Fighting Poverty with Passion
|At least one Friday each month, all of the VISTAs come together to do a service project together for an organization nearby. This has been a highlight of my VISTA experience so far. While I am thoroughly enjoying the projects I am working on for my community partner, I am happy to have the opportunity during some weeks to do service that benefits other causes, as well. We have helped plant gardens, build houses, and paint school buildings — but my favorite project so far was last week’s marsh restoration project with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. We packed up at 7 am and left for the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. After a 10-minute car ride and a 5-minute airboat ride, we arrived at the mudflats where we would be planting grass for the rest of the day. We learned that the ground we were standing on was dredged sediment from Lake Pontchartrain and that the area had been open water only a few years before. The marsh grass would help to quickly stabilize the land and improve the health of the marsh.
This project was especially enjoyable not only because I was able to crawl in the mud all day (which ruined all of my clothes, but was well worth the experience), but also because it was a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the health of coastal Louisiana, which has experienced so many adverse circumstances in recent years. As many gulf coast residents felt during the oil spill earlier this year, I have felt helpless in my ability to contribute to the restoration of the coast because I don’t feel that I have the necessary knowledge or resources to make a difference. Although this project was only a small step toward a much larger goal, I am glad that I got to participate. – Allison Bakamjian, AmeriCorps VISTA Member Visit New Orleans Outreach, to learn more about the Outreach program and volunteer opportunities in your area.