and be able to sit, eat, and talk with our guests, which honestly is the best part of my job.
I’m extremely grateful for the fact that my summer intern experience thus far has been so comprehensive, and I think a big reason why I’m having such an incredible time is because the people and processes that I’ve become acquainted with are teaching me practical skills and down-to-earth realities. It’s hard to capture the full scale of the lessons I’ve been taught and the ways in which I’ve been impacted within a mere sentence, and so, instead, here is a list of just a few of the things that I’ve learned thus far:
-Zucchinis can grow up to the size of a small child if you neglect to pick them for too long.
-Sometimes it’s easier to let the dishes soak and come back to them, rather than scrubbing incessantly to get them done right then and there.
-Sometimes you’ve got no choice but to scrub the dishes incessantly to get them done right then and there.
 -There is an exponential relationship between the amount of responsibilities that you have and the number of emails coming into your mailbox.
-When using a rotary tiller, you’ve got to be submissive. It knows how it wants to till the ground, and if you try to make it do what you want, it will show you who’s boss.
-It’s great to follow a recipe, but, to me, cooking is an improvisational process.
-There are times when you should talk, times when you should listen, and times when you should smile—and the frequency of those actions should correspond with that order.
-Sharing a meal around a table is truly an equalizing experience and food is one of the most satisfying ways to make people happy.
– Doug Wilson ’19

“Not The Kind of Work That Stops the Minute My Shift Is Over”

Jonah Heiser (2)

Jonah Heiser ’17 writes on his experience as an Addison County Shepherd Intern at John Graham Housing & Services.

This summer I am interning at the John Graham Housing and Services Shelter which serves the homeless population in Addison county by providing emergency shelter, food, affordable transitional housing, case management, counseling, and hope. The experiences I have had at the shelter thus far have exceeded all expectations I held coming into the summer. Each day brings new tasks and new challenges. I may spend one day moving furniture into an apartment and the next day playing games with kids at the shelter or bringing a family to the doctor’s office. While the work is incredibly varied from day to day, I take great comfort in knowing that each task I do benefits a resident in the shelter. Scrubbing a kitchen clean for five hours is not always the most fun job to do, but knowing that a woman will get to move into her own new, clean apartment because of that laborious work makes every second of cleaning worthwhile. Still, the most meaningful times at the shelter for me have come in the quiet moments. I have come to realize that giving someone a kind smile, an ear to listen, or a bit of hope in any way needed can often be more powerful than giving that person a piece of furniture, meal, or a sum of money. I have made some exceptionally deep relationships with certain residents of the shelter and find myself caring so much for them both at the shelter and at home after a long day of work, as this is not the kind of work that stops the minute my shift is over. I carry these people’s stories with me throughout the day and often find myself reflecting back on my own experiences, thankful for every bit of privilege I have had throughout my life and equally thankful for every challenge, trial, or difficult time that I have faced, for it is those hard memories that have driven me to this work and motivated every act of compassion offered. I am truly humbled by the knowledge that I am a part of this mission to change the lives of those we seek to help. It has been such a blessing to work at the Shelter this summer.

 

In Sanders’ Country, Berned Supporters Not Yet Ready To Back Clinton

Yesterday our local volunteer fire department (motto: “We’ve never lost a foundation!”) held its annual picnic and I took the opportunity to canvass the picnickers regarding their views toward the presidential candidates. I’m in the heart of Bernie territory (he won our town by a comfortable margin over Clinton in the state primary) and so […]