Dana Medical library has set up an origami butterfly-making station at the front of the library in support of COTS, the Committee on Temporary Shelter, Burlington. Take a break from your studies and research to help out by folding a few butterflies!
Why Butterflies? A note from COTS:
In honor of our annual Walk and the opening of our newly renovated program facility, we are celebrating “transformations” and “second chances,” as symbolized by the butterfly.
“I think that by our COTS Walk, my office will be filled to the brim with origami butterflies,” Community Outreach and Volunteer Specialist Sian Leach said.
We’re calling this: The Butterfly Project.
Our goal: Fold 3,500 origami butterflies – 100 butterflies for each of COTS’ 35 years of service to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in our community. Enable hope. Empower transformation.
Guests in our program shelters and services, volunteers, staff, and various groups have already folded more than 1,000 origami butterflies, and, nothing would make us happier than to blow long past our original goal of 3,500 butterflies!
Would it be too much to hope to reach 30,000 butterflies, with each butterfly representing a person helped by COTS over our 35-year history? Want to help us try? We’ve already filed paperwork to be considered for a new Guinness book of world record for most origami butterflies.
As for the plans with the butterflies, we aim to display them at the COTS Walk and in our new building, said Gillian Taylor, our Development Database Manager. “We’re actually hoping to work with local artists to create an aesthetically pleasing view of them.”
COTS welcomes anyone interested in creating origami butterflies to participate. All colors, types, sizes of paper butterflies are invited.
More about COTS:
COTS, the Committee on Temporary Shelter, Burlington, is the largest service provider for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless in Vermont.
There are many misconceptions about what causes homelessness. While the root causes are many and varied, it is surprisingly easy for people to become homeless if they have no savings or family to lean on for help. Here is a real-life example based on a working, two-parent household that ended up living in shelter at COTS in late 2008.
ON THE EDGE, SCRAPING BY IN VERMONT: ONE FAMILY’S STORY OF HOMELESSNESS
Steve and Alice Jones have two kids, ages 7 and 9, and have lived in their apartment in Burlington for seven years. Steve works 40 hours a week at an auto parts store and Alice works as a teacher’s aide at a local school.
Their monthly budget (wages are based on $9 and $11/hrly wages)
Alice hurts her back helping a disabled student and has to stop working. As an hourly employee, she does not qualify for disability benefits. She cannot work for four months.
She and Steve do the best they can, but they fall behind in their rent payments. They are unable to catch up and now they have credit card debt because they used a cash advance to help pay for their monthly expenses.
Three months after Alice stops working, their landlord begins the eviction process. The Jones family receives notification from the sheriff that they must vacate their apartment. They arrive that same day at a COTS family shelter.
STEVE AND ALICE’S STORY IS NOT UNIQUE
On any given payday, thousands of working families are struggling to balance increasing expenses against flat or falling wages. One unforeseen expense — a medical emergency, a drop in wages or a major car repair — can result in a desperate financial situation, which can lead to a family’s becoming homeless.
*The average fair market rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Chittenden County is $1,015 — 44% higher than the national average. Wages required to afford that rent are $19.48 an hour or $40,518 a year.
VERMONT HAS THE HIGHEST RATE OF HOMELESSNESS IN NEW ENGLAND; AT LEAST 66% OF VERMONT HOUSEHOLDS DO NOT EARN ENOUGH TO AFFORD THE AVERAGE FAIR MARKET RENT.
For more information, contact Laura Haines at 656-4143.