Projects

Voices of St. Joseph’s Orphanage

 

The Voices of St. Joseph’s Orphanage mission is to ensure the safety of children, both now and in the future, and hold accountable those who abuse them. The group have collectively approved a core set of projects, which we have been successfully advancing. Our efforts were recognized in April of 2021: VOICES was awarded the Survivor/Activist Award by the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services for creating systemic change for all crime victims.

 

The group’s initiatives include:

Legislative Advocacy: With powerful and personal testimony, the group has worked with the Vermont Legislature to successfully remove the statute of limitations for pursuit of damages due to physical abuse. The group is now advocating to expand the language of S.99 to include psychological and emotional abuse; and for adults to have full and unredacted access to any records from their childhood residential placements.

 

 

Writers Group: Six members of the Voices of St. Joseph’s Orphanage group have been participating in a weekly writers’ group with facilitator Carol Adinolfi since May of 2020. Carol and the Writers’ Group have hosted several readings, published an Anthology, and produced a theatrical reading of their work by acclaimed actors.

 

 

Memorial and Healing Space on the Former Orphanage Grounds: The group has been working with Burlington Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront Department to collaboratively design a memorial and healing space on the former Orphanage grounds. The outdoor installation is slated to be complete by 2023.

 

 

Engage Child-Welfare Providers: In February of 2020, the group identified their “Hopes and Aspirations for Children in State Care.” Members also partnered with Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF) to share their experiences with state social workers. The Listening and Reflection Session was recorded and will be used as future DCF training resource.

 

Oral Histories and Traveling Exhibition: Members of the group have worked with the Vermont Folklife Center to record their oral histories, which are available on our website HERE. Excerpts of these recordings, along with historical photographs, documents, articles, and other items, now form part of the Voices of St. Joseph’s Orphanage Traveling Exhibition. The exhibition is currently open to the public at the Montpelier Historical Museum.

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“It has been a blessing to be part of the St. Joseph’s Restorative Justice Group and to have connected with such talented, kind and compassionate people.  The group has worked diligently towards our goals and together we have made much progress.  Though it has been extremely tough at times, the healing and the bonds that have emerged from participating in this group far outweigh the challenges.

-Debi Gevry Ellsworth