Tag Archives: community partner

Finding Community and Connection: Yellow House

Eight individuals stand in front of a yellow van, smiling at the camera. They have yellow paint splattered on their blue Yellow House t shirts.
Mady and friends painting a van for the demo derby at field days sponsored by G Stone motors.

The following reflection has been thoughtfully composed by Madelyn Lander ‘23 who participated in a 2020 summer internship with the Yellow House Community in Middlebury. Madelyn is working to create the Yellow House Community Club, a community engagement organization focused on connecting Middlebury College students to the residents of Yellow House Community through planned collaborative activities and dialogues about disability inclusion. To find information about joining Yellow House Community Club, you can email Madelyn Lander at mlander@middlebury.edu. Updates about upcoming Yellow House Community Club meetings and events can be found in the Center for Community Engagement’s weekly newsletter. Like Mady, if you have an idea or inspiration for a community engagement project, you can reach out to the Center for Community Engagement for support through advising, grant funding, outreach, or community partner connections. 

When classes ended this past spring I didn’t have to travel very far after campus closed. I packed everything out of my dorm room and into my car before driving about half a mile from my dorm to a small apartment on Weybridge Street, right next to two college owned houses my friends had lived in the year before. My internship at the Yellow House Community (YHC) right here in Midd started in seven days and I had no idea what to expect.

The first few weeks flew by and I suddenly found myself in July with the first few weeks under my belt. Every day was different, and every week I discovered a new part of our community here in Midd that I had never known existed before. With Yellow House I traveled to farms in the area, volunteering with Yellow House residents to give back to the community which supports us, went on more hikes than I could count, and spent hours in the kitchen making lunches and helping to prep dinners with everyone. The essence of my work at YHC was to assist the daily support staff in the fulfilment of the program’s mission: to provide adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities with safe, residential family households, meaningful vocation, and the support to continue developing skills, interests, and relationships, but as I completed my midsummer reflection for the CCE I realized that it didn’t feel as serious as it sounded when I wrote it out. Essentially what I did everyday was wake up, spend seven hours with people whom I was forming strong and deep friendships with, explore the local area, and go home each night feeling fulfilled.

Through this experience this summer with YHC I learned that community connection is founded in the interdependence we all require to survive. None of us exist in isolation, and for the work we are doing to be meaningful it must honor this truth, whether that connection be within your workspace, or a broader network. Through this experience I not only learned about residential care for adults with disabilities, but also discovered what it feels like to work in a space where everyone wants to see everyone else succeed.

Thank you to everyone at CCE, as well as Yellow House, for this experience which has shaped me and will continue to affect the choices I make about my own future and the type of life I want to live. I hope that I can continue to live my life in connection with others, and inspire others to do the same, casting off the isolating idea of individuality that permeates many college campuses.

Work with Midd Non-Profit: Up-Cycle!

Up-Cycle is an up and coming, Middlebury-based non-profit and second-hand store for teens and young adults. It aims to offer fashionable and affordable clothing to a diverse group of teens and young adults as well as foster recycling awareness through clothes swapping and local resale.

An info session will be held today, Monday 11/16 @ 8pm in Axinn 220! Opportunities to get involved are listed below.

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Media/Promotion Specialist: Responsible for spreading advertisements and promotions about the store out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Should be media savvy, able to work in a team, and/or as a mentor to a high school student. Something goes out at least once a week (weekly outfit, workshops, etc., henna tattooing). Estimated time commitment: 1-2 hrs/week.

Store Volunteer Responsible for day to day maintenance of the store throughout open hours. Work could include selling, sorting, and taking in consignments. Should be enthusiastic and have fun being around clothing and young adults, and have a fashion sense and awareness of the importance of upcycling. Needs to be friendly and outgoing, trustworthy, able to work in a team, and should have common sense. Estimated time commitment: 6-8 hrs/month

Writing Assistant: Works with the executive director on researching and writing grants to sustain the store for the first year. Talks about ideas, write grants, and letters. Input and ideas from writing assistant would be welcomed by director. Estimated time commitment: could be one time or on a regular basis.

Outreach Coordinator: Follows up on connections the store manager and board members have throughout the community.  Could entail going individually or with a group of teens to a meeting and presenting the store objectives and mission. Meetings would be mostly in the local community, such as Church outreach programs, Service Organizations, etc. Should be a good leader and able to represent the project. Estimated time commitment: 5 hrs/month.

Business Assistant: Responsible for putting in paperwork and assistance in managing the business side of the store. Should be tech savvy, business smart, know how to do book keeping, and know his/her way around payroll, nonprofit issues, etc. Estimated time commitment: 2 hrs/week.

Program Coordinator: Responsible for organizing local involvement. Researches possible workshops and trainings concerning young people, such as sewing, jewelry making, dress for success, etc., finds guest speakers for special programs, such as nutrition, body image, issues around fashion and media in our society, contacts adult and teen artists who would like to display their art work in the store for 4 to 6 weeks. Estimated time commitment: 2 hrs/week.

Ambassador at the college: Responsible for organizing college involvement in the project. Would help spread the word amongst peers, hang posters, and get in touch with dining hall managers to put up boxes. Would act as a liaison between the store and the common houses, etc. Estimated time commitment: 5 hrs to 10 hrs (one time commitment and seasonal).

Board member: Would serve an advisory position to help maintain a hip, fashionable, and youth-centric store. Many potential involvement opportunities (e.g. in fundraising, as treasurer, as secretary). Estimated time commitment: 2 hrs/month.

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