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Volunteers Boosting Anti-Poverty Work in Ohio

AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers have logged more than 320,000 hours of service through the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. (OAFB)
AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers have logged more than 320,000 hours of service through the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. (OAFB)
March 9, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Hundreds of volunteers who boost poverty-fighting work in Ohio are being honored during National AmeriCorps Week.

The Ohio Association of Foodbanks places AmeriCorps VISTA members at hunger and anti-poverty nonprofit organizations, where they build organizational, administrative and financial capacity.

"We really care about the cause and we aren't just there to sit behind a desk," said VISTA member Taylor Vaughn, a food-pantry coordinator for Mature Services in Akron. "We actually are willing to go that extra mile and make the difference that we are here to make."

AmeriCorps VISTA leader Hannah Jones, who provides training and support to VISTA members during their time of service, said volunteers attain skills that go beyond volunteering.

"You're also learning a lot about nonprofit management, fundraising, staffing, and how an organization works overall," she said.

More than 35,000 community volunteers recruited by AmeriCorps VISTA members have completed more than 321,000 hours in their service with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks.

At Feed Lucas County Children, AmeriCorps VISTA coordinator Kathy Appelhans said programs that feed hungry children are expanding because of her work.

"In the process, they have grown," she said. "(At) our after-school program, there were three two years ago, there were nine last year and this year there's 23."

Jones added that VISTA volunteers take the pressure off organizations with stretched resources.

"AmeriCorps gives organizations kind of a hand up," she said. "It gives these organizations a chance to have a full-time worker that can work on projects that they might not necessarily always get to because of low staffing, things like that."

The Ohio Association of Foodbanks' AmeriCorps VISTA program was established in 2006.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH