Putney family receives gift from Weston Priory


PUTNEY >> Generosity at its finest is found in the Brothers of the Weston Priory who are donating a double-wide trailer to a family that lost its home in a fire.

Stephanie and Shane Goldsmith of Putney woke to a fire when their infant's cry came over a baby monitor one January morning. The flames destroyed nearly everything. They have been living in several different temporary apartments and houses since the fire struck and several organizations and individuals have stepped in to assist the family, including the Brothers of the Weston Priory who felt it was their duty to serve their fellow neighbors in need.

"This might be what you call an act of justice to help those who are suffering find relief," said Dean Hammer, of Ludlow, who has worshiped at Weston Priory with the brothers for the past 35 years.

According to Hammer, the trailer has been occupied over the past 20 years by other families connected to the priory. Originally a group of eight individuals that worship there proposed to the brothers that they donate the trailer to help victims of the refugee crisis, but then they heard about the family in Putney through Southeastern Vermont Community Action and decided to put their efforts there.

While the trailer will be free to the family, the cost of moving the trailer and needed foundational work may cost anywhere between $10,000 and $15,000, according to Hammer. Kellyn McCullough, who has been providing support to the Goldsmith family through Children's Integrated Services at Winston Prouty, says they have been getting estimates from Dale Homes from White River Junction. So far the family has raised about $7,000 and further donations should be sent to the Winston Prouty Center.

"I've been really impressed by the dedication of Kellyn and how much heart she has invested in this project," said Hammer. "So I give thanks for people like her that are doing the hands on work for this family on so many levels."

The foundation work for the home is going to involve digging up the existing broken slab and pouring an entirely new slab to fit the double-wide home. The double-wide home measures 24-by-52. As for transportation purposes, the doublewide will need to be cut in half and moved on two different trucks from Weston to Putney. The roof will be removed and the sewer, power, and water lines will have to be moved on the Putney property to adjust where the hookups are on the double-wide.

In addition, a group of individuals from the priory are working to rehabilitate the inside of the house, as a gift of "hospitality" to the family.

While the family is grateful for the community support they have received, it has been tough at times coping through its loss, especially when the family members contemplate how much worse it could have been.

"It's been hard at times, especially at first, but as time goes on, things get better," said Shane. "Just coming here and coping with what happened has been hard, every scenario of what could have happened popped in my head."

Shane is not the only one who has had trouble accepting the circumstances. Stephanie's 3-year-old son, Shane Jr. has spoken up as well.

"All he does is, 'Mumma back home,' and I say 'Baby, we can't go back,'" said Stephanie. "When we come here to clean up and have to leave, he throws the biggest fit because this is home."

Stephanie and Goldsmith said much of their strength in the hard times comes from their two children, Shane Jr. and Christine, 12 months. They also are appreciative of Shane's father, Chester, along with their neighbor, Paul "Skip" Harvey, HCRS, the Windham Foundation and Children's Integrated Services through Winston Prouty.

Hammer said he felt it was their calling to help this family and referred to scripture from Exodus that he felt was fitting for the circumstance.

"God hears the cry of affliction for those who suffer," Hammer referenced. "We are called to be the hands and feet of God in the world," he added.

The Brothers of the Weston Priory declined to comment for this story, deferring to Hammer to speak for them.


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