Homelessness Support Abounds!

Food Project for Homeless in Rutland with Breadloaf Mountain Zen Center: Anyone who wants to participate in working on bag lunch distribution to homeless and otherwise food-short folks with Breadloaf, please drop off your bags in the coolers by the CVUUS shed late Thursday afternoon (3:30-5). Joshin will pick them up Thursday evening.  A bag might include: any mix of fresh fruit that is easy to handle and chew (grapes, clementines); individual apple sauce servings; small boxes of raisins; small packages of small carrots; string cheese (two per bag if possible); packaged trail mix; granola or protein bars; and bags of chips. Hand sanitizer and wipes are precious additions. Individual tissue packets and cans of seltzer water are also appreciated. Last but certainly not least, the best bags include a kind saying, prayer or other expression of kindness.

CVUUS Youth Group, led by Gail Borden and John Barstow, is paying attention to hunger!  They prepare dinners for John Graham Shelter and participated in the vigil on the Middlebury Town Green and sleep out on the Mableworks lawn to raise awareness of homelessness on Dec 7 and thank you for your donation support again.  They raised over $2000 for John Graham.

Charter House Coalition: Some of Our Neighbors Could Use Your Help

While most of us do not notice them, over 100 of our fellow citizens have been living in tents, cars, under bridges, and under decks this past summer.  As colder weather approaches, just getting by each day becomes increasingly difficult.  Thanks to the work of dozens of volunteers who remodeled and expanded the living quarters at Charter House last year, our community can provide safe haven, food and other basic needs for 5 families and up to 20 individuals.  This program is possible because every winter several hundred individuals from Addison County contribute over 12,000 hours of volunteer time, donate hundreds of pounds of clothing and food, prepare 23,000 free meals, and pay for most of the cost of operating and maintaining our building.

There are many ways you can help:

  • volunteer to staff Charter House during the day for 2 – 3 hour shifts or overnight (you can sleep)
  • help with food preparation for the dinner meal or breakfast
  • donate prepared meals, bread/rolls, and fruit/cookies/deserts
  • donate adult size winter clothing especially socks, boots, gloves, sweat suits, underwear, warm coats, rain gear and umbrellas
  • make a contribution (Charter House Coalition, 27 North Pleasant Street, Middlebury, VT 05753)

Contact Doug Sinclair (jdsinclair@ripton-coop.net; 989-9746) if you have questions or would like to discuss any aspects of Charter House.   You can also connect with us at www.charterhousecoalition.org, facebook.com/charterhousecoalition, or @CHCMiddlebury

Attend a Volunteer Orientation and Training Session at Charter House: The first 30 minutes of these sessions will be devoted to discussing opportunities to support the food and housing programs of Charter House Coalition.  For those interested in volunteering to staff Charter House, training will follow the information session and will take about 60 minutes.  New volunteers are always paired up with experienced volunteers for their initial volunteer work.

NOTE: Due to Covid-19, Charter House is closed for residency and only serving take out lunches (11:15-12:30 pm). Residents have been placed temporarily in local motels.

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De-escalation Techniques: The Safe Congregations Ministry held a workshop on De-escalation Techniques led by Chris Mason of the Middlebury Police Department on Sun., Feb. 2 after the service. We encouraged anyone interested in learning how to deal with individuals who are disturbed and/or not acting normally to attend. We especially encouraged those who are Greeters, Ushers, Worship Associates or Safety Volunteers to attend.

MAIN POINTS FROM DE-ESCALATION TALK (Notes by Mary Hadley and Alan Moore)

  1. Remain calm: De-escalation is needed when you encounter hostility, anger, a person in crisis.What to do is intellectually easy, behaviorally hard.Take a deep breath, speak in low, soft tone of voice and make soft comments.
  2. Be very polite-respectful.
  3. Address the person not the violence: address the pain, ask questions. It is natural to focus only on aggression, but need to think of them as person Anger is usually rooted in pain, anger is symptom of  pain for folks – recognize the pain and try to get them to talk about that – try to portray empathy, ask questions about the pain, “I see you are really upset, what caused this?” Get the person to tell his story; empathize
  1. Confront the situation obliquely: tell a story, ask a weird question; try to disrupt the person’s preconceived narrative. Confounding expectations- confront situation obliquely – say things that aren’t expected – if something to reference – stickers, equipment, things with them – ask or comment about it, they share first, then you can share or provide insight – Need to changes their story/ narrative of what they think is going to occur; you tell a story totally unrelated to person, situation and person gets into your story; Open ended questions are particularly helpful,Eye contact is a mixed bag, not excessive in the beginning or it may seem challenging; but no eye contact is strange as well; good to have some eye contact after you start talking; then watch for sign of respect and listeningHumor can work or backfire, need to use your own judgement as to best approach; face toward the person non- confrontationally
  2. Be aware of surroundings; place where you can hide or escape of needed? Other people around to help, or all 911?
  1. Establish connection (tell story, empathize). As an observer, see who is interacting with person and if not the right person, figure out who would be or step in yourself; help control the physical space, let other folks know – Barnaby, contact police if needed
  2. Don’t say “calm down” or do or say anything that implies controlling the person
  3. Get person to say “yes” or agree to something 3 times. This will usually get them to calm down a bit

Crisis management – shift in last several years. Used to be for an active shooter, response was to hide; lock down drill. Now, first priority is to get away from source of threat/ flee, 2nd is lockdown and barricade doors, 3rd is hit them with something, run around, scream (run, hide, fight)