Featured Client: SEVCA
Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) was created in 1965 as a part of the nationwide ‘War on Poverty’ and chartered as a Community Action Agency, the official ‘anti-poverty agency’ serving Windham and Windsor Counties. In the past year, SEVCA served nearly 9,000 people through a range of programs such as crisis fuel assistance, homelessness prevention, weatherization, home repair, business start-up and support, job readiness and skills training, financial fitness, asset building, Head Start early education, food stamp outreach, access to affordable health care, budgeting + managing savings, information and referral, and thrift stores.
Amanda, a single mother of two, explained why she appreciates SEVCA’s programs:
As a single mom, I struggle to provide housing, heat, electricity, food, etc. for my family. Even with a college degree, wages aren’t enough to support a family with only one income. It’s an absolutely soul-crushing, heartbreaking feeling not to be able to provide for your family, or to have to choose between rent or heat or food. These programs help ease the desperation of poverty.
SEVCA believes that poverty need not be a permanent condition, that people can be empowered to rise out of poverty, and that the strength of our communities is measured by the quality of life of everyone within them. With the help of supporters in the community, the organization positively impacts people’s lives every day–people like Robert:
I’m a drug addict in recovery with 11 years clean. Recently, I had to have a hip replacement and I lost my income. SEVCA helped me with fuel and electric until I could get back on my feet. If it wasn’t for them, I would have lost everything I’ve worked for over the past 11 years.
SEVCA works not only to alleviate current hardship, but to help create conditions that result in long-term stability for those it serves. The Weatherization program is one of the ways we help vulnerable households achieve cost savings and comfort for long-term benefit.
SEVCA also offers a Microbusiness Development Program and an Individual Development Account (IDA) matched savings program to help households launch and sustain their own businesses, programs also designed to promote long-term self-sufficiency. Elizabeth, who participated in both programs, had this to say:
Participating in the IDA program and writing a business plan really gave me a newfound confidence and a network of people rooting for my success,” she says. “I was not able to get out of poverty, and now I’m on the verge of doing that for the first time in 12 years.
SEVCA approaches its poverty-fighting mission with creativity and resolve, working with the assets and resources people already have and strategically generating and/or accessing additional resources to provide struggling households with the help they need. A recent innovation is its Community Solar for Community Action project, in which SEVCA is installing a solar array at its Westminster facility and will use the power generated to provide energy assistance to community members through virtual net metering credits on their electricity bills. Stabilizing households’ energy costs through a renewable resource that will be available for at least the next 25 years is a win-win for participating households and the environment.
SEVCA is continually committed to enabling people to cope with, and reduce the hardships of poverty; create sustainable self-sufficiency; and reduce the causes and move toward the elimination of poverty. Visit their website for more information!