By Trina Bianchi

As I watch the number of coronavirus cases rise dramatically in other parts of our country, I continue to be grateful that in Vermont, Governor Scott and his team have been proactive and diligent and that we, as individual Vermonters, have stayed the course. I do hope that, as things start to open up, all of us continue to be diligent and stay safe.

I know that for many, the past four months have not been without severe inconvenience and hardship. The stress felt from the economic and social impact has affected many families and continues to do so even as we see our world beginning to open up and some folks going back to work. How do we deal with the stress and all the changes?

The Charlotte COVID-19 Assistance Team met again last Monday, and while the previous meeting focused on emotional and mental health challenges that people are facing and we provided resources available to folks, this meeting dealt with resilience. As any time humans are faced with challenges, either as a community or individually, the outcome can be directly correlated to the level of resilience. Watching the news as a tornado or another force of nature strikes a community, wiping out entire neighborhoods, I wonder how those residents survive and move forward, and yet they do. It takes time, takes effort, often takes outside help and assistance, but they do rebuild. That’s resilience both on an individual and community level.

Recognizing that it’s important to understand and be able to build community resilience, the team heard from Mindy Blank from the Community Resilience Organization (CRO). From the CRO website, “Community Resilience Organizations are local teams that engage residents and town leaders in climate adaptation, disaster preparedness and hazard mitigation, while strengthening local collaboration and social cohesion. CROs break down community silos by bringing together a diverse mix of stakeholders involved in resilience and hazard mitigation: emergency management, conservation, social services, government and more.”

What we learned from Mindy is that, as a community, we can take a CRO assessment that would give us, as a town, a read on how resilient we are. The assessment would cover four different categories: Basic Needs & Emergency Preparedness; Environment & Natural Systems; Physical Infrastructure; and Community Connections & Capacity. Residents would be asked to rate each question from 1 to 5 as to how resilient they felt we were as a community to each situation. The assessment would be totally confidential, and the results would be compiled and presented as an aggregate for each area. It was discussed doing this, using paper copies of the assessment initially so everyone would have the opportunity to complete it, as internet might not be available for all residents to access.

The results could then be made available, and the various organizations and groups in town could then access them and discuss how they could each help build resilience in our community so that we are better prepared to support each other. The team will meet again on July 13, and we will continue to keep you informed as best we can on how we are thinking to support our community.

If you would like more information about the team or if you would like to get involved, please contact Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen.

As for resources available now:

Food and meals

  • From the Food Shelf: Grab and Go lunches available at Spears Store, Charlotte Library, daily Monday through Friday. To register, call (802) 425-3252.
  • The Food Shelf itself continues to be open Wednesdays from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Charlotte Congregational Church. Kids’ lunches will also be available at this time and will include a week’s supply of lunches.
  • Tenney’s Snack Bar has added a voucher for a creemee to the summer lunch bags. Call (802) 425-3252 to register.
  • See article “CVSD free meal service continues in summer” for more information about free meals for children.

Emotional and mental health

  • Vermont 211 from your phone is available for referrals and questions.
    Pathways Vermont at (883) 888-2557 is free and is available 24/7 to call or text. Talk with a peer who has dealt with issues in the past. This is an awesome resource available to all Vermonters.
  • NFI Vermont, access through their website. Serves Vermont families whose children are struggling with emotional, behavioral or mental health challenges.
  • First Call (802) 488-7777 is for crisis situations. Available 24/7.

Financial assistance
Remember that emergency financial assistance is available through the Food Shelf, Charlotte Congregational Church and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Requests can be made by calling (802) 425-3252 or (802) 425-3130.

Information from the Department of Health (DOH)Stay abreast of the ongoing coronavirus news and learn how Vermont is opening up by going to the DOH website, which is updated on a regular basis. Check on what is opening, new regulations for traveling into our state, where to get a test if you need one, how to remain safe and well.

Other resources and events

  • Transition Charlotte is looking into presenting “reskilling workshops” around canning, preserving, and other traditional skills. Stay tuned…
  • Charlotte Library has started events on the green. Watch FPF for up-to-date information. Pre-registration is required so as to maintain safety protocols, and social distancing will be observed at all events.

And together we will continue to move forward, being diligent, respectful of each other and taking care of each other and ourselves. Checking in on friends, family and neighbors, making sure that everyone is okay…just because life is beginning to return to what I think will be a new normal doesn’t mean that others are not still being challenged.

Let us never forget that we are a community. I would like to believe that as a community we want to be kind, compassionate, honest, ethical and a community we can be proud of, a community where people want to come to live and raise a family. To me, all of this, coming at once, is a wake-up call ,and we can, each one of us, decide how we want to move forward as individuals, in our families and in our community. I invite each of you to take some time and think about what you want for yourself, your family and for our community of Charlotte.

Stay well.