New Americorps VISTAs begin their assignment in Green River.
During the week of Aug. 17-20, seven new Americorps VISTAs (Volunteers in Service to America) serving at the Green River Community Center / Boys and Girls Club attended a pre-service orientation in Bellevue, Wash. PSO is an extensive training provided at the beginning of the service year to prepare new members for their AmeriCorps service and their host site. It covers a variety of topics and provides an opportunity for members to bond with each other. The week of PSO allows the new VISTAs to learn about the mission of Americorps (to eradicate poverty) and the different programs in which their fellow VISTAs will be serving around the country.
"PSO was an opportunity to gather with other Vistas and learn about eradicating poverty and the vast impact individuals can have within the community. The training was able to provide to classes on resource and partnership development, and volunteer programs to help the Vistas and the Community Center further expand their reach within the community. The Green River Community Center has recently started a housing resource and business center in an effort to provide much needed affordable housing, sustain and attract new businesses, and instigate economic growth in the area as well as search for funds for a new building for the center. PSO was an opportunity to share this effort and to gain support for such a challenge," said Rand Pinson from West Virginia
"In attending PSO, I fed off of the multitude of diverse individuals that were willing to give up a year of their lives to perform service to their countries in such a plethora of ways. Whether we served in our hometowns or in new adopted communities, the new VISTAs had a desire to improve lives in any capacity. While we will focus on our own projects and integrate into our new locations, we now have the ability to see beyond what we do and realize that we have a whole network upon which to draw inspiration and resources. Though I am new to Green River, I hope to better understand the city in the coming months so that I can adapt any existing ideas to the unique needs and desires of Green River. My greatest goal at this time is to formulate a deep and varied sports program to serve both the youth and adults in the community. It is my belief that a physical education is just as important as the mental education we already receive from the school system. A sports program supplied with dedicated coaches will help complement their mental growth," said Justin Queen from Michigan.
"PSO opened my eyes to the vast influence of the Americorps program. There are so many enthusiastic people serving America with the intention to build capacity in impoverished towns and eradicate poverty on a national level. As the great Dr. King said, 'The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.' (Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967.) With my newly found idealism, I am eager to serve Green River and America," said Maria Sykes from Alabama
"While attending PSO I felt very inspired by our discussions on poverty. Having grown up in the New York metro area, I only encountered poverty while in the city. Many of the participants in my PSO discussion group had grown up poor and shared their stories and struggles. Their accounts of despair and hopelessness awakened my heart to the many aspects of poverty, and they will stay with me throughout my upcoming year of service. In Green River, I will be focusing my efforts on youth programming and organizing a community garden. I am looking forward to reaching out to the youth in Green River and teaching them to be positive, respectful and motivated role models. The community garden will serve as a place where youth and adults can come together to learn discipline, hard work, self-reliance, and enjoy the outdoors," Linda Sinni from New Jersey said.
"During PSO I encountered a lot of sessions on managing poverty. PSO gave me better ways to help and serve impoverished individuals; specifically, to create more opportunities for citizens in a given community. One of my plans for Green River is to develop a sports program for youth and adults that will help teach dedication, discipline, and determination. I look forward to this coming year of service, and for the direction in which Green River is going," stated Amber Kaspar from Kansas.
"PSO helped bring me back to the community. I sometimes get so caught up in my goals I forget about the larger picture. PSO made me remember that volunteering is all about becoming an insider and evolving with the community- even if my place is to just make this evolution process a faster process," said Allene Swan from Utah.
"I moved to Green River in April 2008 with my husband and two daughters. My husband grew up here, and it feels as if the whole town is my family. At PSO, I learned so much about poverty. People assume poverty is a lack of money, but more than that. We learned about different types of poverty and its causes. I took a class on Volunteer Generation and Development, which opened my eyes to the different ways we can find, train, and reward local volunteers. Over the next year I hope to build a volunteer database of people in my community who are willing and able to help. I also will be heading up the Girl Scouts, and National Alliance on Mental Illiness (NAMI) program," said Cecillia Mayall from Colorado.