Connor Stack

South Cumberland Health Network | Health Network Community Outreach VISTA

Connor graduated from the University of the South in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in biology. Before joining VISTA, Connor worked in the University of the South’s Bonner Program writing grants, helping with development at the University Farm, and creating programming for Bonner internship outreach workshops. During this time, Connor gained a passion for changing people’s lives for the better and developed the belief that no matter who you are or where you live, being healthy and well-fed are essentials on which we can all agree. As a VISTA, Connor hopes to bring together all the different health initiatives on the South Cumberland Plateau to create a healthier community. Connor enjoys hiking and a good cup of coffee in the morning.

 

Project Goal: Connor worked to build the capacity of the South Cumberland Health Network (SCHN) to fulfill its mission of supporting health care providers in their efforts to improve health equity and healthy outcomes for people living in poverty in the South Cumberland region. Connor worked to develop systems and processes to promote effective and efficient collaboration between providers, engage local community members, identify funding sources for healthcare initiatives, and build organizational protocols and procedures for network sustainability. Through his efforts, SCHN now leverages more resources to improve health care access and health outcomes for uninsured and underinsured people in the South Cumberland region.

 

Dominic Gialdini

Sustainable Economic Development VISTA

Dominic Gialdini, a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor of science in recreation with an emphasis in sustainable tourism management and a minor in interdisciplinary studies through the Weber Honors College. In August 2020, he returned to the U.S. after a two-year stint in Europe, where he lived in Denmark, Slovenia, and Spain as part of the Erasmus Mundus European master in tourism management program. While in Europe, Dominic served as an intern for the Alliance of Innovators and Researchers in Tourism and Hospitality (AIRTH), and upon his return stateside completed an internship with Solimar International Inc., an international tourism development consultancy firm. Dominic enjoys traveling, learning about community-based sustainable tourism (especially in the context of trekking and pilgrimage routes), and watching classic films.

 

Project Goal: As the Sustainable Economic Development VISTA, Dominic built the capacity of the Grundy County Mayor’s Office to develop a thriving business community and create economic opportunity for low-income residents.

Eleni Kapousidsis

Growing Roots | Community Garden Network VISTA

Eleni Kapousidis grew up in Spartanburg, South Carolina and attended the University of South Carolina. In August 2019, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in public health and a minor in biology. During her time at the University of South Carolina, Eleni became aware of the need for access to healthy food and education on living a healthier life for those living in poverty. As a VISTA, Eleni contributed to the development of sustainable programs that will impact the health and lifestyle choices of the low-income residents of the Plateau. In her free time, Eleni enjoys horseback riding, drinking iced coffee, hiking and traveling.

 

Project Goal: As the Community Garden Network VISTA, Eleni built the capacity of Growing roots as it serves low-income residents of the South Cumberland Plateau. In this role, Eleni developed processes for volunteer recruitment and organizational communications, developed curriculum for workshops, classes, and after school programming, and created systems for sustainability and of program evaluation. As a result of Eleni’s VISTA service, those living in poverty on the Plateau will have increased access to healthy food and learn practices for well-being and healthy lifestyle choices, helping to break the cycle of poverty.

Elliott Parsons

Mountain T.O.P. | Community Service Provider Network VISTA

Elliott is from central Indiana and graduated from Purdue University in August 2020 with a bachelor of science degree in public health. While at Purdue, Elliott was involved with the university recreation and wellness center, Food Finders Food Bank, and his housing cooperative. Throughout middle school and high school, Elliot has either volunteered or worked summers at Mountain T.O.P. In his spare time, he enjoys eating ice cream, foraging, thrifting, and watching Jeopardy. 

 

Project Goal: Elliott served at Mountain T.O.P. as the Community Service Provider Network VISTA. In this role Elliot targeted the social determinants that contribute to overall health, further empowering the families that Mountain T.O.P. serves.

Emily Stone

SETHRA CASA | Volunteer Recruitment VISTA

Emily Stone graduated from the University of the South in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in International and Global Studies and Spanish. As a student, she served as a Canale intern with Sewanee’s Office of Civic Engagement, coordinating and leading Sewanee Elementary’s “Wednesday Wonderings” after-school program for kids in kindergarten through 5th grade. During her time as a Canale intern, she became aware of the cyclical poverty present in the counties surrounding Sewanee and was inspired by varied efforts to address issues that perpetuate poverty. In her free time, Emily enjoys cooking, hiking, traveling, and playing with dogs.

 

Project Goal: Emily spent her term of service building the capacity of the Southeast Tennessee Human Resource Agency Court Appointed Special Advocate (SETHRA CASA) position to coordinate volunteers and other key stakeholders to effectively serve abused and neglected children from low socioeconomic families that are appointed to the program by Marion and Grundy county juvenile judges. As a result of Emily’s service, children living in poverty in Marion and Grundy counties have greater assurance of receiving safe, loving, and permanent homes where their educational, social, emotional, and psychological needs are met. 

Jennifery Moeltner

Sequatchie Valley Head Start | Family Resiliency Education and Awareness VISTA

Jennifer Moeltner graduated from the University of Toledo with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and a minor in disability studies. Before joining VISTA, she worked in an after-school program for high-risk elementary students where she created and implemented a STEM program in addition to tutoring. During her service, she became aware of the emotional and mental impact poverty has on students and their caregivers. As a VISTA, Jen hopes to create opportunities that aid in successful futures for kids and allows their families to break the cycle of poverty. In the future, she hopes to use the skills and experience she gains from her time as a VISTA to help her create a successful anthropology field school for people with special needs and that promotes their inclusion in the study of anthropology.

 

Project Goal: Jen built the capacity of Sequatchie Valley Head Start to support parents and early childhood professionals in creating safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for children living in poverty in the South Cumberland region. To ensure that these children receive the educational, social, and emotional support they need to help their families break the cycle of poverty, Jen developed a comprehensive two-generation education model incorporating policies, programs, and practices that utilize brain-based research to prevent and mitigate the impact of adverse childhood experiences. 

Julianna McBee

The Office of Civic Engagement | South Cumberland Plateau VISTA Leader 

Julianna McBee, born and raised in Pelham, TN, graduated from Lee University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in human development with an emphasis in business and a minor in religion. During her time at Lee University, Julianna participated in multiple volunteer opportunities and was in leadership roles of campus clubs for two years. She enjoys serving others and hopes to make a difference in every life she touches. In her free time, Julianna enjoys hiking and spending time with family and friends. Julianna served as an SCP VISTA with the Grundy County School System in 2019 and is continuing her service with the Office of Civic Engagement as SCP AmeriCorps VISTA leader.

 

Project Goal: Julianna utilized her term of service to build the capacity of the South Cumberland Plateau VISTA Project to support VISTA Members in their individual and collective efforts to improve health, education, and economic opportunity for people living in poverty in the South Cumberland region. As a result of Julianna’s service, VISTA members have a  more productive and rewarding experience as they work to develop effective systems, processes, and programs for community partners, establish supportive networks within the community, and develop their leadership skills. Julianna has enhanced the SCP VISTA Project's growth, organization, and sustainability, increasing its capacity to support community partner’s efforts in alleviating poverty.

Lynn Borchert

Grundy Safe Communities Coalition | Youth Coalition Development VISTA

Born and raised in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, Lynn attended Austin Community College and received her Associate of Arts in generals. She has volunteered in various capacities for most of her adult life, including Women of Today and her local Servicemen's Club. Prior to becoming a VISTA, Lynn worked as an accountant for a property management company, while taking accounting classes at her local community college. Throughout her career, she has been in some form of customer service and wishes to continue and improve upon her path of giving back to the community. 

 

Project goal: As a VISTA, Lynn strived to help her new local community in Grundy County, Tennessee and created a youth coalition for drug prevention. She worked with schools, churches, and other local groups to build their capacity in a sustainable program to help youth understand the health dangers and long-term effects of drug use.

Sam Shaw

BetterFi | Financial Inclusion VISTA

Sam Shaw was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. In May of 2019, he graduated from the University of the South with a Bachelor of Science in economics and a minor in international and global studies. Starting out as a Summer Associate VISTA with the South Cumberland Plateau (SCP) AmeriCorps VISTA Project, he went on to enlist as a full-year VISTA in the fall of 2019 and renewed for a second year in fall 2020. Sam is looking forward to spending more time addressing the economic issues facing the Plateau and tri-county area.

 

Project Goal: Sam worked to build the capacity of BetterFi, a nonprofit in Coalmont that provides solutions to predatory lending and was established by a former SCP AmeriCorps VISTA member. Throughout his service, Sam developed a holistic financial coaching program operated by volunteers along with complimentary financial and soft skill programming to assist low-income residents in the tri-county area of Franklin, Grundy, and Marion.

 

SARAH EDMONDS

Hunger Relief  VISTA

Sarah was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia. In May 2020, she graduated from Christopher Newport University with a bachelor of science in environmental biology and minors in leadership and environmental studies. Sarah worked for the residence life, sustainability, and community engagement offices on-campus. She volunteered with community partners in the area, including Habitat for Humanity and The Mariners’ Museum and Park. Sarah’s experience has influenced her passion to promote sustainability for the environment and local communities. In Sarah’s first year serving with the AmeriCorps VISTA program, she looks forward to interacting with the community and contributing to the food distribution systems across the South Cumberland Plateau. Sarah’s pastimes include baking, hiking, and painting.

 

Project Goal: As the Hunger Relief VISTA serving at the University of the South, Sarah built the capacity of food distributions systems across the plateau. Sarah was additionally a major contributor to the planning and realization of the 2021 South Cumberland Summer Meal Program, which serves free meals to plateau children throughout the summer months.

TERESSA COLHOUN

Grundy Safe Baby Court | Community Outreach VISTA

Teressa graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South in 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in Politics and minors in Italian Studies, Philosophy, and Southern Appalachian Studies. While a student at Sewanee involved in civic engagement projects, Teressa was inspired by the initiative and involvement of community members that she met. As a VISTA for Grundy Safe Baby Court, she hopes to help increase capacity for the program and increase programming in the community. In her free time, Teressa enjoys biking, hiking, and reading. 

 

Project Goal: Teressa's service helped ensure that children of incarcerated parents receive the educational, social, and emotional support that is needed to break the cycle of poverty. She accomplished this by building upon the capacity of the Grundy Safe Baby Court to develop sustainable volunteer recruitment and a management system for its mentoring program.

THOMAS MACFIE

Healthy Roots | Community Garden VISTA

Thomas Macfie was raised in Sewanee, TN, and attended college at the University of Montana in Missoula, where he studied creative writing. He has served in a variety of capacities for various organizations, including Black Mesa Indigenous Support; the Friends of Canon Gideon Foundation in Kampala, Uganda; and the Free Nashville Poetry Library in Nashville, TN. In the summer of 2020, Thomas served as a Summer Associate VISTA with the South Cumberland Summer Meal Program and the Healthy Roots Community Garden Program at DuBose Conference Center. Thomas continued his service with DuBose in fall 2020 as a full-year VISTA member. 

 

Project Goal: Thomas spent his term of service strengthening the capacity of the DuBose Healthy Roots Program by developing systems and processes for volunteer recruitment, program promotion, curriculum development, and evaluation for this program for low-income residents of the South Cumberland Plateau. As a result of Thomas’s service, people living in poverty on the Plateau have increased access to healthy food and a higher number of practices for well-being and healthy lifestyle choices, helping to break the cycle of poverty.