Del Norte County has been abuzz with activity this spring. From the Economic Summit focused on education to the creation of several new community gardens, Del Norte has been infused with a different kind of energy; an energy of discussion, listening, and change.
Just this past Saturday at the Wellness Center, 60 volunteers gathered to construct 50 garden beds as the first phase of expansion of the Wellness Center Campus. It was a wonderful and inspiring event that demonstrated how capable our community is. Through collaborative efforts, planning and dedication to a vision, our county is one step closer to becoming healthier and happier.
Those at the event may have noticed nine individuals (some familiar,
some not) wearing black polo shirts with the word VISTA imprinted on
them. These folks are with AmeriCorps VISTA, serving one-year terms in
Del Norte County. A few are originally from here, but most chose to come
here to participate in community development efforts of our region.
AmeriCorps itself is a national service opportunity with several
programs. Fashioned after the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps was created for
individuals to serve at home in the U.S. and its territories rather than
abroad. VISTA, or Volunteers In Service To America, is an AmeriCorps
program that strives to build capacity for the organizations and
communities in which volunteers serve.
"Building capacity" really means that VISTA helps create and tap into
the potential of an organization. Volunteers organize, research, and
connect individuals and institutions. Their work is structured to be
sustainable so that, once the volunteer leaves, what they have built and
coordinated with others can continue to help the community.
In the words of a well-worn saying, VISTA volunteers don't give
people fish, they teach them how to fish. In this way, their work is
much less "hands-on" than what many would consider service, but it is
work that has the potential to affect people and the community in a
broad and powerful way.
VISTA volunteers can, for example, improve services, develop new
relationships or partnerships, and create new programs. The work is
difficult in that it requires vision and persistence, but it pays off in
the end with a stronger, more vibrant community.
The nine VISTA volunteers who are serving in Del Norte fulfill a
variety of functions in a number of organizations. They come from all
across the country, with different backgrounds, educations, and
experience. Consistently, however, each has remained dedicated to the
great work and progress that our county is making.
All of our VISTA volunteers serve in partnership with First 5 Del
Norte. If you would like to know more about the AmeriCorps VISTA program
or about the VISTA volunteers serving in our county, please call me
464-9190 ext 117, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Waddle is a VISTA volunteer serving with the Community
Assistance Network (CAN) as part of the Building Healthy Communities