AmeriCorps Stories from the Field

Recent Success Stories

The Good Samaritan Haven sign that is hanging out side their front door.

A Bittersweet Transition

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.

Students interpreting wildlife printout.

Morristown Elementary School's Outdoor Adventure

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

Trail formation and maintenance

Wanting to Help Out

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

A group photo of last fall's service project.

Elm Conservation with The Nature Conservancy

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.

An image from the audience perspective of the NOFA conference.

A Successful Northeast Organic Farming Association Conference

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

AmeriCorps members participating in a group activity.

Nearly debt free...

"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."

AmeriCorps members playing with a ball outdoors.

AmeriCorps Provides Increased Capacity

"How did we do that?"

An AmeriCorps service member participating in a local ropes course.

Stretch Out of My Comfort Zone

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

An AmeriCorps service member enjoying food outdoors

Leave No Trace at the Grand Canyon

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

An image of AmeriCorps Members and Volunteers for Peace outside in front of fall foliage.

International Connections

"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."

Learning From Those You are Teaching

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.

An image of Conor Teal outside the COVER store.

Need a home repair? AmeriCorps has you COVERed.

"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

Accessibility in Nature

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.

Champlain Housing Trust used to be known as Burlington Community Last Trust; this image is a BCLT instructor presenting on homeownership to AmeriCorps from 2003.

Financial Education for Vermont Service Members

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

An image of the author (second from the right) amongst other AmeriCorps service members.

Early Childhood in the Outdoors

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

The Good Samaritan Haven sign that is hanging out side their front door.

A Bittersweet Transition

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.

stock hands hold each other's wrist in a circle, the AmeriCorps logo hangs next to them

Connecting Energy Leaders & their Communities

At our last Lunch and Learn, we focused on how energy committees could take their outreach to the next level. We spent the majority of time in Zoom breakout rooms so that energy committee members and energy leaders could share ideas, challenges and lessons learned with each other. In the breakout room I joined, one participant told me how valuable these Lunch and Learn events had been for her. She said these events have helped her to meet new people and get more deeply involved in local energy and climate work in Vermont since recently moving back to the state.

Community Resource Guide

As with everything in 2020, I had an unusual start to my service term. I serve at the Housing Resource Center at COTS, a homeless shelter in Burlington. My office provides financial assistance for local renters. In the first half of my service, we had very few clients because their needs were met by other pandemic-related funding, so I had a lot of extra time on my hands.

For the past few years, one goal of the AmeriCorps position in the HRC has been to create a new community resource guide, but it's always fallen to the back burner because it's a lower priority than meeting with clients.

looking on to a field of small American elms, Kira is in the foreground pruning an elm sapling, she is wearing a gray coat and a bright red ha. There are three other people in the background pruning saplings

Protecting & Caring for the American Elm

The American elm was the biggest and longest lived tree on our northern floodplains until Dutch-elm disease (DED) wiped out much of their population. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is facing this problem head on, planting elms that are potentially Dutch-elm disease tolerant along Connecticut and Champlain Valley basins. We have partnered with US Forest Service and have dedicated a test site with 6,420 American elms to be inoculated with Dutch-elm disease in hopes of understanding which of these trees are immune to the disease and why.

a stock photo of a COVID-19 vaccination card

COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic

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.

Isabel and an older gentleman walk together along the street - they are both wearing masks and wearing shirts with red hearts on them

A Walk in Each Other's Shoes

I visit a resident with Parkinson's disease in her room from time to time to resolve little issues with her computer. The many visual messages the computer screen sends can be exhausting and confusing for her due to her disease. My most recent visit with her was especially significant to me. She can be reserved and fairly quiet; a highly intelligent, strong, and very capable woman, it has been very painful and damaging to her self esteem to have such difficulty doing the things she once could with ease. I did not know this about her before this day, however.

a hand crocheted scarf sits on a light brown kitchen chair. The scarf is black with white speckles and is folded and crossed, with an AmeriCorps pin placed in the middle

"Stop-By" and Smile

My story isn't about anyone individual in particular, but rather the collection of individuals who come by and give me the wonderful gift of their presence. Each interaction usually starts really small--it could be a knock on the window and, since they come by often, I recognize them. I begin to check their mail. Sometimes there are packages and checks, other times just junk mail, while some days there is nothing at all. But regardless this is always just the beginning (or at least I hope).

a stack of various sized books with a blurred out background, the AmeriCorps logo is in the bottom right corner in white

Virtual Story Hour

One of the side projects I was tasked with in the past few months was to organize a virtual storytelling hour over Zoom in partnership with the Children’s Literacy Foundation (CLiF). Considering it would take place online rather than on-site as had been done in the past, we decided to invite all households from five of our properties.

Snowy scene looking at a small black bag being used to smother the invasive species, common buckthorn

The Sweet Solace of the Outdoors

The roads had just been plowed and a slick layer of plow-shear caused my traction control dash light to click on and off occasionally. Eventually I reached my final turn. As I drove down the private drive to the Codere property - a property protected by a fairly restrictive Forever Wild conservation easement - I looked for the nearest snowbank to park in. After finding a suitable one, I set off into the woods.

Andrew stands behind a pile of holiday themed wrapped presents laid out on a table. He is wearing a baby blue polo long sleeve shirt, with a navy blue mask on. He is wearing a small enamel A pin. There is a yellow wall behind him.

From the Community to FEAST at Home Recipients - The True Holiday Magic

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.

Emily, Kate, and Monte stand in a trail. They are all holding tools for trail maintenance, standing left to right there is a girl with blonde hair smiling with a live united tshirt on, Monte is standing in the middle with a black rain jacket, and black ball cap on and is leaning on a shovel. Kate is on the far right wih a blue tshirt, is smiling with a brown hair.

Appreciation from the Richmond Bike Community

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.

COTS daystation space, an open brightly lit room with bright orange chairs around round white tables

Homelessness is More Than Housing

Homelessness is not only a housing issue. It's a substance issue, a mental health issue, and employment issue. There are many factors that lead to homelessness, and there are many pieces to bring someone out of it. Part of my service this year was facilitating an employment group offered once a week at the Daystation.

josh with ice cream

Reflection About Service

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.

Anastasia with bird

Confidence as a Bird Handler and Bird Trainer

During this last quarter things changed so much due to the COVID pandemic. We closed completely and only had one educator on site per day which meant that when I was on site, I was completely independent and troubleshooting and issues had to be left up to me. This gave me more confidence and led me to create the portable perch and train all the birds to use it. My supervisors, Anna and Nathan , encouraged me to go for it and it really build up my confidence as a bird handler and bird trainer. It also made me realize I could make a lasting impact on how we handle the birds here.

alyssa outside

Adventures With Campers

I had the learning experience of hosting camp. We were leading the campers in fairy house construction, bridge building, and bracelet weaving when we heard a distant rumble of thunder. I gathered my group of campers and we met with the other two pods to prepare for hiking back to thunder camp (which is a tarped area in the lowlands of the forest). My co-lead explained we would be hiking back in the forest line off-trail, sticking to the low areas of the woods

Being The Bridge

I had one client come in who was very anxious about receiving services from the HRC, they believed that they were not eligble because other members of their community told them that they would not receive help. They were so pleased with how the intake went that they referred me to other members of the community who were also looking for aid.

courtney in garden

Independent Service Project-VHCB AmeriCorps Program Initiative

For my Independent Service Project, I have been spending time each week at the Community Garden, run by Charter House Coalition. This effort first started when I was an intern as a second-year student at Middlebury College, where I spent the summer planting, watering, and harvesting at a beautiful farm along the river. Many years later, the garden has moved locations but is still maintained, with the help of lots of loyal volunteers, to produce a bountiful harvest for the Charter House meal programs

Alex by a big tree

By The Deep Furrows Of An Old Cottonwood Tree

I spent a day in June pulling garlic mustard along the coast of Lake Champlain with a couple of my colleagues from the northern office of The Nature Conservancy. After many bugs had bitten, many beads of sweat had salted the earth, and many garbage bags of garlic mustard had been filled, we sat down on an enormous driftwood log to enjoy our lunch. Towards the end of our lunch break someone suggested that we take two minutes, and each try to sketch, on pieces of slate, a nearby impressively sized cottonwood tree. It was a simple enough suggestion, and took only a brief few moments of our time, but it was incredibly rewarding to sit and appreciate the grandeur of such a large tree and more rewarding still to see what small details each of us chose to focus on in our quick sketching and how each of our personalities might be reflected in those little choices.

A Stone Structure Along The State House Path

So, one of my favorite memories of my service so far has been when I was assisting in putting back together a stone structure along the State House Path. The stone structure is like a half kiva with some large flat stones on top for people to sit on. It rests at the top of a stone staircase and is a major landmark along the trail.

anthony erwin

Monitoring A Property Called Black Falls

As a stewardship assistant with the Green Mountain Club, my days in the field are defined by the extremes of conservation work: epic views, captivating wildlife encounters, biting insects, and rugged terrain. I am fortunate enough to experience natural areas in ways that most people will never get to experience. It has become my passion and life's work to make sure that everyone can get a meaningful experience from nature whatever that may be.

sarah in the field

An Environmental Educator During COVID-19

Being an environmental educator during COVID-19 has been a challenge. I went from taking students out into the woods at the Audubon center to reading picture books and using PowerPoint to give mini presentations on beavers, bats, pollinators and a whole host of other critters. However, COVID has reminded me just how valuable environmental education is for all learners.

Umbrella and bench

Leadership Role in a project at Rural Edge’s Crystal Lake Apartments

I’ve been able to take a leadership role in a project at Rural Edge’s Crystal Lake Apartments in Barton. I first visited the property back in late April with my site supervisor Ann, and the property manager Teresa.

Hannah with Mask

The Nature Conservancy Field Service

My field service last week was great! I monitored and maintained tree plantings at a restoration site on Tuesday (5/26) and pulled invasive garlic mustard at TNC’s Butternut Hill Natural Area in North Hero yesterday(5/28). Both were very productive and safe days.

people on ramp

Cover Home Repair Builds a Ramp

My first day as an AmeriCorps member, I built a ramp for Herbert. He had been a contractor, so it was important that all the angles be square, and the supports be strong. He watched us, with a slight smile on his face, most of the afternoon on the three days of work. I am sure he would have supervised us all morning as well, but his wife said the pain meds put him to sleep for a long time. He was not receiving treatment anymore, just medication to ease the pain.

melinda campbell

VHCB AmeriCorps Member to "Adopt" a Senior

Each AmeriCorps member has the option to "adopt" a senior and perform the volunteer activities themselves. I went out to meet Clara to see what kind of organizing help she needed.


Champlain Housing Trust's Eviction Prevention Program

I had the pleasure of organizing and managing our annual CHT Eviction Prevention Program Conference from start to finish.

Scott B

Upper Valley Haven Afterschool Program

On the last day of school before the shutdowns, in light rain, I waited for one of the After-School children outside of the cafeteria/gymnasium. I was six feet away from parents waiting for their own children.

Luna Shen and Alana Mason


Two young women, Luna Shen and Alana Mason, both 23, are VHCB AmeriCorps members on the front lines, serving homeless families at the John Graham Shelter. They are part of a team working around the clock to staff the shelters, deliver food and supplies, and provide services and care to homeless families at John Graham’s sites throughout Addison County.

Jennifer Hunt, serving at Groundworks Collaborative in Brattleboro, VT

A Feast for the Holidays

Every year the food shelf that I serve at offers a holiday food giveaway in mid-December. Two days after this year's event, a woman came into the food shelf hoping that she might be able to get one of the hams we had been giving away. She said that her son had recently passed away, leaving her to care for her two grandchildren. It was going to be the children's first Christmas without their father and the woman did not have the money to afford a large meal.

Quinn Salinder serves at the John Graham Shelter

Homelessness: More than the Lack of a Home

“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.

2018-19 VHCB AmeriCorps team at the orientation service project

Story of the Week 12/4/2018

I have been trying to put into words how VHCB has inspired me to do my best. But, being the voice of the members, I don’t want to just reflect my experience, I want to try to represent a collective experience. I reached out to other members last week, and I thought there would be some variation, but it turns out that VHCB serves us in really similar ways.

Luke Rackers receiving the Governor's Service Award

Luke Rackers, VHCB AmeriCorps member, Earns Governor's Service Award

Luke was nominated for being a self-starter, being an innovative presence regarding the organizations policies and procedures, and his contributions in developing actions plans to help older Vermonters stay in their homes.

Picture of Daphne at Windham and Windsor Housing Trust

Story of the Week 5/24/2018

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.

Jenny Moffett

Serving at TNC

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...

A Long History of Service on The Long Trail

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?

Voices of Home

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.”