On the evening of Thursday, September 27th, the Vermont Community Loan Fund celebrated its 25th anniversary, amidst the company of founders, investors, donors, borrowers, staff and board, stakeholders, legislators and friends of all stripes - who came together to recognize the nonprofit, mission-driven lender’s social and financial impacts across Vermont.
“From its inception, VCLF’s mission has been to transform the lives of lower-income Vermonters by providing equitable access to lending capital, for Vermont’s affordable housing developers, child care programs, small businesses and community facilities,” said VCLF Executive Director Will Belongia. Belongia praised the organization’s collaborations, highlighting the contributions of its socially responsible-investors and borrowers. “Our investors see the value and importance of a social impact coming from their investments, not just a financial return. And our borrowers work hard to achieve their – and our – goals,” he said. “The result is that together we’re all working to stimulate Vermont’s economic and social well-being.”
Guest speaker Annie Gould of Wall/Goldfinger, whose furniture manufacturing plant in Northfield was flooded by Irene, told of how the Loan Fund’s financing of repairs and new equipment purchases enabled the company to move forward after the storm, without missing a single order.
The First Annual Founders’ Award was presented to the group of 15 central Vermonters who established the Loan Fund. “The Loan Fund’s founders wanted a way to do good with their money.” said Jake Ide, the Loan Fund’s Director of Development, as he introduced the awardees. “They wanted it to have power, to make Vermont a better place. There may not have been a lot of financial capital back at the Loan Fund’s beginning, but this group of people embodied a wealth of human capital, and their vision for VCLF and Vermont has come true.”
The event was held at The Ponds at Bolton Valley. Local foods and beverages were served, many from VCLF borrowers who are food producers. A retrospective video and wall-sized timeline detailed several milestones in the organization’s history, from its early loans to businesses and nonprofits including Burlington’s Intervale Center, Hunger Mountain Coop in Montpelier, Vermont Smoke & Cure in Hinesburg, Waitsfield’s American Flatbread and more, thru VCLF’s lending activities in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The video, produced by Hen House Media, can be viewed on the VCLF website.