What do you envision when you think about a town square – in a town you would want to call home? We believe it should be a place where people feel at home – not like guests, customers or, worse, intruders. (We know some people don’t even feel at home in their own homes.) The town square should be a place where you feel connected to the intersectional heart of community.
That is how we want people to feel when they visit our new home at the Chaplin Campus 2Gen Whole Family Education Center – like welcome community members spending time in their ideal town square. Like its theirs. Because it is. Decent coffee included. As well as safety, comfort, invigoration, warmth, fun and connection. The Chaplin Campus is a multi-dimensional, therapeutic community hub. The campus combines indoor and outdoor space in a way that optimizes delivery of high-quality, comprehensive services to children, families, educators, family and children’s support agencies and community groups, including individuals pursuing recovery from substance abuse. Chaplin Campus provides the integrated physical infrastructure to support our increasing programmatic integration and dramatically transforms the RCPCC community, with parenting and recovery groups, career pathways, special needs playgroups, a greenhouse and garden, a kitchen for community meals, social events and space for parents to create a healthy community not enmeshed in poverty.
Maximizing social capital
Vibrant new space:
- Two buildings with a total of 12000 sq ft
- Three additional early childhood education classrooms for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers
- Two classrooms for pregnant/parenting and at-risk youth
- Living room-style meeting spaces and private counseling rooms
- Vibrant community gathering space
- 10,000 sq ft combined community garden (with greenhouse), nature playspace, and meditation garden
- Fully equipped commercial kitchen & communal dining area
- Food pantry & Take Care store with free baby items
- Laundry and shower facilities
- New playground
Dynamic new programming:
- Partnering with employers
- Expansion of RCPCC programming, including Gaining Ground, focusing on family literacy, executive function skills, mitigating adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and career pathways
- 88-slot early childhood education capacity
- Extended hours in early mornings and evenings to accommodate work schedules
- “Parents-Welcome” breakfasts at drop-off and light meals at pick-up
- Available childcare for adults-only events
- Reducing food insecurity through regular communal meals
- Improved accessibility and coordination of services for participants
- Enhanced social interaction across programs
- Improved collaboration and identification of need and solutions for participants
- Heightened public engagement and familiarity with RCPCC
Bringing community together in ways that remind us that our problems, and answers, are shared.
The highest goal of the Chaplin Campus is to enhance and strengthen the local community. This is service provision in a truly community-building environment – where families can meet new friends and make new connections with others who are trying to sustain and transform their lives in positive ways. The campus will help families build lasting and meaningful connections that enable them to overcome barriers to self-sufficiency. This intentionally-created community will generate vibrancy and hope among vulnerable Rutland-area families and help make Vermont’s second-largest city a more welcoming place to live and work. An attractive hub that meets family needs and serves their aspirations, especially high-quality early childhood education, while bringing community together to create a sense of shared purpose, is of great strategic importance in the effort to re-energize Rutland [link to piece on Rutland]. The center will provide Rutland with dynamic community infrastructure essential to retaining and attracting demographics (e.g. young families trying to make a go of it in Rutland or considering making a move to the area) critical to the reversal of socio-economic stagnation, and an attractive community support to existing and prospective local employers.
Many community partners and stakeholders have come together – giving their talent, time, energy and money – to advance this exciting project: designing the new campus, fundraising, cleaning up the new site, landscaping and beautifying the grounds, installing a new play area, remediating and reframing the main building’s interior. In particular, we would like to thank: Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Rutland Economic Development Council, Stone Environmental, Promise Community, Project Vision, Vermont Department of Environmental Control, Rutland Redevelopment Authority, Head Start and Building Bright Futures, Hoehl Family Foundation, Make Way for Kids, Vermont Community Foundation, and USDA Rural Development.