COTS Celebrates Volunteers and Partners at Annual Meeting

Posted On November 4, 2013 By | 2 Comments on COTS Celebrates Volunteers and Partners at Annual Meeting

The Committee on Temporary Shelter hosted its Annual Meeting & Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast on Friday, October 25th, at First Congregational Church of Burlington. At the meeting, COTS honored extraordinary contributions by our volunteers, community partners, local businesses and supporters on behalf of our neighbors struggling with homelessness. To view pictures of our honorees, please see the Annual Meeting Facebook Album.

The honorees for 2013 are:

Corporate Hero Award

Award presented to Vermont Business Magazine (publisher John Boutin).

Building on the premise that it takes a community to make a difference, Vermont Business Magazine has helped COTS share stories of success made possible through COTS’ collaboration with businesses and other nonprofits.

For more than a year, once a month, Vermont Business Magazine has generously donated prominent space in their publication to feature COTS and their partnerships in the community: “a Community Salute” by COTS to their friends. The campaign’s goal is simple: Give COTS a place to publicly thank and acknowledge our supportive partners in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors – and show that when we work together, great things are possible.

Community Partner Award

Award presented to the Howard Center Street Outreach Team — Supervisor Matt Young, and team members: Tammy Boudah, Wayne Bishop, and Justin Verette.

Since its inception in 2000, the HowardCenter Street Outreach Team has provided street-based support to individuals in the downtown Burlington Business District. These support services were originally intended for individuals with disabilities, but over time, the program has expanded its scope to include individuals with any type of unmet social service need.

Many of those who work with Street Outreach choose not to receive services at any one agency, or who do not meet eligibility requirements at any agency. Street Outreach works to fill that gap. Street Outreach works closely with other area service providers, most notably COTS. This relationship has allowed each partner to take advantage of the other’s resources to produce what the community expects: professional collaboration and positive outcomes.

 Leahy Leadership Award

Award presented to Linda Ryan.

The Leahy Leadership Award is given each year in honor of extraordinary advocacy on behalf of Vermonters who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. This year, the honor was bestowed on Linda Ryan, who has been an important figure for many years, advocating on behalf of homeless Vermonters.

Since 2005, Linda has served as the executive director of Samaritan House, a nonprofit organization that provides emergency shelter and transitional housing to people without other options or resources in Franklin and Grand Isle counties.

When addressing the Legislature or other Vermont leaders, Linda speaks passionately about the need for increased access to affordable housing in Vermont. She has repeatedly articulated the cost to Vermont families when sustainable housing options are not addressed. She is tireless in her commitment to helping Vermonters who are homeless – and working to create systematic changes for the long-term benefit of all our Vermont neighbors.

Wilma Rayta Volunteer of the Year Award

Award presented to Alex Pastewski.

The Wilma Rayta Volunteer of the Year Award is given each year in memory of longtime COTS supporter, Wilma Rayta. Wilma is the only person in COTS history to be honored twice with the Volunteer of the Year award for unquestioning commitment and hard work.

Alex worked with local musicians to create a CD for COTS, “Harmonies for Humanity.” Alex contacted local musicians and asked them to write and perform songs that would illustrate the homeless issues and address its impact on society.  Each artist will donate the licensing rights to sell copies of their songs on the CD and digitally via internet delivery platforms like iTunes, Amazon, etc. and will allow those proceeds to be used as a direct donation to COTS.  In this way, the plan is to set up a replenishing revenue stream for COTS.

Not only did Alex connect with musicians, he landed sponsorships and technical support that made the CD a reality. He also sang one of the CD’s wrote and sang one of the CD’s most moving tracks, “Twisted.”

Since the CD’s launch earlier this year, Alex helped organize performances at the COTS Walk and the Nonprofitpalooza, among others.

Samara-Anderson Walk Award

Award presented to Jack C. Kearnan.

Each year, we offer special recognition for our Challenge Walkers and Teams. These are among our most critical pieces that ensure the overall success of the COTS Walk. A “challenge walker” or “team” raises at least a $1,000 for COTS. Some raise much more. A generous anonymous donor each year matches the donations made by individual Challenge Walkers. This year, we had 17 individual walkers take the Challenge.

One of those walkers is gentle man, name Jack C. Kearnan. Jack once used COTS support. This spring, he returned – this time to give COTS his support. Jack decided to take the “COTS Walk Challenge,” pledging to raise more than $1,000 to support COTS services. He exceeded his goal, raising nearly $1,500 – and joined our executive director, Rita Markley, at the Walk in May to share his success. Thank you, Jack, for helping make this year’s Walk a tremendous success.

COTS also honored outgoing board members

Steve Roberts has served on the COTS Board since December 2008. He brought energy, insight, and financial expertise to COTS. He shared his deep understanding of complex retirement and financial plans, helping COTS directors make informed and thoughtful decisions. He was instrumental in the updating of our retirement plan for staff. During his time at COTS, he served on the Human Resources Committee, and was a guest member of the Finance Committee. We would like to thank The Vermont Agency for sharing Steve with us.

Lesli Blount has been a rock on the COTS Board since 2005. We would like to thank KeyBank for loaning us Lesli, who was their Director of Public Affairs & Community Relations, and also to VPR, who shared Lesli, when she became their Director of Corporate Support. Lesli served as the COTS Chair of the Board in 2010-11, guiding the Board during the construction and opening of Canal Street Veterans Housing, which created transitional housing and permanent affordable housing for formerly homeless veterans. She was chair during challenging financial times when COTS, against all odds, operated an emergency overflow shelter for families and single adults for nearly three years, and consolidated programs and services at a new location at 95 North Avenue.

Categories: Events, Staff and Board, Uncategorized, Volunteers
Tags:, , , ,

2 responses to “COTS Celebrates Volunteers and Partners at Annual Meeting”

  1. Outreach, Intake, and Assessment: The Homeless Healthcare Project, a collaborative effort between five nonprofit agencies, provides aggressive street outreach and assessment to identify a person’s or family’s needs and to make appropriate referrals for medical treatment, mental health services, substance abuse counseling, coordinated case management and vocational services. Experienced outreach teams canvass bus stations, campsites, and vacant buildings. There are also specialized street outreach and assessment programs for homeless youth and homeless persons with HIV/AIDS.

  2. Bob Matcher says:

    What an amazing woman!