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AmeriCorps Heads to the Mountain

Posted on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 8:39 pm



The AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program will bring 10 volunteers to the Cumberland Plateau in August. These individuals will work for one year or more with the Chattanooga Area Food Bank’s mobile food pantries, the Grundy County Health Council, Mountain T.O.P., the South Cumberland Community Fund, and Discover Together (a partnership between the University of the South, Yale University, and children’s publishing company Scholastic).

Ten VISTAs and one VISTA leader, who will assist the program director, will be hired over the summer. The planners hope to draw applicants from both within and outside the local area. The goal of the VISTA program is to build capacity and expand current outreach projects; the VISTAs will be trained in ways to provide for larger population sizes and new areas. Each volunteer will work for at least a year with his or her designated organization. The projects are designed to last three years.

The organizations in which VISTAs will serve offer a variety of services in the region. The Chattanooga Area Food Bank provides food to an estimated 20,000 clients each week, including mobile deliveries to thousands living in the 20-county service area. The Grundy County Health Council addresses the health needs of Grundy County residents, assuring that quality health care is available, teaching programs on nutrition and diabetes, and working to get Grundy County residents more active. Mountain T.O.P. is a Cumberland Plateau outreach project that seeks to meet people’s physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs. The South Cumberland Community Fund was established in 2012 to improve the quality of life across the Plateau by providing community leadership and increasing philanthropy. Discover Together, a project of the South Cumberland Collaborative for Children and Families, is designed to provide a safe gathering place for young children and their parents and caregivers to share in learning and exploration.

The VISTA opportunity came about when the University of the South received an invitation from the national office of the Corporation for National and Community Service and applied for a grant to hire local and national volunteers. The program is co-sponsored by the South Cumberland Community Fund, whose support, leadership, and commitment to benefit Plateau communities was central to the success of the grant proposal.

The link to apply for a VISTA position:

Those who have already served as VISTA members may apply here for the VISTA leader position: