Wednesday, February 21, 2007

News

Americorps*VISTAs Amass Amazing Results

Submitted by Candi Withem, AmeriCorps*VISTA Coordinator/Human Resources Director

Once again those amazing Americorps*VISTAs have proven to be a vital asset to our work of revitalizing Appalachia Ohio. In the most recent report sent to the Ohio State office for the Corporation for National and Community Service some truly inspiring statistics were revealed.

From September 1 through December 31, 2006, over 580 community volunteers provided their services to Rural Action and our other VISTA Partner organizations (Federal Valley Resource Center, Rural Appalachian Housing Development, Friends of Lower Muskingum River, Stuart’s Opera House and the Dairy Barn Arts Center). The total number of service hours was well over 3,400. Volunteers worked with the Plant Rescue, the Land Owners Conference, art classes, trash pickups, invasive plant pulls, music festivals, and many other activities. Without the assistance of the volunteers and the VISTAs, who in most cases did the volunteer recruitment, the success of the many projects would have been impossible.

Besides aiding in volunteer recruitment and management, Americorps*VISTA members also leveraged over $41,500 in non-cash resources to their various programs. Donations of time, products, and services all contributed to this result. The dollar value of cash resources brought into the organizations was approximately $51, 500. Memberships, donations and successful grant proposals accounted for that total.

Those are pretty startling statistics for a group of 21 individuals who have taken the time to commit to a year of national service. They are an energetic, talented, creative and dedicated group of people. As the VISTA Coordinator and proud VISTA alum, I want to say thank you to each and every one of them. You are an amazing example of “Getting Things Done”.

For more information on AmeriCorps*VISTA, visit http://www.americorps.org/about/programs/vista.asp


Bake Sale a Cool Success
Submitted by Sara Peach, AmeriCorps*VISTA for Rural Renewal

It was 12 degrees out last Friday morning as I unloaded brownies and cookies from the back of my car. I'd planned a bake sale for that day to raise money for a spring conference hosted by Rural Action, but now I figured the sale would have to be postponed. No way the AmeriCorps*VISTA members who had volunteered to sell goodies would want to stand outside in this kind of weather. As I started setting up the table, a woman approached me and said, "You're crazy!"

But then something amazing happened: the sun pushed higher in the sky, and the VISTAs began to arrive. "We're not that cold!" they insisted. "It's for a good cause." In the end, the bake sale went off and we raised approximately $300 toward the conference. Thank you to everyone who baked and sold goods!


Litter Awareness Game a Hit with Trimble Middle School Youth Act Group
Submitted by Liz Bonny, AmeriCorps*VISTA with Youth Act

Trimble Middle School’s Youth Act group is focusing on litter awareness, prevention, and clean-ups this year. So far in the semester, they have picked up over 300 pieces of litter at home and on school grounds and have designed a survey for their fellow middle school students. On Tuesday, at their weekly meeting, they played an educational Litter Game that asks students to choose a piece of litter, place it in the location where they “found” it, and discuss how it may have gotten there and how they can safely remove it from the location. The game was a hit! At their next meeting, each student will receive a copy of the game to share with family, friends, or their class. This will enable the students to share their knowledge with others and educate them on this important topic.


Huff Run Launches New Environmental Watchdog Program
Submitted by Maureen Wise, Huff Run Watershed Coordinator

The Huff Run Watershed Restoration Partnership (HRWRP) unveiled a new environmental program to involve citizens in the protection of their watershed. The HRWRP hopes to empower residents of the Huff Run Watershed to take a stand when they see environmental problems. The HRWRP has compiled a directory of environmental and public health issues to look out for, and a “who-to-contact” list when new problems arise. Contacts include a variety of local, state, and national agencies that citizens can call upon when they see problems concerning issues such as chemical spills, dumping and littering, wildlife problems, and public health and safety.

“Our goal with this program is to give residents the resources they need to become better watchdogs for their community and environment,” said Michelle Shively, Huff Run VISTA. The Watchdog Program Contact Directory will be mailed out to all watershed residents in January and February, and is also posted on the group’s website: http://huffrun.org/. The Watchdog mailing is funded as part of the US EPA Targeted Watershed Grant awarded to Rural Action, Huff Run’s fiscal sponsor, last year.

The Huff Run office would also like to be notified when issues are reported in order to keep a complete database of problems found. On the “Programs” page of the website, citizens can find a form to contact the office anonymously when they see a problem. Citizens can also call the office at 330-859-1050 and speak with Maureen Wise, Huff Run Watershed Coordinator or Michelle Shively, AmeriCorps VISTA or simply leave a message.

Formed in 1996, the HRWRP’s mission is to restore the Huff Run Watershed by improving water quality and enhancing wildlife habitat, through community support and involvement. The Partnership meets monthly at their office on the third Tuesday of each month at 5:30pm. The watershed office is located at 8728 High St. NE in the former Mineral City village hall building. Anyone interested in making a difference and improving the water quality of their community is encouraged to attend.

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