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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Rock-Paper-Scissors Challenge To Benefit Burlington Homeless Shelter

Dan Sumption
The stakes are high in this rock-paper-scissors game, with all proceeds going to Burlington's ANEW Place.

Armed with only rock, paper and scissors, participants today will face off at a fierce tournament challenge. The materials are, well, metaphorical — and it’s all in good fun, for a good cause. The proceeds from the second annual Rock-Paper-Scissors Tournament Challenge will go to benefit ANEW Place, a local homeless shelter that aims to create long term solutions for homeless men and women.

The event takes place Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Arts Riot.  

The ANEW Place shelter used to be called the Burlington Emergency Shelter, but it rebranded last year to reflect its focus more on long-term solutions.

“We have a four phase program, and the emergency piece is actually now phase one of our program," says Michelle Omo, a spokesperson with ANEW Place. "They get a bed, a meal, a shower, going from survival mode to safety."

The next phases focus more on the roots of homelessness, and how to resolve those issues, Omo says. The shelter has 28 beds, eight of which are dedicated to transitional housing.          

Omo says the emergency beds are needed as a stopgap measure, but they aren’t a long-term solution.

“We're seeing some of the same people come back five, six, seven times and we just got to thinking that something isn't working, and what can we do to really address the reason that they come to our door?”

So in phase two, Omo says the person will sit down with the case manager and come up with a transition plan, which involves setting goals  “whether it's financial, vocational, spiritual, physical — whatever they need to be successful.”

The individuals then meet with a case manager every week to make sure they're hitting those goals.

Omo says every person that comes to the shelter has a different story that’s unique. To highlight this, and create more awareness about the homeless population, ANEW Place is sharing individuals’ stories on social media.  

Credit Courtesy ANEW Place
Courtesy ANEW Place

Photos of some of the homeless residents at ANEW Place and their stories will be on display at Wednesday’s event at Arts Riot on Pine Street in Burlington, says Omo.  

Omo says the idea for the rock-paper-scissors tournament as a fundraiser came from a board member, Robin Sutphen.  

“This is his brain child,” she says. “He thought, what a great fun way to get the community together to be a little silly, have a little fun, and raise little money.”

This marks the second time ANEW Place is holding the event. Participants donate $15 to play, but it's free to watch.

The event is designed to be playful, says Omo, and if a participant gets eliminated, he or she can buy an “extra life” and get back in.

The prize for first place is $1,000 — and Omo says all participants get the satisfaction of knowing they contributed to a good cause. 

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
Kathleen Masterson as VPR's New England News Collaborative reporter. She covered energy, environment, infrastructure and labor issues for VPR and the collaborative. Kathleen came to Vermont having worked as a producer for NPR’s science desk and as a beat reporter covering agriculture and the environment.
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