COVID-19: Woodstock-area fund providing relief

Staff and wire reports
Published: 4/21/2020 6:37:46 PM
Modified: 4/21/2020 9:40:21 PM

WOODSTOCK — An emergency relief fund run by volunteers to aid struggling families in the seven towns in the Windsor Central Supervisory Union has raised more than $150,000 in little more than a week and given out more than $35,000 in grants.

The nonprofit Woodstock Area Relief Fund is giving out as much as $1,000 per recipient to help people with basic needs such as rent or a mortgage payment, food and medicine.

More than 75 people have already filled out a simple one-page application — no tax forms required — for assistance.

“We weren’t sure how many people would apply. We think there are more needs than we know about,” said state Rep. Charlie Kimbell, D-Woodstock, the spokesman for the group, which is being run in conjunction the Woodstock Community Trust.

Kimbell said volunteers have seen applications not just from working-class families who have lost jobs in the COVID-19 pandemic but also middle-income families who now “don’t have the money to pay their mortgage and are struggling to put food on the table.”

He said many people are “financially fragile,” including self-employed workers who are having trouble getting quick access to unemployment benefits.

“We had a single father who needed diaper money,” Kimbell noted.

The largest employer in town, the Woodstock Inn & Resort, has shuttered its operations until June 1, affecting about 500 people, Kimbell said, and that “has had a cascading effect” on other businesses in town.

The fund is open to residents of Woodstock, Bridgewater, Killington, Plymouth, Pomfret and Reading, and information can be found at, by emailing or by calling 802-281-9902.

A similarly named fund involving many of the same volunteers, but run through Sustainable Woodstock, raised about $500,000 for flood victims of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

Free ready-to-eat meals

The Vermont Foodbank is working with the Vermont National Guard to distribute “Meals-Ready-to-Eat” to needy families at state airports around Vermont over the next two weeks.

Recipients will receive enough MREs to provide food for each family member for seven days.

The program is intended to ease the surge of demand that food pantries across Vermont are seeing because of the massive job losses in the coronavirus outbreak.

The MREs will be available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday at Hartness State Airport in North Springfield, Vt.

People who need food can drive to the airport and food will be loaded into their trunk by members of the Guard. If you are sick, have been told to quarantine or lack transportation, a friend or relative can pick up the meals on your behalf.

NH hospital furloughs

Catholic Medical Center, one of New Hampshire’s largest hospitals, is furloughing hundreds of workers as it loses millions of dollars a month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Manchester-based hospital said Tuesday it will put 423 workers, or 13% of its workforce, on a 60-day furlough, starting Saturday.

An additional 914 workers will have their hours reduced, leaders at the vice president level and above are taking a 15% pay cut, and executive directors are taking a 5% cut.

Like other facilities, the hospital has eliminated elective procedures and scaled back outpatient visits to prepare for a surge of COVID-19 patients, conserve protective equipment and to protect other patients and staff.

The hospital lost $11 million in March and expects to lose up to $70 million by July.

Last week, the company that runs Elliot Hospital and Southern New Hampshire Medical Center announced 650 workers would be furloughed.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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