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Rutland County’s first family shelter opens

Published: Oct. 23, 2021 at 5:52 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 23, 2021 at 8:37 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Rutland County’s first family shelter is preparing for its first visitors.

“We want to wipe out homelessness and the cycle of it,” said Rebekah Stephens, board chair of Rutland’s Promise.

Stephens and her partners had a vision nearly two-and-a-half years ago to create a safe, stable place for families to stay when they’re in between homes.

“We’re hoping to bring the families in with an average stay of three weeks to three months, which will give them the time to transition into stable housing, but this gives them a temporary, safe place to do it,” said Stephens.

Rutland’s Promise is officially open, marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and is supported solely by local donations.

The three-bedroom, 1200 sq. ft. apartment will become a starting over point for local families.

According to the State of Vermont, there are 162 total homeless persons, 42 of whom are children, in Rutland County.

Thomas Barry is the vice chairman of Rutland’s Promise. He says that he and his mother were in emergency housing around 10 years ago.

“But my mother and I, we made it through by the grace of God, and now I want to help the families get through that because I know how they feel,” said Barry.

Barry wanted to get involved because he understands firsthand the benefits a family shelter like Rutland’s Promise can bring.

“So if we had something like this to help us, we would be great,” said Barry.

Fuzzy blankets fill the upstairs drawers of Rutland’s Promise because every family that stays here will leave with one more blanket than they came with.

Stephens says a local church group knits them and...

“Put blessings into every stitch so that every family that comes through here, every member will have a blanket to wrap themselves in. Not only here at the house but when they go back into their permanent housing,” Stephens said.

The future is promising. Stephens says they expect their 23 volunteers to help six to seven families this year.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could reproduce this in every community in Vermont?” said Joe Kraus, a supporter of Rutland’s Promise.

They hope to have the first family moved in before Thanksgiving.

“I pray that other counties in Vermont will look at what we’re doing here in Rutland County and catch on,” said Barry.

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