HPU AmeriCorps VISTAs and Bonner Leaders Continue to Serve Community During Pandemic

Apr 29th, 2020

HPU AmeriCorps VISTAs and Bonner Leaders Continue to Serve Community During Pandemic

Their efforts include supporting a safe opening for the High Point Farmer’s Market, assisting nonprofits with digital campaigns and creating a community newsletter.

HIGH POINT, N.C., April 29, 2020 – High Point University’s AmeriCorps VISTAs and Bonner Leaders have continued serving the surrounding community virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is certainly a challenging time in our country, and it has caused everyone to be creative, resourceful and innovative, including our HPU AmeriCorps VISTAs and HPU Bonner Leaders,” says Mary Beth Foust, assistant director of Civic Responsibility and Social Innovation. “I am always proud to watch their work unfold in the community but especially now as we strive to continue to serve our community partners to the best of our ability, even if that means in a remote way.”

Katie Tylman, an AmeriCorps VISTA, who serves the High Point Farmers Market, Growing High Point and the Hayden-Harman Foundation, created safety protocols and conducted research to help the High Point Farmer’s Market remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tylman’s work supported city of High Point leaders with the decision to open the market for city residents on April 18 in order to support farmers and provide fresh, essential food to local citizens. She also created a cookbook for the market that includes healthy recipes highlighting local produce grown in North Carolina, as well as recipes submitted by the public.

At Growing High Point, Tylman created similar safety protocols and helped with the organization’s marketing campaigns, which inspire people to garden at home and grow their own food, introduce all of the new urban farmers on all social media pages, and market the Growing High Point Online Market Place. People can sign up for produce boxes and buy food online here

“I’ve been feeling very grateful to be working with these people,” says Tylman. “I couldn’t be doing the work that I do without such inspiring coworkers, public servants and friends. We’re all working toward the same goal – making sure that everyone in our community has access to healthy, fresh, organic, affordable foods because food is a basic human right for everyone to have access to.”

Clarice Sigsworth is an AmeriCorps VISTA who serves D-UP, an afterschool program for children, as well as the Hayden-Harman Foundation and the Greater High Point Food Alliance. She is assisting Jakki Davis, executive director of D-UP, with communication efforts. Sigsworth helps D-UP make electronic wellness check-ins with families. This helps D-UP identify the most important needs of local families, such as paying rent or utilities, or accessing other resources.

She is also helping build an online resource hub developed by community leaders and initiated by Patrick Harman of the Hayden-Harman Foundation. Mara Wedekind, an HPU graduate, is also designing the website with input from city council members, nonprofit organizations and other leaders.

Sigsworth is also exploring new ways to continue the Washington Street Music and Movement Collective, an afterschool program that teaches children between the ages of 6 and 10 how to play musical instruments like the saxophone, flute and clarinet, virtually.

“The way I serve the community from day to day has changed a lot in light of the pandemic, but the heart of the work is all the same,” says Sigsworth. “The organizations I work with have built relationships that function like family bonds. I am inspired by the care and commitment our nonprofit leaders demonstrate as they constantly adapt their strategies to meet the needs of the High Point family.”

Dalton Lucas, a Bonner Leader, assists residents within the city of High Point’s Community and Neighborhood Development Office. Lucas is creating a weekly newsletter that serves as a one-stop shop for community leaders and members to refer to for helpful information, resources and events happening across the city.

He is in charge of contacting neighborhood leaders to see what resources and information they need to ensure that communities stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to continue serving the community I love during this time of crisis,” says Lucas. “It is important that we all come together and support one another in any way we possibly can.”