Coronavirus and person wearing maskBy Trina Bianchi, Contributor

As I write this update, we are close to finalizing the details of the community resilience survey. The unofficial COVID-19 team, Charlotte Community Partners, is busy making final tweaks to the community resilience assessment and figuring out how to make it as easy as possible for everyone to access, complete, and submit it. And, more importantly, how to make sure everyone knows about it and why it’s important to the future of Charlotte.

This assessment came to the attention of some very forward-thinking folks at the library after it was used in the wake of Hurricane Irene, when so many Vermont towns and families sustained substantial damage from the unexpected flooding around our state. It became apparent during the aftermath of the devastation that some towns rebounded easier and quicker than others—in other words, more resilient. To further study that, the Community Resilience Organization came into being.

To date, 10 towns in Vermont have taken the assessment and used the results to bring about change and improvements in those towns for their citizens. In Charlotte, several months ago, the CRO was contacted and the wheels to do this in Charlotte began turning.

The COVID team/Charlotte Community Partners, consisting of folks coming from various organizations/walks of life in our town decided to take up this mission as a way to learn whether or not our town was indeed ready, in various areas, to handle a crisis in the future. The assessment was read and studied, then simplified, reworked, and tweaked to make it painless to complete and easy to understand.

The assessment looks at areas that are critical to each one of us: the availability of food and housing; our environment; our roads and bridges and whether or not they are adequate, maintained and/or safe; our natural resources and whether or not we are protecting them; the availability of health services; use of land; availability of emergency services and shelters; internet/broadband service; community connections and more.

All questions are important as are all answers, including “I don’t know,” which is critical as it may mean our town isn’t prepared in that area or it could also mean that what the town has done or has available hasn’t been effectively communicated to folks. In other words, if you have a lot of questions with the answer “I don’t know,” don’t feel that your assessment isn’t valuable.

If this assessment is to have value to our town, we need to hear from all Charlotte residents, and that means each one of you. To that end, the assessment will be available online and links will be in the The Charlotte News and The Citizen and on the library and town websites and in the CCS newsletter. If you don’t have access to a computer, you can access one at the library and complete the assessment there.

For folks who would rather read it on paper and complete it, you will be able to pick up an assessment at the Town Hall, the Library, Spear’s Store, the Food Shelf, from the breezeway or at the Children’s Center of the Congregational Church, and at the Children’s Center across from the library on Ferry Road.

You can drop off the completed assessment at specially marked boxes at the Town Hall, the library, in the library box at Spear’s Store, at the breezeway of the Congregational Church and at the Children’s Center at the church.

The goal is to have the assessment available starting Nov. 9 and open until Dec. 11, giving everyone ample opportunity to complete it. All paper assessments will be co-mingled, and there is zero identifying information on the assessment, so responses remain totally anonymous.

Our hope is that each of you will take the time to read and complete the assessment as this is the first step in a Resilience Series, hosted by the Charlotte Library, Charlotte Community Partners and Community Resilience Organizations. It is our hope that through this assessment we can get a clearer picture of public perception of our preparedness across the many sectors that make up our 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 age kids: the school lunch program continues whether students are in school or learning from home. Access the CVSD 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 (802) 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: access through the 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.

VT Department of Health
Stay abreast of the ongoing news in Vermont with respect to COVID-19. 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.