Letter to the editor: As times make fundraising hard, remember nonprofits

The Vermont Legislature recently waived the requirement for local candidates to obtain signatures on a nomination petition to be on the ballot due to the increased risk of exposure to COVID-19, a good decision made with the health and safety of our community in mind.

For similar reasons, United Way of Addison County (UWAC) sent a letter in September 2021 to selectboards countywide asking them to waive the petitioning process for nonprofit organizations who request town funding. While many towns approved this request, some did not. This meant many of our partners collected signatures on Saturdays at local dumps, town halls, and on main streets during the most recent COVID surge.

In addition to the health-related concerns we have around collecting signatures during a pandemic, the workforce shortage has made it even more burdensome for nonprofits. Businesses and organizations across our region are short-staffed, having difficulty hiring, and their workload has increased substantially due to the pandemic. There simply are not enough boots on the ground to meet the demand.

Nonprofits employ one in seven Vermont workers, making the nonprofit sector the largest industry in the state after the government. We are pleased that Vermont’s commitment to health and safety is a priority. As we move forward, rebuild and reimagine, we must work collaboratively to achieve a more comprehensive approach to strengthen our communities, decrease disparities and promote equity. We hope this will include remembering our local nonprofits when considering increasing health and safety measures.

Jesse Brooks, UWAC Director of Advocacy

With support from:

Rachel Lee Cummings, Counseling Service of Addison County; Natalie Reigle, Vermont Adult Learning; Jennifer Mayhew, Turning Point Recovery Center of Addison County; Jim Moulton, Tri-Valley Transit; Elise Shanbacker, Addison County Community Trust; Christina Grier, WomenSafe; Amie Whitcomb, Bristol Family Center; Maureen Conrad, Home Health and Hospice; Sharon Lifschutz, Lund; Susan Whitmore, John Graham Housing & Services; Mary Dodge, Addison County Readers Inc.; Sara Wool, Age Well; and Linda January, Otter Creek Child Center

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