Tuesday, August 26, 2008

VISTA Landscaping Project

AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates have been landscaping in the Normandy Drive area in recent weeks. Our work in the Normandy and Manor Drive neighborhood of Iowa City began earlier this summer when VISTAs coordinated sandbag removal efforts there. Now that the sandbags are gone, the cleanup and restoration can begin.

(Yearlong VISTA Dan Babb rakes a yard on Normandy Drive in Iowa City on Saturday, August 23.)

If you're interested in volunteering, please contact our United Way of Johnson County Volunteer Center at 319-337-8657.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

AmeriCorps VISTA Reflection

For many people, the flood of 2008 is behind us. Kirkwood Community College began their fall term this week, and the University of Iowa begins classes next Monday. As fall approaches, many might assume that the work here is done. Conversely, a drive past City Park on north Dubuque Street is a great example that the flood recovery process has only just begun.

For many AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates, their two-month long terms are ending. For some, the experience is already over. We've worked hard this summer to remove every sandbag in our community; to provide assistance to every homeowner that's needed it; and to build a sustainable recovery system in the Iowa City-Coralville area. Many of our volunteers are beginning to help flood victims in their landscaping efforts. To plant grass seed and flowers is an indication that we can begin to return to a sense of normalcy. But right now, we can only do it one house at a time.

Anybody who is interested in assisting us this fall should contact the United Way of Johnson County Volunteer Center (319-337-8657) to see how they can help in the recovery process. From incoming UI students to longterm Iowa City and Coralville residents, it's important that we come together when our community needs us most. For me, these eight weeks have been some of the most rewarding of my life.

Rob Verhein, AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate