The Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO), based in Burlington with programs throughout northwest Vermont, and Green Mountain Solar, out of South Burlington, have teamed up to support the community while lowering harmful greenhouse emissions.
Over the past several years Vermont has seen an increased need for both accessible community resources and climate change action. This truck seeks to be a solution for both issues.
To better serve clients in the community and to provide a safe space for them to access vital programs and services, CVOEO’s Community Outreach & Resource Advocacy (CORA) Team delivers food and services to people using a mobile outreach unit. This truck is equipped with two laptop computers for clients to connect to services and benefits, phone charging stations, a coffee maker, a microwave, a space heater, a minifridge, and more.
To power all of this in an environmentally friendly way, Green Mountain Solar equipped the truck with a custom-designed battery backup system. Instead of idling for hours on end, the truck can sit peacefully and only run its engine when it physically needs to move from place to place. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel and produces more emissions that contribute to climate change than stopping and restarting the engine.
“We are fortunate to operate in this incredible community and we want to be here for them,” said Paul Lesure, President of Green Mountain Solar. “Our focus has always been on helping our state adopt a clean energy future with solar and energy storage, but honestly we’ve turned down a lot of camper van projects because they’re just not really our niche. However, when CVOEO came to us with this opportunity we saw a great partnership that would allow us to use our unique skills to help reduce the carbon footprint of their project and most importantly support our community which are both areas we’re passionate about.”
CVOEO’s CORA Team was formed in 2021 to conduct outreach and provide support to people experiencing homelessness. This team of three CVOEO employees connects clients to case management, provides interim case management, supports people in the midst of mental health crises, helps people access warm shelter, and brings food and other essential items directly to people. CVOEO’s CORA Team is one of the only outreach teams that directly support people in encampments and other remote, community-based locations in the Burlington area.
2022 Update: CVOEO's CORA Team's Progress 7 Months Later
From over 100 referrals to the program, eleven have found employment, and twelve have been connected to physical and mental health care services. The majority of referred households have moved from homelessness to sheltered, or to permanent housing. This year the CORA team has given out over 3,000 meals, made over 150 referrals to various services, and procured phones for 85 clients.
"Thanks to GMS’s support, the team’s truck has been converted into a mobile resource unit, allowing them to go out into the field and do paperwork with clients, serve hot food, and give them a place to sit down while we meet them where they are," says Jason Rouse, Director of Philanthropy and Communications for CVOEO, states.
“This is how we build community,” said Paul Dragon, Executive Director of CVOEO. “This is the result of a public and private partnership that moves communities forward with the goal of leaving nobody behind. If we want to end homelessness and other injustices it will take an ‘all in’ approach like this. This is what collective impact is all about. We are stronger when we act together.”
CVOEO and Green Mountain Solar are thrilled about this partnership and look forward to helping Vermonters connect with resources while also walking the walk in supporting the environment—something that is helpful to us all—in the process.
—Julia Westbrook and Lilly Barron
About Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO)
As a social services organization with 10 distinct yet interconnected programs, CVOEO addresses fundamental issues of economic, social, environmental, and racial justice and works with people to achieve economic independence. Formed in 1965 to carry out the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, CVOEO is a nonprofit organization that relies on support from various sources, including federal, state, and local governments, foundations, corporations, and individuals. With a dedicated and passionate staff of over 200 employees, CVOEO offers a holistic and client-centered approach to serving individuals, families, and communities and provides vital support to over 23,000 Vermonters every year.
To learn more about CVOEO, its mission, impact, and programs, visit www.cvoeo.org.
About Green Mountain Solar
Green Mountain Solar is a local solar company based in South Burlington, Vermont. They install solar (roof- and ground-mounted), battery backup systems, heat pumps, and EV chargers for residential and commercial customers across the state. They pride themselves on their educational, customer-first approach to solar and aim to deliver the best solar experience in Vermont.
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