Letters to the Editor – Dec. 1, 2022

A wonder-filled surprise visit from Honduras

To the Editor:

On Friday night, Mario from Tela, Honduras, texted me: “I just flew into Boston and rented a car to come to Vermont.”

Photo by Mario Bautista Linda Gault Gilbert and her husband Al had a surprise visit from Mario, Linda, Blanca, Al, Marcos, Valeria and Blanca from Honduras.
Photo by Mario Bautista
Linda Gault Gilbert and her husband Al had a surprise visit from Mario, Linda, Blanca, Al, Marcos, Valeria and Blanca from Honduras.

Mario is the owner of Juventud, our construction-materials supplier for our Hands to Honduras-Tela projects. We’ve worked with him for 15 years plus.

My question to Mario: “What’s up?”

To make a long story short: He has a hotel reservation in Montpelier and wants to come visit and bring his niece Valeria to meet my husband Al and me.

Valeria is a sophomore on scholarship majoring in civil engineering at Norwich University.

Mario said, “We’ll come Saturday morning at 10 a.m.”

We quickly prepared for their visit — to The Brick to buy yummy fresh scones, cut up local apples to make warm applesauce, fill a platter with Shelburne Farms cheese, maple cookies and strong hot coffee.

We expected two from Tela but it turned into five: Valeria, her mother Osiris, father Marcos, uncle Mario and aunt Blanca.

After three plus hours of Spanish-English chatter about Charlotte, Tela, the world, they wanted to tour the house, especially the basement as they don’t have basements in Tela.

We showed them the collection of clothes, medical supplies, etcetera, that we are packing to take to Tela for the Hands to Honduras-Tela February service trip. They also were curious about the garage as covered garages are not common in Tela.

It was a fun day with these wonderful Hondurans, filled with interesting and lively conversation.

They love Vermont. Plans are already in place to return to fish and hike; Mario will bring his son. Valeria knows we will visit her at Norwich and bring her to Charlotte to meet more family and Hands to Honduras-Tela volunteers. She also knows she can call us any time.

When they left, we guided them to Church Street in Burlington. Then, next stop, Portland, Maine, where they made reservations for two nights. The goal – eat lobster; they have never had it before.

Days like this make the world feel a little more comfortable.

Linda Gault Gilbert
(Linda Gault Gilbert is director of Hands to Honduras-Tela.)

Important to support our neighbors during the holidays

To the Editor:

The recent news about more tragic mass shootings is made even more painful now that we are entering the holiday season, a time when people will be missing loved ones around the table because of senseless and preventable gun violence. Additionally, the murders in Colorado Springs specifically targeted the LGBTQ+ community, reminding many of the pain of finding a place to belong and a chosen family where you can be who you are without rejection or persecution.

We are working on a range of firearm safety proposals and protections for trans youth in the upcoming biennium that begins Jan. 4, but it is also up to each and every one of us to support those grieving from a loss or experiencing the pain of losing access to family or safe, welcoming places. For now, I am holding the victims’ families and loved ones in my heart, and as I give thanks, I also recommit to action and change.

Speaking of being thankful, please also take a moment to help those in your life and your community who may be struggling to meet their needs through the holidays and winter months. I urge you to offer your time or resources to the Vermont Foodbank (vtfoodbank.org) to aid in their mission of distributing nutritious food to people in need. If you or someone you know is struggling with food insecurity, you can find a map to help you find food shelves in your area here: vtfoodbank.org/agency-locator.

Additionally, the Department for Children and Families (DCF) has recently announced the release of $20 million in additional Low Income Energy Assistance Program funding this winter for households that heat with fuel oil, propane, kerosene, electricity and natural gas. You can access information regarding eligibility and specific details of this program on the DCF website.

As the days get colder and the holidays get underway, we must do all we can to support our neighbors. Thank you for reading and ensuring no one is left behind or feeling unsafe.

Please be in touch. It’s a privilege to serve you.

Kesha Ram Hinsdale
(Kesha Ram Hinsdale is a member of the Vermont Senate, serving the Chittenden district.)