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Supporting homeless vets and helping others

MIDDLEBURY LEGION POST 27 Adjutant Tom Scanlon, left, and Vermont Veterans’ Home Chief Executive Melissa Jackson pose with one of three all-weather benches that Post 27 recently donated to the veterans’ facility in Bennington. Post 27 was able to purchase the benches, at cost, from Woodware, for $3,000.
Photo courtesy of Laura Flint

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury American Legion Post 27 on Saturday, Nov. 13, will collaborate with a local radio station to raise donations for the Dodge House, a Rutland-based shelter for homeless veterans that’s in urgent need of new furniture, bed linens and other basic household items.

Plans call for WVTK 92.1 FM of Middlebury to broadcast a radiothon from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Post 27 headquarters at 49 Wilson Road. Listeners will be encouraged to give what they can to the Dodge House, and Post 27 is committed to matching contributions up to $10,000, according to Adjutant Tom Scanlon.

WVTK’s Kenny “KG” Gilbert will coordinate the on-air fundraiser. Donors will be invited to drop off their contributions at Post 27.

Dodge House is one of many charitable causes the Middlebury Legion supports on an annual basis, according to Post 27 Commander Laura Flint. The post’s generous grant awards vary in size, totaling more than $50,000 each year for causes ranging from food for the hungry to scholarships for Addison County high school seniors.

But The Dodge House, located at 95 Crescent St. in Rutland, is drawing extra scrutiny this year because of its special significance to veterans and its commitment to serving a population contending with the extra challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on the most recent (2020) statistics from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, there are an estimated 71 homeless veterans in Vermont.

“There are a lot of stubborn veterans who don’t like to ask for help and who prefer to be by themselves,” Flint explained.

Dodge House administrators acknowledge a shelter environment runs counter to the independent nature of some veterans, so it supplies boots, jackets and to-go food for those who prefer to remain outside. The organization’s free services include shelter, employment counseling and job-search aid, financial literacy, educational opportunities and peer networking.

Referrals to Dodge House programming come from veterans themselves, friends of veterans, service organizations, substance abuse treatment centers, emergency homeless shelters, faith-based services, the Veterans Administration and various other support groups.

The Dodge House has “graduated” many successful residents who have moved on to further their education, started their own business or simply assimilated within a community. Dodge House requires that all residents be drug- and alcohol-free.

Among other things, The Dodge House right now is in particular need of paper towels, coffee, food and food containers, postage stamps, envelopes, personal care items (for both men and women), bath towels and new bedding

Post 27 this fall also provided a major assist to the Vermont Veterans’ Home in Bennington. The organization recently used $3,000 in donations to buy three all-weather benches for the home. Middlebury’s Woodware provided the benches at cost, according to Flint. The $3,000 was harvested from a collection basket that Post 27 maintained during a series of COVID-19 vaccination sessions it hosted in Middlebury throughout the year.

Other recent beneficiaries of Post 27’s philanthropy included seven separate Addison County fire departments that each received $500; Addison County Readers, which received $2,000 for books for young children; Middlebury’s Memorial Sports Center, which received $1,800 for a new scoreboard; and Addison Central Teens, which received $500 for a series of pizza nights.

Please help Legion Post 27 and the Middlebury VFW Post 7823 honor veterans past and present at a Veterans Day ceremony to be held at the VFW headquarters at 530 Exchange St. at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 11. The event will include remembrance speeches, followed by refreshments.

For more information about the Middlebury Legion, log on to americanlegionpost27.com. Also, check out the Middlebury VFW’s Facebook page at tinyurl.com/2pzcaz6n. Find out more about The Dodge House at dodgehousevt.org.

Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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