Sunrise Extends 'Families on the Move' Program

Bennington — Sunrise Family Resource Center has opened up its"Families on the Move" pilot program to the greater community in Bennington County.

Through this pilot program, Sunrise is working to address systemic barriers that local families face surrounding their transportation needs. Families served by Sunrise were the first beneficiaries of the program, said Sarah Livingstone, grants and communication specialist.

Families are invited to apply for assistance to help with costs associated withdriver's education, driver's permits and licenses, registrations and inspections, vehicle repairs and maintenance, tires, and car insurance.Anyone in the community is welcome to apply, even if they are not currently receiving services through Sunrise.

"We're pretty excited about it," Livingstone said. Sunrise initiated "Families on the Move" with a 2022 grant through theVermont Department of Health. The funds must be expended by May. New applications will be screened twice a month, Livingstone said. As part of the program, Sunrise hired a transportation coordinator, Alisha Gulley.

"As the transportation coordinator, I have observed firsthand how the'Families on the Move' grant has made a positive impact on the familieswho have utilized it. There is a desperate need for reliable transportation inrural areas like ours. Many families in our area do not have the means to payfor repairs to keep their vehicles safe and functioning properly," she said.

Gulley works with families to help create balanced monthly budgets. Reliable transportation is key to a family's success, as families struggle to attend doctor's appointments (many of which are out of state), bring their children to child care and school, and get to work on time. "This grant has been an immense support to our most vulnerable community members and a welcome addition to the resources available in our area," she said.

Those people seeking assistance through this program should reach outdirectly to Gulley, who is a part-time employee. Her hours are Tuesday through Thursday, from 8:30a.m. to 2:30p.m. She can be reached at 413-663-1577 or by email at Applications can befound on the Sunrise website at , or by visiting the mainoffice at 244 Union St., Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Priority will be given to families receiving Medic-aid and applications willbe reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Gulley will contact applicants and schedule an initial meeting to discuss current situations, including budgetaryrestrictions and limitations.

Denise Main, executive director of Sunrise, called the Families on the Moveprogram "a real game changer for the families that we work with." Somefamilies need individual transportation for such things employment, medicalappointments and groceries.

The funding from two separate grants for the program totaled about $324,000, said Main. On the level of public transportation, Sunrise partners with Green Mountain Express to offer a "Family Support Shuttle." This personalized service offersany individual or family in the community trips to and from Bennington grocery stores, food shelves and laundromats. This free service is available two days per week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Those seeking to use this service should call Green Mountain the day beforetheir trip at 802-447-0477. Sunrise can also supply a free shopping trolley tothose riding the bus, with funding provided by the Vermont Foodbank. Sunrise is also working with the Bennington Bike Hub.

"We're grateful for our partners," Main said. Individuals or businesses interested in donating to the Families on the Moveprogram, including raising funds for vehicle purchases, should call theSunrise main office at 802-442-6934.

Livingstone said that an individual or family's health depends on more thanhow often they visit a doctor. Their health also depends upon their living environment, community, and the barriers they face. "Sunrise hopes that this grant will have a positive, multi-generational impact, while promoting expanded access to transportation in our community," she said. "There is a desperate need for reliable transportation in rural areas likeours. Many families in our area do not have the means to pay forrepairs to keep their vehicles safe and functioning properly."

Learn More About the Families on the Move Program

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