AARP Vermont has selected seven small organizations with big plans to receive Community Action Grants in support of their efforts to make their communities more livable as they respond to the many impacts of COVID-19. This year’s awards totaling some $10,000 are focused on a wide range of projects to enhance the community and promote livability. The initiative is part of an AARP Vermont program aimed at preparing Vermont cities and towns for the rapidly aging demographic shift and recognizes assets and opportunities in the areas of housing, mobility and community engagement. The 2020 grantees are:
- Saint Albans Museum
- Old East End Neighborhood
- Glen Road Group
- Pawlet Public Library
- Westminster Cares
- Charlotte – Shelburne – Hinesburg Rotary Club
- Canaan Naturally Connected
“This pandemic has heightened the importance of social networks and community support and services as key ingredients for community resilience,” said Kelly Stoddard-Poor, AARP Vermont outreach director. “This program is a way to encourage and support grassroots action to make Vermont communities more livable. AARP Vermont is thrilled to have expanded these Community Action Grants to communities across the state providing modest funding and technical support to community groups or individuals.”
The grant program was open to organizations and grassroots ad hoc groups that are organized to make improvements in their neighborhood or the community and that meet all eligibility requirements. The winning proposals were projects that incorporated one or more of the following actions:
- Response to food insecurity
- Response to the impacts of social isolation with socialization and the fostering of intergenerational community connections
- Response to increased need for technology and virtual meet-ups
- Response to affordable and accessible housing options
- Response to increased need for improved mobility, such as pedestrian, bike and bus infrastructure
- Increased access for civic engagement
- Increased community accessibility for disabled residents
- Support for the delivery of services to help older residents age in the setting of their choice
The Saint Albans Museum will host “Together, Apart: Saint Albans” – an inter-generational oral history project to document experiences, responses, and wisdom around navigating COVID-19 – fostering new connections between residents, especially students and seniors. SAM’ s primary goal is to provide opportunities for interactive socialization, engaged learning, and to decrease isolation while strengthening community networks.
“Our stories are what define us,” said Alex Lehning, Executive Director & Librarian at the Saint Albans Museum. “Community memory is about understanding the people, places, and events that shape our legacy. Just as important, however, is how we can share critical information, connect around strategies for well-being, and hold space with the lessons of our common experiences to support family, friends, and neighbors in the current moment – as well as with whatever comes next.”
“Community support is more important now than ever,” noted Stoddard-Poor. “We hope these grants will inspire and support grassroots groups that have a vision for their neighborhood or community and how it can be improved to meet the needs of all residents.”
AARP Vermont is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization with 120,000 members in Vermont and 40 million members nationally. Through a wide array of special benefits, services, and information resources, we help our members make important choices, reach their goals and dreams, and make the most of life after 50.
The Saint Albans Museum is a nonprofit, member-supported organization founded in 1966 with a mission to preserve and share the community heritage of St. Albans, Franklin County, and northwestern Vermont through historical exhibitions, educational programming, arts performances, publications, and special events.