VISTA volunteers ready to serve

Published 12:05 pm Thursday, June 19, 2014

From left to right are Bridget Glover with Theo Ratliff Center; volunteers Antonio Bryant, Clarietta Agee, Carolyn Moore, Hester M. Brown, Kathryn Pearson and Ed Ward, Ratliff Center’s director.

From left to right are Bridget Glover with Theo Ratliff Center; volunteers Antonio Bryant, Clarietta Agee, Carolyn Moore, Hester M. Brown, Kathryn Pearson and Ed Ward, Ratliff Center’s director.

Carolyn Moore, Hester M. Brown, Clarietta Agee and Antonio Bryant have joined the staff at the Theo Ratliff Activity Center as AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers.

AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers devote their time to helping bring individuals and communities out of poverty.

Under the supervision of Bridget Glover and Edward Ward at the Ratliff Center, the volunteers will help youth and adults maintain a healthy lifestyle and to raise student achievement rates.

“We were introduced to the program through United Way in Tuscaloosa,” said Ward, director at the Theo Ratliff Activity Center. “We found that we could write the grant ourselves and sponsor our own Vista Program.”

The VISTA workers will work to develop programs to meet specific needs of the community. They will also recruit and train other volunteers.

“Members make a year-long, full time commitment to serve on a specific project at a non profit organization or public agency,” said Glover, who supervises the volunteers.

Workers receive a living allowance and health benefits for their services. They also receive a stipend after a year of service.

The Vista Volunteers will be working with the Boys and Girls Club of West Alabama following the acceptance of the Theo Ratliff Activity to the club on May 1.

Kathryn Pearson, an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer with United Way, has been volunteering at the Theo Ratliff Activity Center for about a year and a half and is helping prepare the new volunteers. She enjoys working with children and adults at the center.

“It fuels my desire to help the community” said Pearson.

Carolyn Moore, a retired school counselor from U.S. Jones Elementary, has joined the AmeriCorps VISTA program as a volunteer at the Ratliff Center. Moore, who worked with the Demopolis City School System for 40 years, has always had a passion for children.

“I always wanted to do something to encourage them to do better,” said Moore.

“We’ll be working with the school systems to get children involved,” said Moore. “We’ll be going out into the community to get businesses and other areas involved in the program.”

Volunteer Hester M. Brown recently joined the staff through AmeriCorps VISTA.

Brown, a native of Demopolis, was a business owner and real estate agent in Chicago before returning to Demopolis.

After coming home in 2009, Brown decided to help out within the community as much as she could.

Brown works with the auxiliary at the Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital, on the board for the Marengo County Museum of Archives and History, and with seniors at Braxton Senior Adult Daycare.

Brown and Moore will be focusing on extending the healthy lifestyle program to children, teenagers and adults.

“The approach is two-fold,” said Brown. “The program here is geared towards eating healthy and exercising daily.”

Linden native Clarietta Agee has joined the staff as a mentor and tutor with AmeriCorps Vista. Agee is a graduate of Linden High School who enjoys helping others.

“I’m going to be working here and at the Demopolis Public Library,” said Agee.

Agee will be mentoring and helping children read at the Demopolis Public Library this summer as their summer reading programs progress.

Antonio Bryant, a Faunsdale native, joined AmeriCorps Vista to mentor at the Ratliff Center. Bryant decided to join after hearing about the program from both Edward Ward and Bridget Glover.

A graduate from Demopolis High School, Bryant enjoys giving to those in need.

“I always like to help in any way shape or form,” said Bryant. “We’re in the process of bringing boy scouts back over here to the Theo Center.”