There are a lot of good people working to support people without homes in our community–from LCH staff and board members to volunteers–it’s a huge team effort! Each week, we’ll be giving a shout out to one member of our organization our social media pages. We are also using this blog post to keep them all in once place. We’ll update this blog as we post more LCH team spotlights.
Rabbi David Fainsilber, Rabbi at the Jewish Community of Greater Stowe (JCOGS), has been a part of the LCH team since its inception. JCOGS was among the houses of worship that first opened their doors to Vermonters without homes in the brutally cold winter of 2017.
“I am proud of our Jewish Community of Greater Stowe’s involvement in the creation of the shelter, and that of the other faith communities, and the well run organization that LCH has become over the years through staff and volunteers.”
Rabbi David understands the importance of shelter for our unhoused neighbors. “Giving folks in need a place to sleep at night and a warm meal makes all the difference for basic survival in Vermont. In addition, LCH connects folks into social services that can move them from surviving to thriving.”
Rabbi David has seen LCH flourish over the years and is excited to see where we go. “LCH is one of the most nimble, hard working organizations and groups of people I have had the honour of working with. LCH board and staff continue to make a greater impact on the community. I am looking forward to seeing a centre come to fruition that is open all year round, supporting those experiencing homelessness stay warm and secure, as they move closer to thriving.”
In his spare time, Rabbi David loves attending Deep Roots Fitness for CrossFit classes, hiking Mount Elmore and then splashing with his kids at Lake Elmore, and playing chess.
Without people like Rabbi David, LCH wouldn’t be where we are today. We are so grateful for your contributions and your continued support over the years, Rabbi David, thank you!
Meet Karen Garland, Shelter and Outreach Staff. Karen has been with LCH for almost 2 years and is a valued member of our team!
As someone with lived experience, her insights are helpful and guide her interest in this work. “Six years ago my family and I became homeless after a home fire. We lost everything. We became homeless. We didn’t even have a hair brush to brush our hair the next day. I have felt what our guests felt for the first time, hopelessness and fear. With help from local resources, my family and I got back on our feet and are doing well. I thank everyone still to this day. I want to be able to help as much as I can after being in the same situation as I can relate to how they feel. There are many reasons that a person may become homeless – reasons I had never thought of until I got involved with this organization. I have learned so much from the guests we served. There is a huge need in the whole state of Vermont for shelter for people that become homeless. The lack of housing available is why the shelter becomes a critical need within a community.”
As an LCH team member, Karen has learned that people don’t always come out and say right away that they need help and our staff’s consistent presence for our guests helps build that trust. “I have learned from being part of LCH that you never know who needs help and who doesn’t. Many people mask their troubles and keep their problems to themselves. At LCH, the guests become comfortable with staff and open up to us. From there, we are able to help them with anything that they need which in turn brings up their self esteem, helps them feel better and enables them to advocate for themselves.
”Karen‘s hope for LCH’s future is that we would “be able to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Having a shelter that can accommodate more than 14 beds would be helpful to be able to assist more people who are homeless. It would also be great to have more resources come to the shelter that can help the guests get affordable housing, food, and medical care.
”Karen’s hobbies and interests outside LCH are spending time going swimming with her children and my dogs, painting, shopping, and being at the ocean where she finds tranquility.
Lastly, Karen wants everyone to know that if you’re facing a hard time, don’t give up, and if you need assistance, give us a call at LCH. Thank you, Karen, for being such a hard working member of the LCH family!
This week, we’re putting the spotlight on a very special volunteer, Chris Demars. Chris is the recipient of our Volunteer of the Year Award. He’s pictured here holding it. Chris has been volunteering for us for just about a year.
One of the services LCH has provided is the delivery of weekly bags of non-perishable food from the Lamoille Community Food Share in Morrisville (shout out- thank you for partnering with us!) to our guests in hotels. Every week, for the past year, Chris has picked up these bags and delivered them to our hotels. At one point, this meant stuffing 40 or more bags into his car. And these bags aren’t light, they’ve got cans in them, they weigh a ton! He lugs them into and out of this car every week! His contribution is invaluable.
We asked Chris to tell us why he volunteers for LCH, and this is what he said. “I am one of the lucky people. Every day I wake up in my nice, soft bed in my very own bedroom in my very own house. Right next to the bedroom is a bathroom with hot and cold running water AND a toilet. The house is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Comfortable. Downstairs there is plenty of food. Hunger is not an issue. If I need something, I can simply order it online or go in my car and go get it. Easy. I have a cushion of money in case something unexpected happens. If an appliance dies, I get a new one. When I’m sick, I go see the doctor. I have insurance. Security. Comfort…ease… security. Many people do not have this. Many suffer from food insecurity. Many don’t have enough money for basic needs. Many are homeless. Life is so hard in so many ways. The Lamoille Community House helps… With shelter and food. I can’t save the world. But I can help a little bit. That’s why I volunteer.”
Next up in our weekly spotlights is Jennifer Manna. Jennifer is another of our Shelter and Outreach staff. She is a kind listening ear for people, and is a helpful hand at our hotel locations.
Jennifer tells us that she joined our team to “Be part of the Community. Community – what does community mean? It means you are known, friends know you: your fears, hopes, struggles, values, weakness and your strengths. I believe every one of us should be known and valued for who we are. I like being a part of this organization and community where I can help assist those having tough times and good times. Neighbors are there for all of us when we need love, support and encouragement.
“Working with LCH, Jennifer has learned that “there is a huge need for affordable housing in our community and there are caring people doing good things to help with the homeless or those in need of other services.
”When asked about the future of LCH, Jennifer said she’d like LCH to “continue to grow, prosper and have their own special place in the community.
”Outside of LCH, Jennifer is also a private care-giver. And outside of work, she enjoys gardening, taking care of her chickens and cat, having family time with her grandchildren, and doing anything outdoors. Thank you for being part of the team, Jennifer! We appreciate you!
“I joined LCH to be part of a team working to make sure that the basic needs of our neighbors– safe shelter, a warm meal, and connection to services– are being met. In a town with so much abundance, no one should be without a warm, safe place to shelter, especially on a cold, winter night.”
Meet Emily Bradbury, LCH Board Member. Being on our board has taught Emily a lot about homelessness in our community. “I’ve learned how complex the issue of homelessness is in Vermont. LCH is so much more than an emergency shelter– they coordinate with service providers, advocate for affordable housing, deliver meals, provide transportation, and so much more.
”LCH’s ultimate goal is to end homelessness, and we hope that one day there will be enough housing for every person in our community. Emily agrees that shelter is necessary in the meantime. “Ideally, everyone in our community will have access to affordable housing someday. But, until then we need a permanent shelter that is open 365 days a year that has broad community support and ample resources to adequately care for people without homes in Lamoille County.
”Outside of her board membership with LCH, Emily is a communications consultant and owner of Emily Bradbuy Communications. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking with her dog, open water swimming, cross-country skiing, and spending time with her friends and family.
Emily has been such a great help on our board of directors, jumping in to lead our marketing committee and helping us implement marketing strategies to help broaden the awareness of our mission and goals. We’re so lucky to have someone with her level of expertise on our board. Thank you, Emily!
Jamie Perlstein joined our team last year as a Shelter and Outreach Staff. She jumped into this work in the middle of the pandemic when things were extremely uncertain. LCH was working around the clock stationed at a local hotel without knowing the longevity of our work. This didn’t bother Jamie, she was here ready to help our community! It turned out that we worked through the entire summer, and Jamie stuck with us, transitioned over to working at our shelter location, and now continues to do outreach again at the hotels.
Jamie tells us a bit about why she joined our organization a year ago. “I’ve always been interested in community resilience and food security. As a child, I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland where food insecurity and homelessness are very visible realities. My family relied on government assistance and at times, emergency housing programs. I know the importance of organizations like LCH to help through tough times and I wanted to be a part of providing a safe, warm place to sleep for people while also working to help with stable housing in the future and the underlying needs surrounding that.”
Working for LCH has shown Jamie that we see a wide variety of folks who seek some assistance. “I’ve learned that many people have different struggles or are coming from complex backgrounds, and being empathetic and willing to listen goes a long way. Anyone can be in a situation of homelessness, and I’ve been motivated not only by my coworkers but also by our guests who work so hard to get into stable situations.”
Jamie shares our vision of having shelter available 365 days per year. “I would love to see LCH be a year round program, with access to job training and a community garden. Increased partnerships with local organizations for resource allocation would always be helpful too.”
In her spare time, Jamie loves to make ceramics, garden, explore new restaurants, and go on nature walks. She’s a senior college student studying Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, and a Farm Associate for Sterling College and The Farm Between in Jeffersonville, VT.
We’re so grateful to have Jamie on our team. Her calm demeanor and positive attitude have been a great asset to our team during a crucial time. Thank you, Jamie!
Paige Garner is one of our Shelter and Outreach Staff. She works at numerous hotel locations helping guests connect to resources and is there to support them through their journey. She also works on a small dairy farm and just graduated with a BA in Sustainable Food Systems.
“I love my community and love living rural. Often people associate houselessness with cities but our rural community needs support and has its own unique set of challenges and strengths. I enjoy contributing to the safety net in my community and believe everyone deserves food, housing, safety, community, and dignity.”Paige enjoys working with LCH, and it has helped her develop as a professional.
“This position has greatly increased my confidence. I am developing the skills and knowledge to be able to help coordinate aid and resources to folks in need. I hope to take these skills with me beyond LCH and use them to inform other aid efforts in my life going forward.”Outside of work Paige enjoys gardening, farming, cooking, and hiking. We’re really glad to have someone like Paige on our team.
She’s resourceful, thoughtful, kind, and dedicated. Thank you, Paige, for being part of the LCH team!
Roger Nicholls was among the original group of volunteers that organized temporary shelter for people without homes at local houses of worship during the winter of 2017. Roger is a retired Health Care Executive, a Veteran, and a problem solver. For the past five years, he has served on our Board of Directors as Treasurer, supporting the growth of LCH with compassion and patience. We would not be where we are today without you, Roger!
“I think one of the best things we all can do is find somewhere that needs a hand. Whether it is time, money, information, or some other gift – it all helps. I joined this organization to help to get people warm in a bitterly cold winter. From there it has unfolded into a comprehensive organization that does many things.”
Roger’s involvement with LCH has taught him that “many people have many gifts. What is seen as a barrier may often be solved by just taking another look at what can be done in a different way. This is an extraordinarily flexible organization. Each year finds us solving new issues. In our short existence, we have had to overcome issues of transportation, financial organization, government compliance with both local and state agencies, and COVID19. In each case, our byword has been ‘persistence’ in finding solutions.”
Roger is proud of the work we have done, but knows that we’ve got much more work ahead of us as we grow. “As we continue to evolve, we look to develop ways to find, fund, and form a structure that not only provides a safe shelter for guests year-round, but provides ways for them to make changes in their lives with assistance in finding a job, locating housing, and helping to navigate the many avenues of assistance programs.”
Outside of his involvement with LCH, Roger enjoys reading, cooking, watching the Red Sox, and enjoying retirement. We are so happy to have Roger’s expertise, insight, and passion on our Board of Directors. Thank you, Roger!
Michael Hamilton is one of LCH’s Shelter and Outreach Staff. His work with us is essential to keeping those experiencing homelessness feeling safe, supported, and listened to. We’re told by many guests that he’s so easy to talk to and a joy to be around.
“Being of service to those who may need it and treating all people with the equal respect that they deserve is important to me. My mother, Mary Hamilton (pictured with me), was a health care provider for the Vermont Veterans’ Home for over two decades. She always had a sparkle that improved the quality of life of the many people she served and worked with, and her family. Mary worked around the clock and volunteered her time to her organization as much as possible. The amount of lives she has helped change is unfathomable. After my mother’s passing, my drive for human services work became much stronger because she was my mother, role model, and idol. I want to continue to help improve the lives of others and make the world a better place, just as she did in her time here. My mother would often say to cheer just about anyone up, ‘Don’t stop sparkling until the whole world is smiling’ and I want to sparkle the way she did.
”Michael has learned a lot from working with LCH and hopes for more community involvement in the future. “I have learned that the shelter organization is very much supported by our local community, as well as on a statewide, level. There are many people with all sorts of different stories to tell, and I’ve learned that homelessness can and could happen to just about anyone. People who experience homelessness have to endure the stigma that comes with it in addition to the overall challenges of living without a home, which can be very humiliating, traumatizing, and devastating. It is important to support this vulnerable population in any way we can. As a community, I urge folks from the area to get involved and help end homelessness in Vermont.”
Michael works for LCH part time and has another full time job as a Behavioral Interventionist for the Redwood Program out of Lamoille County Mental Health. He is also a part time musician and hopes the gigs will pick up again as we move out of the pandemic.
In his spare time, Michael enjoys practicing, and playing drums (preferably with other musicians), spending time with his family and their three dogs, mountain biking or long bike trips, hiking, dodgeball and golf! He’d like everyone to remember to “take care of yourself before you take care of others.”
We pride ourselves on having staff members who are committed to this work the way Michael is. Thank you, Michael!
Meet Nicole Chauvin, Lamoille Community House’s Shelter Manager.
As Shelter Manager, Nicole is our go-to person for all things shelter. She is instrumental in training new staff, organizing volunteers, and making sure things run smoothly at the shelter and hotels. Nicole is an amazing multitasker who takes care of her management duties while also doing direct service with guests. She’s been with LCH for 3 years and knows the ins and outs better than anyone!
Nicole says her drive to work with LCH is obvious – that we need to help those in need. But her broader reason is “raising awareness and helping to educate community members to issues they might not see or know exist.”
Nicole wants the stigma around homelessness to end. “There are so many reasons someone could experience homelessness: divorce, illness, loss of job, lack of affordable units, etc. The stigma the public has around it needs to change.” “I have learned that the need here in Lamoille County is greater than I knew, and I have seen some amazing organizations come together to serve these people in a time of need. LCH was a huge part of that work with our community partners, even though we are such a young organization. We’ve really been able to prove what we are capable of and what we can provide to this community.”
Nicole supports LCH’s vision for a year-round shelter facility and knows it could help the folks we serve tremendously. “I would love to see LCH continue our momentum and be able to work with people year around. This last year has proven that the need in this area is there. I feel we would have a higher success rate if we are able to serve our guests for longer, and give them the support they truly need to be the successful people we know they can be.
”Outside of work, Nicole enjoys camping, spending time with family, reading, and being with her cat. Nicole, we are so proud to have you on our team, thank you for all of your hard work and your commitment to LCH!
Sue Grimes is one of our amazing Outreach Staff doing work in hotels. She helps guests meet their basic needs by providing meals and needed goods, coordinating with service providers, and being a supportive presence for the guests.
Sue wanted to join LCH because “this organization is a great asset to this community. I have lived in this community for over 50 years and wanted to give back. Homelessness is all around us and it needs to be brought to the forefront. Having a home creates stability in community members’ lives, it is the first step to a better life. Anyone can end up homeless, and one small gesture can make a difference in someone’s life and help them back on the road to having a stable living situation.”
Working with LCH has given Sue some insight on her own privilege. “Some people start life at a disadvantage … I am very grateful for all I have.”
Sue would like LCH to be sustainable for many years and continue helping folks in this community.
Outside of work, Sue spends her time with her family, and dogs, and enjoys gardening, kayaking, hiking and reading.
Anne Renaud-Conway has a long history of involvement with LCH, having served in the past as a board member and as a core volunteer.
Anne has this to say about her involvement with LCH:
“LCH is a mission driven organization which is reflected daily in the support that is offered to those struggling with homelessness…support that goes beyond a bed and a meal. LCH fulfills its commitment to provide their services with dignity and kindness. I am passionate about helping others and being involved in my community. Being part of this organization gave me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, as well as t0 make a difference in my own life and acquire some wonderful friendships.”
While being involved with LCH, Anne has learned that “Everyone has struggles in their lives…some more impacted than others. Being a part of this organization, I have come to realize that, whether it is visibly evident or not, people want to do better, be better, live better. As a volunteer, I have had the benefit of personal growth as well as witnessing the growth and change in others. Being a native of Lamoille County, I am saddened by the disparity in our population but, at the same time, I am proud to be a member of this community that not only cares about changing that dynamic but is actively working to make that change.”
Anne thinks “It would be wonderful if LCH was able to go beyond providing a roof for one night or for a season. I would like to see LCH develop a program/service that contributes to providing permanent housing.”
In addition to volunteering in our community, Anne is passionate about her faith, family, elephants, gardening and the beach. Her life philosophies are: “You can’t always get what you want…but, if you try sometimes, you just might find that you get what you need.” (Rolling Stones) and “Life gets pretty precious when there is less of it to waste.” (Bonnie Raitt)
Meet LCH board member, Tese Hartigan Ziminsky!
Tese has been involved with LCH for a couple of years now, starting out as a shelter core volunteer. She now serves on our Board of Directors.
For Tese, being involved with LCH is “as simple as neighbors helping neighbors. Everyone deserves shelter and turning a blind eye to the need in our community is negligent.”
Being part of this organization has taught Tese that “there is much more good in the world than bad. Working together to better the lives of fellow community members is both humbling and energizing.”
Tese shares LCH’s vision of a year-round shelter and she knows it’s an important piece of our future in order for “folks to receive shelter and services to regain control of their lives.”
Tese enjoys indoor and outdoor gardening, walking with her dogs, biking with her family and social justice pursuits. We’re very proud to have this experienced past volunteer on our Board of Directors!
“Seeing Vermont’s response to Covid-19 has taught me that when resources and services are equitably distributed, we are able to feed and house everyone in our community. With support for the work being done at organizations like Lamoille Community House, I think that this could be a turning point for preventing and solving houselessness in Vermont. “
Meet Liam Crannell, LCH Shelter and Outreach Staff
Liam is a student at Sterling College about to finish his bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems.
He is driven to work for LCH because “people experiencing houselessness are not just statistics, they are our neighbors and community members. Regardless of anyone’s background or experiences, they deserve support and respect. To uplift one another and form solidarity within our communities is what it means to be human. “
Liam works directly with guests, organizing meals and wellness checks, referring guests to services, and making sure they have basic needs such as clothing and toiletries. Most importantly, he provides a supportive and positive presence at the shelter and hotels!
He would love to see Lamoille Community House open a year-round shelter “to provide community members with the long-term support that is often needed to secure stable housing.” Someday, he hopes to start a garden at the shelter to grow food with and for shelter guests.
Liam always steps in to help when we need him. Outside of work, he enjoys growing food (he has a particular passion for raising ducks and cheesemaking) and cooking for loved ones. We’re so glad that he’s part of the LCH team!
Meet Kym Rowell, LCH Housing Navigator
“I was driven to join LCH because helping to end homelessness is an important issue to me, it is close to my heart. I’ve worked previously for three years at another homeless shelter as well.”
As housing navigator Kym works with our shelter guests to help them identify goals on their path to stable housing. She assists guests in apartment searches, housing applications, and creates positive connections with local landlords.
“This work is humbling and I am honored to be a part of such important work alongside many people that are also passionate about this issue. The management team leads by example and teaches compassion, professionalism and grit- all things I admire and appreciate in an organization.”
Outside of work, Kym’s hobbies include reading, meditation, yoga, baking, hiking, running, and writing.
We are so grateful to have Kym as part of our team. Thank you, Kym, for the expertise you bring to our organization!