Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Headwaters Charitable Trust Brings AmeriCorps VISTA To The PA Wilds

In 2015, Headwaters Charitable Trust, was awarded a team of AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteers to create and implement the Living Greener Program. This program creates opportunities that meet the needs of individuals within the context of supporting a green economy.  
It is a holistically centered approach to developing skills that enable our most vulnerable populations to be successful in life; not only the workplace.  It provides increased opportunities for participants to gain insight and appreciation into the region’s careers and major industries while promoting awareness of our abundant natural resources.  
In 2017, the VISTA team can be found in local jails offering inmates facing imminent release the opportunity to take a comprehensive Life Skills curriculum that prepares them for success personally and professionally, and places them in direct contact with local CareerLink offices where they can take advantage of numerous programs aimed toward job placement in meaningful careers.
As the team began working in communities, partnering organizations began to ask how they could put AmeriCorps to work for them.
In response to this need, HWCT will be accepting concept applications for AmeriCorps VISTA programs aimed at addressing the needs of low-income communities by building permanent infrastructure in organizations to help them more effectively bring individuals and communities out of poverty.
“We have had such a positive experience hosting AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers, that it is incredibly exciting to be a part of a program that can share this opportunity with other organizations,” said Heather Conrad, Development Director, HWCT.
VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) was founded in 1965 as a national service program to fight poverty in America.   
Each VISTA member makes a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency. In return for their service, AmeriCorps VISTA members receive a modest living allowance and health benefits during their service and have the option of receiving a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award or post-service stipend after completing their service.
About 8,000 VISTAs are placed each year in more than 1,100 projects in low-income communities around the country
“AmeriCorps has enabled me to step out of my comfort zone, engage and empower people in an unfamiliar area, and exercise daily self-motivation. I have become a stronger, more independent person because of serving for AmeriCorps,” said Bri Pursley, AmeriCorps VISTA, Living Greener Project, 2015-2017
HWCT enhances the liveability of rural communities by generating employment opportunities and funding through the restoration of land and water.
HWCT is committed to building financial and philanthropic investments that will support healthy and vital communities in the PA Wilds region of Northcentral Pennsylvania. These restoration investments have particularly localized benefits including local labor employment, materials purchase and cost savings.
In order to create these investments, HWCT solicits funds, administers grants, promotes value-added revenue strategies and acquires land rights on behalf of community sponsors.
Since its inception, the Trust has successfully raised more than $12 million for 115 projects that have improved 130 miles of fishable streams, developed 74 miles of recreational trails, sponsored sustainable management of 1,200 acres of forests, as well as, sponsored numerous youth internships and AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer opportunities.
The Pennsylvania Wilds includes the counties of Warren, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Clinton, Lycoming, Cameron, Elk, Forest, Clarion, Clearfield, Jefferson and the northern part of Centre County.
For more general information, visit the Headwaters Charitable Trust’s Living Greener Program webpage.
If you would like more information or if you have a project or program that could use an energetic, passionate, person dedicated to bringing individuals and communities out of poverty, please reach out to Heather Conrad at 814-594-2339 or send email to:

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