The notice popped up in my inbox the other day-”This to-do is due soon: April testimonial”. A testimonial, by definition, is a “positive tribute to someone and to their achievements.” It is difficult to single out one person to write a testimonial about during this recent unprecedented health crisis, so this is a testimonial to the people in the communities across the Northeast Kingdom that have come together to provide shelter, food and care to community members in need.
The Caledonia/S.Essex and Orleans/N.Essex COVID 19 Emergency Response Teams have been formed and have been meeting twice a week to coordinate emergency services throughout our communities to keep residents informed and safe. The goal has been to assess the needs of those in the community that have been affected the most by COVID 19 and do what is needed to respond effectively to meet that need.
As part of the larger team, there are subcommittees: Food Access; Outreach/Resources; Schools/Childcare; Health; Transportation; Volunteer Management and Homeless Response. Each committee meets on a regular basis and stays up to date on the needs and challenges in regard to the committee’s specific area of focus.
The outreach has been extensive, providing hundreds of meals a week to children, families and the elderly; getting masks out to community members; modifying public transportation services to provide rides to essential services in a safe way; offering childcare to essential workers; providing housing/shelter to those in need through local motels and private educational facility dorms; delivering food to those without access; organizing volunteers throughout the NEK to fill gaps in services- the list is extensive.
On April 22, the Community Response Teams sponsored a “Kingdom-wide” event, “Sing in the Morning, Light Up the Night”. Radio Stations in communities throughout the Northeast Kingdom got together and simultaneously played the 1975 hit song by the Captain and Tenille, “Love Will Keep Us Together”. At 8:30 am, people were encouraged to open their windows and sing at the top of their lungs! Later that evening, residents were encouraged to join their friends and neighbors in lighting up their homes and business with luminaria and lights. Luminaria were available at local essential businesses, and from 5-6 pm that evening villages and towns were “lit up” in solidarity. It is in times like these that the true spirit of a community comes alive to provide support to all!