In March, USCRI Vermont established a Neighborhood Emergency Relief Fund to help refugee and immigrant families in Chittenden County and beyond impacted by the pandemic meet basic needs. Over that span, we have helped 103 families and 225 individuals dealing with income loss, food insecurity, past due utility bills, childcare expenses, and the threat of displacement due to the COVID-19 crisis. Specific assistance includes rent/deposit subsidies, transportation costs, groceries, household and cleaning supplies, childcare costs, clothes, internet/online technology costs, and dozens of care packages delivered to families. We expect to continue providing these relief resources throughout the winter and into the spring of 2021.
As a member of the Vermont Multilingual Coronavirus Task Force, USCRI Vermont provided guidance, translation services, and resources for essential pandemic information in 10 languages through email, social media, to refugee and immigrant communities statewide. These resources include videos, voice recordings, and online memes. USCRI Vermont has also been providing ongoing interpretation assistance at pop-up COVID-19 testing locations and community medical clinics since March.
Over the last eight months, USCRI Vermont has expanded our community reach and partnerships by coordinating with Association of Africans Living in Vermont, Technology for Tomorrow, the City of Burlington, the City of Winooski, regional school districts, the Vermont Department of Health, UVM Medical Center, and neighborhood-based mutual aid networks to better serve refugee and immigrant families in Chittenden County and beyond with specialized intensive case management, mental health and wellness supports, and Digital Literacy for remote learning.
In addition to these efforts, USCRI Vermont continues to help refugee and immigrant families through community donations of goods and clothing. Because of social distancing, many of our traditional volunteer opportunities are on pause. However, we are currently seeking a number of needed items for our families. These include:
- New clothing for youth and children
- Laptops for remote learning and access to the Internet
- Bicycles, bike lights, and locks
- Gift cards for grocery stores
- School supply sets (elementary, middle, and high school)
If awarded, USCRI Vermont will continue its ongoing work to provide refugee and immigrant families in Chittenden County and beyond with rent/deposit subsidies, utility bill assistance, groceries, household supplies, childcare costs, clothes, furniture, internet/online technology costs, transportation, and care packages as a part of our Neighborhood Emergency Relief Fund effort. We will also continue to provide translation and interpretation services and resources for COVID-19 related outreach and testing/public directives information in coordination with the Vermont Multilingual Coronavirus Task Force, federal, state, and local agencies, and the Governor’s Office.
USCRI has been churning through it’s COVID emergency relief funds over the summer and fall and will see it’s CARES Act funding end on 12-30-20. We expect to see a dramatic surge in need in the winter months and into next spring as state and federal stimulus programs expire at the end of 2020 and cases of COVID-19 surge in Chittenden County and beyond. We are also likely to see an increase in the number of new refugee families arriving during the winter and will need to start rebuilding our service capacity to accommodate that arrival.