In the Community

In the Community

by Judy Brettell

Judy BrettellFor the past 10 years, my family and I have been fortunate to reside in the small, idyllic community of Brownsville, Vermont (total pop.561), where volunteerism is a natural, everyday occurrence. For starters, our town is one where all the residents know each other, and we either wave or engage in small talk when we pass on the street.

It is a community-minded setting whereby friends and neighbors call on each other for issues large and small, and where people are watchful of others who are home bound, ill or less fortunate. It is not an uncommon sight to see your neighbors and friends getting together during the weekend to paint someone’s house. It is a tremendous feeling to drive by that Monday morning, see a fresh coat of paint on the home, and know that you were part of that group of volunteers.

I am proud to call Brownsville our hometown and to live in an area where people actually trust one another. We don’t think twice about going out of our way to tow someone out of a snow bank, or buy groceries for the elderly. After Flood Irene in 2011, our home had a large tree fall on it and we suffered some water damage. We had over 15 friends and neighbors who stopped by our home to bail water out of our basement, cut up the tree, and stack the wood into a neat pile. It was really amazing how quickly everything was righted again, and we even had time to go help another family who was affected by the storm. These acts of giving are the steppingstones for creating an empowering environment. As Winston Churchill said, “You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.”

Judy is a Business Insurance Account Manager who works in our Woodstock VT location. You can contact her at

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