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Committee on Temporary Shelter

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Volunteering Oportunities

Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Homeless & Housing, Homeless Shelters, Housing Search Assistance

Mission: COTS provides emergency shelter, services, and housing for people who are without homes or who are marginally housed.  COTS advocates for long-term solutions to end homelessness.  We believe: in the value and dignity of very human life; that housing is a fundamental human right; that emergency shelter is not the solution to homelessness.

Programs: The firehouse family shelter (opened in 1988) and main street family shelter (opened in 2002) provide safe and decent shelter for 15 families with children. These are the only family shelters in chittenden county. Families can stay for up to six months while they work with cots staff to find affordable housing, employment, child care, and health care services. The cots children's program works with children and parents in shelter to ensure success in school, promote children's healthy social, emotional and physical development, and strenghten family relationships. In 2014, 78 families, including 127 children, stayed in cots' emergency shelters. Furthermore, 301 single adults were sheltered.

the waystation (opened in 1982) is a 36-bed overnight shelter for men and women, aged 18 and older. The daystation (opened in 1988) is a daytime shelter that offers refuge from the streets, where a noontime meal is served. These facilities are open 365 days a year. In 2014, 181 individuals stayed in cots' overnight shelters, and 206 individuals, an average of 40 people per day, visited the daystation.

the housing resource center (hrc), cots' centralized one-stop community center is dedicated to homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing. The hrc offers assistance to prevent at-risk households from losing their existing housing due to unforeseen circumstances and to assist those who are without permanent shelter move into stable housing. The hrc offers grant, loan, and guarantee assistance with back rent and security deposits. In 2014, cots helped 204 households, including 179 children, experiencing financial crisis avert homelessness and stay in their housing. Cots helped 223 households move into housing by providing security deposit assistance.

other services such as individual and family case management, transitional and permanent housing.

Community Stories

2 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 scottyone2@hotmail.com


Rating: 5

Volunteering with the COTS Literacy program has been a truly wonderful experience. I volunteered with COTS almost 10 years ago and then moved away from the area. I am now back in Burlington and found my way at COTS for a second time. COTS is an organization that is absolutely mission driven which is evident in the staff, the programs offered, and the clients. Working with primary school children to develop literacy and a love for books is amazing. The children are so excited when I get there each week and often run to their rooms to get their reading name tags. They love listening to me read AND really enjoy me listening to them read. They are exicted to hear feedback from me and even welcome me correcting pronunciation of words. When I read, the children often climb up on the couch and snuggle into my arm or lay on my lap to listen. It is clear they enjoy the time and that they take so much from the hour we spend together. Each Monday I look forward to heading to Main Street to see the children and to bring them the books I've chosen from the Library that week. We each choose 2 books we want to read and off we go. The children laugh at funny parts, ask questions about pictures, count items they see on the page, and try to mimick their school teachers when they read to me. I, on the other hand, smile when I see them, laugh with them at funny parts, ask them questions about the pictures, and give out high fives when they finish their reading! It's only an hour each Monday and it is great, but it never feels like enough time.



Rating: 5

COTS provides both food and shelter, sustanence and safety to many folks who live in Burlington,VT. It is so easy to become a volunteer for this organization and then to stay with it because of all of the wonderful things it does for this community's needy. In addition to housing and warmth, it provides ways for people to stay in their current housing situation by providing financial help and counselling, it helps provide clothing and food as well. Our caseworkers are the best. Each week I see extreme kindness being shown to COTS clients along with genuine respect for each individual coming through the door. COTS has wonderful fund raisers throughout the year that volunteers can help out and become an integral part of the process such as a huge annual springtime walk involving thousands of Burlington's residents, taking them on a guided tour of all of the shelters around the city. We also hold a phonathon contacting COTS supporters by phone asking for pledges. This raises a great deal of money for the organization. Currently, a local store, City Market, is selling Christmas trees with the proceeds going to COTS. Coming up is a now annual event called The Coolest Lunch in Town, with local restaurants providing food for a noontime meal and the proceeds also go to COTS. The clincher in this one is that the meals must be eaten outside, in the same conditions that many homeless people bear all winter long unless they come to COTS.