The commercial kitchen at Rock Point Center is typically bustling with the comings and goings of event caterer, Sugarsnap, preparing meals for the many groups who use the facility to do good work. These days, however, there’s just one chef in there on a daily basis and he’s doing a different kind of good work.
Chef Brian Hofmann from ANEW Place is making meals to serve to individuals and families who are currently experiencing homelessness in Burlington. The meals are being distributed both to temporary shelters run by this Burlington nonprofit and to a temporary housing community set up at North Beach, neighboring the Rock Point Property. Normally, these meals might be delivered by community volunteers, faith-based groups, neighbors, or businesses. But with COVID impacting everyone’s ability to gather, ANEW Place needed to provide these meals themselves instead of relying on volunteers. In all, Chef Hofmann (a former sous-chef who is normally a case manager for ANEW Place) is preparing about 70 meals per day.
The partnership between Rock Point and ANEW Place began out of simple logic – Rock Point had a kitchen that wasn’t being used and ANEW Place needed kitchen space to do their good work. Sugarsnap was more than willing to loan out the kitchen they normally manage, and helped to make the match. It was – as they say – a “no brainer.” The current pandemic has many organizations shifting gears to meet the needs of the most vulnerable community members, and partnerships like these are often what allow work to be done in new ways.
Rock Point’s mission is to be a “sanctuary in the heart of downtown Burlington.” Normally, that means providing space for community members to connect with nature, and with each other. These days, the meaning is perhaps more literal as the staff pivot to offer services wherever they are needed. In addition to working with ANEW Place, Rock Point is also providing temporary housing to The Howard Center.
“We are a mission-based organization and we felt called to serve,” says Rock Point’s Executive Director Paul Habersang, “it’s a simple as that.”
Similarly, the mission of ANEW Place is not just to provide housing but to help individuals and families move toward longer term solutions. They work with partners like the City of Burlington to equip people with tools for lifelong change. Now they are called upon to simultaneously create more spaces for shelter while also helping people move into long-term housing. This emergency places extra pressure on the staff and the finances of this nimble organization, but they credit valuable partnerships as an essential component to continuing their good work.
“During times like this,” says Kevin Pounds, the Executive Director of ANEW Place, “I’m reminded we’re only as strong as the team that’s around us. God has blessed us with an amazing team of staff, volunteers, and community partners, and we count Rock Point at the top of that list!”
Rock Point will continue to work with ANEW place for as long as services are needed, or until they need the kitchen for other operational services. The timeline is yet to be determined. But what Habersang and others at Rock Point do know is that this partnership is the right thing to do at a time when it is desperately needed.
Brian Hofmann and ANEW Place are bringing life to Rock Point at a time when it would otherwise be dormant.The classical music booming from the kitchen is a reminder that spirits are high even in times of challenge, and that resiliency reigns among those who feel called to serve.