For Immediate Release:
Amidst the response to COVID-19, Groundworks invites supporters to fundraise by camping-in-place on May 1
BRATTLEBORO—Amidst the organization’s many measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Groundworks Collaborative has pivoted to a virtual approach for their 8th annual Camp for a Common Cause fundraiser.
The event, which normally seeks a permit to lift the Town of Brattleboro’s public camping restriction for one night each May on the Brattleboro Common, will happen virtually this year on Friday, May 1st. Organizers are encouraging participants to camp at home—on lawns, in garages, on balconies and decks, etc.—and in so doing, raise funds that Groundworks reports it needs “now more than ever.”
“While the timeline for our current shelter configuration remains uncertain, we had planned to close the winter overflow shelter for the season on May 3rd,” explained Josh Davis, Groundworks’ Executive Director.
Groundworks closed its Drop-In Center and Seasonal Overflow Shelter on March 17th and 23rd respectively—moving all shelter guests and a few residents of Groundworks Shelter into local motels to allow for proper 24/7 isolation housing and social distancing throughout their programs. Foodworks—Groundworks’ food shelf program—has been making food deliveries throughout the area since Monday, March 16th and has delivered to over 300 households with the help of volunteers.
While the organization has recently signed a contract to begin construction of a new building to serve as the Seasonal Overflow Shelter and Day Shelter beginning in November, the project is now on hold due to Governor Scott’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order.
“For the time being, this community remains without a permanent home for the Shelter next season, which makes this campout all the more poignant,” said Davis. “We’re complying with the Governor’s order to stay home and stay safe and we’re looking to the summer to begin construction. This puts our ability to open the shelter next season in jeopardy, but for now, we need to focus on today.”
This year’s Camp for a Common Cause organizers aim to bring the community together around the cause despite the physical distance separating us all—knowing that shelter-in-place guidelines will encourage more people to participate from home this year in solidarity with those who are otherwise unable to “stay home.”
“This event is a reminder that on any given night when the SOS is not open, 35 – 40 people may be camping out in our community,” reports Groundworks’ Director of Operations Rhianna Kendrick. “We’ll need the help of our community to reach our goal, because a tent is not a home, and we need these vital funds more than ever to continue providing critical housing support services to help the people we serve find and maintain stable housing.”
In the midst of the shift from the organization’s typical shelter facilities to local motels, Case Managers at Groundworks reported three households being permanently housed in the community in a single week in late-March.
“We’re really proud of the work our staff are doing and what they’re able to pull off despite the crisis unfolding around us all,” said Groundworks’ Board Chair Ann Fielder. “They’re just doing incredible work—as they always do—and navigating challenges in such an agile and dedicated way.”
“We want to encourage as many people as possible to pick a camping spot of their choice and send us a photo or an update of where they’ll be sleeping in solidarity with our neighbors experiencing homelessness,” said Libby Bennett, Groundworks’ Director of Development & Communications. “It doesn’t cost anything to participate, but we do ask campers to help raise as much money as they can to support our important work.” Bennett said online fundraising tools are available on the Groundworks website for all to access and all contributions are fully tax-deductible.
Campers, and those wishing to make a contribution should visit GroundworksVT.org and click on the EVENTS tab, to register, donate, and learn more. Donations can also be mailed to: Groundworks Collaborative, PO Box 370, Brattleboro, VT 05302 (with checks payable to Groundworks Collaborative—please write Camp in the subject line.)
Groundworks would like to extend a warm and sincere thanks to all of the generous confirmed sponsors of this year’s virtual campout: Silver Forest of Vermont; Abatem Exterminating Company; Berkley & Veller Greenwood Country Realtors; Brattleboro Food Co-Op; Trust Company of Vermont; Savings Bank of Walpole; Health Care & Rehabilitation Services (HCRS); Brown & Roberts Ace Hardware; and Richmond Auto Repair.
Contact Libby at lbennett@GroundworksVT.org or 802.451.0622 with questions.