COTS Takes on Childhood Homelessness | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

COTS Takes on Childhood Homelessness 

Published March 17, 2015 at 10:52 a.m. | Updated April 4, 2022 at 8:00 p.m.

click to enlarge Students from Rice High School - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Students from Rice High School
Last Thursday, four yellow school buses pulled up on to Burlington's Church Street Marketplace, directly in front of city hall. Students from Rice Memorial High School slowly and somberly filed out onto the building's steps, each holding a laminated number, from one to 172 — the number of homeless children in Chittenden County.

The Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) devised the display to bring attention to the issue of childhood homelessness and to launch an action and awareness campaign. Using the hashtag #172vt, COTS will use social media to share facts about childhood homelessness and ways to address the issue. The nonprofit organization is urging others to do the same. This includes using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to share images, quotes and facts about homelessness — and to spread the word about the annual COTS Walk, a fundraiser that takes place this year on Sunday, May 3 .

Nationally, Vermont is among the 10 states with the sharpest rise in homeless students, the US. Department of Education reported last year. Between 2007 to 2013, there was a 34 percent increase in homeless students in the state. But, says COTS executive director Rita Markley, "there's no reminder to us of their presence. It's far too easy to overlook them entirely." Most homeless students are chronically tired, are more likely to get sick than their peers and experience feelings of anxiousness, Markley said while addressing the crowd gathered on Church Street last week. 

Other speakers at the event included Catholic Diocese Bishop Christopher Coyne, Vermont Secretary of Human Services Hal Cohen and Governor Peter Shumlin.

"No child in Vermont should wonder whether they're going to have a warm and secure place to live," Governor Shumlin said. "That should be a basic, fundamental right." The governor said he'd directed Cohen to develop a plan to end homelessness in the state.  

Rice students were chosen to participate in last week's event because the Catholic high school has been the top fundraising team for the COTS Walk for many years. Rice student council president Griffin Cunningham spoke of how helping those in need is an extension of the school's mission of serving others.  

A bright spot in the blustery day came as the event wrapped up, when Markley excitedly announced that a local business owner had just pledged a donation to cover one year of rent for a homeless family.


This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

About The Author

Alison Novak

Alison Novak

Bio:
Alison is the former managing editor at Kids VT, Seven Days' parenting publication and writes about education for Seven Days.

About the Artist

Matthew Thorsen

Matthew Thorsen

Bio:
Matthew Thorsen was a photographer for Seven Days 1995-2018. Read all about his life and work here.

Comments


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2022 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation