On September 11, 2014

Spoken from the heart

Governor Shumlin, musicians and recovering addicts shared their stories from the heart at the Vermonters for Vermonters benefit concert

RUTLAND —  On Sunday, Sept. 7, community organizations, musicians, recovering addicts, Governor Shumlin and community members gathered at the Grand Stand of the Vermont State Fair in Rutland for the Vermonters for Vermonters a benefit concert.

The event took place on the final afternoon of the 10-day fair.

Proceeds from the event benefited Project VISION, The Vermont Recovery Network, and the Dismas House, all of which directly help to combat drug abuse and addition in our community.

Aaron Audet’s high school band kicked off the afternoon with a terrific performance by area students. A men’s choir led by Pastor Rick, followed with about 40 members on stage singing. Their rendition of Amazing Grace was inspiring. 

Then a flash mob organized by the Unbound Grace program with guest Linda Alberque Ross performed a dance routine in front of the main stage to Pharrell Williams’s song “Happy.”

Tony Lee Thomas and Jenny Porter took the stage after, followed by Jordan Snow and Myk Snow. Joey Leone, not only was instrumental in helping to organize the event but also performed a rockin’ show. Upcoming country music star Ashley Buchart also performed an incredible set, (and I’m not even a country music guy!) The Jeremy Graham Band was awesome and Bow Thayer closed out the show with a truly memorable performance.

For more information or to support the ongoing effort to battle opiate addiction, visit www.vermontersforvermonters.com.

Memorable quotes from community leaders

“It’s all about the community coming together and people realizing what needs to be done. We are all working together to get it done.”

~ Mayor Louras

“This is what we are going to do together. First we’re going to raise awareness for this disease and treat it as a disease instead of a crime. Second let’s get rid of the waiting lines and anyone who is ready for treatment, let’s get them treatment. Third let’s make sure when they get to treatment it’s a healthy and supportive system to succeed and not to fail. It’s a brutal, brutal disease and failure is certainly a part of it at times. And finally let’s say to each and every Vermonter we don’t care what disease you’re suffering from, we don’t discriminate. We’re here to help and we’re here to reach out. We’re here for love and support, not only for those addicted but to family members and children. The folks who are suffering the disease with them. We know together that to maintain this Vermont quality life, to be the state where we take care of each other friends and strangers we will succeed if we all pitch in and we all help. We admit we have a problem and to put in place a recovery plan that will work. Let’s do it together. That’s what this is all about.”

~ Governor Peter Shumlin

“This is a day when we all come together to fight one of the biggest problems we have in Vermont and to save our communities and our families and people who we now who have done well for us. Dismas House has been operating for 30 years and our mission is to reconcile prisoners with society and society with prisoners. Come to us and we will respect you and give you a dignified place to live and help welcome you back into a productive community. Everybody needs a second chance, nobody is perfect. We all need to work together to overcome these problems.”

~ Jan Tarjan, Dismas Vermont

“There is one thing that binds us all and brings us all together, our love for this amazing place we call Vermont. As well as the great sense of community we may share regarding where we may live in Vermont. We are fortunate to be here to celebrate those values today. It’s those values that Project Vision is all about. Project Vision is nothing more than our friends, families and neighbors coming together to deal with the addictions facing our community and finding diligent ways to do it. I’m pleased to say we’re off to a good start.”

~ Joe Kraus, chairman Project Vision

“We believe in Rutland, we believe in the Rutland community and believe in the Rutland area. We believe in this community so much that any chance we get to raise awareness about what’s good in this community, we take that opportunity. That’s what this day is all about. When someone asks you what you can do to help, reach your hand out to someone who needs a helping hand. That’s what our philosophy is at the Police Dept. It’s more than arresting people, it’s more than putting people in jail. Its about reaching out and helping a fellow citizen for a better life.”

~ Police Chief James Baker, Rutland Police Department

“If we stand together, if we all stand up for whatever it is we can lick this problem of addiction out there. The way we do it at Unbound Grace is to help focus programming on a working farm. These kids are learning how to care for themselves, how to care for others and how to be successful out there in the world. Our program creates leaders and what better way to create leaders then to start following our youth. We need to give our kids hope. We need to get happy, we need to get together and we need to dance.”

~ Kerry Kurt, Unbound Grace

By Dave Hoffenberg

Photos by Rik Champine and Dave Hoffenberg

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