Coronavirus and person wearing maskBy Trina Bianchi, Charlotte COVID-19 Assistance Team

As I sit to write this week’s update from your Charlotte COVID-19 Assistance Team, I am struck by the fact that we’ve been dealing with this health crisis now for over six months, and our new normal now includes grabbing a mask before we head out of the house to our car to go someplace. And I’m now beginning to actually be able to more easily recognize people behind the mask, which at first was, at least for me, challenging!

Kids are back in school, and there really is no new normal yet for them, or their families, as we wait to see if the hours educators and administrators spent planning for school openings lead to kids to staying in school. I know I am, as I’m sure all of you are, very grateful to be living in Vermont; we are leading the U.S. in showing others how to care for each other and deal with adversity. When a 15-year-old comes to me and says, “Trina, I want to do what I can to keep you safe,” I know that the message about caring for each other is out there. Let us all continue to be vigilant and do what we can to keep each other safe!

We continue to work on the Community Resistance Assessment as the plan is to try to discover just how all of our Charlotte neighbors feel about how our town is doing in several key areas. How do you feel Charlotte does in terms of providing basic needs and services? How do you feel Charlotte is doing in terms of protecting our environment and natural resources? Do you feel that Charlotte does a good job caring and protecting our roads, bridges, culverts, etc.? Do you feel that Charlotte does a good job in creating community connections, giving us opportunities to thrive together?

For this assessment to have value to our town, we need to hear from all Charlotte residents. The team continues to have ongoing discussion on just how to make it as easy and painless as possible for everyone to complete it. The plan currently includes having it available online, accessible from the Charlotte Library and anywhere you have computer access; for those preferring to complete a paper copy, paper copies available at several points in town.

Monday, Sept. 28, the assessment will be presented at the Selectboard meeting. A zoom link is available on the town website so you can hear more about the assessment and ask questions.

The goal is that after the Selectboard reviews the assessment, the team will roll it out to all our residents to complete. It is our hope that through this assessment we can get a clearer picture of public perception of our resilience across the many sectors that make up a community. This is the starting point to future discussions on how to make Charlotte the best community we can be for everyone who chooses to call our town their home.

As for resources available now …….

Food and Meals
Available to Charlotte school-aged kids: The school lunch program will continue whether your students are in school or learning from home. Suggestion is to access the website, click on “District Resources,” click on “Menus,” or call Scott Wagner at (802) 871-6198.

The Food Shelf itself continues to be open Wednesdays from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Charlotte Congregational Church. Call ()8023) 425-3252 to register.

Emotional and Mental Health
Vermont 211 from your phone—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 serves Vermont families whose children are struggling with emotional, behavioral or mental health challenges.

First Call at (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 Vermont Department of Health
Stay abreast of ongoing coronavirus news by going to the website that 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.

In closing, I heard a great line on “CBS This Morning” today: let’s strive to look at and do what’s right each day—what’s right for our family, what’s right for our community, what’s right for each other, what’s right for our environment and world. If we look through the lens of what is the right thing to do, we can all be living in a better place. Stay well, be kind and respectful with each other, and watch for the assessment!