Shelter residents moved to Winston Prouty campus

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BRATTLEBORO — It could take up to two weeks to get things back to normal at the Groundworks Shelter on Royal Road.

On Monday, just before noon, a small fire in a dryer forced the evacuation of the building. No one was hurt, but smoke damage will prevent residents of the shelter from getting back in for a while.

"The timeline we have at this point is two weeks," said Rhianna Kendrick, Director of Operations for Groundworks Collaborative. "With all fingers crossed, hopefully sooner."

For now, 18 people have been relocated to the dormitory that is used for the winter warming shelter on the Winston Prouty campus.

Kendrick said Groundworks staff is currently making the tenants as comfortable as possible.

"Housing here is a little different," she said. "They definitely have privacy, but there's less common space. It's a pretty traumatic shift."

The average tenancy at the shelter is 90 days, sometimes more and sometimes less. While at the shelter, clients meet with case managers and learn about resources in the community that can help them re-establish themselves. Kendrick said the Groundworks staff is making sure those resources are still available while the Royal Road shelter is off limits.

"We are relocating all the pieces of the program to meet everyone's needs at the moment," she said.

Community members can help out by volunteering to provide overnight support or by providing food for regular meals.

"We are currently serving breakfast, lunch and dinner," said Kendrick. "At the Royal Road shelter, tenants are able to store and prepare their own food, but the Winston Prouty space doesn't accommodate them in the same way."

The Red Cross is currently helping out by providing family style meals, but the Red Cross will be stepping away to help others in need soon, said Kendrick.

"If people are interested in dropping off meal items, the best way is to send an email to volunteer@groundworksvt.org, and we'll get right back to you," said Kendrick. Overnight volunteers should also use that email.

Kendrick said Groundworks is busy airing out the Royal Road shelter and working with its insurance carrier to expedite the return of its clients.

In a press release issued Tuesday morning, Groundworks board, staff, and residents thanked the Brattleboro Fire Department for its quick response, Winston Prouty for its flexibility and support, and the volunteers from the American Red Cross for arriving on site within 15 minutes and providing lunch and support for residents throughout the transition to the temporary shelter location.

Groundworks plans to compile a wish list for needed items and will post the list to the Groundworks Collaborative Facebook Page over the next few days.

Groundworks Collaborative is the organization formed three years ago with the merger of the Brattleboro Area Drop-In Center and Morningside Shelter. Groundworks provides food, shelter, and supportive services to families and individuals facing a full continuum of housing and food insecurities in the greater Brattleboro area.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.


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