Families in Rutland and Bennington Counties in Vermont can turn to the BROC Community Action in Southwestern Vermont. This is a leading non-profit organization in the region. Various assistance programs, referrals, and other financial aid can be provided to the very low income and poor that qualify. Many of their main services are noted below.
BROC's Community Services and Outreach Department serves households in the counties of Rutland and Bennington by providing various forms of assistance in meeting basic needs and resolving crises. In addition, the Outreach Department guides individuals and even entire families in learning to recognize their strengths. This will in turn promote their overall health, financial success and well-being.
Meetings between staff, case managers and families typically occur on a one-on-one basis, but group learning opportunities or workshops are also available as needed. Even given the burden of living on a low income, the goal of each interaction is to help people build on their ability to be self-reliant in the mid to long term.
Any assistance offered will first involve getting to know and understand a family’s individual needs, past experiences, and hopes for the future. Services offered by BROC not only help with immediate crises, but encourage skill building, learning, and increased economic independence. The effort performed is guided by the principles and practices of Family Economic Development. This is a community action model for services that offers hope, respects people and connects people with the opportunities to learn and grow in their self reliance.
One resource that can be used to help residents save money is the Assets for Opportunity, or IDA program. This is a matched-savings program for people of low and moderate income in Rutland and Bennington Counties. The focus is on meeting the most immediate needs of the low-income and working poor families in the community. This is done while at the same time assisting them in acquiring a stake in their communities.
Homelessness is a major problem in the state of Vermont as well as local counties, including Rutland and Bennington.. There are many factors contributing to this, including reduction of household income, high rental and housing costs, a dispute with property owners, and domestic violence.
For those that qualify, BROC provides counseling and maybe access to rental assistance for households in regard to housing options. They also offer education for renters on their rights and responsibilities. The non-profit will also coordinate with other community providers in helping individuals and families obtain or maintain housing. When needed, families receive assistance with obtaining furniture, appliances and other items. Other services include:
Fuel and utility bill costs present a major struggle for many households. The Crisis Fuel and Utility Assistance in Vermont helps people stay warm and keep the power on. Three major programs, Seasonal Fuel, Crisis Fuel, and ShareHeat, help in delivering fuel or avoiding disconnection. The benefit and grant amounts are determined according to a number of factors, including fuel type, household income and available resources. The program is administered by the Office of Home Heating Fuel Assistance. For those that qualify, benefits are paid directly to fuel suppliers or to renters with heat included.
The Crisis Fuel program uses federal government originated funds that have been granted through the State of Vermont. BROC, along with the other not for profit Community Action Agencies in Vermont, administers the program under contract with Vermont's Office of Home Heating Fuel Assistance.
The LIHEAP energy bill program services begin each year in November and typically run through April. Eligibility for any grants or financial assistance is based on all household income and resources, and requires receipts for expenses paid in the last 30 days. Applicants are asked to come in before they run out of fuel, so please make an appointment while you still have one quarter of a tank of fuel.
The government funded Weatherization Program is part of the nation's largest residential energy efficiency program. Professionally trained and qualified staff members from the community action agency will evaluate your home and then meet with you to design a plan for saving energy that will make you more comfortable and save you money on your utilities in the process.
Examples of the energy efficiency measures performed on the home can include sealing drafts and air leaks, replacing the entire heating system if necessary, or improving heating system efficiency by cleaning, tuning, and performing minor repairs. In addition, the weatherization program may install insulation where there is a lack, or where the existing insulation may be inadequate.
All of this energy conservation and weatherization assistance is available for free to Vermont residents who meet federal government income eligibility guidelines, regardless of whether you own or rent your home, apartment, condo, or mobile home. However, if you do rent your residence, you must obtain permission from your landlord for the work to be done.
Participants will be enrolled in the federally funded program open special savings accounts called Individual Development Accounts (IDA). Each month, they deposit a predetermined amount of money, working toward the purchase of a productive asset, which may be a small business, post secondary education, or a home. The program matches the monthly deposit amount, in order to make purchasing one of these assets a realistic goal. Support and guidance is available at each step to help achieve goals.
BROC's food and nutrition programs help prevent hunger by providing people in need with emergency food assistance and commodities foods provided by the Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Receiving free government commodities as part of this program helps many in Rutland County to avoid running out of food from month to month. Nutrition education and distribution of Farm to Family coupons during the summer months are also offered as part of this program.
The Vermont Farm to Family Program provides coupons that can be redeemed for fresh vegetables or fruit at dozens of farmers markets that are authorized to accept them. Also note that families that are enrolled in the Vermont Health Department WIC program may receive coupons or vouchers as well. This is also available by BROC Community Action in Southwestern Vermont for the very low income.
Food and Nutrition programs prevent hunger by providing emergency assistance and commodities items supplied by the USDA. The food is provided in the form of pantries for people and families in need. The staff assists by offering free nutrition information, shopping tips, and guidance on reducing the risk of a emergency. Free food and grocery items are usually provided for at least a three-day period, or longer if the family circumstances require it.
Commodities are available to help people avoid running out of food from month to month. Some of the commodities offered by BROC include goods such as canned vegetables and fruits, packaged goods, diary items, pasta products, cereals, peanut butter, dry milk, and more. Income-eligible households from the community can receive commodities on a monthly basis.
Nutrition Education is offered as well from BROC Community Action in Southwestern Vermont, including one-on-one counseling. The agency also uses a curriculum called Financial Fitness that emphasizes credit repair, basic budgeting, family communication in regard to spending decisions, and smart shopping.
To assist with transportation needs in Vermont, Good News Garage accepts donated trucks, cars and vans. The garage staff then repairs them and they are passed on to qualified families that are looking for a job or employed.
A thrift store is available as well. BROC's Good Cents Store offers great bargains. There is also a Rutland store, located at 38 West Street, that is also a retail training center. It is run in partnership with the Department of Employment and Training in Rutland. As well as the Reach Up Program of the Department for Children and Families/Economic Services (formerly PATH)
Location of BROC include the following.
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