The call came into our Crisis Fuel Office after hours. We could tell it was an elderly gentleman. He stated he “really needed help with emergency fuel”. He left his name and phone number. This was the first time he had called. What he didn’t realize is that he didn’t hang the phone up after leaving a message. We could hear him talking to his wife. “Well, maybe I could try to sell my tools. I‘m not sure who would want to buy them, but they’re worth something.”

A tool box is of great value. Some tool boxes are solid wood, well built and a treasure themselves. The one I found, and use, in my Grandfather’s basement is heavy metal with hinged closures. The memories associated with each tool add to its worth. The weight of the hammer in your hand brings confidence that this project will be completed well.

Here at CVOEO the tools we use break barriers and mend and build lives. While an intake form may be many pages long with detailed questions asked, it provides eligibility verification and can result in housing, crisis fuel, food, and tax refunds.

Signatures, certifications and more questions asked, pave the way for credit pulls and starting the process of building a strong credit score. As a credit score increases so does the saving of actual dollars on insurance policies, automobile purchases and getting a new apartment.

Interpreters bring freedom of language and personal needs understood. Interpretation and translation open access to many of our services. CVOEO employs 9 Community Ambassadors for our New American Financial Empowerment Project. They not only open doors for New Americans to grow financial capacity, but they are available throughout CVOEO to help families get the help they need.

Suggestions boxes are in many of our waiting areas. There was a suggestion that came in recently asking for a speed charger in our waiting room for cell phones because we saw the person so quickly that they didn’t have an opportunity to charge their phone. We don’t always see people that rapidly but in this instance a $10 purchase took care of the need.

Classes at the Community Kitchen Academy program provide skills, creative practice, nutritional and gastronomic delights, certification and college credit leading directly to improved employment opportunities.

Training through CVOEO’s Rent Right Program, Growing Money, Spend Smart and Keys to Credit Counseling offer practical ways to stabilize and grow in financial capacity. When coupled with financial coaching a strong effort is made for financial wellness.

We were able to find information on the couple in our opening story through the Vermont Access system. A fuel delivery was scheduled and their home was warm again. In our conversation we learned that he was recently released from the hospital. He was 81 and his wife was 80. They were extremely relieved and so appreciative of CVOEO’s Crisis Fuel Program. He still has his toolbox.

And the hands that hold the tools are at the ready.

Jan F. Demers

Jan Demers is the executive director of CVOEO. She may be reached at 802-862-2771 ext. 740 or

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