There is no one I would rather have stand beside me at 4:25 p.m. on a week day afternoon five minutes before closing, when another agency brings a family of five who don’t speak English and says to us:  “This family has no place to stay.”


There is no one I would rather have stand beside me in the cold, wind, and sometimes snow, at a Wheels for Warmth fundraiser. Rolling tires, throwing tires, stacking tires for hours on end: we work side by side.


There is no one I would rather have watch as the compost is coming and the seeds and seedlings show green and healthy against the rich dark soil. There is joy in making sure other people are able to grow gardens and have a modicum of control over their source of food.


Travis Poulin is the Director of Chittenden Community Action. He grew up on a farm and is as practical and honest a man as you could ever meet. “That is why they call it work.” “I appreciate this job.”  “I’ll do it.”   These are the words that we hear when challenges come, and they come daily.  


Travis is in charge of the emergency and crisis services for CVOEO. He supervises a staff of seven. Their work is to stem the tide of crisis with immediate (or as immediate as it can be) action for the people we serve. That means working with homeless and precariously housed people as they move into permanent housing. It took months, and Sissy said: “I am disabled, and I was homeless—and it was hell, Travis was exceptionally helpful, and because of his dedication and help I now have stable (and glorious) housing.”   She is grateful, and while she was sleeping in her car, Travis got her a sleeping bag ?  soft, warm, and with enough room to be comfortable throughout the winter months.


He works with those who need crisis fuel in the winters, and makes sure there is help for people who need to have their taxes completed and submitted. His team is exceptionally loyal. I know why. He makes sure that they have all the tools they need to do their jobs. Travis is liberally generous and is a gifted host and event planner.  He shares his culinary skills for special meals, cakes, glorious fruit arrangements and knows when chocolate is desperately needed.


He is the first one in the office most mornings. I stop by in those early hours to go over the challenges of the day. Travis knows the thorny issues and impossible situations.  He has the experience to expect obstacles and will find a way through them.


“I’m hungry.” The food shelf is closed. The person on the other end of the phone is disabled. They have called many numbers, spoken to many people but now they have connected with Travis. They didn’t know that the food shelf was closed. They didn’t know that he went to the store to buy them food and then delivered it. They didn’t know that those doors were closed. They didn’t know because Travis opened them.


Jan F. Demers, Executive Director, CVOEO – 802-862-2771 ext. 740 –

CVOEO addresses fundamental issues of economic, social, and racial justice and works with people to achieve economic independence.


Serving more than 10,000 households annually,
impacting the lives of over 23,000 individuals