By Victoria Gaither
When Rutland’s Come Alive Outside asked local Vermonters to participate in the write a love letter to your town contest, love letters started pouring in.
“We have had 50 letters come in so far from all over Vermont, from towns of all sizes and ages,” said Come Alive Outside Executive Director Arwen Turner.
Right away, she and her staff knew they were on to something special with the love letter-writing campaign.
“It has brought so much joy to our staff who get to read them as they come,” said Turner.
Letters from Rutland, Wallingford, Mad River Valley, Bellow Falls, Halifax, Clarendon, Milton, Glover, Tinmouth, Norton, Westmore, Williston, Hinesburg, Wilmington and Jeffersonville came with all the feels, she said.
The love letter idea came originated with Turner, who wanted to boost community morale and provide people with a way to express gratitude during February.
“Expressing gratitude is a great way to increase joy and decrease stress,” Turner said in an interview.
In Monika Ganguly-Kiefner’s love letter to Clarendon, she wrote about how the pandemic and social distancing was a drag on their relationship in getting to know her new town.
“I’ve only been flirting with you since January 2021 when we bought our little fairy tale house, but even so, starting this mid-pandemic fling has been a real adventure,” she wrote.
No longer a fling, it’s a real love relationship after she and her partner, Brian, saw a moose and saw sweeping views of the mountain from their home.
Indeed, a feeling of gratitude from Ganguly-Kiefner for her town and the love letter campaign, “It’s fabulous—all of us could use a little more love, and it was nice to think about everything I love in a world that has been a little rough the last few years,” Ganguly-Kiefner said.
In Tinmouth, hearts of love pour out of a letter written by Nelson Jaquay, a retired school teacher who can write and talk about his passion for Tinmouth to anyone who will listen.
Besides marrying the woman of his dreams, Betti, who still keeps Jaquay’s heart beating strong with joy, Tinmouth isn’t far behind Betti.
“I love to pitch my town, and I live in a wonderful community. We come together and get things done — volunteer projects and building projects, “ said Jaquay in a phone interview.
Jaquay knows a thing or two about love, his letter, titled “Fifty Years Of Small Things In Tinmouth,” explained how he and Betti brought their daughter Sarah home from Rutland Hospital and bought their first house.
The love letter to your town is a contest and the winners were announced on Valentine’s Day.
Plus, a mystery guest will read the winning letters.