Things We Learned Serving in West Virginia
Last week, members of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) family joined Volunteer West Virginia and the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia as more than 40,000 volunteers descended on the Mountain State to perform 350 service projects across nine counties. By the time all was said and done, volunteers performed more than 300,000 hours of service during a five-day period.
The Reaching the Summit Community Service Initiative identified local needs and developed projects that could be addressed during a time to coincide with the 2013 Boy Scout Jamboree taking place nearby in Beckley and Glen Jean, WV.
National service participants included Senior Corps members, 14 AmeriCorps NCCC teams, and AmeriCorps VISTA members from groups far and wide --even a team from Hawaii’s KUPU Corps came to help during the event. CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer dropped in to get a firsthand view of the event that also enlisted the help of 40,000 Boy Scouts attending their annual Jamboree.
As we look back on the events of last week, a few things come to mind…
We’re Good Organizers
Well, we already knew this, but it bears repeating. A project of this scope required a lot of planning and coordination – fortunately our AmeriCorps NCCC members are more than ready for the task. The Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia, an AmeriCorps program, led the effort.
AmeriCorps members are experts in managing large-scale volunteer efforts, and they are often called into service after natural disasters to provide similar support. This is built into their DNA, and they demonstrate this whenever and wherever duty calls.
National Service Members Are Versatile
The Initiative’s 350 projects ranged in size and scope, and covered five areas: green friendly, art and education, construction, infrastructure, and wellness. In addition to staffing the command center, national service members fanned out across the state to tackle a wide variety of projects such as construction at scenic overlooks, building a volleyball pit at recreation facility, and working in community gardens.
We worked with the Boy Scouts, the West Virginia University football team, veterans groups, and at historic sites. Our national service members rallied from across the state and nation to lend a hand to this program, and their example demonstrated what great teammates and leaders look like.
Work Hard, Play Hard
Hard work is often its own reward, but it’s OK to celebrate, too. Anyone who has heard CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer speak knows that she is an enthusiastic advocate for CNCS and national service, which is a good thing because that enthusiasm runs through our programs.
Whether the members serving are young adults or just young at heart, the smiles on their faces show the passion they have for the causes and communities they support.
West Virginia is Wild, Wonderful, and Beautiful
We all know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line but that doesn’t apply to the state’s roads. (CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer discovered this during her whirlwind, 12-hour tour of just seven of the projects.) Even areas that seem close to each other require travelers to take the scenic route -- which is not a bad thing when you have West Virginia’s scenic views.