Help Make Charter House Accessible!

Charter House Coalition  is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization dedicated to providing basic food and housing in and around Middlebury, Vermont.

Our home is an old building with a whole lot of character. It has been around Middlebury since the 1700s, and was generously gifted to us by the Congregational Church this summer. We love our home dearly, but we don’t love that it dictates who we can and cannot serve.

The bottom line is that our building is not accessible. Our mobility ramp is outdated, our bathrooms lack accessible features, and there’s no easy way to get to our second floor. This is not good enough.

We’re currently launching a 3 year Neighbour Helping Neighbour campaign to make other critical improvements to our building, but accessibility can’t wait that long. Charter House needs to be made accessible this year, so we don’t ever have to turn someone away again.

Please help us reach our goal of $81,000 by October 1st, 2018 to make these crucial changes. We appreciate your support in working towards something that should have been done a long time ago.

Where will your money be going?

First $8,000: Upgrade stair and hallway railings to become safe and sturdy. Our current railing is significantly too low, and is difficult to hold on to. Additionally, the railings are considered historically important and need to be renovated with preservation in mind. This needs to happen immediately.

Next $6,000: Redo mobility ramp on outside of building. This ramp provides access to one of two accessible entrances to the building. It needs to be in tip top condition before the ice and snow of winter sweep through Vermont.

Next $24,000: Upgrade upstairs bathrooms. This needs to be done before we can even think about installing a lift to get folks up to the second floor. We need to widen the doorframes and address some challenges with the current shower.

Final $45,000: Install lift from first floor to second floor. This has been a dream for Charter House for quite some time. Having a lift would mean opening up an entire section of the building to people with mobility challenges. The only reason this is last on our priority list is that all other access projects need to be finished before installing a lift will be able to have maximum benefit.

Full script from title video:

My name is Jane Steele, and I am a resident of Middlebury. I am a volunteer at the Charter House, and a member of the board of the Charter House Coalition. I got involved more and more on a daily basis, I had some adversity and I decided to give back to the community and step forward not look back and I started being here a lot.

I'm home! At Charter House Coalition, we have started a major fundraising campaign for renovation to our kitchen, our rooms, our exterior. There are certain parts of the campaign that have to be done immediately. This railing is unsafe because the average person might be anywhere from 5 foot 4, to 6 feet. This is not a safe railing. Maybe back in the day when the building was built it was fine, but people have grown width wise and height wise, there are different aspects of why it is considered unsafe. I mean it's... (looks concerned at railing.)

So, our main concern for the ramp outside is the flexibility of the boards and the wobbliness of the railing. It is really not in good condition. The pitch and the height of it are way too steep for somebody being able to really push themselves in a wheelchair. We hope to be able, with funding and the generosity of people, to make a ramp that swings to the right as you enter and around with a grade... at grade so that we don't have any issues with people coming into our building.

What we're hoping for this area is a lift. As you can see, there is no lift... there is no accessibility for anybody that is disabled or unable to carry their suitcases upstairs. We provide housing for families upstairs... 5 families, but right now we are unable to accept any family with a wheelchair or lack of mobility. We would certainly love to accommodate, so what we would like to do is build a lift here that would go up, rise to the second floor, and let them off easily and safely. Right now the only accessibility upstairs is through this staircase right here and it's narrow and it's steep and we really can't accommodate people with a disability. What we want is our Charter House to be a home for everybody. We don't want to have to turn somebody down because of a lack of accommodation.

We have more, come on! Come in! Let me show you our bathroom, this bathroom is also not handicapped accessible there is not enough room for a wheelchair to get through the door. What is the point, really, of building a lift to make the upstairs accessible for people with disabilities when they won't be able to use the bathroom because of the width of the door, and also if you follow me in, I can show you the shower. What you'll see here is that we are lacking a nice, level entry into the shower. Somebody with a disability might find it to a disadvantage to have to step up and over.

Now you have seen all the aspects of Charter House that need to be taken care of immediately, so that we can open in October with changes that make for accessibility for those with disabilities, so that this becomes a home for everyone and we don't have to say, "Oh I'm sorry, we can't accommodate you." So we are neighbor helping neighbor, we don't want to turn anyone away and nobody should be turned away from Charter House. (Music begins)

Access Matters.

Help us raise $81,000 to make it a reality.

81 for everyone!

(Music fades)
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Charter House Coalition
Middlebury, VT
Charter House Coalition
Registered nonprofit
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