The Upper Valley Haven of Vermont recently held a dedication ceremony for the Beverly Fowle Fiertz Community Center, also known as Bev’s House at the Haven. Beverly, a former Wheaton trustee, died in 2010. Her husband, Alden Fiertz, sponsored the naming of the house as a tribute to his wife of 56 years.
Located in White River Junction, Vt., Bev’s House is a busy activity center offering after- school and adult programs as well as legal services. The themes of community, social justice and expressive arts that were important to her are now at the center of the house, noted officials at the Haven, which provides temporary shelter, clothing, food and educational programming for homeless families and adults in need.
At the Aug. 5, 2012, dedication ceremony, Alden painted a vivid portrait of Beverly as “a strong, multidimensional woman who had wells of compassion for those in need, deep investment in her community and a willingness to take action.” And Jeff Shields, retired Vermont Law School president, spoke about Beverly’s ability to “do great things and do them at an accelerated pace.”
She was the oldest student at the law school when she enrolled at 52. After graduation, she worked at Vermont Legal Aid, representing those who could not afford a lawyer. Honoring her work, Alden funded Bev’s House to host legal services in partnership with the law school, where students represent low-income clients in court.
The newly dedicated building will also support another of Beverly’s passions: the use of art to encourage the growth of self-esteem, and the capacity for expression in people unaccustomed to being heard.
Instrumental in the development of the center was Beverly’s art instructor and friend, Annette Compton Fiertz ’80. Beverly and Annette became acquainted attending Vermont Wheaton Club meetings. Annette was a Vermont-based artist who graduated magna cum laude in three years from Wheaton with a bachelor’s degree in art history. She also received an M.F.A. in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York, where she won the Paula Rhodes Award for distinguished work.
Alden met Annette for the first time after Beverly’s passing. Annette curated an exhibit of Alden and Beverly’s life together for Beverly’s memorial services, as well as the hanging of Beverly’s paintings at the Haven. Their friendship blossomed, and Alden and Annette were married in February 2012, just three months before Annette passed away on May 11, 2012, after a brief bout with cancer.