Ecolibrium3 is pleased to announce that we have welcomed 25 new VISTAS for our 2020-2021 VISTA cohort, a substantial increase in the number of volunteers serving the greater Duluth community. With this expansion of the program, we will be able to significantly improve our ability to build the capacity of local organizations and ultimately alleviate poverty. To accommodate our growing number of volunteers we have partnered with six new community sites including, Families Rise Together, John Hopkins Center for Native American Indian Health, Community Action Duluth, Mentor North and the Office of Sustainability of the City of Duluth. In total, Ecolibrium3 now places volunteers at 16 local organizations around the community. You can learn more about all the new VISTAs and their work here!
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented our volunteers from working on site full-time, Ecolibrium3 has adapted to the current situation and is committed to ensuring our volunteers are able to have meaningful service years. Ecolibrium3 was able to hold a successful virtual orientation and is planning subsequent virtual trainings to assure that all volunteers stay safe, while still participating in professional development opportunities and trainings that will help them serve the community better. In fact, the picture above shows most of our new VISTA volunteers participating in their VISTA member orientation day, which was hosted on Zoom. Regardless of the challenges 2020 has brought, Ecolibrium3 is very excited to have grown our AmeriCorps VISTA program. We are hoping that the expansion in the program will allow us to grow our impact as well!
One way we hope to enhance our impact is to connect volunteers in group projects that address a wide range of issues facing the Lincoln Park neighborhood. The pandemic has both amplified current issues and made additional challenges evident, including a lack of affordable housing, technology and wi-fi disparities which makes remote learning difficult in low income neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, and issues related to climate change and sustainability.
One such project that current VISTAs will continue from the prior service year is the Legacy House project. The Legacy House project, which aims to rehabilitate a condemned building in Duluth’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, hopes to be a step in reducing blight in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Once complete, the Legacy House will serve as an affordable housing option for future Ecolibrium3 AmeriCorps VISTAs and is an effort to make the Ecolibrium3 AmeriCorps VISTA program more accessible to volunteers of all backgrounds. The Legacy House Project is also a clear example of the power of community partnerships as several local businesses, organizations and trade unions have donated their time and resources to make the project possible. While the project is still well underway, progress is being made everyday!