On the one-year anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene, the Rotary Districts serving Vermont  (7850 & 7870) will present a large check – in both physical size and amount – to Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) to kick off the long-term Irene Recovery effort funded by that grant. The check will be given to SEVCA by representatives of the two districts at its Westminster office on Tuesday, August 28 at 10:30 am.

On May 8, Rotary International awarded a Rotary Foundation grant of $174,066 as a match to the $238,384 that was raised by local Rotary clubs and clubs from all over the world. The funds will be used to provide a total of $412,450 to aid Irene victims, in a second wave of assistance to residents impacted by the storm who are still dealing with the consequences of that massive natural disaster.

Soon after Irene hit, Janice McElroy, then District 7870 Governor for southern Vermont and New Hampshire, decided to apply for a matching grant to The Rotary Foundation to help with Vermont’s long-term recovery. Jan and Marilyn Bedell, then District 7850 Governor from northern VT & NH, sent out a solicitation letter to selected Rotary Districts and clubs. Thirteen districts responded with pledges of funds that Rotary International would match – 10 from the U.S. and the others from Canada, South Africa, and Taiwan. Additional pledges came from individuals and 114 clubs from the U.S., Canada, and England.

They then approached SEVCA to act as the ‘cooperating organization’ for administering the statewide grant and pull in the other 4 Vermont Community Action Agencies (CAAs) to serve affected residents in their areas. “It made a lot of sense,” said SEVCA’s Executive Director Stephen Geller. “The CAAs in Vermont were experienced at managing large grants like this and serving large numbers of people in need (over 63,000 last year), and we already had a network of disaster case managers on the ground working through very complex situations and helping victims get back on their feet.” SEVCA worked with McElroy on the needs assessment and the grant, using information collected by staff, FEMA, VT 2-1-1, and the Long-Term Recovery Committees (LTRCs). “There have been relatively few Rotary International grants given in the U.S., and the size and scope of this one is particularly unusual,” noted Geller. “We feel honored to have been given this rare opportunity.”

The CAAs will serve as Rotary’s partner in this effort, screening and enrolling potential recipients and arranging for the delivery of needed assistance. Rotary members will refer people to the CAAs who could benefit from the services and will also provide volunteer services to people referred to them by the CAAs. Homeowners or renters of primary residences who have been affected by Irene through property damage or displacement may be eligible for assistance. Examples of Irene-related assistance that may be provided include short-term rent, fuel and utility assistance, furnaces and fuel tanks, appliance repair and replacement, well and septic system repairs, waste and debris removal, car repair and transportation assistance, service road and culvert repairs, and mold remediation.


For more information about the Rotary Grant Irene Assistance Program, contact the respective CAA contact in the following counties: Bennington & Rutland: BROC – Pam Shambo (802)  665-1721; Lamoille, Orange & Washington: CVCAC – Tracy Collier (802) 498-7375; Grand Isle, Franklin and Chittenden: CVOEO – Travis Poulin (802) 863-6248 x736 or Karen Haury (802) 388-2285; Orleans, Essex, & Caledonia: NEKCA – (southern area) Jan Rossier (802) 748-6040, (northern area) Kathy Metras (802) 334-7316 x204; Windham & Windsor: SEVCA  – Mary Ann Wolf (802) 376-6570.


Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service and encourages high ethical standards in all vocations. Its main objective is service – in the community, in the workplace, and around the globe. The 1.2 million Rotarians who make up more than 34,000 Rotary clubs in nearly every country share a dedication to the ideal of ‘Service Above Self.’ Rotary clubs are open to people of all cultures and ethnicities and are not affiliated with any political or religious organizations.

Community Action Agencies were established in 1964 as part of the nationwide War on Poverty to serve the multiple needs of people in crisis and economic distress. Their mission is to help people cope with crisis and hardship, stabilize their lives, empower them to move toward self-sufficiency, and work to address the root causes of poverty. They achieve these goals by providing a wide array of programs and services that give people the knowledge and support that they need to address the comparably wide range of poverty-related needs, as well as the tools for sustainability.


For more information contact: PDG Jan McElroy at Rotaryjan7870@tds.net