Volunteers restore and repair old headstones in Milton cemetery

Published: Jul. 31, 2021 at 8:07 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2021 at 4:13 AM EDT
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MILTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Our loved ones mean the world to us, even after they pass away. We all want to know their permanent resting site is taken care of. A group of volunteers is doing just that.

“If you value the history of your city, town, municipality, the state of Vermont, this is that history,” said Tom Giffin, the president of the Vermont Old Cemetery Association, also known as VOCA. The group’s goal is to preserve history while respecting lost loved ones.

Milton Town Manager, Don Turner, said Saturday was the second time volunteers have hosted a workshop in Milton. “It’s important for families to visit. There’s so much history,” Turner said. “Some of these stones are 200 or 300 years old. Nobody comes to visit. It’s important to revitalize them.”

Volunteers helped reset and repair headstones. VOCA member, Nicole Vecchi, said the goal of these workshops is to teach others how to better maintain the grounds. “There is a certain way you want to clean a stone,” Vecchi said. “That’s what we’re hoping when we come to a workshop like this, we propagate that knowledge.”

Vecchi notes power washing or bleaching will damage the head stone.

What they do to clean the stones is give them a dry scrub, spritz them with some water, then a chemical called D/2. Once the D/2 is on the stone, they scrub the lichen off. Even once the liken is off, they leave the D/2 on the stone so it can continue to break down grime over time.

“Just trying to make these places, which is very important to us, a better place to visit and making sure people know their loved ones are being cared for,” Turner said when asked about the importance of the project.

Giffin said they host these workshops almost every weekend. The next one is August 14 at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Vergennes.

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