VBSR Members Respond to Crisis

VBSR Members have been longtime stewards of a people-first, community oriented, values led approach to business.   While the COVID-19 pandemic creates unprecedented adversity for the Vermont business community, VBSR members have already quickly risen to the occasion. They are pivoting operations to directly address lack of medical equipment and public health supplies and by directing resources and efforts towards supporting those in the community that are the most in need.  With an ethic of goodwill and spirit of innovation, many VBSR members had the cultural groundwork laid to respond accordingly.

Here are some examples of those inspiring & innovative endeavors:

Recently, on The Vermont Conversation, host David Goodman spoke with VBSR Members (The Alchemist, Twincraft Skincare, Caledonia Spirits, Vermont Glove, & Mocha Joe’s Roasting Company) about how they are innovating, adapting and worrying about the uncertain future, and the chance to enact long-term change as a result of the crisis.



Aqua ViTea & Vermont Soap have pooled their equipment, raw materials, and people to make a hand sanitizer that will be distributed to all hospital affiliates within the University of Vermont Health Network (UVMHN).

“We’re working with some other companies throughout Vermont to try to create a sustainable supply of this and get it out and available to as many people in the community who need it” – Jeff Weaver, Aqua ViTea 

“When your community needs help, it’s what you do.” – Larry Pleasant, Vermont Soap 

Read more – https://addisonindependent.com/news/local-businesses-are-making-hand-sanitizer-porter?fbclid=IwAR3OQ3fODJjQA0FWKntik9xQhFIcUpzguoyya-_pesIXfqE0HRhc7xMColQ



Caledonia Spirits hand sanitizer

Caledonia Spirits plans to produce and equip UVM Health Network, Vermont state offices, and first responders and with hand sanitizer.


“We believe in our team’s ability to innovate through COVID-19, to transition a large portion of our business to provide hand sanitizer for healthcare professionals.”Harry Khan, Caledonia Spirits

Read more – https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/03/25/lifestyle/caledonia-spirits-shuts-down-its-bar-store-makes-hand-sanitizer



ECFiber is offering free internet to families with school-aged children that are eligible for WIC or reduced/free school lunch programs at school.

“Many of us have long been concerned about affordability, especially as a barrier to fully realizing the educational benefits of ubiquitous broadband. Obviously, school closures have made that problem even more urgent,” Irv Thomae, chair of the ECFiber Governing Board.

Read more – https://www.ecfiber.net/press/ecfiber-supports-students-with-free-installations-and-service-through-april/



Foam Brewers is donating 100% of profits for the current run of beers to non-salaried employees whose primary source of income comes from the brewer.



Green Mountain Transit is operating bus service, fare free.

Read more – https://ridegmt.com/covid-19-update/



The Generator & VBSR members UVM and OVR Technologies are prototyping PPE (personal protective equipment) for the medical community.

“Generator is working around the clock to connect the dots in our local, regional, and national community of makers, engineers, and material suppliers in order to meet the demands of this pandemic.” – Meg Hammond, The Generator

Read more – https://generatorvt.com/generator-prototypes-ppe-in-response-to-covid-19-pandemic/?fbclid=IwAR3e6RDc1upPC7sQzXXrXxiT0RJUgv-DT4bmuFt3rotHJYcfEAvIgR61tjg



Lawson’s Finest Liquids in Waitsfield, VT is offering a 40% discount to healthcare workers at their drive-through curbside retail store (please bring work ID). They are also supporting their team of full-time employees with paid time off and full benefits, and part-time workers are also being reimbursed through paid time off. Customer donations through the Lawson’s Finest Sunshine Fund are designated for Mad River Valley Community Fund emergency grants for individuals who experience sudden unemployment due to COVID-19.

“We feel fortunate to have such devoted employees who have embodied flexibility as we’ve pivoted our business in accordance with CDC and VDH best practices.”Karen Lawson, co-owner, Lawsons Finest Liquids

The Skinny Pancake has launched a program called “Shift Meals” in collaboration with Vermont Community Foundation, the Intervale Center and other local food foundations to help restaurant workers, musicians, and gig workers, as well as directly support local foodbanks.

“We can produce 1,000 meals a day and that is what we plan on doing”  – Benjy Adler, The Skinny Pancake

More info – https://www.gofundme.com/f/shiftmeals-a-local-food-response-to-covid19fbclid=IwAR3XiSdgr4cbhFZRknFQhWa9r5cnOGFvmLF2p6AwoeZ1xySxezaLnMpdMOU



Sugarsnap (with business & community support) is providing lunch to the COTS Daystation to help those in need.

“Before the COVID-19 crisis, volunteers helped COTS provide this lunch service. However, now volunteers are not allowed in COTS’ facility. This is where Sugarsnap can help. We have an isolated commissary kitchen and we have the skills and ability to provide these meals.” Abbey Duke, Sugarsnap

Read more – https://thesnapvt.com/help-us-provide-lunch-to-the-cots-daystation/



Union Mutual, National Life & Northfield Savings Bank are teaming up to collectively purchase 500 meals a week from Montpelier restaurants Pinky’s on State and Langdon Street Tavern who will be donating meals to those in need.

“This isn’t about Union and National Life, it’s about what’s possible when we work together – those who can help, helping those who need it. The combined benefit to two of our favorite lunch spots impacted by the absence of workers in the downtown every day, and to our neighbors in need, has been rewarding and inspiring in this time of uncertainty.” Anna Gearson, Union Mutual

Read more – https://vbsr.org/news-item/two-vbsr-members-working-together-to deliver-meals-to-the-homeless-during-stay-safe-stay-home/



Vermont Community Foundation has established the VT COVID-19 Response Fund to support nonprofits that are particularly equipped to address community impacts of the spread of the novel coronavirus in Vermont.

Read more – https://www.vermontcf.org/CommunityImpact/VTCOVID-19Response/COVIDFund.aspx



Vermont Glove MasksVermont Glove has shifted production to make masks for health care workers and first responders.

“As a family-run, lean manufacturer in Vermont, we are fortunate to have the ability to quickly pivot our factory and skilled workforce to produce protective gear in the face of this rapidly accelerating public health crisis.” – Sam Hooper, Vermont Glove

Read more – https://www.wcax.com/content/news/Vermont-Glove-shifts-production-to-make-masks-569106841.html



VSECU is offering a low-to-no interest rate emergency loan with designed to help Vermonters who are struggling financially as a result of the crisis. Through a collaboration with Let’s Grow Kids, the $25 VSECU membership deposit and first loan payment will be provided on loans to early childhood educators. The loan is made possible in part through a partnership with The Vermont Community Foundation.

Read more – https://www.vsecu.com/memberemergencyloan?fbclid=IwAR0PLUfygyl2UBjnhu5mM0Tw1i0-n0YCS0juqIF8qY_rL8Q1eIl3KhHXkBk


If you’d like to share your inspiring or innovative response to COVID-19, contact our Membership Manager, Toby Aronson!