Stories from the Field

Recent Success Stories

Reflections on Serving ReSOURCE

To close out the 2023-2024 Member Orientation in early September, the new VHCB AmeriCorps members gathered in Barre to support ReSOURCE in flood recovery efforts.

Members worked together to move boxes and stock bookshelves, while learning about the long-term impacts of the flood on this local non-profit.

VHCB AmeriCorps Member Addie Hedges reflects on her first service project of the program.

Becca Knouss raises a small herd of milking goats on 80 acres in Bennington, selling their raw milk direct-to-consumer and making soap. In 2022, Becca enrolled in our viability program to find ways to expand her operation to include raw milk cheeses.

Cheryl and Joe Hyrckiewicz, the owners and operators of Morgan Mapleworks, bought their land in Morgan in 1990. As their operation grew, they began to seek assistance.

After transforming an unproductive hayfield into a vegetable operation, Sara and Bob Schlosser added maple syrup and flowers to their repertoire and sold their produce primarily at the Stowe Farmer’s Market for 30years. When the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, the Schlossers realized they needed to pivot and came to the Viability Program for support.

"It was the first field day all season in which nothing went wrong, the volunteers were enthusiastic, and all my clothes remained dry."

"The residents were so happy to get their flower bed back and reclaimed from the weeds."

A VHCB Implementation Grant will enable a small organic pastured poultry, egg, and goat meat farm to expand their laying stock with a winter hoop house.

AmeriCorps serve as boots on the ground in response to July Flooding.

“Not many other programs celebrate milestones with service to others.”

A handwritten thank you letter from a family to NeighborWorks & USDA Rural Development.

"There were many other small moments like these over the year that each stuck out to me and I always appreciated the time people took to go out of their way to make this connection."

Seeing a child discover the natural world around them is deeply gratifying.

"I get emails weekly of volunteers looking to give their time to the trail."

The grass we waded through to get to each of the trees was so tall that no one in our group could be seen except for an occasional glimpse of their hat or beanie.

Hundreds of people (over 1000 registered) came out February 18th for NOFA-VT's first in person Winter Conference since 2020.

"They were $11,000 in debt when I started in Jan.  Now they only owe for fuel, for which they are on a payment plan."

"How did we do that?"

I guess that is a natural part of growing, but it's interesting to be so aware of it.

"I had some anxiety about leaving Vermont for the desert of Arizona, since it is a landscape unfamiliar to me."

In 2016, VHCB committed funding for the conservation and preservation of Birchdale Camp, the last remaining building at the Turner Homestead, known as Journey’s End, that was settled in 1873 by Alexander Turner, a former slave, and turned into a successful hill farm. The Camp is now an important site on the African American Heritage Trail, an initiative of Vermont Partnership for Fairness & Diversity in collaboration with the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing and selected local historical societies and museums.

"Each member of the Volunteers for Peace who I had the privilege of supporting and leading on projects taught me invaluable lessons from their homes and communities over our shared service time together."

They taught me a lot about the beauty in kindness and sensitivity, and that caring for the earth can be as simple as hugging a tree or picking up trash - some things I saw these kids do without me even suggesting it.

"Since 1998, Cover Home Repair has been bringing together volunteers and homeowners to complete urgently needed repair projects for low-income homes in the greater Upper Valley." - COVER Home Repair

We have led community walks on our host site trail with the local Vietnamese community to increase opportunity for exploration, education and recreation in nature.

Vermont has depended upon Champlain Housing Trust’s Housing Counselors to provide the state’s AmeriCorps members with a quality financial education for decades.

"Working with kids helped me realize, or perhaps just reminded me, that the roots of conservation come from the heart."

Recently, one of my favorite guests transitioned to stable housing. Ruby arrived at the shelter about two months ago, but had been experiencing chronic homelessness for most of her adult life. Like most of our clientele, this was a product of childhood abuse and mental illness. Every day, when I would walk through the front door to begin my shift, Ruby would excitedly yell “Good morning, Amanda!” loudly from across the common room.

The Stowe area welcomed the conservation of the Valcour farm in Morristown and its sale to new farm owners. The 175-acre farm was conserved in mid-April by family members and sold to long-time farmers Jesse and Marlene Hursh. The Hurshes have rented a dairy farm and operated a popular farm stand on the other side of town for over 20 years.

My host site got a phone call in early March from the Department of Health (DOH) asking about whether local social service providers had interest and capacity in organizing people experiencing homelessness to get vaccinated. The DOH wanted to bring vaccine doses to people, rather than have people come to their clinic due to transportation barriers, job barriers, childcare barriers, and so on. My host site and another congregate shelter (Charter House) in the county responded.

Social isolation is a big issue for the older adult population. According to one study, social isolation can be just as deleterious to one’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Add in a raging pandemic and the often nostalgic feel surrounding the holiday season, and an acute problem becomes all the more so. Serving at the Montpelier Senior Activity Center (MSAC), attempting to counter these effects is central to our mission. One particular segment of the population we serve, our FEAST at Home (meals on wheels) recipients, are often on the forefront of our minds as we think about ways to maintain connections. While this is true year round, it was even more so this holiday season after the unprecedented year of isolation and separation that characterized much of 2020. As such, my host site and I were determined to provide some sort of bright spot to end the year on a more positive note.

We were serving in Richmond as a trail building crew, reconstructing a bridge and boardwalk for the bikers in the surrounding communities who used the trail. Nearly every day, at least one biker would stop and voice their appreciation for our project. One day, I went to buy bug spray with my fellow crew member, and the cashier asked us what we were doing, expressing how he wished the trail in Richmond was being fixed.

High Pond is set in a deep bowl, surrounded by peaks of the Taconic Mountains of southern Vermont. The trail up to the pond winds through hardwood forest and hemlock stands, up and down smaller hills, gradually climbing up to the rim of the pond basin. High Pond is my favorite preserve that I steward with The Nature Conservancy. The lake is cold and clear. Within a few kicks away from shore it becomes so deep you can no longer find the bottom. With the Taconic’s walling off the lake from the valley, it feels like wilderness.

Smack in the middle of a capitol city with a daunting shortage of housing, the French Block’s vacant upper stories were an unrealized resource. Today, with the lights on at night, there is a new vibrancy to this downtown block and 18 households have found stable, decent, and affordable housing within walking distance of all the amenities this small city provides.

How a small, organic Vermont dairy joined forces with local, state, and federal conservation partners to plan for the future.

“It’s a commonly stated truth that “homelessness” is more than the lack of a home. This alludes to the reality that homeless individuals often face a wide range of challenges rooted in their personal experiences that prevent them from being housed sustainably. Histories of addiction, trauma, and mental health disorders are more common than not. Ultimately, all who are homeless carry with them a unique set of factors that led them to a position of being without housing. In consideration of this holistic idea of “homelessness,” the process of addressing these underlying challenges is just as important as developing a sustainable source of income and finding appropriate housing.

As a part time student with full-time commitment in community service, I have recently completed a research project focused on the importance of housing stability for socioeconomic well-being for low-income households including the homeless population, and the positive impact of nonprofit affordable housing developments for disadvantaged communities.

Everett Thurston, from North Clarendon, is developing his business skills and writing his business plan with his team of Viability Program advisers.

The Nature Conservancy owns and manages 55 natural areas in Vermont, totaling nearly 30,000 acres. Ecologically speaking, these protected areas provide a lot “bang for your buck.” Some of the most spectacular, unique, and rare natural communities and species in Vermont and the Northeast thrive on these lands...

June 29th, 2017 was one of the most meaningful volunteer service projects I’ve been on yet. Who’d have thought a group of 5 Real Estate Investment Advisors would be so good at trail maintenance?

This past winter, I received an email from Laura Wilson, Cathedral Square’s Director of Operations, suggesting I connect with another AmeriCorps member. I soon learned that through their service with the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, AmeriCorps VISTA members, Corrine Yonce and Luke Dodge were collaborating on a project titled “Voices of Home” to spread the importance of affordable housing. In their words, “Voices of Home is a storysharing project dedicated to promoting the voices of Vermont's affordable housing residents. We aim to erase the stigma surrounding affordable housing communities and educate our friends and neighbors about the incredible importance of stable, reasonably priced homes in helping people live fulfilling lives. These stories are those of your own communities and the people who live in them.”