Story of the Week
As with everything in 2020, I had an unusual start to my service term. I serve at the Housing Resource Center at COTS, a homeless shelter in Burlington. My office provides financial assistance for local renters. In the first half of my service, we had very few clients because their needs were met by other pandemic-related funding, so I had a lot of extra time on my hands.
For the past few years, one goal of the AmeriCorps position in the HRC has been to create a new community resource guide, but it's always fallen to the back burner because it's a lower priority than meeting with clients. This year gave the perfect opportunity for me to take on this project. For two months, I researched over 200 different community resources in Chittenden County. The resources cover everything from food shelves to legal aid and medical care to subsidized housing (to name just a few examples).
I'm new to Burlington and creating this guide was the perfect introduction to the social services landscape of Vermont. I learned about the area while documenting hundreds of resources that can directly benefit our clients. Now, my team in the HRC, the front desk, our shelters, and our motel outreach team all use copies of the guide. It's an easy reference to help meet a wide variety of client needs.
As my AmeriCorps term has continued, I am now meeting with my own financial assistance clients. It's rewarding to dive into direct service, but I am grateful for the resource knowledge I gained this fall. My office can only help pay for rent or utilities, but my clients often have needs far beyond housing. I am much better with my clients today because I know where I can refer them in the community.