About St. Josephs: St. Joseph’s Orphanage was a community institution, a Catholic source of pride and ‘charity’, that started in 1875 and continued into the 1970s. During its nearly 100 years of operation, the Orphanage was celebrated all across Vermont, in churches, newspapers, and city halls. The truth, however, was something completely different. Thousands of us were placed there by our families and the State of Vermont, dropped off and forgotten, easy targets for abuse by malicious nuns and priests. The Orphanage and the people who were supposed to protect us failed, leaving us to fend for ourselves. For many of us, the damage was permanent: we have spent most of our lives trying to suppress and hide our trauma just to survive.
Your donation will support the Voices of St. Joseph’s Orphanage group in achieving our core goals. Donations will be held by the City of Burlington’s Community and Economic Development Organization (CEDO). The Voices of St. Joseph’s Orphanage group will make consensus-based decisions on how the funds will be allocated to support specific goals. Every dollar that you contribute will go directly to supporting these goals: CEDO is not charging any overhead to administer this fund.
(Some members of our group, including three as adults from the first photo).
We are silent no more. After years and years of fighting to be heard, we have finally found our voices and we are being believed. Now, we are using our experiences to create change and protect future children. Revisiting Orphanage memories and giving voice to the sexual, physical and mental abuse perpetrated on us has required a reluctant courage none of us knew we had. We are strong and we're asking for your support.
1). We are working to protect all children from abuse and neglect.
a). We are working with the Vermont Department of Children and Families to ensure that children in state care never experience what we experienced.
b). We need everyone to know about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES). We have carried our childhood trauma in our bodies and minds our whole lives. It’s important for people, including youth, to know how violence and abuse can leave life-long trauma.
2). We are holding powerful institutions accountable.
a). We are working with the Vermont Legislature to change the statute of limitations on child abuse. Never again will abusers be able to hide behind statutes of limitations and escape accountability.
b). We are pressing the Catholic Diocese and Catholic Charities to meet our requests for information and listen to our pain.
3) We are making sure present and future generations know about our stories.
a) We are working with the Burlington Parks and Recreation Department to establish a memorial or healing space near the former orphanage (now a housing development).
b) We are working with the Vermont Folklife Center to record our oral histories.
c) We are transforming our pain and trauma into poems and essays, giving creative voice to our suffering and resiliency.
Thank you for your help.
If you are interested in funding a particular goal, please write it in an email and we will be sure your donation goes to that goal.
The Nightmare of Saint Joseph’s Orphanage
St. Joseph's Orphanage Restorative Inquiry
Buzzfeed Article: We Saw Nuns Kill Children: The Ghosts of St. Joseph’s Catholic Orphanage
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
Children of St. Joseph's Orphanage in Burlington VT Public Group
- Linda Crossman
- Sheila Grisard
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