Volunteers rally to clean up historic Rutland cemetery

Published: Aug. 26, 2023 at 8:16 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - The Rutland Moose Club and other community volunteers are making repairs at the historic West Street Cemetery.

The cemetery has been around since the 1700s and has the burials of soldiers from the Civil and Revolutionary wars.

From eight in the morning to noon on Saturday, a large group of people gathered to clean stones and fix any that were broken. Returning volunteers say they are used to seeing broken glass bottles, trash, and ruined headstones in the cemetery, but Moose Club Member, Tom Giffin, acknowledges how rewarding it can be to clean up the stones.

“It’s such a pleasure to see the stones repaired upright so people can read them, we clean the stones,” said Giffin.

Experts say it has been happening for the last weekend in August since 2020. Volunteer, Phil Fernandez, enjoys giving back to the community.

”So, I’m proud of the city and it feels good to know that we’re giving back and spreading goodwill,” said Fernandez.

Fernandez said the goal of the Moose Club is, “all about helping each other out and taking care of the community”.

Giffin feels grateful he’s able to honor history and his community in this way.

“Gratification because something was broken and now fixed and it’s just a wonderful thing to be a part of,” said Giffin.

Vermont state senators, Terry Williams and Brian Collamore are aware of the vandalism that goes on at the West Street Cemetery.

“Favorite part is why we’re here, you know, these graves have been neglected for a long time and had some vandalism in there,” said Williams.

“Unfortunately we have to deal with a certain amount of vandalism -- that’s very disheartening when you just worked a 4, 5 hour Saturday morning and then a month later somebody comes and ruins it all so it’s disheartening but it doesn’t break our spirit and we’ll be back and get ready to do it again,” said Collamore.

But they do what they can to bring life back to the community, and Moose Club members say they’re ready to do it all again next year.