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NyeCC and Nevada Volunteers partner to honor volunteers at virtual event

Volunteers are a big part of the NyE Communities Coalition, offering their own time, energy and enthusiasm to bolstering the many programs and activities that the coalition brings to the communities it serves.

Without these generous individuals, the coalition would not be able to reach as far as it does and would not be able to have quite the same impact on the lives of those who utilize its programs. It is because of the giving nature that spurs volunteerism that the coalition is able to have such a profoundly positive effect throughout Nye, Esmeralda and Lincoln counties and officials at the NyECC want to make sure their volunteers know just how much they are valued.

As such, the coalition recently hosted a Volunteer Appreciation Program Event, inviting its volunteers to sign on for an afternoon of fun, laughter and lightheartedness, all in celebration of the incredible work the volunteers have performed, particularly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which has presented a plethora of challenges over the past year and a half.

The event, funded by Nevada Volunteers, was held on Saturday, Aug. 28 in honor of the members of AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps VISTA and Youth Advocates Changing Communities, as well as all of the on-campus volunteers at the NyECC. Originally set to be held in-person, the event was changed to a virtual format as a result of the recent surge in COVID-19 and was only open to invited individuals, but there was plenty of fun to be had throughout the two-hour digital gathering.

NyECC Program Coordinator and event organizer Rebecca Hayword said the Volunteer Appreciation Program Event went very well. Touching on a few highlights from the event, she remarked, “We played several games, including paper plate head drawing, a scavenger hunt that had everyone running through their houses for random items and a Nevada trivia quiz game that was officially won by Tammi Odegard, but she is staff here at NyECC so she was demoted to an honorable mention after Divya Narala, Jess Rosner and Mary Martinez, who all tied for second place. Game winners got extra names in the raffle for prizes at the end of the program.”

In addition to the games, there were several speakers for the event as well, including Rosner, who is a former AmeriCorps VISTA and the current Tonopah program manager for the NyECC, along with Narala, who is also a former VISTA and is the current district director for the office of U.S. Representative Steven Horsford.

“Jess Rosner spoke to us about his time as a VISTA and the various projects that he worked on during his service, and how the community connections he made during his time as a VISTA helped him transition into a staff position, ready to hit the ground running, with the knowledge, training and skills he built,” Hayword detailed. “Divya Narala spoke about how VISTA and AmeriCorps service can set you up for career options that you might otherwise not know about, not have the confidence to pursue, or that you just didn’t think you would do well in, and how as a VISTA, you learn how to be a part of the community and listen to the needs of those you are trying to help.”

Hayword had a formal speech prepared for the Volunteer Appreciation Program Event, too, starting with a welcome and an expression of gratitude for those who helped bring the concept to fruition. “I want to thank Shannon Moore and Nevada Volunteers for their truly generous grant that made this event possible. To our host sites, including the Nye County School District, Nevada Outreach Training Organization, PACT Coalition and Health Communities Coalition, thank you so much for hosting the AmeriCorps programs with us. I would also like to thank NyECC’s Board of Directors, your support of our program is vital and appreciated,” Hayword said. “Divya Narala with Representative Horsford’s office, thank you so much for your support of our event, for agreeing to speak today and for your service as a VISTA. Jess Rosner and Sofia Allison, thank you for also being a part of our program today. And last, but most certainly not least, thank you to those on my program committee. Your help with this has been immeasurable and I appreciate you so much.”

Her speech went on to touch upon some of the hurdles that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented since its onset in March, 2020, when, as she noted, the world changed overnight. “In a time when nothing has been certain and every day is a new challenge, our community has been able to count on the dedicated support of AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps VISTA, YACC and volunteers on campus as NyECC and throughout Nye, Lincoln and Esmeralda counties,” Hayword said.

She explained that when the pandemic hit Nevada, AmeriCorps members working in the SAFE program at the Nye County School District stepped up to be trained as Community Health Workers, forming a network of support for those who needed it most. “Those who could not leave their homes due to age or increased risk were able to stay safe while AmeriCorps members delivered needed food, medicine and referrals throughout Pahrump and the surrounding areas,” Hayword stated. “Without AmeriCorps members that continue to be willing to adapt to our changing world, we would not be able to offer many of the services that people have come to rely on at NyECC.”

As to the AmeriCorps VISTAs, which stands for Volunteers In Service To America, Hayword noted that she herself is a former VISTA and this program is close to her heart. “During the lockdown, our VISTA members went above and beyond to make effective communication plans to be used by their organization as we all transitioned to a remote working world,” Hayword stated. “VISTA’s across our service area play a vital part in reducing the impact of extreme poverty and hunger by identifying need and creating linkages between those who can help and those who need help.”

Youth Advocates Changing Communities is a youth-led and adult-guided group at the NyECC that helps inform the community of issues facing young people today, including drugs, alcohol, mental health, bullying and building healthy relationships among their peers, Hayword added. “YACC built NyECC Drug Paraphernalia Education Trailer, which they use to deliver awareness training and programming to parents and caretakers,” she said.

Finally, Hayword spoke about the work performed by the campus volunteers, “…who can be found at NyECC and around town doing cleanup, donation organization, helping out during special events and taking on vital tasks at NyECC that help keep the organization running… our campus volunteers can be counted on to go above and beyond and expect little more than a simple thank you for their efforts. They do the work that keeps us able to do our work,” she stated, concluding, “To all of you, thank you so much for your hard work and dedication to your projects and to your communities. You truly make our world better.”

For more information on the various programs and services available at NyECC visit www.NyECC.org or stop by the campus in Pahrump at 1020 E. Wilson Road. The NyECC can also be reached at 775-727-9970.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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