ST. ALBANS – The Community Action office in St. Albans is a place where those in need can go for food, fuel assistance, homelessness prevention and other vital services that keep people from slipping off society’s rough edges. Now, facing limited grant funding and budget cuts across the board, the public servants there have started handing out inspirational quotes.
Walking out of the offices with a poster of a cat hanging from a tree that reads “Just Hang In There,” one local resident says they are unhappy with the level of inspiration that the quote provides. “It’s getting cold and I can’t turn my heat on,” they said. “I guess maybe I can burn this poster to stay warm?”
Community Action director Evan Handed says that there are limits to how much assistance one household can receive, which is why they now stock the office with inspiring posters and flyers. “The truth is, there just isn’t enough funding to help everyone in need, and I’m tired of turning people away with nothing,” Handed says. “So now, when they’ve used up their allotted assistance for the year, or the season, we have something to send them home with.”
“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today!” shouts one employee as a dejected woman walks out of the office empty-handed.
“You learn more from failure than from success!” shouts another, after turning away a family of new Americans who are unable to find housing. “I don’t know if this new system is helping people, but it’s better than no system at all!”
“No it’s not,” says one veteran who recently became homeless. “It’s not better. It’s pretty much exactly the same as doing nothing. Your well-wishing is fine, but I can’t eat good vibes. I can’t live in your sympathy.”
The veteran’s words shocked the office, which had been looking into building shelters out of sympathy due to a lack of funding and political will.