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Dream Center to open winter cafe in January~ RH 1-4-16

Dream Center to open winter cafe in January
By Andy Clark
Staff Writer | January 04, 2016
The Dream Center is evolving. Beginning today, the nonprofit is offering a winter café — a break from the cold, and free lunch.
For the last two years, the Dream Center was known to Northwest Rutland as a mission of advocacy, community building and spreading hope.
 
Linda Justin and Bill Beckim, founders of the center, recently announced that from today, to March 28, they would open seven days a week from 1 to 3 p.m. at 197 West St. for lunch.
 
“We want to offer brief respite from the cold, food and hot coffee to those who have no place to go. Want to volunteer? We need you,” said a message on the organization’s Facebook page.
Justin said she was particularly motivated to start the winter café because of a recent harsh winter that left three homeless people in the region dead from exposure.
 
“We had a fire marshal in here to tell us what we needed to do to convert space on both floors to an emergency shelter. We need to invest thousands of dollars in this building for sprinklers and fire alarms in addition to what we had already planned. We need overnight staff and they need to be trained. We don’t have the funds,” she said.
 
“But what we can do soon is provide respite in the afternoons during the worst spells of weather through our winter café. The first step is therefore serving food and coffee out of our small kitchen,” she said.
 
She doesn’t look at the change as transformative. The Open Door Mission, which is the only shelter in Rutland, offers meals to the public seven days a week, but is on Park Street near the Vermont State Fairgrounds. The Dream Center’s proximity to downtown services alone suggested to her that the center’s winter café, while needed, is merely complementary to the mission’s services. Trinity Episcopal Church also serves meals open to the public one Saturday per month.
 
Justin said what they are trying to do is in keeping with what the center has already done in the Northwest neighborhood.
 
“We started block parties before Project VISION in that area and that was mostly centered on sharing food,” she said. “We still have our own food-centered block parties.” Meanwhile, she has lined up donated food surpluses from Dismas House and Gill’s Delicatessen that should largely supply her kitchen through this year’s winter cafe.
 
The Dream Center accepts donations of money and volunteer efforts to help meet Northwest neighborhood needs, especially for the expanded winter services. If you wish to donate funds or time, contact Justin or Beckim by calling 236-0407.
 
andy.clark @rutlandherald.com

 

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