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Cheryl Lee

Pictured is Cheryl Lee.

MATTOON -- Fit-2-Serve, a local grassroots, Christian-based not-for-profit organization has announced the appointment of Cheryl Lee as a full-time AmeriCorps VISTA. According to a press release, though she has been actively involved as a volunteer for the past two years, Lee will now be on staff to take on an active administrative role in moving the organization forward over the next few years.

AmeriCorps VISTA, a national service program designed to alleviate poverty, was created by Lyndon Johnson's Equal Opportunity Act of 1964. It is the domestic version of the Peace Corps. The concept behind VISTA, Volunteers in Service to America, is to supplement efforts to fight poverty in low-income communities by engaging Americans from all walks of life in a year of full-time service.

VISTA members support the program’s purpose through three primary objectives: encouraging volunteer service at the local level; generating the commitment of private sector resources; and strengthening local agencies and organizations that serve low-income communities. There are currently over 8,000 VISTA members serving in over 3,000 projects throughout the nation.

One of their goals is to become self-sustaining but that will only be possible by creating a solid team of committed volunteers, businesses, organizations, and churches who understand the positive and lasting impact they can have on our community through collaborative efforts. By creating programs that provide intentional opportunities to serve and use their talents, Fit-2-Serve feels strongly that, over time, they can reverse the direction of the poverty statistics of the community.

In the course of the last two years, Fit-2-Serve has created programming under the umbrella of Community Bridges in which they partner with and deepen relationships throughout Mattoon. Their journey began with Community Gardens. From there came Farm-2-Table, Generation-2-Generation, and Farm-2-School.

Each program has a specific focus that provides opportunities for members of the community to volunteer, assist and interact with intergenerational activities held with students and residents of ten nursing home and assisted living facilities. Williams Elementary School and Mattoon High School's FFA and FCS clubs were among the very first partners to pilot our programs. Recently, Riddle Elementary School joined them along with Lake Land College Pathways students as participants and volunteers.

In addition, Eastern Illinois University has been instrumental in providing service opportunities through their office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism. Next semester, the communications department at EIU will be providing interns to assist them in developing a promotional video and a stronger social media presence.

Lee is excited at the opportunity to apply her talents, skills, and experience to further the mission of Fit-2-Serve. One of her primary goals is to increase awareness of the programs in the community and to recruit and retain volunteers.

If you or your organization are interested in learning more about Fit-2-Serve or AmierCorps VISTA, contact her at 217-276-3667 or email her at organize@consolidated.net.

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