"It was very powerful, deciding that we would look into some life-giving, socially responsible investing as our priority. We could have made more money somewhere else, but we couldn’t have gotten what we really wanted from our investment anywhere other than VCLF."
Residents of Vermont’s Dismas houses know the meaning of community. They live it every day. “Dismas is family,” says Rita McCaffrey, former executive director of Dismas of Vermont. “It is created by and for the community.”
An evening meal together, casual conversation, and a supportive home are things that many people take for granted. At the Dismas houses, these simple acts help to ease the difficult transition from prison to the community.
Dismas of Vermont was founded almost 20 years ago, after McCaffrey, longtime coordinator of Vermont’s Thresholds/ Decisions prison-volunteer program, and her husband Frank, a Vermont District Court judge, visited the original Dismas house in Nashville, Tennessee. A nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, Dismas of Vermont consists of four houses, two in the Burlington area, one in Rutland and one in Hartford.
Residents are a combination of former prisoners, college students and staff. “It’s a very rich experience for all of us.” says McCaffrey. “Students, prisoners and volunteers…they have really made the Dismas houses what they are.”
With an unwavering commitment to the power of community relationships, it is only natural that the Rutland Dismas House extends its support to other Vermont communities through an investment at VCLF.
“The Rutland Dismas house had a board meeting and lamented the low return on the money that we’ve worked so hard to earn,” says McCaffrey. But after discussing higher-yielding options, the discussion changed. “One of the members said, ‘Do you know where the money is going?’ It was very powerful, deciding that we would look into some life-giving, socially responsible investing as our priority. We could have made more money somewhere else, but we couldn’t have gotten what we really wanted from our investment anywhere other than VCLF.”
Through the Rutland Dismas House’s investment with VCLF, the organization makes a difference in Vermont communities in even more ways. It’s a wonderful reminder that with help from our neighbors, we’ll all have brighter futures.