I Feel Like I’m Home
Laurie Grant lived with her mother for six years and was perfectly content, but when her mom passed away in 2018, Laurie needed a change. “There were too many painful reminders everywhere I looked,” she said.
Laurie applied for an apartment from Champlain Housing Trust and over the next year she watched her new apartment building being built. Laurentide Apartments are part of Cambrian Rise on North Avenue in Burlington – just down the street from where she was living.
When Laurie moved into her brand-new apartment at Laurentide she was thrilled. “I wanted one with a balcony and I got it!” She said she has “all kinds of plants and good lighting” and she can see the lake. She likes to watch the ferries cross back and forth, finding it refreshing and mood lifting to watch the lake and see the sun.
And while she quickly settled into her apartment, she was eager to do more activities. “I just can’t see myself sitting in my apartment with nothing to do.” Plus, she wanted to get to know her new neighbors. Wherever Laurie lives, she always likes to volunteer and plan events and outings with neighbors.
She was excited when CHT invited her to facilitate a program called Building Lives and Building Community, an intensive resident leadership education training hosted by NeighborWorks® America. After the 10-week class, Laurie started the resident-led Laurentide Cares Team with the backing of a $5,000 grant from NeighborWorks.
The Team organized Thankful Day, Halloween, the Laurentide summer block party and a New Year’s Eve gathering to bring neighbors together. “We have such a diverse population and lots of kids who live here so this is how we get to know each other,” Laurie said. “Everyone calls you by name at Laurentide.”
Laurie says bridging cultural differences takes work and community dinners are one way of doing that. Making time to listen to the stories her refugee neighbors are willing to share about their lives and customs is an opportunity that her new home has provided for her.
Last year the CHT Board recognized Laurie’s efforts with the Joan Beauchemin Award for Civic Engagement which celebrates a resident member of CHT who makes outstanding contributions to their communities through volunteerism, public service, and advocacy.
Laurie says she has no plans to move and tells everyone: “Go to CHT and put an application in!” She says CHT provides living spaces and apartments that meet the needs of people in the community. “I feel like I’m home. I can grow old here – I can get what I need right here.”