RUTLAND, Vt. (WFFF) — One Vermont town is forced to adapt to yet another challenge in the Pandemic: Christmas celebrations.
While exercising caution, the Evergreen Recovery Center in Rutland is providing a unique opportunity for anyone unable to celebrate or connect with family members.
On Christmas Eve, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Rutland residents are encouraged to register and participate in a 30-minute video call with their loved ones. Evergreen Recovery Center Director Clay Gilbert says walk-ins are also acceptable.
“We know that people are struggling, particularly this year more than ever,” said Gilbert.
The call center will provide four, private rooms. Those who wish to take part will also have access to tech-support and transportation assistance from a team of volunteers.
“It’s the perfect opportunity to try to help those folks be reconnected in whatever way they possibly can during the holiday season,” said Rutland Mayor David Allaire.
Mayor Allaire says Thursday’s event may help people connect with loved ones living in nursing homes.
“We thought, you know, gee—a lot of people really need to connect and some people might not have the technology, the connectivity, or the know-how to use Zoom, or Doxy, or FaceTime, or any of that stuff…so let’s create an opportunity for them to do that,” said Gilbert.
Gilbert emphasizes the event is designed for anyone in the community and can provide crucial support to his clients struggling with personal issues, compounded by the Pandemic.
“Alcohol sales have gone through the roof and people are really struggling alcohol use. When the stimulus checks first came out, there was several overdoses with death resulting,” said Gilbert.
To allow for proper sanitation, Rutland residents will answer screening questions and have their temperature checked. Stations will also be sanitized every half hour.
Gilbert says this event is the first of its kind in the community and looks forward to in-person holiday gatherings in the near future.
“I think we’ll all have a different appreciation for life than we had before, which I’m hopeful for,” said Gilbert.