WESTMINSTER — Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) has received a gift from the Friends of Bernie Sanders, made possible by sales of items bearing ‘the Mittens Meme,’ which raised over $1.8 million. This unique unrestricted donation will help SEVCA both relieve the hardships caused by poverty and attack its causes in Windham and Windsor counties, particularly in the aftermath of COVID-19.
As this year’s mitten season draws to a close, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic drag on, and full economic rebound is still a long way off for many residents. For example, even prior to the ramp-up of COVID a year ago this week, 1 in 12 Vermonters were food insecure, but the pandemic spiked that number to a level not seen since the recession of 2008: since then, 1 in 3 Vermonters have experienced a lack of adequate access to food. And it’s caused similarly deep impacts in many other areas of basic need – health / mental health, employment, housing, energy, and general financial security & well-being, to name a few, according to SEVCA.
“This amazing Mittens Meme gift is an unprecedented opportunity to address a wide range of needs that have been greatly exacerbated by the pandemic,” noted SEVCA’s Executive Director Steve Geller, “and it allows us to collaborate with our clients, service partners, and communities to determine the highest priorities and customize how we use it to produce the most effective impacts. Very few other funds allow that level of flexibility, and even fewer on the scale of this one.”
SEVCA will be receiving $100,000 in “Mittens Money” and is one of the five Vermont Community Action Agencies receiving that amount. Other groups benefitting from the fund include Area Agencies on Aging to fund Meals on Wheels, Feeding Chittenden, Chill Foundation, senior centers in Vermont, and Bi-State Primary Care for dental care improvements.