As a community, The Valley has been in some form of isolation for over 2 years. Local nonprofit leaders have been working together to think about what this means for children and families and what can be done to help.
“It isn’t just academics that children have been missing over the last 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 out. But finding affordable and interesting opportunities to occupy their children has been challenging for parents. The Mad River Valley Summer FUNd was born out of these needs.” said Patty Giometti the FUNd coordinator.
To date, The Mad River Community Fund and Mad River Valley Interfaith Council have worked together to fund over $30,000 for 50 kids’ attendance at summer camps, programs and child care. Local kids who received the grants are ages 4-17 and attend Valley schools as well as Harwood Union Middle and High Schools. Their parents ranged from two working parents struggling to get out of debt they incurred during the last two years, to single moms and dads who just needed help paying for summer child care, Giometti explained.
“It’s a great win-win-win with the kids, the parents, and local camps and programs all being supported with each grant. To share in the joy with parents as they are informed their child will be able to attend the camp of their choice and that they don’t have to put it on a credit card or tap into depleted savings makes this the best volunteer position I’ve held!” said Giometti.
One parent responded by saying, “Wow! Thank you so much. You don’t know how much this means to us and helps us! Instead of staying at home with grandma, the kids will be swimming and hiking and playing with other kids.”
It is an easy partnership between these organizations. The MRVCF was created specifically to respond to the needs of Valley residents and has been helping fund summer camp costs for the last three years. “Working with the MRVIC added an opportunity to spread the word to more families and also increase the amount given” said Rebecca, Baruzzi, MRVCF program manager.
The MRVIC was concerned that many parents have been affected by COVID economic pressures and wouldn’t be able to afford summer programs or after school opportunities.
“We approached Valley schools this spring to let them know that we had funds available to help these families. We then extended this for summer programs. We are excited to join forces with the MRVCF to accomplish this goal,” said Sharon Kellermann, MRVIC secretary. “We have also worked with Hannah’s House to support a few families where the focus has been on mental health.”
Those interested in learning more about the program or applying for a grant, there is a google doc with all the information and an easy form to complete. Follow this link: https://forms.gle/AvWsuNB3RQhgg6zQ6 Those interested in donating to the MRV Summer FUNd, can send a check to MRVIC, P.O. Box 342, Waitsfield, VT 05673.
While applications for this summer will close the end of June, there are plans to continue offering Summer FUNds next year.
“This program has been extremely successful. It’s often hard for someone to come forward and ask for help. But I think parents are more willing to do so when it’s for their children. And because the grants are anonymous, we’ve gotten a great turnout,” Giometti added.