BURLINGTON, Vt. – Dozens of Vermonters braved rainy conditions Thursday night for the 2019 Spectrum’s Sleep Out, an event that raises money for homeless and at-risk youth.
Participants each raised at least $2,000 and spent the entire night under a tent in front of First Unitarian Universalist Society on Pearl Street. In total, the group raised over $300,000.
Spectrum Executive Director Mark Redmond said he was inspired to create the event after seeing similar efforts around the country.
“Eight years ago I saw on Facebook that a shelter in New York City where I volunteered for in 1981 had something called the sleep out,“ Redmond said. “I hit the share tab, sent it to my staff and said we should try that here.“
Several participants told us they had a personal connection to the cause.
“I’m an individual that was homeless at one point,“ said Van Gulden, who now works as a security guard. “It was a time in my life that I don’t shy away from because it’s one of the many things that made me who I am now.“
Abigail Kalonaros, another participant, shared a similar story.
“I just think it’s so neat to be able to give these kids a second chance, especially having once been myself in that situation, I absolutely would’ve wanted a second opportunity like this,“ Kalonaros said. More sleep outs intended for students will be held from March 28-30, and instead of raising $2000, Spectrum suggests donating at least $25.