When Pathways Vermont launched the Pathways Vermont Community Center ( originally The Wellness Co-op) in 2012 we had a vision of a space where people from different parts of the community could come together to learn, connect, and grow…and what better way to do that then with a community meal? With a Community Development Block Grant through Burlington’s Community and Economic Development Office, we were able to make this dream a reality this year. Today, the Community Center offers two free community meals every week (5 pm Wednesday and 1 pm Thursday). The meals have been an incredible addition to our already vibrant community, a sentiment that is best described by Howard:
“On the first day I got [to the Community Center] I thought it was a great place. The people in here were so receiving … it makes you just feel comfortable and relaxed. I wanted to come every day after that.
It’s neat because you get to know other people in the community at the same time …I have made new friends right here in this place and they have a great staff working here. Every time I come I try to bring snacks or some things because I feel like when I come I want to share too.
Out of all the places I’ve been in Burlington, this is the one I think is the best because there’s something in this place that when you come in, you don’t want to leave. I come in at 12 and I leave when it closes. I have told friends about this place and I think this is a great program … this idea of serving a meal here on Wednesday is right on the mark. It brings new people in sometimes and once they come one time they want to come back. The food is great and I want to start doing some cooking too but I need to take a class.
Right now I have a lot of free time and this is where I’d rather spend my free time … It’s so peaceful here. That’s what we want people to feel when they come in here, that they’re welcome and well received and that we care for them. That’s the way I felt. That’s how they made me feel and now that I’m here, that’s how I try to make other people feel when they come in. I’m part of this family; that’s why I bring things because I want to share it.”
-Howard at the Community Center