“The greatest disease…is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love.”
There is a segment of the population who are literally left out in the cold and feel as if they’ve “been given the shaft” by society, family or so-called friends. Winter in the north country is severe with lots of snow and cold. Churches and other social agencies try their utmost to provide sanctuary for the homeless, but people don’t know how to ask for help or are too proud to admit when help is needed. Even when the weather becomes warmer, the need to put nutritious food to in people’s bellies is still there and the demand for warm, dry, safe shelter does not go away. Individuals need to know they are not alone and not forgotten about year-round, not just seasonally.
In Vermont, a Program called Caring Blankets for the Homeless was initiated by the You Are Never Alone Foundation, the Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless and Joseph Wooten, musician and Keyboardist for the Steve Miller Band. The mission was to give a woolen blanket with the words I Matter, You Matter and a Caring Coin attached to a card with the name of someone who cared to a homeless person. The I MATTER, YOU MATTER message reminded them that they do matter. Schools, churches, organizations, businesses and individuals joined in sponsoring 500 woolen blankets for the homeless in Vermont with the I Matter, You Matter logo on it. Each blanket had a Caring Coin and the card with the name of the person who sponsored the blanket to remind the person receiving the blanket that someone really did care about them as seen in the words of one recipient:
“Someone cares about me, I must matter…”
Schools, churches, businesses and individuals in Vermont participated in this amazing cause. There was a huge Music Event with Joseph Wooten and local bands performing to support the homeless children and adults in our community.
Along with many others, The Fourth Grade class at Mettowee Community School raised $800.00 for the Homeless by selling flower and vegetable seeds and the Shaftsbury School’s project made the homeless their focus with Penny wars, couch searches and read-a-thons as ways of upping the ante to raise funds to purchase wooden coins to give to those who had been displaced from their homes due to a variety of reasons. Barre High School Students created programs to raise money and then participated in haring the I Matter, You Matter blankets and Caring Coins at the Shelter in Barre, VT.
Bennington Coalition for the Homeless: “Words cannot express the looks on the faces of the children and the adults when they receive the woolen blankets. Many have never owned a blanket of their own. They especially love the Caring Coins. The words Thank you do not seem enough.”
PAVE (Project Against Violent Encounters) in Bennington: “Thank you Everyone, for making this come together to keep people warm as things (soon) get colder.”
VT Veterans Outreach and Family Resource Center, Bennington: “This is a place where veterans and their families can come for support, help, and conversation, whatever they need. Some of these guys are living under the bridges. Now we have Caring Blankets to keep them warm and the Caring Coins remind them that they matter.”
VT Groundworks Collaborative in Brattleboro, VT: “We are very grateful for the Caring Blankets and the Caring Coins and much appreciate the support! The Seasonal Overflow Shelter, which provides a warm place to sleep and a hot meal each night for those experiencing homelessness in our community, opens in November and closes at the end of April. Last year the shelter served over 200 unique individuals with an average of 25 individuals per night – with 41 being the most served on any given night. This is a low barrier shelter, meaning sobriety is not a prerequisite for services.”
Good Samaritan Haven, Barre, Vermont: “The shelter Guests couldn’t get enough of talking about how great it was for people to care so much about the homeless. Your visit, the blankets and the Caring Coins are much appreciated. Especially the coins to remind us of your caring. Many blessings!”