As a community, The Valley has been in some form of isolation for over 2 years. Local nonprofit leaders have worked together to think about what this means for children and families and what can be done to help.
“It’s not just academics that the children have been missing for two years. They need opportunities to engage in activities that strengthen their social and emotional learning skills. This is especially true during the summer months when school is closed. But finding affordable and meaningful opportunities to occupy their children has been a challenge for parents. The Mad River Valley Summer FUNd was born out of these needs. said Patty Giometti, FUNd’s coordinator.
To date, the Mad River Community Fund and the Mad River Valley Interfaith Council have worked together to fund over $30,000 for 50 children to attend summer camps, programs and child care. The local children who received the grants range in age from 4 to 17 and attend valley schools as well as Harwood Union middle and high schools. Their parents ranged from two working parents who struggled to pay off debt for the past two years, to single moms and dads who just needed help paying for summer child care, Giometti said.
“It’s a great win-win for kids, parents, and local camps and programs that are all supported by each grant. Sharing the joy with parents as they are informed that their child will be able to attend the camp of their choice and they don’t have to put it on a credit card or dip into depleted savings makes this the best job of volunteer I ‘ve held!” said Giometti.
One parent responded by saying, “Wow! Thanks a lot. You have no idea how much this means to us and helps us! Instead of staying at home with Grandma, the children go swimming, hiking and playing with other children.
It’s an easy partnership between these organizations. The MRVCF was created specifically to meet the needs of Valley residents and has been helping fund the costs of summer camps for the past three years. “Working with the MRVIC has added an opportunity to spread the word to more families and also to increase the amount donated,” said Rebecca, Baruzzi, MRVCF program manager.
The MRVIC was concerned that many parents had been impacted by the economic pressures of COVID and would not be able to afford summer programs or after-school opportunities.
“We approached schools in the valley this spring to let them know we had funds available to help these families. We then extended that for the summer programs. We are delighted to partner with the MRVCF to achieve this goal,” said Sharon Kellermann, Secretary of the MRVIC. “We’ve also worked with Hannah’s House to support a few families where there’s been a focus on mental health.”
Those who want to know more about the program or apply for a grant, there is a google doc with all the information and an easy to fill out form. Follow this link: https://forms.gle/AvWsuNB3RQhgg6zQ6 Those interested in donating to the MRV Summer FUNd can mail a check to MRVIC, PO Box 342, Waitsfield, VT 05673.
Although applications for this summer close at the end of June, it is planned to continue to offer Summer FUNds next year.
“This program has been extremely successful. It is often difficult for someone to come forward and ask for help. But I think parents are more willing to do it when it’s for their kids. And because the grants are anonymous, we got a great turnout,” Giometti added.