Tuesday, September 22, 2009

VISTA Memories - Candi and Allan Withem

Taking the idea of a Rural Action family literally, husband and wife team Candi and Allan Withem (left, with Carol Kuhre's daughter) may work in very different fields, but are equally indispensible ingredients in the success of Rural Action. Here are their stories.

"It has been a true pleasure for me to be a VISTA, a VISTA Leader and then, the program coordinator for Rural Action. I worked in the Trimble office as a community organizer for the Partners in Leadership Development program from April 1997 to April 2000. What a life-changing decision becoming a VISTA turned out to be. I had no idea it would make such a difference in my world."

"I learned so much, not only about community development practices and my own community, but about myself. Being a VISTA allowed me to pursue my interest in teaching adults, but in a new and exciting way. I was actually helping people gain skills and make a difference in their futures. One of the best experiences for me was watching the light bulb come on in people's minds when they finally grasped the idea that they could do something for themselves and their communities.

Even after leaving VISTA service, I was still able to participate and be involved in the program by hearing all the great stories and learning to appreciate the skills and talents of all the members who served with Rural Action since I became VISTA coordinator.

After all these years, I still believe in and support the mission of VISTA. What a privilege to work with such a great group of people and be a part of this wonderful national service program. As for Rural Action, we are changing and evolving, but we are still working to revitalize Appalachia Ohio. No matter what role I play, that remains the passion of my career here."

Candi Withem


"Computers and electronics are my thing, and becoming a VISTA allowed me to make it my work. I was the computer specialist in the Trimble office from November 1996 to November 2000. It gave me the opportunity to make a living while learning about new technology and how to use it. It challenged me to be better at what I did because we had to "make do" with what we had at the time. In my mind I will always be the "computer fairy," saving people from technology meltdown.

I know that this place, this land, is special like nowhere else, and I like the fact that Rural Action is committed to keeping it special.

I had some great times as a VISTA; I found a lot of friends and made some special memories. I will always remember Barb Willis playing the drunken grandma at the Christmas bash and Colin Donohue backing over a laptop in the drive at Trimble.

Being a VISTA has been fun and a great experience for me."

Allan Withem

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