Pocahontas County AmeriCorps Picnic Sunday, May 22nd
Marlinton, WV – The week of May 14th through the 21st is AmeriCorps Week, a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions of thousands of dedicated volunteers who’ve given at least a year of their life in service to communities across the country. The Pocahontas County contingent will do just that with an open house/picnic at Stillwell Park in Marlinton on Sunday afternoon. Lynmarie Knight, herself a former AmeriCorps Vista volunteer, is now the Assistant Project Director for the Pocahontas Communications Cooperative Vista Project. She gives us some information about the picnic.
“Our picnic is going to be between 2 and 5 and be a really laid back event” says Knight. “It’s not going to be a big meal since it’s in the afternoon sorta after lunch and before dinner. But we’re going to have finger foods and snacks; we’re asking if people would like to bring a sweet treat or snack to share, to go ahead and do that, but if not bring their family and friends and come out and meet some of the young folks who have volunteered a year of their life to service in our community.”
She says there are currently 18 Vistas serving in the county, and that number doesn’t include those who’ve just completed their service or those just about to start. She’s also hoping to see some Vista alumnus who left county at the picnic on Sunday.
Knight says the Vista program is the nation’s longest running service program, signed into law in 1965. When AmeriCorps was started in 1993, it adopted the Vista program. She says there are some differences in the types of memberships within AmeriCorps.
“The difference between the other AmeriCorps members we have in our community which are AmeriCorps state members and AmeriCorps Vista, is really what the purpose of those positions are” she says. “Vistas work strictly in a capacity building role, whereas AmeriCorps state members do a combination of direct service and capacity building.”
“For example, where an AmeriCorps state member may start an afterschool program and then run that program actually working with the students, a Vista would maybe develop curriculum for a program, raise funds for a program and then find community volunteers to actually do the direct work.”
She says she really likes her new position as assistant project director.
“I’m really enjoying this new role, really fun” she says. “I like the challenge of it, I like getting to meet with all the Vistas and talk about what’s going on in their individual projects. I really enjoy the component of developing new projects too.”
She’s well aware that funding for the program may have some tough times ahead.
“The Federal program has passed down some new priority areas, so we may see a little bit of shift in our projects to focus on those priority areas which are economic development, healthy futures, healthcare and access to healthcare, as well as education” she says. “So we could see a little more streamlining of the type of projects that we get approved for in this area. But really more or less it seems that it’s been a very successful thing here in Pocahontas County.”
The AmeriCorps open house/picnic is Sunday, May 22nd from 2 to 5pm at Stillwell Park in Marlinton.