The city of Rutland, Vermont is surrounded by the pristine beauty of the Green Mountains. This is a region loved by visitors and residents for its seemingly limitless outdoor recreational activities year-round, including skiing, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and water sports. But like many small towns, economic concerns, poverty and unemployment exist. In this town of 16,000 over 20% of individuals receive food assistance from the government and many of the local families living below the poverty line have young children at home.
Though the third largest city in Vermont, Rutland is a small city (15,325 population) that many visitors would recognize as a town that seems to be thriving especially when visiting in the winter months. However when you look deeper you find a great number of individuals and families dealing with larger urban issues in this small town. A large percentage of the population is struggling with drug addiction and homelessness, resulting in decay and destruction for parts of the city. In the past several years residents have become more aware of the heroin epidemic plaguing their city (2014) and more recently (2018) the issue of human trafficking and are working to combat these issues. Rutland residents, along with all Vermonters, are very proud of their state and cities which leads its residents, leadership, churches and organizations to work at community wide cleanup in order to create public spaces that are aesthetically pleasing and show the beauty and culture of Vermont. YouthWorks has been privileged to join with these leaders, churches and volunteers to help care for the city of Rutland year after year by investing time caring for their outdoor spaces, working with local organizations serving those that are under-resourced or in need of food and shelter or working in and around residents homes and in general doing anything possible to give back. Through our consistent partnership year after year and dedicated time in the summer months, we show that we care for and respect the residents here and are able to build trust, which is hard to come by in this area. YW has the opportunity to serve the city by working with specific partnerships already at work in this community to reach out to those in need like the Parks & Rec Department, The Salvation Army, The Compass Center, Neighborworks, Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging and many more. Our presence throughout the summers has continually had a positive influence with regards to God and Christianity in a place where it is not widely accepted. By consistently partnering with non-faith based organizations we have built a bond of trust with them that strengthens their acceptance of us and our faith.