Op/Ed

Opinion: The right action at the right time

But the ending always comes at last. Endings always come too fast. They come too fast, but they pass too slow. I love you and that’s all I know.
— Jimmy Webb

Over the weekend there were heroic rescues of those in distress. One came in the form of breaking a door down for someone having a diabetic seizure. This had potentially fatal results and it ended with life instead. This was accomplished because a CVOEO advocate at the Hotel Homeless Housing Program took the right action at the right time.
There were 1,400 meals made every day for people who were homeless in various hotels, trying to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Feeding Chittenden did this day after day for months because it was the right thing to do at the right time.
The Financial Futures Program created interpreted audio files about unemployment, stimulus checks, and small business EIDL/PPP loans. The recordings are in Arabic, Somali/MaayMaay, Swahili, French, Keran and Nepali and can be found on our YouTube channel. Each recording references links to the Vermont Department of Labor Unemployment Application and Small Business Administration Grants Programs and Eligibility and provides contact information for the Community Ambassador if the viewer would like to learn more. 
The audio files were created by our Financial Empowerment for New Americans project manager, Asma Abunaib, in collaboration with our Community Ambassadors. And now there will be a hotline with questions answered in the language of the caller. It is the right thing to do at the right time. 
Weatherization teams helped deliver food when the crew couldn’t go into homes to prepare those homes for the winter. The Mobile Home Program contacted the mobile home parks in the state to check on their current needs. Head Start is making sure that children not only have diapers but that they have books. Head Start cares for the whole person — body and mind.
Community Action programs are getting ready to distribute Farm to Family coupon books so that families and individuals have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The Vermont Tenant’s hotline is as busy as ever with the crisis of employment loss.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives. It has changed our work. It has not changed our focus of bridging gaps and building futures. We are doing more of that than ever.
And, I am retiring in a couple of weeks. This will be my last column. The work will continue under an exceptional new leader: Paul Dragon.
About a year ago, I said to myself, “One day you will go out that door, close it and this part of your life will be over.” And “ending always comes at last. Endings always come too fast. They come too fast, but they pass too slow. I love you and that’s all I know.” 
My best to you.
Jan Demers is the departing executive director of CVOEO.

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