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Rutland Herald – VISION e-list helps meet community needs

Project VISION is using email as a tool to build better the community in the Rutland area. And all signs say it’s working.

VISION, which was created in response to an epidemic of heroin use in the city is a volunteer organization, is run by the Rutland City Police Department. Project VISION’s members work to improve the area by working to improve matters related to public good like community policing and health.

Over the past year, VISION members, many who voluntarily subscribe to the group’s the email list, have relied on the platform to discuss messaging, ideas and more, according to Commander Matthew Prouty, of the Rutland Police Department and a leader of Project Vision.

Prouty has urged members to tell themselves, “See a need, meet a need.”

List members on email are sharing needs they have in the hope that someone else on the list can help fill it.

For instance, Prouty said a staff member at one of the local agencies that works to on homelessness shared one client’s need for help while moving and volunteers responded to get the client into a new home.

Not all of the messages are directly about need. Some have included, by example, an agency that received a donation of furniture and was looking for someone who could put it to use. Other messages have shared job openings or community events.

Recent emails asked for affordable vehicle tires for a woman trying to stabilize her life, a call for volunteers at the Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging, and the announcement of an online support group for survivors of domestic assault hosted by A New Story Center.

Prouty said Friday the mailing list had grown by about 25%, from about 400 to more than 500 members, since he took over Project VISION.

“It started to become this thing where needs were being met, not all the time but often enough that when we went though this last strategic planning process we formalized that ‘see a need, meet a need’ is now an outcome in the community building and neighborhood engagement subcommittee,” he said.

Before VISION meetings were largely remote, attendees could sign in as they arrived and provide their email address to be on the list. By the nature of VISION, members include community organizations such as Rutland Regional Medical Center, the local United Way, the Homeless Prevention Center of Rutland, and staff members from local state agencies.

With so many members who have similar goals or interests, people regularly ask Prouty to send something out to the list to raise awareness. Recently, there has been a growing awareness that people on the list often are the same people who know how to get a community member help via email.

“Somebody might be having an event locally and they want it shared, just to spread the word. Maybe one particular organization that’s doing the event may not have a robust social networking platform that they advertise on but when you do it on VISION, now you’re getting all those people. They’re all sharing it. It really extends your reach for getting the word out on things,” he said.

Having a group of people who are all sharing needs and resources from different perspectives is a reminder of the growth of VISION. While its original mission was to help revitalize the Northwest neighborhood in Rutland, active members don’t even live in the area yet they happen to be on the mailing list, Prouty pointed out. They’re generous, he added.

“That’s the cool part about it. I love the fact that we have people all over the state on the list and they’re talking in their communities about what’s happening here in Rutland,” he said.

Prouty said he believes the mailing list is one of the most important factors in sharing information and building community.

He said he addresses all the emails to “partners” or “visionaries.”

“If you’re in VISION, you’re part of this subset of people that are kind of all in or are focused on those two things: collaboration for the greater good and a renewed focus on the positive. People that don’t want to do those two things don’t stay in VISION. It does feel like we’re in this little club,” he said.

The next meeting of Project VISION will be Thursday at noon at Calvary Bible Church on Meadow Lane. The meeting is taking place remotely. Prouty said people who want to take part in the meeting over the internet, or who wanted to join the list, should contact him at matthew.prouty@vermont.gov.

Originally posted by Patrick McCardle of the Rutland Herald on October 3, 2020 at https://www.rutlandherald.com/news/vision-e-list-helps-meet-community-needs/article_e03869ab-c00b-59c5-9d5d-8250f19fe8f2.html

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