Vermont Business Magazine On a recent bleak winter day, spirits were lifted at HOPE with the news of a $2,000 grant award from Merchants Bank. Grant funds will support HOPE’s Project Real Job initiative – one of HOPE’s most utilized programs, will assist working low income residents of Addison County. Project Real Job is designed to keep low income working people gainfully employed. In 2016, HOPE assisted 55 different people in Addison County with small amounts of support to help cover approved job related expenses.
After a tour of HOPE, Merchants Bank Compliance and Community Reinvestment Officer Cheryl Houchens commented, “Helping an individual get to work, keep a job, or improve their earning potential are all examples of the great community services offered by HOPE. Merchants Bank is so happy to provide financial support to the Project Real Job program in order to help low-income individuals in Addison County remain gainfully employed and be as self-sufficient as possible.”
For decades, Project Real Job has been a modest yet vital source of support for low income working people in Addison County. To be eligible, a person has to be working and meet the income requirements for HOPE services. Eligible individuals can receive up to $75 of support within a year to help cover approved job related expenses. This could include a car repair or registration so that a person can get to work; uniforms, shoes or tools required for a job; or training or testing fees that would help a person obtain a higher paying job. When allocating support through Project Real Job, HOPE considers the individual circumstances of a working person and how a small amount of funding can help them keep a job or improve their ability to earn a living.
Jeanne Montross, HOPE’s Executive Director, notes that support from Merchants Bank comes at a critical time. Demand for HOPE’s poverty relief services has been steadily increasing and the organization now serves close to 900 people every month at their food shelf. Smiling, Montross notes that “Merchants Bank support will have a tremendous impact on our ability to help low income residents improve their circumstances. HOPE expends between $5,000 and $6,000 on Project Real Job every year, and Merchants Bank’s support will help to cover about a third of this initiative. We still have significant funds to raise in order to meet the demand, but we are off to a strong start with this generous grant.”
HOPE (formerly known as the Addison County Community Action Group) is a community-based, private, non-profit organization that provides a wide and changing array of services to more than 3,000 Addison County residents each year. For more than 50 years, HOPE has been providing vital assistance to low income persons in our community. HOPE’s mission is to improve the lives of low income people in Addison County, Vermont by working with individuals to identify and secure the tools and resources needed to meet their basic needs. Depending on an individual or family’s needs, HOPE can assist by providing nutritious food from our food shelf; financial payments for housing, electricity or water; heating fuel or wood; clothing, furniture and essential household goods; medical and dental payments; assistance with car repairs and job-related items for working persons; assistance for homeless persons; and more. HOPE's charity resale store provides free or low cost items to people who cannot afford them. It also generates revenue to support HOPE’s poverty relief work, as anyone is welcome and encouraged to shop at the thrift store. HOPE is a United Way Member Agency and consistently collaborates with other local organizations to avoid duplication of services and to ensure that our limited resources are targeted most effectively to meet a client's needs.
About Merchants Bank:
A Vermont-chartered commercial bank established in 1849, Merchants Bank is the largest Vermont-based bank. The bank’s business, municipal, consumer, and investment customers enjoy personalized relationships, sophisticated online and mobile banking options, with 31 branches in Vermont and 1 location in Massachusetts, operating as NUVO, A division of Merchants Bank. American Banker ranks Merchants Bank a "Top 200" in America among 851 peers. For more information, go to www.mbvt.com.
Source: HOPE – Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects. 3.17.2017