Author Archives: Lydia Gordon

An interview with Doug on the Charter House

dougsinclairphoto

Below is an interview with our community partner, Doug Sinclair, President and Housing Programs Director of the Charter House in Middlebury.

What was your role in developing the Charter House? 

I was a member of the founding group which included representatives from local churches, United Way, and the Community Engagement Office at the College.  The Charter House emergency shelter and the Community Lunch program at Charter House came about because of the economic downturn that began in 2008 and caused many more individuals and families in Vermont to be precariously housed and food insecure.  The members of the founding group engaged the community in volunteering to staff the housing and food programs and in providing financial support for operating the programs.  Among the most important challenges was figuring out how to operate and manage emergency housing and food programs entirely with volunteers and then develop appropriate training to prepare volunteers for the work.  Volunteers also needed to gathering donated furnishings and linens from across Addison County and set up living quarters for all the future guests.  There was a lot to coordinate.  The learning curve the first year was steep.  I was fortunate to have been part of that fun and excitement.  Many students, including three who worked at the shelter for their winter term course, played an important role in launching these programs. 

What keeps you coming back?

Seeing day after day how many lives are uplifted by the work of Charter House Coalition is stimulating and motivating to all who are touched by it.  The organization has grown from a first Community Supper prepared and served by maybe 10 individuals to organization with over 950 volunteers and 7 different housing and food programs.  None of the founders had any idea this would happen.  Charter House Coalition is now an important resource for many in our community because the idea of neighbor helping neighbor in the rural setting of Addison County appeals to our human nature.  

What do you see as the greatest strength of this community? 

There is no question in my mind the greatest strength of the community is the willingness of those who live in this area to support the well-being of each other in time of need. 

What do you envision for the Charter House in the future?

One of the most important learnings for me over the past 10 years is not to underestimate what a community can accomplish when volunteers unite together with a common goal. People helping people is contagious.  Each new person brings new ideas and new energy to the organization.  As new groups of volunteers identify new needs in the community, they will continue to find ways to help the community meet those needs.      

What role have Middlebury students had with the Charter House? 

Over 25% of the organization’s volunteers are students.  Five or six students help lead our programs each year through volunteer work, paid internships, and unpaid internships.  There is no doubt the organization could not be where it is, or be doing all it does, without the talents and effort of the hundreds of students who have supported our programs.

​Anything else you would like to add about your experience with the Charter House, or Middlebury College student involvement? 

Working with Charter House Coalition has been an exciting ride with many enriching experiences.  I have many wonderful memories of the students who have been so important to the organization over the years.  The opportunity to learn and teach while working with them has been a blessing for me and for Charter House Coalition.  I hope many others will have similar experiences in the years to come.  The work of Charter House Coalition changes lives.  Sometimes it’s the lives of the volunteers. I count myself as one of them.

For more information on the Charter House Coalition, click here

An interview with Doug on the Charter House

dougsinclairphoto

Below is an interview with our community partner, Doug Sinclair, President and Housing Programs Director of the Charter House in Middlebury.

What was your role in developing the Charter House? 

I was a member of the founding group which included representatives from local churches, United Way, and the Community Engagement Office at the College.  The Charter House emergency shelter and the Community Lunch program at Charter House came about because of the economic downturn that began in 2008 and caused many more individuals and families in Vermont to be precariously housed and food insecure.  The members of the founding group engaged the community in volunteering to staff the housing and food programs and in providing financial support for operating the programs.  Among the most important challenges was figuring out how to operate and manage emergency housing and food programs entirely with volunteers and then develop appropriate training to prepare volunteers for the work.  Volunteers also needed to gathering donated furnishings and linens from across Addison County and set up living quarters for all the future guests.  There was a lot to coordinate.  The learning curve the first year was steep.  I was fortunate to have been part of that fun and excitement.  Many students, including three who worked at the shelter for their winter term course, played an important role in launching these programs. 

What keeps you coming back?

Seeing day after day how many lives are uplifted by the work of Charter House Coalition is stimulating and motivating to all who are touched by it.  The organization has grown from a first Community Supper prepared and served by maybe 10 individuals to organization with over 950 volunteers and 7 different housing and food programs.  None of the founders had any idea this would happen.  Charter House Coalition is now an important resource for many in our community because the idea of neighbor helping neighbor in the rural setting of Addison County appeals to our human nature.  

What do you see as the greatest strength of this community? 

There is no question in my mind the greatest strength of the community is the willingness of those who live in this area to support the well-being of each other in time of need. 

What do you envision for the Charter House in the future?

One of the most important learnings for me over the past 10 years is not to underestimate what a community can accomplish when volunteers unite together with a common goal. People helping people is contagious.  Each new person brings new ideas and new energy to the organization.  As new groups of volunteers identify new needs in the community, they will continue to find ways to help the community meet those needs.      

What role have Middlebury students had with the Charter House? 

Over 25% of the organization’s volunteers are students.  Five or six students help lead our programs each year through volunteer work, paid internships, and unpaid internships.  There is no doubt the organization could not be where it is, or be doing all it does, without the talents and effort of the hundreds of students who have supported our programs.

​Anything else you would like to add about your experience with the Charter House, or Middlebury College student involvement? 

Working with Charter House Coalition has been an exciting ride with many enriching experiences.  I have many wonderful memories of the students who have been so important to the organization over the years.  The opportunity to learn and teach while working with them has been a blessing for me and for Charter House Coalition.  I hope many others will have similar experiences in the years to come.  The work of Charter House Coalition changes lives.  Sometimes it’s the lives of the volunteers. I count myself as one of them.

For more information on the Charter House Coalition, click here

Apply for 2015-2016 Americorps VISTA position! (5/3)

Americorps vista blog photo
The Community Engagement office is looking for a full-time 2015-2016 SerVermont Americorps*VISTA member to join our team!
The Program:
The SerVermont AmeriCorps*VISTA Program is a statewide national service program in its third year. VISTA Members are placed at community-based organizations and state and municipal agencies whose mission and VISTA assignments cover focus areas including Veterans, Economic Development, Healthy Futures, and Education. Each VISTA makes a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a host site and  receive a modest living allowance that is linked to the poverty level in their community, as well as professional development training throughout the year.
The Position
We seek a VISTA member for a one-year position from August 2015 – August 2016 to work with the Community Engagement team to weave together co-curricular poverty-related programs in a more cohesive and intentional manner, while also deepening our collaboration with participating community partners. We aim to (a.) engage more Middlebury College students & faculty, (b.) focus on building a more solid infrastructure that will strategically increase our capacity to help meet local needs, deepen the impact of our efforts, identify opportunities for growth and development, and establish a sustainable program, (c.) to provide support, as needed, to participating P&P faculty members.
The Poverty Initiatives Coordinator will organize events and activities that will mobilize others in service to low-income families and individuals and work with organizations on projects aimed to help alleviate poverty (e.g., through mentoring initiatives, ELL and translation services, financial literacy efforts, and more).
The Benefits:
-A modest living allowance: $973 per month
– $300/month rent assistance
– 10 days of personal leave, 10 days of medical leave
– Childcare subsidies are available for members who qualify.
– Relocation allowance: Up to $550 stipend if member relocates 50 miles or more to serve in addition to up to $1,000 in mileage reimbursement from your home of record.
– After successfully completing your service year you can choose to receive either: An education award: $5,730 that can be applied to student loans or future education. This amount is taxed and must be used in 7 years OR a stipend: $1,500 cash, which accrues at $125 per month and is taxed.
– For one year after service, members receive non-competitive eligibility for federal jobs meaning they can apply for without competing against the general public (as long as they meet basic requirements for the job).
Qualifications:
-Must be a United States citizen, United States National or Legal Permanent Resident of the United States.
– Must pass a criminal background check by CNCS. CNCS investigates for past sexual offenses and violent crimes. Minor offenses, unless directly relevant to service, will not bar someone from service.
– Must have a bachelor’s degree or three years of related volunteer/job experience
Qualified and interested? See the full job posting and apply on MOJO. Cover Letter and Resume due on MOJO on May 3, 2015
Questions? Contact Ashley Laux, alaux@middlebury.edu
 

Mandy on LiM

mandyblogphoto

Last year, I was studying abroad in Madrid, Spain and I received an email about a new program, Language in Motion, at Middlebury’s Community Engagement office. At that time, I was thinking about how I would readjust to my life at Middlebury, and all of the memories I had made. The email could not have come at a better time, as I started to think about classes and what I wanted to do for the upcoming year. One thing I wanted to do was to make more of an effort to promote travel and studying abroad even more than I had in the past. Community Engagement has allowed me to do just that.

 

Through Language in Motion, I found that I could reflect on my experiences to share and pique other students’ curiosities. One thing I missed was how I spent my mealtimes in Spain. I enjoyed the culture of eating because I felt like I had time to both catch up with my friends and eat. When I was planning what I wanted to present to students, I immediately thought about the culture of mealtimes, and I led a small activity in the school’s kitchen where I tried to recreate the ambience of eating tapas at a bar. It was great being able to talk about food and connecting that to life, values, and cultures because I saw how my connections to food made the students think about their lives.

 

This experience would not have been possible without the Community Engagement office where there are so many different opportunities that anyone can take advantage of. Whether it is sharing experiences like eating, mentoring youth, or applying for a grant to do something you find meaningful (just to name three things you can do), the Community Engagement office can help you find a way to leverage your interests and curiosities to connect with the community. There is more to Middlebury than what happens on the hill, and the Community Engagement office makes it that much easier to discovering ways you can get involved.

 

-Mandy Kwan ’15

To learn more about Language in Motion, click here!