Vermont Business Magazine Capstone Community Action in Barre has announced the results of its first-ever winter fundraising campaign, Fuel Your Neighbors, designed to raise critical funds for fuel and food assistance for Central Vermonters in need. The campaign, launched on Giving Tuesday in November 2016, set a lofty fundraising goal of $50,000. With the support of general community donations, including a $10,000 initial matching donation from VSECU, the organization surpassed its fundraising goal and raised $65,000.
Children and seniors are the most vulnerable to the high costs of winter, and are the most adversely affected this time of year. One in five central Vermont children goes to school hungry and many retired seniors struggle with high heating costs and faulty furnaces that need repair.
“This year, Capstone will work with more than 7,000 people to help combat these challenges, putting food on their tables and keeping their heat on during the cold winter months,” said Dan Hoxworth, executive director of Capstone. “We are so heartened by the outpouring of generosity from this community and the impact it’s already having for those we serve. With President Trump’s proposed elimination of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which would be devastating to our most vulnerable populations, the support from our community has never been more critical.”
Fuel Your Neighbors was launched by Capstone and VSECU to help fill gaps in needed funding and to make it easy for Vermonters to prevent others in their communities from going to sleep cold and hungry. Governor Phil Scott, a longtime supporter of Capstone through his leadership in the “Wheels for Warmth” program, attended a press conference at the organization’s Barre offices to applaud the program’s results. Governor Scott recognized the staff at Capstone who work with families to provide resources and support and provide a safety net for those in need.
“In every corner of our state, community action agencies like Capstone are on the front lines of confronting some of our toughest challenges, including food and fuel insecurity, so we thank you for being there and for all you do,” said Scott. “As Governor, I’m committed to growing the economy, making Vermont more affordable for all Vermonters, and protecting the most vulnerable. We must work together to support vulnerable Vermonters, which is why I started Wheels for Warmth 12 years ago and it’s why I’m so pleased to support this new effort and the contributors who made it a success. On behalf of all Vermonters, thanks to each of you for your generosity.”
Fuel Your Neighbors was supported by VSECU’s Powered By initiative, in keeping with the statewide credit union’s goal of empowering possibilities for greater prosperity for Vermonters. VSECU helped develop the program and was instrumental in getting the effort off the ground by providing an initial $10,000 matching donation.
“VSECU is passionate about improving the lives of Vermonters by bringing people together to work cooperatively. Today’s announcement is proof once again of the compassion and generosity of our great state,” said Rob Miller, VSECU President and CEO. “We believe that when people come together, great things happen. So, rather than just give a donation to Capstone, we wanted to engage other Vermonters by creating an easy way to donate (online) and by matching donations to show how powerful our collective generosity can be. And we’re not going to stop here; VSECU is always looking for ways to partner with organizations like Capstone who are truly making a difference in the lives of our neighbors.”
Michael, Deering, a grateful recipient of funds from the program encouraged Vermonters to contact Capstone for help when they need it.
“It was so helpful to have this community resource available at a time of need in our family. Just after I had shoulder surgery, we had a difficult decision to make about paying either the electric bill that had become overdue and was about to be disconnected and being able to have fuel for the van to make sure my family got to school and appointments,” he explained. “Hard times hit everyone, regardless of income and status but hard times don't last forever and there is help out there for a lot of people,” he stressed.
Governor Scott read a testimonial at the press conference from a Brookfield couple who had suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning because of a faulty furnace before Capstone replaced it.
“You people really did save our lives,” Scott read from the letter.
“Capstone, we appreciate your hard work and know that our community is stronger and safer as a result,” the governor stated. “And to the Vermonters who gave through Fuel Your Neighbors, please know that your money truly is being used to improve and, yes, even save the lives of Vermonters with lower means.”
Capstone Community Action was founded in 1965 and works to alleviate the suffering caused by poverty and to create economic opportunity for people and communities. Capstone’s programs include emergency food, heat and utility assistance, housing counseling and homelessness intervention, transportation assistance, workforce development, home weatherization, and child and family development programs in Early Head Start/Head Start. We serve over 15,000 people through these programs each year. www.capstonevt.org.
VSECU is a member-owned cooperative and not for profit credit union for everybody who lives and works in Vermont, offering a full range of affordable financial products and services to its member owners. VSECU is committed to improving the lives of Vermonters by empowering the possibilities for greater social, environmental, and financial prosperity.