Monday, April 27, 2009

United Way of Central Alabama ISO Volunteers for their Walker County "Visiting Allocation Team"

Thank you to those who have logged on to and registered to serve as Visiting Allocation Team (VAT) volunteers for our 2009 Allocations Process. To date, we have recruited 125 of the 600 volunteers needed before our August 19th deadline. Please continue to help us reach our recruitment goal by encouraging potential volunteers to visit our website and/or circulating the attached recruitment flyer. We appreciate your help!

Note: If you experience any technical difficulties with the website, please email your issue to or simply complete and return the attached form.

Sonya King
Vice President, Agency Impact

United Way of Central Alabama, Inc.
P.O. Box 320189
Birmingham, AL 35232-0189
Phone: 205.458.2063
Fax: 205.458.2013

editor's note - This is a great way to learn what the United Way is doing in our community. It is also a good way to refine your own grant writing skills from the "other side of the table". PWK

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Call for VISTA (volunteers) in Walker County

Highlights of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act

H.R. 1388, Senate-passed as of 3-26-2009
Reauthorizes and Expands the Mission of the Corporation for National and Community Service, by:
Increasing Opportunities for Americans of All Ages to Serve
Puts young people onto a path of national service by establishing a Summer of Service program to provide $500 education awards for rising 6th-12th graders, a Semester of Service program for high school students to engage in service-learning, and Youth Empowerment Zones for secondary students and out-of-school youth.
Dramatically increases intensive service opportunities by setting AmeriCorps on a path from 75,000 positions annually to 250,000 by 2017, and focusing that service on education, health, clean energy, veterans, economic opportunity and other national priorities. Ties the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to the maximum Pell Grant level (now $5,350, but set to increase over time).
Improves service options for experienced Americans by expanding age and income eligibility for Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions, authorizing a Silver Scholars program, under which individuals 55 and older who perform 350 hours of service receive a $1,000 education award, and establishing Serve America Fellowships and Encore Fellowships allowing individuals to choose from among registered service sponsors where to perform service. Also permits individuals age 55 and older to transfer their education award to a child or grandchild.
Enables millions of working Americans to serve by establishing a nationwide Call to Service Campaign and a September 11 national day of service, and investing in the nonprofit sector’s capacity to recruit and manage volunteers.
Supporting Innovation and Strengthening the Nonprofit Sector
Creates a Social Innovation Fund to expand proven initiatives and provide seed funding for experimental initiatives, leveraging Federal dollars to identify and grow ideas that are addressing our most intractable community problems.
Establishes a Volunteer Generation Fund to award grants to states and nonprofits to recruit, manage, and support volunteers and strengthen the nation’s volunteer infrastructure.
Authorizes Nonprofit Capacity Building grants to provide organizational development assistance to small and mid-size nonprofit organizations.
Creates a National Service Reserve Corps of former national service participants and veterans who will be trained to deploy, in coordination with FEMA, in the event of disasters.
Strengthening Management, Cost-Effectiveness, and Accountability
Merges funding streams, expands the use of simplified, fixed amount grants, and gives the Corporation flexibility to consolidate application and reporting requirements. Increases support for State Commissions on national and community service. Bolsters the capacity and duties of the Corporation’s Board of Directors.
Ensures that programs receiving assistance under national service laws are continuously evaluated for effectiveness in achieving performance and cost goals.
Introduces responsible and balanced competition to the RSVP program.
Authorizes a Civic Health Assessment comprised of indicators relating to volunteering, voting, charitable giving, and interest in public service in order to evaluate and compare the civic health of communities.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Gardening is about patience

Just ask the members of the Walker Victory Gardens aka the Community Farm. Over a year ago a few folks thought it would be great to have a community garden where friendships, vegetables, and children could all grow in harmony. Today that dream took the first tangible steps toward reality. On a beautiful Saturday morning nearly 30 volunteers assembled to layout, construct and build the first phase of the Community Garden at the Old Airport in Jasper, just west of Airport Road. At the end of the day 30 brand new beds were ready for some gardeners to plant with hope, love, and patience.

Victory Gardens [1]

1940’s America. As part of the war effort, the government rationed foods like sugar, butter, milk, cheese, eggs, coffee, meat and canned goods. Labor and transportation shortages made it hard to harvest and move fruits and vegetables to market. So, the government turned to its citizens and encouraged them to plant "Victory Gardens." They wanted individuals to provide their own fruits and vegetables.
Nearly 20 million Americans answered the call. They planted gardens in backyards, empty lots and even city rooftops. Neighbors pooled their resources, planted different kinds of foods and formed cooperatives, all in the name of patriotism.
Farm families, of course, had been planting gardens and preserving produce for generations. Now, their urban cousins got into the act. All in the name of patriotism.

Magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post and Life printed stories about victory gardens, and women's magazines gave instructions on how to grow and preserve garden produce. Families were encouraged to can their own vegetables to save commercial canned goods for the troops. In 1943, families bought 315,000 pressure cookers (used in the process of canning), compared to 66,000 in 1942. The government and businesses urged people to make gardening a family and community effort.
The result of victory gardening? The US Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 20 million victory gardens were planted. Fruit and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots was estimated to be 9-10 million tons, an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables. So, the program made a difference.
Written by Claudia Reinhardt, the Ganzel Group.


Today’s Walker Victory Gardens are not so much a war effort as they are a survival mechanism for poor nutrition, strained grocery budgets, a lack of physical exercise, and a desire for the freshest most wholesome garden goodies. Paul Kennedy added that he “sees the vegetable as the second priority. First is the public health, second is the fun and esprit de’ corps with the others in the garden.” One sage gardener opined – “there is peace in the garden”.

In keeping with the ‘slow food’ movement in America the group that is running this garden is grateful for the help of so many. The Committee is advised by Paul Kennedy with the Walker Area Community Foundation and Chaired by Katherine Patton from the Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District. Phillip Grace takes time off from Hagar Oil to serve as the Farm Manager. All of these positions are temporary as the group pilots this idea through the growing stages. The Master Gardeners, the Herb Society and too many more to mention are at the heart of this effort under the tutelage of County Agent Coordinator Danny Cain. Amber Johnson with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Katherine Patton took care of much of the advance work. Margaret Dabbs, Secretary for the group, has been one of the many cheerleaders and organized all of the hospitality for the day’s events and helps to keep the group on track. To coin an old phrase – “It takes many hands to make light work.” Saturday, that was the case in many ways. The cheers went up as B.J. Dover rolled in with a bucket on a tractor after the first dozen beds were filled by hand. Whew!

In short - it was fun to do and very rewarding to see it beginning to take shape. All of this is the shared dream of many. Special thanks go to the Walker County Commissioners and the City of Jasper’s City Council Members and Mayor for having faith and making this a priority and a shared project. What a great way to showcase what good can happen when we all pull together. Thanks also to the Walker County Farmers Federation for providing a grant for the materials. The beds should have a life expectancy of four to five years. The benefits of good nutrition, fellowship, and economy will last a lifetime.

As the project progresses, we will be adding more beds and a variety of demonstration areas. Future plans also call for “meet the expert” sessions on Saturday mornings for a brief introduction to new techniques and ideas. We hope to have some chefs involved in the future as well. There are just a few beds available now.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the garden, how to participate, or to get a plot, please call Katherine at (205) 384-0606, or Phillip at (205) 384-3422. Additional information will soon be posted on the Walker Area Community Foundation website at