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With Brattleboro voting overwhelmingly to become part of the international Charter for Compassion, the Reformer and The Commons have agreed to publish a "compassion story of the month." This is the 30th. Information on submissions from Brattleboro area residents is offered below.

By Michael Bosworth

On Sunday, November 10, the building at 181-183 Main St. in Brattleboro - which has for many years housed Candle in the Night and more recently Mitchell Giddings Fine Arts and the In-sight Photography Project - sustained a totally unexpected renovation accident and flood. So much water came from the pipes that the gallery was flooded and the first floor needed to be taken out the next morning. Thankfully and miraculously, the 2D and 3D art was not damaged. But most of it had to be relocated quickly.

Petria "Petey" Mitchell and Jim Giddings put out a call for help as soon as they saw what had happened. Immediately, a group of community members - who happened to be nearby at the Brattleboro Film Festival - ran over and began helping. By 7:30 the next morning, another dozen volunteers had arrived and were moving the art work to a storage space further down Main Street. Some of these volunteers were colleagues of Petey and Jim at the Brattleboro West Arts organization; others were Main Street business or residential neighbors. And the the pop-up Patio Coffee shop supplied the crew with cup after cup of coffee. Amazingly, by 9:30 a.m. the work was finished, and we all were able to exhale a huge sigh of relief along with the proprietors.

As expected, our wonderful Brattleboro Fire Department was enormously helpful. So were Bob Lyons and Mark Berman of Main Street East Properties for finding temporary storage and office space for Petey and Jim so quickly.

With Candle in the Night closing, the Mitchell Giddings gallery taking over some of the upstairs space, and another business moving in, Petey and Jim were able to pull off a grand opening of the refurbished space on December 20. The event commemorated creative entrepreneurship. But, even more importantly, it celebrated the remarkable evidence of what can happen when a compassionate community comes to the aid of those in need.

Submissions, from Brattleboro area residents, for future publication, not to exceed 650 words, should be emailed to: or mailed to: Compassion Story of the Month, PO Box 50, Marlboro, VT 05344. Please include your name, address, phone number and email address. Earlier submitted stories will automatically be considered in subsequent months.

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