Volunteering in Vermont: How You Can Help Year-Round - Happy Vermont

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Volunteering in Vermont

Volunteering in Vermont: How You Can Help Beyond the Holidays

The Vergennes Community Foodshelf, located in a small red building behind the Vergennes Congregational Church, could pass for a tiny general store. The food shelf is open twice a week and is stocked with everything from eggs, milk and meat to vegetables, fruit and pet food.

John Lent, who lives in Waltham, began volunteering at the food shelf many years ago with his late wife, Mary Ann.  She was the driving force behind the couple’s volunteering efforts in the community. After Mary Ann died in 2020, Lent decided to keep volunteering in her honor.

Right before Thanksgiving, I accompanied Lent to Monument Farms in Weybridge. That’s where he picks up cases of donated milk every Wednesday and makes deliveries to the Vergennes Community Foodshelf on Water Street and the John Graham Shelter a couple of blocks north.

“It’s all about the intention, the mindset and the consistency,” Lent says about his motivation to volunteer year-round.

An Increase in Vermonters Experiencing Hunger

According to Hunger Free Vermont, the number of Vermonters who experience hunger every day jumped from 10 percent pre-pandemic to 33 percent in 2020.

The Vergennes Community Foodshelf is one of more than 200 food shelves, pantries and meal sites that partner with the Vermont Foodbank in Barre. Carrie Baker Stahler, government and public affairs officer at the Vermont Foodbank, says the last few years have been incredibly challenging for Vermonters.

“With the pandemic, resulting economic disruptions, high inflation, and now catastrophic flooding, there’s a whole cascade of crises that have created a need that continues to be very high,” Stahler says.

Volunteering in Vermont: A Year-Round Need

Volunteering is often highlighted around the holidays, but it’s a need that continues well beyond the holidays.

“Get past Thanksgiving or Christmas, and people go back to their normal lives,” Lent says. “Yet the recipients, or the organizations that support them, are trying to drum up more support because the need is year-round.”

Organizations across Vermont—including food pantries, community centers and youth service organizations—need volunteers beyond the holidays. Here are just a few organizations looking for volunteers for food distribution, food deliveries, youth mentoring, tutoring and more.

(Do you work at an organization that is in need of volunteers? Email me details at [email protected] to be added to the list below.)

Groundworks Collaborative in Brattleboro

Groundworks Collaborative has an ongoing need for volunteers to help with its Foodworks food shelf. Volunteers do everything from facilitating food distribution to making deliveries out in the community.

The organization was created in 2015 following the merger of two well-established organizations: the Brattleboro Area Drop-In Center and Morningside Shelter. For details, visit groundworksvt.org.

Upper Valley Haven in White River Junction

Upper Valley Haven serves people from both sides of the Connecticut River in the Upper Valley. Founded in 1980, Upper Valley Haven provides food, temporary shelter, supportive housing, children afterschool and summer programs, community outreach, and problem-solving support to those in need.

The organization is open Monday-Friday and sees between 80 to over 100 households a day. It relies on hundreds of volunteers plus staff to meet this need. It has ongoing volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Visit uppervalleyhaven.org for more details.

Kingdom Community Services in St. Johnsbury

Volunteers are always welcome at Kingdom Community Services, which provides year-round assistance for meals, groceries and gathering blankets and coats to support residents who are struggling to make ends meet.

Programs that rely on volunteers include the organization’s food shelf and meal sites. Visit kingdomcommunityservices-stj.org for more information.

The Vermont Foodbank – Statewide

Volunteers are an integral part of the Vermont Foodbank’s year-round food security initiatives across the state. Each year, over 1,500 volunteers come together to help the Vermont Foodbank deliver services to Vermonters facing hunger.

Vermont Foodbank, a member of Feeding America, provides about 12 million pounds of food annually to people throughout Vermont. One of many volunteer opportunities includes its fresh produce direct distribution program, VeggieVanGo. This program needs at least 251 volunteers monthly to provide safe and dignified food access events across Vermont. Learn more at vtfoodbank.org. You can also find a list of food pantries across the state on the Vermont Foodbank’s website.

Spectrum Youth and Family Services in Burlington

Founded in 1970, Spectrum Youth and Family Services is a nationally recognized leader in helping youth and their families turn their lives around. Each year, Spectrum serves 1,200 teenagers, young adults and their family members.

Volunteers are needed for mentoring, tutoring, help with donations, meal trains in Burlington and St. Albans and other services. Visit spectrumvt.org for more information.

King Street Center in Burlington

Since 1971, the King Street Center has provided a safe and enriching space for youth during afterschool hours. Today, the center serves more than 120 youth ages 18 months to 18 years old daily through a variety of programs.

King Street Center is always looking for volunteers, mainly for its Book Buddy and Mentor programs. Book Buddies read and play educational games with a K-5 student at King Street Center for one day each week during the school year or at an eight-week summer program.

Mentors are paired with a K-12th grader and spend two to four hours together each month doing something outside of the center—such as sharing a meal, going for a walk, visiting museums, or attending community events. Visit kingstreetcenter.org for more details.

volunteering in Vermont
-At the Vergennes Community Foodshelf, John Lent unloads cases of milk donated by Monument Farms. 

Podcast Episode: John Lent on Volunteering in Vermont Year-Round

In this Happy Vermont podcast episode, John Lent—an accomplished marathon runner—talks about his drive to help people in the community, the importance of getting out of your comfort zone, and why volunteering isn’t just for the holiday season. Learn more about the Vergennes Community Foodshelf. Listen on Spotify, Apple, iHeartRadio, or wherever you listen to podcasts.



Addison County, community, Vergennes, Vermont Podcast
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