The other day a man named Robert came into our office and gave us a note and a single red rose. The note was addressed to the staff, boards and donors of the Champlain Housing TrustCOTSBurlington Housing Authority, and CVOEO. Robert was housed at Harbor Place for a period last winter, and now he lives in one of our affordable apartments in Burlington.

His note is a reminder of both the challenges people face, and the transformative nature of our work. Here’s what Robert wrote:

A love letter because of – You!

Last winter I felt like I was going to freeze to death in my car, this winter I am alive and have a home of my own.

Last winter I lived second to second, this winter I live day to day, month to month.

Last winter I was cold, this winter I am warm.

Last winter I was in the hospital ER 3 times, this winter no trips to the ER.

Last winter I was living in my car, this winter I have a home.

Last winter I was hungry, this winter I am well fed and helping to feed others.

Last winter I did not have a bed to sleep in, this winter I do!

Last winter I was frightened every day of my life, this winter I am at peace most days.

Last winter I was unhappy and wanted to give up, last winter and this winter you did not let me give up.

Last winter I felt alone in the world, this winter I have people that care about me.

Last winter my own family gave up on me, this winter you never gave up on me.

Last winter I was sick, this winter I am getting healthier and getting stronger every day.

Last winter I had no purpose, this winter I have purpose.

Last winter I had no community, this winter I am part of the community. I belong!

Last winter I needed help, this winter I am helping others.

Last winter I was helpless, this winter I am helpful.

Last winter I had no hope for the future, this winter I have hope for the future.

Last winter I took a shower once a month, this winter I shower every day.

Last winter I had wet dirty clothes, this winter I have dry clean clothes.

Last winter my shoes were wet and cold, this winter my shoes are dry and warm.

Last winter I felt unsafe every day, this winter I feel very safe.

I can never repay all that your organizations, staff have done for me, but I can say I love you all for saving my life, and giving me a new life worth living. Thank you for making all of this possible and more.

I will never forget your kindness and compassion during a difficult time in my life.