• Stephen D'Agostino

Help During This Time of Need

It’s hard to believe that May is right around the corner. It’s not just the pandemic causing this disbelief, though it has done a fine job of altering my perception of time. Spring on the hill always seems to come a bit late, so spending most of my time here, I am likely missing how the season has progressed. It’s been an unremarkable spring, so far. Not too hot, not too cold, but too much snow. One snowflake after April 1 is too much for me.

I always peg the first week in May as the time spring shows itself, so I will keep an eye out for my first hummingbird and my first rose-breasted grosbeak around the yard. One thing I won't see in the first week in May is people working around town as part of Green Up Dy. This usual first-Saturday-in-May event has been pushed back to May 30. I’m offering the disclaimer that this may change. Stay tuned for more information.

Marie Anderson, the Reading Green Up Coordinator, is putting her heart into this, as she does every May. This year is special, though, since Green Up Day is celebrating its 50th anniversary. As we get closer to May 30, and with fingers crossed, I will share more information about the event. Also, be sure to check Front Porch Forum for periodic updates.

Of course, the topic on everyone’s minds, lips, (and fingertips as I type this) is the pandemic. There are a lot of people who are suffering financially from the stay at home orders needed to slow the spread of the virus. Perhaps you’ve seen posts on Front Porch Forum regarding the Woodstock-Area Relief Fund: COVID-19, which I will thankfully shorten to WARF for the rest of my column. If you didn’t see the post or if you need a refresher, here are some details.

WARF was formed by residents of the Woodstock area to provide financial assistance to individuals and families of the greater Woodstock area who are unable to meet their basic household needs due to the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The assistance WARF offers is beyond what other local, state, and federal relief programs will provide. Assistance packages of up to $1,000 are available immediately. WARF is also making an effort to anticipate the need that may still exist once other forms of aid have been exhausted.

Late last week, I checked in with Sally Miller, one of the people involved in WARF, to see how the effort was doing in disbursing monies they have raised. She told me that the fund has granted over $35,000 to families in the area WARF serves, which is Barnard, Bridgewater, Killington, Plymouth, Pomfret, Reading, and Woodstock, or the Windsor Central Supervisory Union. To date, four families in Reading have received $3,500 in aid. For the whole area, the fund has received 76 applications and has granted more than $35,000.

If you need immediate assistance, you can visit woodstockarearelieffund.org to apply for help. The usual channels for finding information are available. You can call or email Sally Miller (802-281-9902/woodstockcovid19@gmail.com). You can also check out the WARF Facebook page (facebook.com/woodstockarearelieffund).

Of course, the fund needs to be, well, funded. If you are looking for ways to help during the pandemic, donating to WARF is an option. The fund, as of last week, has raised over $150,000. Given the magnitude of the crisis, there is a need to raise more.

If you can contribute, visit the website to make a tax-deductible donation. You can also mail checks made out to Woodstock Area Relief Fund to PO Box 802, Woodstock, VT 05091. Printable check submittal forms are available at tinyurl.com/WARF-PaperCheck.

We all know how big the pandemic is. The word implies it all. Apart from the work WARF is doing, don’t forget that there are other organizations in our area that are also doing vital work. The Reading/West Windsor Food Shelf, for example, and the Ottauquechee Health Foundation.

I checked in with Sara Norcross, and she told me that the Food Shelf is seeing more use than is usual. She also wishes to thank both Brownsville Butcher and Pantry and the Green Mountain Smokehouse. They have generously donated meat recently, so the freezers at the Food Shelf are full for the moment.

If you or someone you know from Reading or West Windsor needs the services of the Food Shelf during these trying times, it is located at 3456 Tyson Road and is open on Mondays from 2pm to 4pm and on Thursdays from 4pm to 6pm. Food basics are boxed up and ready for curbside pickup.

If you would like to donate to the Food Shelf, you can make out a check to "The Reading-West Windsor Food Shelf" and mail it to PO Box 384, Brownsville, VT 05037.

If you would like to donate to the Ottauquechee Health Foundation, you can visit ohfvt.org/donate. If you or someone you know is struggling to pay for healthcare needs, please visit the website (ohfvt.org), call 802-457-4188, or email info@ohfvt.org.

People stepping up and helping out is always important, especially in a small community. If you can’t help out financially during these times, check in with people around town. Make sure they are okay. Call to say hi. Text in mock awe when it snows. Send an email announcing your first hummingbird sighting. It all helps people remember that despite the pandemic, some things don’t change.

That’s the news from Reading! See you next week!


This column originally appeared in The Vermont Standard on April 30, 2020.

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