Story Of The Week 2/6/2017

Becoming a Part of The Community

By Alicia Cerasoli, Assisted Living Coordinator at Cathedral Square

South Burlington Community Housing, or SBCH, is home to ten truly extraordinary individuals. Established in 2000 under Cathedral Square, SBCH was opened to meet the unique needs of adults who are leading independent lives with severe physical impairments. In this innovative style of living, residents enjoy the privacy of their own wheelchair accessible apartment, while having access to 24/7 medical care. South Burlington Community Housing provides dependable subsidized housing to individuals to ensure a healthy, caring and inclusive living environment for residents to call home.

As the first AmeriCorps member to serve at South Burlington Community Housing, my role is constantly evolving. I have jump started several activity opportunities for residents, offered outings for residents to become immersed in the Burlington community, hosted  monthly dinners and tried to increase a sense of community among residents. The more I get to know residents; I increasingly feel a sense of connectivity and trust being built with each of them, creating unique relationships with each of them. Over the course of this past first quarter, I’ve been able to slowly, yet steadily, better understand the needs of the residents I work with.

In early December, my supervisor and I attended a storytelling workshop that was hosted by AmeriCorps. Our facilitator, Jason Frishman, eloquently taught us throughout the day-long session about the art of honoring and upholding the value of our organizations through storytelling. After leaving the workshop, both my supervisor and I were touched by his message and couldn’t help but think that the history of South Burlington Community Housing must be shared. Although South Burlington Community Housing is an extremely unique organization with a housing plan unlike any other in existence, I would guess that most Burlington community members are unaware of it. By contacting the prior executive director, residents and other key players in the establishment of South Burlington Community Housing, I look forward to unveiling the importance of this building that many residents have been able to call home.

Just last week, I sat down with a resident who has been living in South Burlington Community Housing since the day its doors opened. He sat on a committee of prospective residents prior to its existence and was able to give his feedback throughout the development phase. During our informal interview, we discussed highlights and challenges throughout the process of establishing the building, as well as his experience residing there currently. My final question for this resident was, “What do you see for the future of South Burlington Community Housing?” Without thinking twice, he responded saying, “Having people like you here a lot more.” This resident went on to explain that in his sixteen years of living at South Burlington Community Housing, he’s participated in more activities, outings and was more a part of the community in the past four months than ever before. Not that I didn’t feel my service was benefiting residents prior to this conversation, but something in that moment about this resident’s expression of appreciation impacted me on a different level.

VHCB AmeriCorps is a program of the
Vermont Housing & Conservation Board.

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