Coronavirus and person wearing maskBy Trina Bianchi

It’s alarming to watch the numbers of COVID cases increase exponentially in various parts of our country and one can’t help but wonder when all people will understand what needs to happen to bring this under control. We’ve seen it come under control in other areas of the world, but in this country, the virus still rages.  And the numbers of cases and ultimately, deaths, continue to rise.

Heard an interesting analogy from Bill Nye, the Science Guy on CBS This Morning about wearing masks. In his words, we do live by rules in this country; we all pay taxes to use the roads, but the rules say we can only use half the road at any given time. Why?  For safety reasons!  And people don’t question that. So why the issue about the rule to wear a mask? Wearing a mask, same analogy! It does seem that it falls under whether or not one feels community and the common good outweigh one’s own individual rights.

Happened on an interesting read by Colin Woodard, author of “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.” Woodard wrote that we are now seeing the effects of centuries-old regional differences in attitudes toward individual liberty, the common good and the desire for competent governance and these differences can be now seen in the statistics coming over the news on a daily basis. Fortunately for us, Vermont is located in one of the areas of the country that places a greater emphasis on the common good and the need to protect the community.

Between the leadership of Governor Scott and his team and the willingness of Vermonters to “follow the recommended guidelines and rules,” we have managed, to date, to dodge the bullet, so to speak. We can hope that everyone, including all those who come into our state from elsewhere, continue to be diligent.

The Charlotte COVID-19 Assistance Team met again this past Monday and once again, the focus of the meeting was on resilience. Mindy Blank from the Community Resilience Organization joined us and we further discussed the possibility of asking our residents to take the assessment which would tell us how all of you feel about whether or not Charlotte, as a community, is doing enough to prepare ourselves for the future and in the event of a crisis in the various areas the assessment looks at. From the assessment, we could learn where, as a community, we need to focus on creating resilience and being better prepared.

Community Resilience Organization (CRO) had its start in Vermont after Hurricane Irene devastated so many towns and areas in our state. What became apparent was the fact that some communities were able to rise to the challenges they faced, while others struggled. The apparent difference was the level of resilience in one community versus another. Some communities were obviously better prepared to deal with a crisis and met the challenges they faced. Others were not. The concept of how to build the level of resilience in any given community was born and how to discover whether or not a community was prepared for the future or a crisis. The mission became for CROs to help build strong, resourceful communities that can survive and thrive in the face of a changing climate and other challenges that lie ahead.  Other towns in Vermont who have taken on this challenge and are doing the work can be found at this website.

The team has decided to move forward with this and at our next meeting, July 27 at 11:00 a.m. on Zoom, we will discuss the actual assessment and how to roll it out in our community, the goal being to hear from as many community members as possible. If you would like to be involved or learn more about this team, please contact Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen. If you have suggestions on how best to introduce the assessment, please let us know.

As for resources available now…

Food and Meals available to Charlotte school age kids
The school lunch program is available through the summer.  To access, go to the CVSD website. Further information is available by calling Scott Wagner at (802) 871-6198 as he is the contact for the summer for questions and any special needs.

These lunches will be available at CCS on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Pickup between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m.

And from the Food Shelf, Grab and Go lunches are available at Spears Store and the Charlotte Library, daily Monday – Friday.  To register, call (802) 425-3252.

The Food Shelf itself continues to be open Wednesdays from 5:00 p.m. – 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.

CVSD is currently looking for volunteers to help with food distribution for the summer meals. Interested in helping out? Please email CVSD info.

Emotional and Mental Health
Vermont 211 from your phone is available for referrals and questions.

Pathways Vermont. (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.

For the latest information from the Department of Health, Vermont…
Stay abreast of the ongoing news in Vermont with respect to CV-19, learn how Vermont is opening up by going to the 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!

And together we will continue to move forward, continuing to value our community and the common good over the individual, being diligent, respectful of each other and taking care of each other and ourselves. If you have friends who are not following mask protocols, have the courage to talk to them about it. As we approach the start of the school year and our kids and teachers are back together in some way, shape or form, the use of masks becomes even more critical. Check in on friends, family and neighbors, make sure everyone in your circle of influence is okay. Just because perhaps your life may be seeing some signs of normalcy, it doesn’t mean others are not still being challenged. And as we watch the numbers rise in other parts of the country and continue to see the disparity that exists around the country, spend some time contemplating how each of us can make our little world a bit better, kinder, more compassionate, and more inclusive for all. Vermont is not immune from the racism we are seeing all around the country and each of us needs to have the courage to address it when we see or hear it.