The Vermont Country Store is partnering with The Vermont Community Foundation to create an innovative model program that will assist VCS employees experiencing disasters and other hardships. The program, called the Good Neighbor Fund, is the first of its kind in Vermont, and enhances The Vermont Country Store’s longstanding philanthropy program, which provides support to over 600 non-profit and community organizations annually in the 65 communities where its employees live and work.
“The aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene last August opened our eyes to the value of creating this program”
While The Vermont Country Store will provide program funding, the Vermont Community Foundation will manage the process of accepting tax-deductible contributions to the fund, confidentially review and consider VCS employee applications, and make independent grant decisions and payments. The Good Neighbor Fund is the first of what The Vermont Community Foundation expects will be similar partnerships with other Vermont companies.
“The aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene last August opened our eyes to the value of creating this program,” said Eliot Orton, co-proprietor of The Vermont Country Store. “We provided basic necessities like clothing and bedding to our employees after the storm, but we didn’t have a meaningful channel to help employees who needed to get back on their feet. The Good Neighbor Fund will fill that void not only when disaster strikes, but in times of personal crisis.”
Soon after the storm, The Vermont Country Store contacted the Vermont Community Foundation, which has been working with donors and other partners to facilitate donations for flood relief and recovery efforts. It turned out that in response to a request from another Vermont-based company, the Foundation had already started to research developing a turnkey service for companies that wanted to offer an assistance program to their employees.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is a unique service that gives Vermont companies another way to give back to their communities and to support their employees,” said Vermont Community Foundation President & CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay. “It allows a company to quickly and easily put in place a program to help employees get through some of the toughest stretches of their lives. For a company like The Vermont Country Store, which has a long history of community philanthropy, this is a wonderful complement to their existing efforts and we’re delighted to be a partner.”
As a family owned business, The Vermont Country Store places a high value on trust, and fosters an atmosphere of caring for its employees that made developing the Good Neighbor Fund an easy choice. “We have always said that our employees are our greatest asset,” said Bill Shouldice, President and CEO of The Vermont Country Store. “Through the Good Neighbor Fund, we are making an investment that will have a tremendous impact on the lives of some of our employees and their families. For us, establishing the Good Neighbor Fund was just the right thing to do.”