Victoria Brewster, MSW

Victoria Brewster, MSW

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
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Community Initiatives that Make a Difference

While in Vermont for a long weekend, I came across the Rutland Magazine, Summer 2013 edition. I expected to read about upcoming events and festivals, which I did, but I also came across two articles that made me think of social work. The first is PaddlePower and the second, Dinners with Love.

PaddlePower is an event for kayaks and canoes, where 180+ enter the water in Orford, New Hampshire and end in Wilder, Vermont to raise funds for the West Central Behavioral Health’s emergency services 24 hour crisis hotline which is staffed by professionals. PaddlePower  also raises awareness for suicide.

According to West Central Behavioral Health, 37,000 in the United States die by suicide each year. The two day event includes snacks, entertainment, massages, assistants and an overnight camping experience. PaddlePower began in 2003 by two staff of West Central Behavioral Health who were ‘outdoorsy’ individuals wanting to fundraise for their emergency services. This year will make year eleven for this event.

The other inspiring article focused on 32 restaurants that donate food/meals to 86 clients in hospice. Dinners with Love gets restaurants to donate meals to hospice patients and their families. Volunteer drivers pick up and deliver the meals, and the patient/family member has a choice regarding the restaurant and meal. Currently, Addison and Rutland counties participate, with Chittenden county expected to come on board next. According to one of the board members, Mark Walker, “What we are doing is not epic. We’re not raising large amounts of money to help cure cancer. It’s a small gesture in life to offer a person in need a meal to comfort and nourish…” Whether you are a person with an incurable disease or health condition, a caregiver or a family member of the person in hospice, this donation of a meal means one less thing you need to worry about.

These grassroots organizations take a social work-looking perspective beyond the individual, and focus on filling needs, creating solutions and problem-solving. We know there are other initiatives out there and recently we posted on: Dads of Disability and What Client Can Teach Us: A Lesson on Domestic Violence.

What grassroots, community based initiative or project do you want to share? We would love to hear about it.

By Victoria Brewster, MSW
Staff Writer

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