Thanks to a new partnership between Darn Tough and Green Mountain United Way, more than 400 employees at the sock manufacturer will have on-site support from Green Mountain United Way’s Working Bridges™ program. Resource coordinators will regularly visit all three Darn Tough locations in Waterbury and Northfield to help employees access a variety of financial resources.
Working Bridges resource coordinators help Vermont’s moderate-income workers who are working full time, in fields such as manufacturing and healthcare, and yet still struggling to afford the basics, including housing, food, heat, transportation, and child- or eldercare.
The lack of resources can extend beyond simply their income to also include a scarcity of social support systems; financial role models; time; or access to information, affordable credit, and financial coaching. In addition, workers may experience an isolated hardship, such as an unexpected car repair or medical bill, which they are not equipped to handle.
These resource challenges can impact performance at the workplace, as they lead to low productivity, missed work, poor job satisfaction, and job loss, which are negative outcomes for both the employee and the employer.
At the work site, resource coordinators from Green Mountain United Way function as a match-maker who can connect employees with existing assistance programs, saving the employee time and energy.
“I build relationships with the workers,” says Michelle Clark, a resource coordinator with Green Mountain United Way, “so that when people do need help they’re more comfortable coming to me.” She helps workers with everything, from accessing food to making a plan to rebuild poor credit to finding the best savings on a new car to securing eldercare for an aging parent.
“After first learning of Working Bridges, I knew immediately that our Darn Tough community would benefit from the program,” said Jennifer No, benefits & programming manager at Darn Tough. “Bringing Working Bridges on board helps us care for our employees in any and every way they need.”
“This partnership with Darn Tough, one of the larger manufacturers and employers in the central Vermont region, is a wonderful sign of greater progress toward more and more businesses looking for ways to support the whole person at work and helping to build stability for their workers,” says Julia Davis, who serves as director of community impact at Green Mountain United Way.
“It’s a direct investment in our local communities and our working families,” says Davis. “We are so grateful for the enthusiasm of leadership in partnering with Working Bridges and look forward to sharing more about our work together.”
Working Bridges has been a program at Green Mountain United Way, in partnership with United Way Northwest, since 2017, and since its inception the program has served 30 employers in six industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, higher education, childcare, nonprofit, and insurance. Currently, Green Mountain United Way is operating 11 worksite programs in central and northeastern Vermont and provides services to approximately 130 employees per quarter-year. The program is paid for through a combination of private philanthropic and donor contributions, grants, and fee-for-service payments from the employer.
In central Vermont, during the fourth quarter of 2022, the top four services requested were assistance with accessing food, income advance loans, financial coaching, and support with student loans; in northeastern Vermont, during the same time period, the top requests were income advance loans, financial coaching, food access, and one-time grants from Green Mountain United Way’s 185 Fund, which provides small-dollar assistance to working families who do not qualify for traditional social service benefits.
About Darn Tough Vermont:
Darn Tough Vermont is an American manufacturer of premium, all-weather outdoor and lifestyle socks backed up by the industry’s original unconditional guarantee for life. The company offers both Specialty and Tactical product lines. Darn Tough Vermont’s Specialty line of socks includes Hike, Lifestyle, Run, Snow, Athletic, Work, Hunt, and Juniors’ styles.
Darn Tough’s product is distinguished from industry competitors by 100 percent USA manufacturing; exceptional comfort, durability and fit; True-Seamless™ technology; and an exclusive blend of either ultra-fine, premium Merino wool or Coolmax®/Thermolite®. Founded by Ric Cabot in 2004, a third-generation sock maker, Darn Tough Vermont operates out of Cabot Hosiery Mills. With a forever focus on giving back, Darn Tough has donated over 1,000,000 meals to the Vermont Foodbank. For more information about Darn Tough Vermont socks, please visit: www.DarnTough.com.
About the Working Bridges™ Program: Working Bridges™ is a partnership between Green Mountain United Way and employers focused on giving employees the resources they need to gain, keep, and grow in stable employment. We do this by bringing human services support directly to the employee onsite at the workplace. This support includes confidential, one-on-one resource coordination, income advance loans, classes or workshops, and an onsite Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site during tax season.
About Green Mountain United Way: Green Mountain United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community within Caledonia, Essex, Orange, Orleans, and Washington counties. With a staff of 8 and many volunteers, the nonprofit organization partners with human service agencies, government, businesses, private foundations, and dedicated volunteers to mobilize the caring power of communities around our region to advance the common good.