Favorite Part of Job? I love connecting with community members and engaging others in creative ways to meet the needs of those who are homeless. I am always surprised by those who come through our door and their incredible stories of hope and perseverance; it is beyond exciting to help each person with their unique path to recovery, healing and often a new career as they transition to permanent, stable living in the larger Burlington community. I am reminded time and time again that no matter where we come from and where we’re headed, we all need others to support us and believe that our lives are worthwhile.
Most Inspiring Mentor: I have had so many encouraging and inspiring mentors in my life, who believed in me and challenged me through the ups and downs. My parents have been a steadfast support, always reminding me what’s important, my childhood piano teacher, Cathy Weymouth for teaching me much more than just music, and my sociology professor at SMC, Vince Bolduc for reminding me to question assumptions. I am most inspired by Heidi Baker’s work of selfless, lifelong service to the poor in Mozambique.
Tell us something fun about yourself that few people know: I love adventure - everything from cliff jumping to water skiing, trying new foods, learning other cultures, and anything in between! I've broken three bones on three adventures - tree climbing, hiking and cliff jumping.
Favorite Downtime Activity: My husband, Chad and I love to go for drives without a destination, and just explore the back roads, small towns, mountain vistas and rivers of Vermont.
Favorite Vermont Escape: We love to hike up the Middlebury River – swim through the rapids, climb over boulders and lay out on a gorgeous summer day.
Favorite Social Media: I love Pinterest – it feels like an idea hub of creative energy!
Favorite Website: I really enjoy Etsy; my creativity is fueled by other artists’ unique creations and designs.
Vermont Business Person you would most want to Network with: I would very much like to meet Melinda Moulton. I have a huge vision for the future of the Burlington Emergency Shelter and am inspired by her socially conscious vision for redevelopment and her community engagement.
Career Highlights: Alongside our visionary Board of Directors and our dedicated staff team, I have worked to create for our homeless guests a culture of learning, growth and tools for job readiness. With the help of incredible community volunteers, we have offered resume workshops, financial classes, a Restoration Arts program, computer lessons, health and exercise workshops, and we now have a coordinated individualized case management program. It’s exciting to see the success of our guests as we empower each to rewrite their future and make steps to create a new life for themselves! Currently, I am developing a new transitional housing program for homeless adults. We are partnering with a local housing trust, which will enable participants in the program to make the leap to permanent, stable housing in the Burlington area, allowing us to complete the continuum of care for homeless individuals. It is my hope that we can see those who have endured homelessness not just move towards surviving, but truly thriving. My aim is to address the needs of the whole person, providing not just temporary relief, but an invitation to long-term restoration and life-change.
Community Involvement: I have participated in service trips to Dominican Republic doing street outreach, to Mozambique volunteering in an orphanage, Immokalee, FL and New Orleans, LA doing Habitat for Humanity builds, and Kolkata, India working in Mother Teresa’s homes, providing respite care for the sick and poor. In Vermont, I’ve volunteered as a tutor in local schools and have taken part in several Penguin Plunge events in support of the Vermont Special Olympics. Prior to my employment at the Burlington Emergency Shelter, I began working with the organization as a volunteer meal provider. I was drawn in by the opportunity to serve in a relational way and by the environment that felt much more like a family with diverse backgrounds, than an institution. I am currently a member of the Chittenden County Homeless Continuum of Care.
John Boutin, Publisher of VBM, Lisa Gosselin, VT Dept. Economic Dev. and Rising Star Valerie Brosseau.