Starting this week, a nationwide program is being hosted at Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity.
AmeriCorps recently launched its Volunteer in Service to America program in Cleveland County, which is designed to address poverty in young adults. VISTA members volunteer at particular sites around the U.S and receive a limited stipend for a year of service.
AmeriCorps is a federally funded national service program that pairs young adults with nonprofits and community development centers, engaging them in public service projects around the U.S. Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity is the only program hosting VISTA volunteers in Norman.
Greta Fiedler, one of the three VISTA volunteers with CCHFH for the next year, is a developer at the CCHFH ReStore, a store that accepts donations and sells home items at a reduced price. Fiedler said all the money the store makes goes to financing more homes. She said she primarily works to remedy efficiency issues and build community outreach.
“We are trying to implement a system to get a steady stream of volunteers here, because there are days where we don’t have any, and in order to function well, we need volunteers every day,” Fiedler said. “We are starting to build another home at the end of September, so we are looking at getting volunteers for that.”
Fiedler said CCHFH wants to become more of a community hub and is eager to assist in that process in Norman, where she was born and raised. While attending OU, she studied abroad multiple times, which made her realize how much she loved Oklahoma and wanted to give back.
“I am studying for the LSAT and applying to law schools this cycle,” Fiedler said. “I will most likely leave the state, so I wanted to spend my last year here doing something meaningful for Oklahoma.”
Katy Feaver will be assisting in resource management for CCHFH as a VISTA member over the next year. After graduating from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha in 2019, Fever joined the AmeriCorp National Civilian Community Corporation serving the west coast.
She had initially thought about joining the Peace Corps, but after the COVID-19 pandemic eliminated that possibility, she knew she wanted to volunteer in Oklahoma.
“I really wanted to come back and give to my ‘Oklahomies’ because there is something about helping others and giving back to my roots,” Feaver said. “[CCHFH] is a fantastic organization to get involved with, and I am honestly feeling very lucky and blessed to be here. I think I can bring my skill set to help move this project forward, whatever that may be.”
Michaelle Statham, vice president of programs for CCHFH, said their lifeblood is volunteers. She said 90% of their operations is based on volunteerism, whether that’s building, fundraising, marketing or assisting with ReStore functioning. She said she appreciates the broad perspective and backgrounds that VISTA members bring.
“Some come from different parts of the nation, some fresh out of college, some have been through the leadership programs, which are always wonderful — I’ve never met a college student around this program that hasn’t been a super achiever, which is wonderful,” Statham said.
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