Take An Art Break Today!

Pieces of an owl collage, with paper and scissors.
Lulu Wootton: An Owl Collage, in progress

Outside is blinding white after our big snowstorm, but you can find color and more online.  It’s mid-March and the Central Vermont Refugee Action Network (CVRAN) Arts Marathon has been underway for just over 15 days. Take a break and check out some of the creative work shared by the participating artists. Painting, poetry, collage, video, photography, music and more are waiting for you on the CVRAN 2023 Midway Gallery. Dive right into a March flurry of color and creative thought!

A pine grosbeak eating berries. Photo: Richard Littauer.
Richard Littauer: Pine Grosbeak (Taiga) – Pinicola enucleator leucura

The Arts Marathon is CVRAN’s big fundraiser of the year. All money goes toward housing, living expenses, and legal fees for the asylum seekers supported by in Central Vermont. We also provide furniture, home goods, transportation, English language instruction, and friendship to Afghan refugee families who are being resettled in Central Vermont.

We hope you will consider making a donation to support our efforts.

Enjoy the Gallery!

A Marathon of Creativity!

Portrait of a tiny library by Deena Frankel
Deena Frankel’s “Tiny Library”, CVRAN 2022 Art Marathon.

There is something magical happening online this month. Just as we are beginning the slow slide into mud season, artists from Central Vermont and beyond are diving deep into their creative work. As part of a fundraiser for CVRAN, 36 artists are sharing daily updates as they paint, draw, write, sing, photograph and more during the month of March. People can sponsor an artist and receive those daily updates in their inbox. All money raised goes toward housing, living expenses, and legal fees for the asylum seekers, refugees, and others supported by CVRAN in Central Vermont. If you need a little pick-me-up during muddy March, the Arts Marathon is just the thing!

2023 marks the third year of the Marathon and it is CVRAN’s top fundraiser. You would think that artists might be a little hesitant to join the Marathon. After all, creating and sharing something online every day is no small thing. Instead, participants are loving every minute of it. They call it as an experience that ‘intensifies their art’ and ‘enriches it.’ One described it as an ‘unexpectedly beautiful thing’ and was surprised at how much the experience gave back to her as an artist. As another noted, the Marathon is a goal-oriented way to improve yourself, share art with lots of people, and help support people who really need it.  Nicola Morris, writer and visual artist, helped create and coordinates the annual event. Her enthusiasm and support helps the artists get through a very busy month.

Painting of Snow Squall Sirens by Caroline Tavelli-Abar
Caroline Tavelli-Abar’s “Snow Squall Sirens”. CVRAN’s 2022 Art Marathon.

It’s not too late for you to sponsor an artist and receive a daily shot of creative work in your inbox. Visit the CVRAN website ( and click on the March Arts Marathon 2023 button to see the list of participating artists. Sign up to sponsor an artist or two, browse the gallery of 2021 and 2022 artwork. You’ll get some lovely things in your email each day and help CVRAN support our newest neighbors at the same time. Win, win, WIN!

Needed: Drivers To Get Immigrants To DMV In Washington County

Support members of the immigrant community in Vermont applying for their drivers license. Being able to drive means freedom of movement, ability to take care of basic needs, and being a more active member of the Vermont Community. Migrant Justice will be sharing volunteer opportunities with CVRAN within Washington County. You can help by providing rides to and from drivers license exam appointments at the Montpelier DMV.

Contact CVRAN to volunteer –  New volunteers should fill out our Volunteer Registration form. Thanks for helping out!

person holding a cut-out drivers license to support giving immigrants the freedom to move around VT
A drivers license is key to having freedom of movement in Vermont. Photo:

Letter From the President: A Glimpse Into CVRAN

January/February 2023

C:\Users\Rachel\Downloads\2023.01.17_TA1_17180-Edit.jpgDear CVRAN Community,

C:\Users\Rachel\Downloads\2023.01.17_TA1_17213-Edit-2.jpg Were you at the Montpelier Senior Center two weeks ago? The room was buzzing with energy. Seventy-two people were there to hear more about CVRAN. Volunteers told stories about driving chattering toddlers to preschool, teaching women who have never had the chance to go to school, hosting a guest in one’s home, and making new friendships. Several guest-partners shared snippets of their lives. One man powerfully said, “We don’t want to leave behind our home, our family, our culture. We don’t want to start over in a new country and a new language, but we had to come – for our safety.” It was a stark reminder of why we all want to welcome these asylum seekers and refugees to a safer future…. just as the smiling faces of the volunteers were a reminder of how much joy there is in making new connections.

That was almost two weeks ago. What has been happening since? And where? There is so much begging to be told, and not all of it happens in Vermont. On just one day for instance, Tuesday of last week, we were working in three states. While one volunteer and her husband were driving two people down to the Government Center in Boston for a mandated court appearance, simultaneously several other people, including our pro bono lawyer, were arriving in New York City for an expedited asylum hearing, the time when one man would make his case to stay in the U.S. and find out within 2 weeks whether he will get asylum or instead be deported. Meanwhile in Vermont, we had just gotten a call from St. Albans about providing a bed for a Mexican woman who had been apprehended at the Canadian border, as both the correction center and the homeless shelters were full. The very next day, Wednesday, there was a flurry of excitement and communication back and forth about a new incoming guest-partner, Arnold, a man ready to head here from California once volunteers could scurry for plane tickets and transportation, winter clothes, a team of volunteers, and the host family ready his space.

Those are all dramatic moments, but much was happening closer in, besides. In the local Walmart, there was a “meet” between our treasurer and one of our team leaders, sending a small stipend to one of our guest-partners who has moved to NYC. There was an evaluation of a toddler to see if he qualified for help from Children’s Integrated Services, which required an interpreter and collaborating with a library to find space. There was a man taking a dump run with old furniture, children transported to basketball practice, and a goodbye for a 22-year-old who is moving to Virginia to go to college… (And who was going to help this 22-year-old’s mother find a used car? (Think of the world of CARFAX, VIN#, Kelly bluebook value, insurance rates, and registration details.) And how about setting up another new person’s English classes, doctor’s and dentist appointments, and phone? Many people in CVRAN are working on many fronts.

Meanwhile the wonderful creative fundraiser that energizes all this work is shaping up. Are you an artist, a writer, a musician, a poet? Amateurs of all levels are welcome. Go to to sign up as an artist or to find an artist on the list to sponsor. You won’t regret a month of creativity arriving at your electronic doorstep each day. Then, there are applications for people who want to work in our newly created job position, at 20 hours per week. There are grants being written. Are you inspired? Jump onto this incredibly invigorating and inspiring network of people, that is doing so much good work. The Mexican woman called us angels for being open to doing the right thing at the right time. I am afraid we fall far short of that attribution, but each small bit does count!

Nicola Morris: The BarnNicola Morris: The Barn

Rachel Walker Cogbill

P.S. The Mexican woman is now safely back with her family and her ankle bracelet, a “braceleta” is part of the past.



Two at top:

Terry Allen


Scott Bassage

Needed right now:

  • team members for our new guest partner, an African man who HAS NOW ARRIVED!
  • an editorial person or team to help create and post content on our website.. low key and fun
  • host homes for more individuals or families… a special way to develop a relationship

and more: talk to our wonderful volunteer coordinator about where you and your talents might fit! Just go to to sign up as a volunteer, and then have a conversation

Letter From the President: Reflecting on 2022


Reflecting on 2022

December 16, 2022


During these cold wintry afternoons, in the early dark, the year 2022 is drawing to a close. It feels time to pull up a cup of tea and ponder where CVRAN is as an organization and where we are in our work. Thanks to all who have invested so much this year in helping asylum seekers and refugees take root in Central Vermont. You are lighting candles in the dark.

First, a shout-out to our new companions here in Vermont. Congratulations on accomplishing some of your dreams: arriving here to safety for yourself, and perhaps your family first of all. What an accomplishment! You and we are hoping it will work for you to stay. Meanwhile, you are accomplishing so much: getting children into school; getting work or volunteer work; learning English; getting driver’s licenses, and perhaps a secondhand car; having a good place to live; seeing to medical needs, and applying for asylum. You are setting down strong roots in our communities. Hurray for you, and hurray for those lucky communities! There are 28 of you directly under our care, but many others whom we support in some way.

C:\Users\Rachel\Pictures\CVRAN PICS\Steven Tendo speaks to general meeting 11.15.22.jpg

PHOTO: Steven Tendo receives permission to stay another year, and shares his story with a CVRAN general meeting that evening!

Volunteers, we can’t forget you. You are the ones that figure out the paperwork, make the appointments, drive people to them, make conversation and friendships despite language barriers, invite folks to join you for an event, babysit a youngster, host someone in your home, act as a team leader for a family, mind our treasury, create our volunteer list, fundraise, remodel our website, sit on our board, and excel at many more tasks. You are essential. Keep up the good work and recruit your friends. Your hard work controls how many new asylum seekers or refugees we can take on. Thank you.

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PHOTO: The corn maze needed little interpretation.

Donors of clothes and furnishings, donors of gift cards, donors of money, payers of membership dues, you are sharing both the necessities and the keys for functioning in our society. You are opening up pathways to inclusion, helping pay for legal fees or medical fees, setting up basic allowances for each family, and more There are many ways we hear thanks. One of them is, “Que Dios le pague”, or may God repay you.

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PHOTO: Trying on shoes at Lenny’s – The donor’s 7-year-old and our 7-year-old independently picked the same shoes!

Over the last year CVRAN as an organization has grown and changed to meet new needs. In April at our annual meeting we got many new officers, including a new president and some new members on the board. We started out with a new structure that includes a coordinator of direct services, who works with all the team leaders. As the year has progressed, we have welcomed a new treasurer and set up a finance committee for the first time. As the year closes, we are considering hiring our first part-time paid staff person to be a coordinator of several teams, in Spanish! Currently, the new version of our website is under development with the hard work of a small team.

C:\Users\Rachel\Pictures\CVRAN PICS\Don Welch treas general meeting 11.15.22.jpg

PHOTO: The new treasurer, Don Welch, speaks at our general meeting.

Finally, our higher profile has meant some impressive fundraising. The many artists participating in the March Arts Marathon again brought in the bulk of our funds, close to $70,000, substantially more than the previous year. As our profile becomes more prominent, we have also received some grants and many individual donations. At the same time, we have received many requests for help as well, more than we can possibly fill, but each of you who helps allows us to do a little more. As our resources and understanding grow, we also see ways to expand our mission such as investigating the potential for more low-income housing or new legislative policies.

C:\Users\Rachel\Pictures\CVRAN PICS\IMG_20221115_184141984 (1).jpg

PHOTO: Sue Morris sells Equal Exchange Products to benefit CVRAN. (To order yourself go to )

Come and participate. Join us for our special January event, “CVRAN: Getting Involved”, at the Montpelier Senior Center. On January 17, 5-6:30 pm, volunteers and CVRAN sponsored new neighbors will share their stories. Come and discover new opportunities to help asylum seekers and refugee families settle into our communities.

Consider signing up for the March Arts Marathon. You do not need to be a professional! Just go to in January to sign up as an artist, and/or in February sign up as a sponsor of an artist so that you will receive artwork from that person every day in March.

CVRAN: Getting Involved

The Montpelier Senior Activity Center and the Central Vermont Refugee Action Network are holding a joint event, CVRAN: Getting Involved, on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, from 5 to 6:30 pm in the activity room at the Senior Center. CVRAN provides housing, financial, medical, legal, and educational support, as well as friendship, to asylum seekers and refugees living in our communities. We invite you to come hear our panel of volunteers and asylum seekers talk about what we do, who we serve, and how you could get involved. Refreshments will be served. (In case of inclement weather, the event will be held the following Tuesday, January 24. Cancellation information would be posted on the CVRAN website,

Letter From the CVRAN President: Tiny Footholds in the Walls

Dear CVRAN Community,

It was so good to see you a good portion of you this last week, seated – in person! – in a large circle at Christ Church. Twenty-eight of us were there to hear about innovative ideas for fundraising, for welcoming immigrants, and about some needs. We heard from our pro bono lawyer Seth Lipschutz, and from Brian Kravitz of Adult Basic Education. Best of all, we heard from two of our graduating partners about their experiences since coming to Vermont. Ghazi and Jhuly each spoke so profoundly and personally about the stages of their sojourns: arriving feeling broken, lost, and clueless; how much even a small gesture from one person can feel so huge to the recipient; and the warmth and progress they have felt over the length of their stay. The room hushed to hear their messages.

Ghazi’s and Jhuly’s experiences are good reminders of how action can counter despair. We all so often despair over the state of our world, situations over which we have no control, dreadful experiences that cause someone to leave their home country. Yet, walls that seems immense, unsurmountable, and depressingly wrong from a distance, often have tiny footholds of opportunity up close. Each one of the asylum seekers knows this from experience. Their fortitude and resilience in surviving horrors at home and in venturing forth to a new beginning here is inspiring. Once, when I expressed frustration at how little I could change, one asylum seeker counselled me, “Only God is perfect. Only God can control everything.” We, the asylum seekers and the CVRAN members, each look for the small personal footholds where we can step up and act, even when we can’t change the wall.

Along the way there is joy and friendship. Why do we keep coming back with energy for each other? It is the joy of the children: a 7-year-old on her first trip to the dentist hamming it up for her dad as she sat in the dentist’s chair, or her cousin discovering the wonder of a train set at the library at just the right level for a 2-year-old. It is standing at the top of a mountain with a man or a group of boys who can outhike anyone, breathing in the vista and the winds together. It is a brand new baby, racing through a corn maze, long discussions over coffee. It is our struggle to articulate and share one way of life and being immensely enriched by another.

And there is progress. Ghazi and Jhuly spoke to it. We do not know what the future will hold for any of our partners, but we see so many changes along the way. It starts perhaps with saying “thank-you” in English, to reading in a new language, to school, jobs, driver’s licenses, and finding Vermont winters can actually be fun! And for CVRAN volunteers? Progress for us is in learning about the immigration system, housing, jobs, and the impact of a good law or a bad one. And many, many times, we relearn humility by tailoring our offers of service to what our partners choose, and to the unpredictability of what occurs.

So what actions can make the world a little better? It is not a group of Americans welcoming in newcomers. It is not a group of asylum seekers and refugees ready to start over. It is all of us, working together, struggling to find those tiny footholds in the walls.

Mexican Consulate Visit to Middlebury

Flyer describing the Mexican Consulate visit to Middlebury, VT on Oct 29, 2022

The Addison County Farmworkers’ Coalition has organized a visit by the Mexican Consulate to Middlebury, VT. It will be on October 29th, at Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society, 2 Duane Court, Middlebury, VT 05753. Call 1(424)309-0009 to schedule an appointment, or go to