BRATTLEBORO—Josh Davis, Executive Director of Groundworks Collaborative for the past 11+ years, has announced that he will be leaving the organization in the coming weeks to become the Executive Director of SEVCA—Southeastern Vermont Community Action—at the start of the new year.
“Groundworks has been incredibly fortunate to have Josh at the helm for over a decade; during which the organization has grown tremendously to meet the increasing needs of our state and community,” said Board Chair Rita Ramirez. “Although this news is difficult and bittersweet, we are happy for Josh and excited about this next phase for Groundworks. With the dedication of the Board and our Leadership Team and staff, we will move into this next phase from a position of calm and strength.”
“Josh is leaving Groundworks with a vibrant and impactful legacy, felt most deeply through the leadership and organizational culture he has built together with staff,” said Director of Development & Communications Libby Bennett. “We will miss Josh immensely, but his presence will always be felt here alongside evidence of all we’ve built together.”
In the wake of the tragic loss of our coworker, Leah, Groundworks Collaborative has received a truly remarkable outpouring of support from our community, our organizational partners, and our state government. In order to allow our wider community to appropriately respond to this loss, Groundworks will be collaborating with its many community partners to cover the services it provides. This collaboration will allow Groundworks’ clients to continue to receive the services they need, while Groundworks’ staff take the time they need to grieve, assess, begin to heal, and return to work.
“It is clear that our entire staff needs a pause in order to come together to grieve, work together toward healing, and figure out our way forward,” said Executive Director Josh Davis.
Executive Director Josh Davis and the Groundworks Collaborative Board of Directors are pleased to announce that former Brattleboro Town Manager Peter Elwell has joined the Groundworks staff as Interim Deputy Executive Director. Elwell’s appointment is timely as he will assist Davis and the Groundworks team as they continue to navigate a period of significant transition coming out of the pandemic. Additionally, Davis will be taking intermittent leave over the next few months to support his family through a significant health issue.
“Personally, it’s clear that I need to take some time to support my family; and we are grateful to have Peter stepping into active Groundworks staff work during this critically important time for the organization,” said Davis, who noted the substantive upcoming changes to the emergency motel program converging with Groundworks’ continued innovation to address basic needs in the community.
BRATTLEBORO, VT—As the third and final phase of Groundworks Collaborative’s South Main Street capital project, the former Groundworks Drop-In Center at 60 South Main Street will be deconstructed this fall in preparation for the construction of a new building in its place. The design will allow for adequate space for Groundworks’ growing program staff, many of whom have worked without offices since the start of the pandemic.
The new 60 South Main Street building will be home to Groundworks’ Case Management team, Representative Payee program, and the team of embedded providers from Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, the Brattleboro Retreat, and HCRS—known as Healthworks.
BRATTLEBORO, VT — In recognition of increased COVID case numbers, the Empty Bowls Steering Committee has opted to go virtual again this year as opposed to returning to an in-person dinner. For 18 years now, local potters have created and donated beautiful and functional bowls to raise funds for the food shelf that has now grown to be Foodworks. In that regard, this year is no different.
“We experienced incredible support last year, putting on Empty Bowls in the time of COVID,” explains Groundworks Board Member and Empty Bowls Co-Chair Beth Kiendl. “The tweaks we made last year—shifting to selling bowls in local storefronts—were so successful due to the community support for our work providing emergency food to all who need it in our community.”
Call to Order
Review and Approve Minutes of previous meeting.
On the record review of Cases/Public Hearings to be reviewed under the Brattleboro Land Use Regulations. Pursuant to 24 VSA §§ 4464(a)(1)(C) and 4471(a), participation in this local proceeding is a prerequisite to the right to take any subsequent appeal.
2021-50 Groundworks Collaborative Foundation, Inc; Service Center District; request for Site Plan Approval to demolish existing structure, retain existing masonry fireplace. construct new 2-story, wood-framed, saltbox-style building for social services use at 60 South Main Street; Tax Map Parcel #325266.000
The Brattleboro Selectboard held a first reading of a proposed ordinance to limit upfront rental costs, but decided not to move ahead with a second reading. Instead, more research, new ideas, and data will be explored.
Groundworks got a big grant which enables the completion of their project on South Main Street, and the marketing initiative to promote Brattleboro was discussed.
The Brattleboro Selectboard will have a first reading of an ordinance to limit upfront rental costs at their next regular meeting, which will be held on 10-20-2020. (And probably end at 10:20.)
Police cars will be purchased, health insurance will be renewed, leases will be extended, grants will be applied for, and the skatepark committee will be disbanded now that their work is through. You can bring up other items not on the agenda during public participation.
Homelessness has been stopped in its tracks in Brattleboro. As I write this, there is not a single person that I am aware of that does not currently have shelter. This is an incredible achievement. What’s more incredible is that it was accomplished within the last 30 days.
As we saw COVID-19 advance toward Vermont, we at Groundworks Collaborative worked closely with our State partners to establish and enact guidance that eventually led to everyone that was without housing, or who was precariously housed, being able to access local motel rooms. It is quite remarkable that a vision Groundworks has held for our community—that everyone has their basic needs met with dignity—has become a reality during this crisis. This need not be an anomaly.
Groundworks’s staff have answered the call when needed most and I have to share my deep appreciation for their work—especially as they put themselves and their families at risk to come to work each day. Without them, we would not be able to be so effectively meeting our community’s basic needs.
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.”
The Brattleboro Selectboard held their regular meeting, but it was anything but “regular” Tuesday. Board members were absent. Those attending sat apart from one another (not quite 6 feet…). COVID-19 was influencing almost every article on the agenda. And Brattleboro’s Skatepark was approved to begin construction.
The COVID-19 update and discussion was the main item. Groundworks got an additional grant to begin construction on their new building, the town finance report looks good up until last week but may show deficits before the fiscal year is over, and Representative Town Meeting is postponed.
In preparation—and following the guidance recommended for homeless shelters and programs—Groundworks has taken a number of preventive and precautionary steps in response to COVID-19. Our goal is to protect our community’s most vulnerable neighbors by responding with an abundance of caution, while not contributing to feelings of panic or fear.
Groundworks is working closely with State partners to ensure a strong local response to keep our shelter guests safe. Our staff at both shelters are engaging in additional cleaning and sanitizing protocols, and we have limited access to restrict any external guests at any of our program sites.
The Brattleboro Selectboard will approve a bid to begin construction of a skatepark at their next regular meeting. Yes, you read that right. The skatepark is finally going to be built.
There will be updates on COVID-19 from the Town Manager and a status update on Representative Town Meeting, a sewer rodder will be bought, Groundworks will get a $100,000 grant, the Windham Regional Commission will give an update, stormwater will be managed, and more. You can bring up other items not on the agenda during Public Participation.
BRATTLEBORO, VT—Brattleboro’s Seasonal Overflow Shelter (SOS) will open Monday, November 18th. After a successful first and second season located at the upper dormitory on the Winston Prouty campus (formerly the Austine School for the Deaf), Groundworks’ staff and Board are grateful for the opportunity to return to the space for a third year.
This year’s shelter will operate the same as prior years at this location: anyone seeking shelter will have to register for a bed through Groundworks Drop-In Center (at 60 South Main Street) between 9am and noon. Access to the shelter will only be permitted through transportation provided by Groundworks.
Groundworks Collaborative is taking over the former Domino’s Pizza location at 141 Canal Street to relocate their Food Shelf from the Drop-In Center at 60 South Main. The spiffy new “warm and welcoming” spot will be called Foodworks and will allow for better access and parking.
The Brattleboro Selectboard held their only meeting of July. Despite objections from many landlords, the board approved a new rental housing inspection program, and despite numerous statements of support they put off deciding on how best to deal with issues of sustainability.
New tax rates for FY20 were set, a 3-month day work pilot program was funded, Groundworks received $100,000 for housing, and more.
The Brattleboro Selectboard took up a full agenda, though with only three members present, they themselves were not quite full.
The big discussion of the evening centered on landlords and a new rental housing inspection system soon to take effect, but the exciting news came during public participation when it was announced that a day work program, legal and with dignity, will soon be getting started.
Will Brattleboro Town Manager Peter Elwell get a five year contract extension? Most likely, at the next regular meeting of the Brattleboro Selectboard.
A hearing on modified parking, some VCDP grants, and the scheduling of informational meetings for Representative Town Meeting representatives will occur. There is also one item on the agenda purely for the sake of not having it on the agenda any longer. You can, as always, bring up other matters not on the agenda during public participation.
BRATTLEBORO – Just before noon on Monday, September 10th, a small fire broke out in a clothes dryer at Groundworks Shelter (formerly Morningside Shelter) on Royal Road in Brattleboro. No one was hurt, but the fire resulted in extensive smoke damage to the Shelter.
Staff mobilized quickly and have temporarily relocated residents of the Shelter to the dormitory that is used for the winter warming shelter – on the Winston Prouty (formerly Austine School) campus. There is potential that the relocation will last for up to two weeks while thorough cleaning of Groundworks Shelter occurs.
Groundworks Collaborative gave the Brattleboro Selectboard a report on the seasonal overflow shelter. They admitted they don’t have the resources to develop a temporary work program, though a new effort by Youth Services might be able to pull it off, perhaps by fall. Youth Services might get a new name, too, but that’s for another time.
The board adopted the FY19 Solid Waste and Parking Budgets, but left some decisions about parking meters, apps, and credit cards for a later discussion. Progress on energy audit matters was detailed, citizens pressed for more to be done, the skatepark is close to the fundraising finish line, grants have been applied for, and citizens were appointed to various Brattleboro committees and boards.
Also, two mentions of John Allen.