By Sheri Duff
Over 10 years ago seven faith communities in Shelburne, Charlotte, and Hinesburg pooled their energy, resources, and creativity to help those in need in an unprecedented display of collaboration among the three towns. Initially organized to address needs that were not being met by existing social agencies, the group evolved into the nonprofit Shelburne Charlotte Hinesburg Interfaith Projects (SCHIP), with representation and financial support from the faith communities in the participating towns.
“I served on a panel at Middlebury College with Angelo Lynn, the publisher of the Addison Independent,” Susan Davis, former editor of the Shelburne News reminisced. “He told me a story about a Middlebury nonprofit that had, over time, given away, in the form of grants, tens of thousands of dollars selling used clothing. That piqued my curiosity,” she explained.
“Town Clerk, Colleen Haag, and I decided to take a road trip to Middlebury to check out what that nonprofit, Neat Repeats, was all about. Later we met…their founder. She proved to be fount of information–what works, what doesn’t–that spurred us onward.”
As a result the SCHIP steering committee did extensive research and decided a resale shop would suit its needs. Especially since it would parlay its profits into grant funds for projects initiated in the three towns and would benefit less fortunate community members. It would also be an effective and potentially powerful way to translate the group’s concern into action. And with that priceless information and countless volunteer hours later SCHIP’s Treasures was born.
Haag, a member of the SCHIP planning committee at the time said, “SCHIP’s Treasures is the most exciting project I’ve been involved in…and it serves a number of needs. We will recycle clothing, which is good for the environment, and sell it to the public at affordable prices. It will be a great opportunity to build community and a spirit of cooperation among the three towns. Plus SCHIP will be able to grant money to organizations within our communities who can demonstrate a need for our support.”
The SCHIP’s Treasure Resale Shop held its grand opening on Aug. 19, 2004, in the historic Noonan House, a classic white frame Vermont village home facing Route 7 in the heart of Shelburne. The store continues to accept donations of good used clothing; accessories such as shoes, handbags, scarves, gloves, and jewelry; small housewares, decorative items; art; and collectibles. Tax deductible donations are accepted during regular business hours Monday-Friday 10am-5pm and Saturday 10am-4pm.
Originally managed by Judy Frazer and Beth Alpert, the resale shop has been managed by Kathy Burke for the past 5 years and staffed by volunteers from the towns. Volunteers are always needed and shifts are only two or three hours a week. Interested citizens with available time should call 985-3595 or visit www.schipstreasure.org.
Over the years the faith communities have increased from seven to nine, and nearly 200 individuals have volunteered for the benefit of the participating towns. Store proceeds support food shelves emergency aid, community projects, education, and health and welfare. In its most recent round of grants SCHIP awarded $19,000 to community organizations such as Community Health Centers of Burlington, Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity, Hinesburg Community Resource Center, and Shelburne Nursery School, among others.
“SCHIP’s Treasure has been a great venture between the three towns,” early SCHIP supporter Holly Callery commented. “It’s such a benefit for everyone.” The nonprofit continues in its mission to support citizens going through hard times, acknowledging that however much help is given, more will always be needed.
“In ten years’ time SCHIP’s Treasures has awarded grants of over $469,000 to the three communities,” co-convener Tricia Coleman Coyle informed. “The shop has done well in its infancy but we need to plan for the future. Those discussions are beginning. I can’t wait to see what happens when we hit adolescence.”
By Sheri Duff