Capstone Community Action hosted a celebration focused on the integral relationships and work accomplished to support Central Vermonters in the last year. Local representatives, current and former board members along with staff, partners, and community members participated in the event, which also highlighted Capstone’s ten-year anniversary of moving to downtown Barre at 20 Gable Place. This location continues to provide all programs and services to community members in the Central Vermont area. As an ode to Barre, Capstone hosted the event in the Vermont Granite Museum, which is devoted to the city’s historically important granite quarrying and processing industry.
The museum displayed exhibits of the granite industry while Capstone programs demonstrated their work of moving people out of poverty in 2022. Morse Block Deli and the Community Kitchen Academy Barre graduates hosted the appetizers and desserts.
Capstone’s board chair Jon Valsangiacomo welcomed guests and introduced Capstone’s board of directors: Abby White, Hope Crifo, Gina Akley, Nick Kramer, Monica McDonald, Scott McDonald, Barbara Miller, Janet Murray, Karen Lowry Reed, Donna Sherlaw, Jack Tighe and past board chair Steve Pappas. The initial award of the evening was given to Steven Pappas for his ten years of dedication and service to Capstone as a board member.
Capstone’s executive director Sue Minter emceed the celebratory event stating, “On a daily basis, we are confronted by the tremendous disparity within our communities. We understand that this disparity not only impacts our participants, but also our collective ability to thrive – as individuals, as families, and as a whole community. I see daily that our work is transformational because we help people believe in themselves. This is the real power of individual and social change that can break the generational cycle of poverty.”
Minter introduced Capstone’s keynote speaker state representative Saudia LaMont. LaMont was also the award recipient of the Jay Isaakson Leadership Award as a Capstone participant who demonstrated leadership, resilience, compassion and inclusion that empowers others to become independent and self-sufficient. As an organizer, advocate, facilitation, trainer, mother, and racial equity/transformative justice consultant and founder of 30P’s Consulting firm, she is also the first person of color to represent parts of Lamoille County in the Vermont Legislature where she serves on the Committee on General and Housing. Capstone was honored to have Saudia share her life story and encouraged the audience to, “Remember to take care of yourselves and each other, because when we come together as a community and take actions, great things happen.”
Capstone is about community, and is founded upon collaboration and partnership. The impact Capstone has to develop equity and self-sufficiency for our community members depends upon an extraordinary array of partner organizations. And that is why Capstone honored and recognized a few extraordinary partners that made important work possible in 2022.
Wheels for Warmth represented by Richard Wobby, Mike Casella, and Erica Scott, were presented with the first Community Partner of the Year Award of the evening. Over 16 years, Wheels for Warmth donated $610,000 to Capstone’s emergency fuel assistance program by selling more than 25,000 safe donated tires, and recycled more than 50,000 unsafe tires. Recognition was also given to the numerous businesses, volunteers and contributors of this successful annual event.
Good Samaritan Haven represented by co-executive director Rick DeAngelis was presented the Community Partner of the Year Award. In the last three years Good Samaritan Haven provided services in the motels, operated seasonal warming and overnight shelter in Montpelier, started and operated a sober-oriented shelter, added a street outreach team, and undertook a major rehabilitation project at a shelter in Barre. Most significantly, DeAngelis oversaw the building and operation of the Washington County “Welcome Center” a new non-congregate shelter in Berlin. Capstone recognizes these accomplishments for the most vulnerable neighbors through the most challenging times and is deeply grateful for the leadership and partnership of DeAngelis.
Green Mountain Transit represented by general manager Clayton Clark was presented with a Community Partner of the Year Award. This newly formed partnership was essential to extend public transit services to meet the complex needs of Capstone clients. Through the GMT support, Capstone launched a new non-profit called Community Rides Vermont. The electric vehicles to be used for this service were displayed outside the entrance of the Vermont Granite Museum.
Central Vermont Supervisory Union and Superintendent Matthew Fedders were presented with the Community Partner of the Year Award for the support to Capstone’s Head Start programs. The success of two additional public preschools in Williamstown and Washington Village/Orange schools were due to the union and staff who listened to the needs of their community and worked toward offering a full day of preschool as they understand the importance of quality early childhood education. Capstone Head Start is honored to work in collaboration with the staff and community who make a difference in the lives of children and families.
Capstone’s Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Monica Collins of the Feeding the Valley Alliance. Monica is a volunteer and community-rooted advocate who served as a core member of the group formed in 2020 as a response to COVID-19 pandemic food insecurity in the central Vermont communities of Rochester, Hancock and Granville. A variety of outreach efforts to provide food to these communities included a partnership with Capstone’s Central Vermont HUB of Vermont Everyone Eats. Capstone honors the ongoing commitment of food security demonstrated by Monica.
Capstone Community Action was founded in 1965 and works to overcome poverty by serving people in crisis and creating economic opportunity for people and communities. Capstone’s programs include emergency food, heat assistance, housing counseling and homelessness intervention, savings and credit coaching, business counseling, workforce development, home weatherization, transportation access, and child and family development programs in Early Head Start/Head Start. We serve over 10,900 people through these programs each year. www.capstonevt.org.