Hartford Dismas House moving forward after enthusiastic reception.
Hartford Dismas House

HDH Board of Directors

Executive Committee
Jonathan Sylvia, 

Tracy Dustin-Eichler,
Vice President

Cabot Teachout,

Gretchen Rittenhouse,

Lori Ladd Brown

Kevin Griffin

Barbara Lazar

Tim McCarthy

Jeffrey Nielsen

Gayle Ottmann

Ed Piper

HDH Staff

Rita Whalen McCaffrey, Founder-Dismas of Vermont

Debbie Diegoli, 
Outreach Coordinator

Dismas of VT Staff

Jan-Roberta Tarjan,
Executive Director

  Thank You for Supporting the Dismas Kick-off

Hartford will be 4th Dismas House in Vermont in our 28 year history.
Over 150 of you joined us at the Wilder Center on March 3rd to help "kick off" Hartford Dismas House's Capital Campaign.  Your response to the event and to our speakers reassures us that the greater Hartford community is behind Dismas of Vermont's latest addition.

A tremendous turn-out of caring, engaged Upper Valley neighbors, Dismas volunteers and staff from across the state enjoyed music by Sen. Dick McCormack of Bethel and refreshments catered by Lynn and Karen Caple of Coventry Catering. 
Informative remarks were given by Executive Director, Jan Tarjan; Dismas of Vermont Founder, Rita Whalen McCaffrey; and Project Manager, Shawn Donovan.  The crowd was brought to its feet by the speech of former Dismas resident Patrick Higgins, who spoke of the importance of Dismas in his successful transition from prison back to his family and society.
Gisela Jones of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Hanover announced the Church's commitment to contribute $2500 to Hartford Dismas' Capital Campaign, while many others generously donated  funds and offered volunteer time.  Thank you all!
Patrick speaks at Kickoff
Patrick Higgins:

"With what Dismas offers, I'm living proof that people can change."

Your support for Dismas changes lives. 
In a moving speech, Patrick Higgins, 35,  described how.  “Fifteen years of making very bad choices” had resulted in his incarceration and alienation from his family.  “Criminals who get locked up and spend an extended period of time - the only thing they learn is to become better criminals” he added.
After his release from prison, Patrick went to live at Rutland Dismas House.  This was a turning point for him.  At Dismas he got the support to get his life back together. He was able to invite his family over for dinner, a key part of the day at Dismas House.  “I was consistently bringing my family over for dinner,  I’d take pride in a job interview, care about friends, and have goals and outlooks.”
After three months he was asked to be Assistant Night Manager, a moment of great pride.  “What a drastic step it was for me to go from not even raising my own children . . .to being responsible for a full house.”
 Today Patrick lives with his fiancée and children and credits Dismas House for that: ‘it’s a miracle that I’m here today.  It’s a miracle that I have any pride, morals, and I take that to heart.”


Jan Tarjan kicks off Capital Campaign

Dismas of Vermont Executive Director Jan-Roberta Tarjan kicked off our Capital Campaign with an overview of funding received to date ($605,000) and how much is still needed. 

The campaign needs to raise $325,000 to convert the building at 1673 Maple Street, Hartford, into a home for 10-12 people. The investment is sound financially: it costs $18,000 for Dismas to house a resident for a year as opposed to $58,00 to house an inmate in a Vermont jail.

It's also an investment in community. Jan explained: "these people all belong to somebody's family.  These people are loved by somebody.  They're somebody's brother, mother . . . and when you fail to pull them back in again, it hurts the whole community."

Learn more about Hartford Dismas House:

See our facebook page for more photos and a link to the excellent coverage by the Valley News.

Dan Hershenson receives Fr. Jack Hickey award

Attorney C. Daniel Hershenson was presented with Hartford Dismas’ first Jack Hickey, OP, award. Dan capably defended Hartford Dismas House in the VT Environmental Court, offering his legal services to the Dismas Board, pro bono. He successfully represented Dismas House at the Hartford Zoning and Planning hearings as well, winning unanimous decisions.

After completing law school Dan was a VISTA volunteer, living in a Connecticut housing project while he worked on gang issues. He served with Legal Services in New Bedford, Chicago and then in Springfield, Vermont, where he headed the Legal Aid office. He is consistently ranked in national periodicals as one of the top environmental lawyers in Vermont. He and Catherine Scott, Esq are the parents of Matthew and Merideth.

The Father Jack Hickey OP Award is a tradition within Dismas Houses and is presented annually to persons who have been outstanding in their work for justice and in service to those at the margins.  Dan’s compassion led him to offer his services to Hartford Dismas House, being a true believer in second chances.

We are grateful to our friend Dan Hershenson, for his belief in the Dismas mission.

Jack Hickey was a Dominican Preacher who served students at Vanderbilt University as their chaplain. Founder of the Dismas movement, he championed the plight of the poor. He gave encouragement to Vermonters when we desired to create our first Dismas House.  He died at 51 just after coining the phrase: In the courage of those who struggle and with the compassion of those who stand with them, people will see God at work and join in.
"So today, is really a time of giving thanks, and for expressing our gratitude for all of you good folks from Hartford and beyond, who have contributed to this moment! We are on the precipice of realizing a 4th Dismas House in Vermont, this time, on the eastern border in the town of Hartford."
Rita Whalen McCaffrey, Founder, Dismas of Vermont

Let's make Dismas House in the Upper Valley a reality! Donate now by going to PayPal on our website, sending support via our address (below), or contacting us to talk about your gift.

Hartford Dismas House
PO Box 174
Hartford, VT 05047


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