Story of the Week: 6/29/15

Getting Things Done in the Sun: VHCB AmeriCorps Spring Service Day

by Sarah L'Homme, VHCB AmeriCorps Leader

On a warm, sunny June morning, car after car pulled into the Vermont Youth & Conservation Corps (VYCC) Farm parking lot in Richmond.  One by one, VHCB staff and AmeriCorps members gathered around the farm’s picnic tables, sunglasses on and work gloves in hand, ready for a day of hands-on community service.IMG_0228

Part of VHCB AmeriCorps’ mission is “to bring Vermonters together, incite a spirit of active citizenship and build a healthy future for Vermont.” This mission is very apparent on VHCB AmeriCorps’ annual Spring Service Day. Every spring, VHCB staff and AmeriCorps members join together for a day of serving the community.  As the VHCB AmeriCorps Leader, it was my role to find meaningful projects for 55 people. At first this seemed daunting, but everything fell into place when I reached out to the Farm at VYCC and Cathedral Square. The Farm at VYCC is part of the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps program. The food grown on the farm helps to combat food-insecurity in Vermont. Through their Health Care Share program, the farm provides fresh food to about 300 families every week.  Our second project site, Cathedral Square, is a non-profit organization that helps to house and support independent living for seniors and people with disabilities.  Both organizations were seeking volunteers for some outdoor projects.

IMG_9582On the morning of our service day, staff and AmeriCorps members met at the VYCC farm for breakfast and introductions before setting off to their respective service projects. Volunteers who stayed at the farm helped to prepare the fields and to plant crops. The rest of the volunteers travelled to Williston to work at two of Cathedral Square’s properties: Whitney Hill Homestead and Williston Woods Cooperative Housing.  Whitney Hill volunteers beautified the grounds by staining outdoor furniture. Williston Woods volunteers supported the SASH (Support And Services at Home) program by doing yard work for the residents. Residents of Williston Woods signed up to have volunteers come to their home to lend a hand with outdoor chores.  Most of the residents were on hand to direct volunteers and some of them worked side by side with the volunteers.

IMG_9588The spirit of service, sense of community, and active citizenship was evident throughout the day. The service projects were all hard work, but the beautiful weather made it a pleasure to be outside. It was a good opportunity for VHCB staff and AmeriCorps members to get to know each other and work together. Learning more about how the Farm at VYCC and Cathedral Square are serving Vermonters was inspiring. It was fulfilling to support their missions and get to know staff and residents through direct service. Most importantly, we got a lot done. At the farm, our group planted over 2,000 feet of peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and basil.  According to the farm’s volunteer manager, we were one of the most accomplished groups of volunteers so far this year!  At Whitney Hill, volunteers stained a large gazebo, three picnic tables and two benches.  Williston Woods volunteers helped residents remain independent in their homes by performing yard maintenance such as pulling weeds, trimming trees and shrubs, and raking for eight participating residents. Apparently we did a fine job because the residents and their neighbors were eager for VHCB volunteers to return in the future.  As the projects wrapped up, volunteers headed home, feeling tired, but content in all that they had accomplished.

Thanks to all of the VHCB staff and AmeriCorps members for all of their hard work!

VHCB AmeriCorps is a program of the
Vermont Housing & Conservation Board.

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