Another Way: Finding a Way Home

Elaine Toohey’s voice doesn’t waver as she tells of her bouts with homelessness, twice in her life, the second time as the young mother of two small children.

The breakup of her domestic partnership was one of those life crises, she describes, like losing a job or a death in the family that, for some, can lead to an emergency situation. “I lived on a friend’s land. I had no job. I had no income. I couldn’t find the help I needed.”
Having made her way back from such circumstances, you could argue that Elaine is uniquely qualified for her job as Executive Director of Another Way. The Montpelier nonprofit serves Central Vermonters experiencing homelessness, unemployment, those suffering with addiction or struggling with mental health issues, the transitioning and recovering, all moving toward a better place.

If the status quo has been to view this population with certain assumptions and standardized procedures, Elaine and her staff are certain there is, in fact, Another Way.

Another Way, founded in 1986 as an alternative to the services offered by local community mental health centers, focuses on advocacy and empowerment of voluntary residents through peer support. “Peer support means learning together, and taking personal responsibility,” Elaine explains.

The organization helps residents access housing, meals, legal support, health insurance, educational and employment opportunities, and disability and other benefits where appropriate. Connections are also crucial. “Program participants grow and get support from one another,” she says. Community meals, prepared in their community kitchen and shared on site are an important point of connection, Elaine notes.

Another Way's Exec. Director Elaine Toohey, center, with family and program participants

Recent reports have shown the number of homeless Vermonters is on the rise, and the staff (five full-time and six shift workers) has seen a definite spike in need. Their data shows Another Way served 582 Vermonters last year versus 349 the year before – a 40% increase. “I think the bigger numbers also means we’re doing a better job of connecting with people who are experiencing homelessness,” Elaine notes. Last winter, they also served as the overflow site for a partner organization, the Good Samaritan Haven emergency shelter in Barre.

Thus, the timing was right to address some serious issues with their Barre Street facility. Especially urgent was replacing the failed roof and porch, repairing a dilapidated staircase and bringing the fire system up to code. Another Way approached the Loan Fund for financing, noting a difference right away from other lenders.

“We’d sought funding elsewhere before, and people didn’t take the time to understand the nuances of what we do,” says Elaine. “But Paul and Barbara at the Loan Fund were incredibly supportive. They listened and understood. This project wouldn’t have happened without them,” she adds.

With the work now completed, Elaine is looking ahead to the final phase of renovations, including ADA accessibility. Grants and other fundraising are in the works, including sales of resident-made wooden garden beds (information at anotherwayvt.org/contributing-to-another-way).

Elaine stresses, “These building upgrades send a message to our residents that they deserve a safe space that’s not falling apart, that’s nice looking. That feels good,” she says.

Also in the first quarter of 2018, the Vermont Community Loan Fund provided financing to:

Bennington-Rutland Opportunities Council, Rutland
A nonprofit, community action organization, BROC serves roughly 10,000 lower-income Vermonters annually, helping them move out of poverty and into self-sufficiency. BROC programs include home weatherization, job training, and housing and crisis management. They used VCLF financing to rehabilitate and improve energy efficiency at their Rutland headquarters. BROC employs 37 Vermonters.

Champlain Housing Trust/104 Mercier Drive, Colchester
Longtime Loan Fund partner organization Champlain Housing Trust provides safe, perpetually affordable housing throughout Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties. For this recent effort, they approached the Loan Fund to help finance updates to half of a two-unit condo association; the other half is already part of CHT’s portfolio. Updates will include replacing the roof, flooring, electrical and plumbing fixtures, and more.

PJ’s Child Care Center, St. Albans
When a St. Albans child care facility unexpectedly closed its doors, Penny Spaulding stepped up to meet the urgent need of local families. She approached the Loan Fund to help finance the purchase of the program’s real estate and all equipment, fixtures, supplies and more of the previous program, and to cover various operating costs. PJ’s Childcare will be a for-profit, full-day, full-year early care & learning facility serving 61 children and their families.

Studio Place Arts, Barre
Studio Place Arts, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is a regional arts resource, providing free exhibits, arts education, outreach to children, seniors and special needs populations, studio rentals and more. Loan Fund financing will be used to bridge seasonal fundraising and grant payments.

Sweet Pickins Farm, Putney
Sweet Pickins Farm is a small producer of ducks for eggs and meat, produce and more. They plan to expand capacity by constructing a duck house with lighting customized to maximize the laying potential of the ducks. Financing for the structure, provided through the Loan Fund’s SPROUT deferred payment loan program, preserves one full-time job and is expected to create new seasonal jobs in the near future.

Victory Hemp Foods, Middlebury
Victory Hemp Foods, a Kentucky-based start-up, processes and sells hemp food ingredients to wholesale and retail customers. They purchase hemp seed from a network of farmers in Kentucky (and soon, in Vermont, too) and process it for hemp oil, protein and germ, which are then sold as an ingredient to other food manufacturers and retailed at Whole Foods, Kroger, at farmers’ markets and online. They are purchasing the assets of former VCLF borrower Full Sun Company, including its nearly turn-key Middlebury seed oil extraction mill. Financing is expected to create two full-time and two part-time jobs in Vermont, and will help maintain three existing full-time and two existing part-time jobs in Kentucky.

Whitefield Hop Yard, East Hardwick
Whitefield Hop Yard grows, harvests and processes hops for Vermont breweries. They approached the Loan Fund to help finance the purchase of a hop harvester, which will increase the speed and efficiency of harvesting, so important due to the tight timeframe of harvesting ripe hops. Financing, through the Loan Fund’s SPROUT deferred payment loan program, will also help cover costs of constructing a new “oast,” a hop-drying kiln, and to make improvements to their existing oast. Financing helps preserve two existing jobs, and is expected to create two new ones.

Another Way: Finding a Way Home

Elaine Toohey’s voice doesn’t waver as she tells of her bouts with homelessness, twice in her life, the second time as the young mother of two small children.

The breakup of her domestic partnership was one of those life crises, she describes, like losing a job or a death in the family that, for some, can lead to an emergency situation. “I lived on a friend’s land. I had no job. I had no income. I couldn’t find the help I needed.”
Having made her way back from such circumstances, you could argue that Elaine is uniquely qualified for her job as Executive Director of Another Way. The Montpelier nonprofit serves Central Vermonters experiencing homelessness, unemployment, those suffering with addiction or struggling with mental health issues, the transitioning and recovering, all moving toward a better place.

If the status quo has been to view this population with certain assumptions and standardized procedures, Elaine and her staff are certain there is, in fact, Another Way.

Another Way, founded in 1986 as an alternative to the services offered by local community mental health centers, focuses on advocacy and empowerment of voluntary residents through peer support. “Peer support means learning together, and taking personal responsibility,” Elaine explains.

The organization helps residents access housing, meals, legal support, health insurance, educational and employment opportunities, and disability and other benefits where appropriate. Connections are also crucial. “Program participants grow and get support from one another,” she says. Community meals, prepared in their community kitchen and shared on site are an important point of connection, Elaine notes.

Another Way's Exec. Director Elaine Toohey, center, with family and program participants

Recent reports have shown the number of homeless Vermonters is on the rise, and the staff (five full-time and six shift workers) has seen a definite spike in need. Their data shows Another Way served 582 Vermonters last year versus 349 the year before – a 40% increase. “I think the bigger numbers also means we’re doing a better job of connecting with people who are experiencing homelessness,” Elaine notes. Last winter, they also served as the overflow site for a partner organization, the Good Samaritan Haven emergency shelter in Barre.

Thus, the timing was right to address some serious issues with their Barre Street facility. Especially urgent was replacing the failed roof and porch, repairing a dilapidated staircase and bringing the fire system up to code. Another Way approached the Loan Fund for financing, noting a difference right away from other lenders.

“We’d sought funding elsewhere before, and people didn’t take the time to understand the nuances of what we do,” says Elaine. “But Paul and Barbara at the Loan Fund were incredibly supportive. They listened and understood. This project wouldn’t have happened without them,” she adds.

With the work now completed, Elaine is looking ahead to the final phase of renovations, including ADA accessibility. Grants and other fundraising are in the works, including sales of resident-made wooden garden beds (information at anotherwayvt.org/contributing-to-another-way).

Elaine stresses, “These building upgrades send a message to our residents that they deserve a safe space that’s not falling apart, that’s nice looking. That feels good,” she says.

Also in the first quarter of 2018, the Vermont Community Loan Fund provided financing to:

Bennington-Rutland Opportunities Council, Rutland
A nonprofit, community action organization, BROC serves roughly 10,000 lower-income Vermonters annually, helping them move out of poverty and into self-sufficiency. BROC programs include home weatherization, job training, and housing and crisis management. They used VCLF financing to rehabilitate and improve energy efficiency at their Rutland headquarters. BROC employs 37 Vermonters.

Champlain Housing Trust/104 Mercier Drive, Colchester
Longtime Loan Fund partner organization Champlain Housing Trust provides safe, perpetually affordable housing throughout Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties. For this recent effort, they approached the Loan Fund to help finance updates to half of a two-unit condo association; the other half is already part of CHT’s portfolio. Updates will include replacing the roof, flooring, electrical and plumbing fixtures, and more.

PJ’s Child Care Center, St. Albans
When a St. Albans child care facility unexpectedly closed its doors, Penny Spaulding stepped up to meet the urgent need of local families. She approached the Loan Fund to help finance the purchase of the program’s real estate and all equipment, fixtures, supplies and more of the previous program, and to cover various operating costs. PJ’s Childcare will be a for-profit, full-day, full-year early care & learning facility serving 61 children and their families.

Studio Place Arts, Barre
Studio Place Arts, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is a regional arts resource, providing free exhibits, arts education, outreach to children, seniors and special needs populations, studio rentals and more. Loan Fund financing will be used to bridge seasonal fundraising and grant payments.

Sweet Pickins Farm, Putney
Sweet Pickins Farm is a small producer of ducks for eggs and meat, produce and more. They plan to expand capacity by constructing a duck house with lighting customized to maximize the laying potential of the ducks. Financing for the structure, provided through the Loan Fund’s SPROUT deferred payment loan program, preserves one full-time job and is expected to create new seasonal jobs in the near future.

Victory Hemp Foods, Middlebury
Victory Hemp Foods, a Kentucky-based start-up, processes and sells hemp food ingredients to wholesale and retail customers. They purchase hemp seed from a network of farmers in Kentucky (and soon, in Vermont, too) and process it for hemp oil, protein and germ, which are then sold as an ingredient to other food manufacturers and retailed at Whole Foods, Kroger, at farmers’ markets and online. They are purchasing the assets of former VCLF borrower Full Sun Company, including its nearly turn-key Middlebury seed oil extraction mill. Financing is expected to create two full-time and two part-time jobs in Vermont, and will help maintain three existing full-time and two existing part-time jobs in Kentucky.

Whitefield Hop Yard, East Hardwick
Whitefield Hop Yard grows, harvests and processes hops for Vermont breweries. They approached the Loan Fund to help finance the purchase of a hop harvester, which will increase the speed and efficiency of harvesting, so important due to the tight timeframe of harvesting ripe hops. Financing, through the Loan Fund’s SPROUT deferred payment loan program, will also help cover costs of constructing a new “oast,” a hop-drying kiln, and to make improvements to their existing oast. Financing helps preserve two existing jobs, and is expected to create two new ones.

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