BURLINGTON, Vt. – The Committee on Temporary Shelter held a candlelight vigil on Wednesday to reflect on the struggles of Vermonters who were homeless or at risk of being homeless in 2019.
It was held outside Burlington City Hall on a frigid evening and dozens faced the cold to acknowledge the fact that some don’t have a choice. Speakers shared stories of those facing homelessness that ranged from anecdotes about their hobbies to inspiring messages of hope and resilience.
They included a high school student who has been working weekends and after school to help her parents pay off debt from her mother’s medical bills, and a 9 year-old boy who is a ‘self-described electronics nerd’ and told COTS staff that he’s a good friend when you get to know him.
The annual vigil always falls near the longest night of the year, which is also National Homeless Persons Memorial Day.
“There is no one face of homelessness,” said Becky Holt of COTS. “There’s children, babies, the elderly, moms, dads and people struggling.”
Governor Phil Scott was in attendance and spoke to the importance of talking about the individuals experiencing homelessness rather than as a collective.
“It’s powerful and sobering when you hear the real messages of people that are affected,” Scott said. “It’s important to recognize that, realize that and see for yourself.”
Founded in 1982, COTS provides emergency shelter, housing, prevention services and outreach to families and individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. It will mark its 37th anniversary of service to our community on Dec. 24th.