October Update

As the days get chillier and we’ll be spending more time inside, our top priority is to have everyone stay safe and healthy during COVID. PLEASE wear a mask, stay physically apart, wash your hands frequently, and we’ll get through it together.

We’re starting to plan this year’s non-denominational Holiday Dinner, our hot meal and giftbag delivery all over Chittenden County on Christmas Day. If you or someone you know is 50 years or older and would like a meal, please call Age Well at 865-0360 from Monday, November 30 through Friday, December 18, to make a reservation. Thank you!

September Stories

Shocking though it is, September is almost gone. We’re staying so busy as the days fly by. Our partnership with Heineberg Senior Community Center is a heartwarming one as “Support Buddies” continues to match volunteers with seniors who need anything from an occasional phonecall to weekly grocery deliveries.

And planning has started for our annual Holiday Dinner on Christmas Day. Because of COVID, we will NOT have the sitdown dinner at the Elks Club, but will deliver meals (and giftbags, but please don’t tell any of our diners!) all over the county to anyone 50 years and older. Age Well takes reservations (from Monday, November 30, through Friday, December 18) and produces our route maps, Burlington School Food Project’s staff and families cook and package the meals, Penny Cluse Café makes the lasagna and other food, Temple Sinai organizes most of the volunteer drivers, and many other businesses and volunteers pitch in to help. We’ll have more specific details soon.

In these uncertain times, I am so grateful to the people who are helping each other out. We’ll get through it! Stay safe and healthy, dear ones.



Clinging to August

As always, I cling to August. It’s my favorite month with lazy, hazy weather and time on the water. This year, it flew by and suddenly we are on the cusp of September.

The summer has been busy as we’ve shifted gears many times with COVID in our midst. We went online with both our “HANDS in the Dirt” and “HANDS in the Kitchen” programs—we produced video workshops that can now be seen at www.cctv.org, on Channel 17, or on our website at www.handsvt.org. We missed everyone’s smiling faces in-person, but just didn’t feel that being at senior centers, senior housing, or long-term nursing centers was safe. Very special thanks to AARP Vermont, CCTV Town Meeting TV, Chef Robin Burnett, Hannaford, and gardening expert Charlie Nardozzi for their support!

“Support Buddies” is still helping by having volunteers stay in contact with seniors as well as getting meals and groceries to folks who need them. We’re thrilled that Heineberg has hired Kerry as the “Support Buddies” Coordinator so that we can assist as many people as possible.

And we’ve decided to go ahead with the Holiday Dinner again this year. We’ll be delivering meals all over Chittenden County on Christmas Day with the help of Age Well, Burlington School Food Project, Temple Sinai, and lots of businesses and volunteers. Michelle decided that having the sitdown dinner would not be safe enough so that’s on hold, sadly. But, we’ll do the best we can to light up the day with smiles and love.

Take good care, enjoy the final days of summertime, and stay safe and healthy. Thank you!





Anti-Racism Statement

The HANDS Staff and Board believes that access to food is a right. So is the right to being treated equally, regardless of the color of one’s skin.

We are heartbroken by far too many deaths at the hands of police, some recorded and others unseen and uncounted. The death of George Floyd has, hopefully, finally become the tipping point in this country for racial justice.

The COVID-19 pandemic has, once again, put a spotlight on inequities in health care in the United States. Communities of color are at a much higher risk of getting and dying from COVID due to systemic racism.

Police brutality and COVID are just two examples of what falls primarily on citizens with black and brown skin.

Nonprofits such as HANDS have the responsibility of providing greater food access to folks 50 and older in Chittenden County. We need to recognize who is not sitting at the table and should be. We pledge to work harder toward equality in all of our endeavors, regardless of skin color.

Racism is not the responsibility of people of color—it will only change when white people force it to change. We denounce all acts of violence against people of color. We must stand together against racial injustice.



COVID-19 Update

Our “Support Buddies” partnership with Heineberg Community Senior Center is fully underway now. We’ve shifted the model a bit, to keep volunteers even safer and to streamline the process as we grow.

Buddies continue to check-in by phone, help with grocery lists, and assist with special needs. We are now only delivering groceries and meals on Thursdays in order to make the whole system more efficient. Once a week, volunteers shop for fresh food and dairy products. We’re purchasing bulk orders of groceries in order to reduce costs and keep volunteers out of grocery stores as much as possible.

We’ve checked in with about 600 seniors, have at least 100 grocery and meal orders every week, and 25 Buddies are helping out with everything from picking up bulk meals to phonecalls to delivering groceries.

Special thanks to everyone who’s been pitching in and to our donors who are keeping our program going and growing!

Update on Coronavirus

It’s tough these days to update our network on the impact of the coronavirus. Info seems to be tripping over itself and things are changing so quickly—it’s hard to keep up and we know that’s a challenge for everyone.

We are doing the best we can to get accurate information. That said, we have cancelled our upcoming “HANDS in the Kitchen” workshop series and are on hold with our “HANDS in the Dirt” garden programming until the situation becomes clearer.

We’re partnering with the Heineberg Senior & Community Center to set up a local buddy system with volunteers and homebound seniors. The program will include everything from phone check-ins to delivering groceries. OUR UTMOST CONCERN IS THE HEALTH OF SENIORS SO WE WILL TAKE EVERY PRECAUTION.

We’ll post again when we have more info and updates. Stay healthy!

Springing Ahead

We’re “springing ahead” this weekend…and that makes me feel hopeful that our gardens are just around the corner. We’re getting sites lined up and looking forward to getting our hands in the dirt (pun intended) alongside gardening expert Charlie Nardozzi. And Chef Robin is planning heart-healthy “HANDS in the Kitchen” nutrition education workshops that are really fun with hands-on activities and food to taste.

In a world that feels like it spins out of control too much of the time, our programs are simple but rewarding beyond measure. Ed gets to garden again after not having a place to grow vegetables for far too long. Roni learns new ways to eat better after heart surgery. As our programs gear up again, we’ll keep you posted! Thanks, always, for your support.

Today feels cozy and wintery, the time of year when so many of us turn thoughts and plans toward gathering together to share friendship. We can take that for granted…that we are surrounded by loved ones. But, many of the folks we serve are more isolated due to illness, living far from family, and the responsibility of taking care of a partner at home. Our hot meal and giftbag delivery on Christmas Day will, hopefully, add some fun and connection for these seniors.

We’d love help with our goal of getting items for the giftbags as well as meeting our fundraising needs. Please go to www.handsvt.org/wish-list to lend a hand. Thank you and Happy Holidays!


It’s snowing!

It feels too early for a snowstorm, but that’s what we’ve got today. And, since we’ve already started planning the Holiday Dinner on Christmas, the snow feels just about right. Between both the sitdown dinner and a meal delivery around the county, we think there will be at least 700 meals and giftbags provided.

Thank goodness for the help of Age Well, Burlington School Food Project, Michelle Charron, Elks Club, Penny Cluse Café, Temple Sinai, and so many other businesses, individuals, and volunteers. The community support is beyond heartwarming. If you would like to lend a hand, please go to www.handsvt.org/wish-list. Thank you so much!

Changing Seasons

The summertime was wonderful. We were able to have “HANDS in the Dirt” gardening programs at a number of different sites…everything from donated plants from Red Wagon Plants to full-on weekly programs. The harvest is continuing at some of the sites and that is so delightful. We also provided a “HANDS in the Kitchen” nutrition education 8-week workshop series. And our partnership with Feeding Chittenden’s “Good Food Truck” to get a hot meal delivered weekly to low-income seniors in Winooski continues.

Many of us feel some level of melancholy as the seasons shift from summertime to autumn. We say goodbye to swimming and boating and hiking. We feel the air getting cooler, see the leaves changing colors.

So, that means it’s time to start the planning for our annual Holiday Dinner on Christmas Day. Folks 50 years and older will be able to either have a hot meal and giftbag delivered to their home or gather together to share a meal. The whole community comes together to bring some joy to folks who might otherwise be alone. You, too, can lend a hand! We’ll need everything from giftcards to hand-knitted hats and scarves to canned goods to financial donations. Please check www.handsvt.org/wish-list to see how you can help. Thanks so much and enjoy the colorful leaves and the crispy mornings!