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Departing VISTAs

On Tuesday, Jan. 11, the Grundy Rotary club hosted a farewell ceremony for three departing VISTAs completing their service: Sarah Baumgardner, Sarah Edmonds, and Dominic Gialdini VISTAs build the capacity of nonprofit and governmental institutions to alleviate poverty on the Plateau.

Baumgardner served with Grundy Recovery Alliance Community Endeavor (GRACE) a faith-based, substance abuse recovery organization where she developed sustainable behavioral health and addiction programming, as well as systems for referrals, communication and volunteer management. While he was not able to attend due to family, her VISTA supervisor Dave Hodge praised her for a positive attitude and hard work. “She was so eager to do anything that needed to be done.”

Serving at the University of the South, Edmonds planned and implemented the 2021 South Cumberland Summer Meal Program, which served over 60,000 meals to Plateau children during the summer months. “Vicki Borchers, who served as Edmonds’ supervisor noted her exceptional grace, flexibility, and organizational skills.

Serving at the Grundy County Mayor’s Office, Gialdini organized the creation and election of a plateau-wide tourism board, Tennessee’s South Cumberland Tourism Partnership, which will create economic opportunity for plateau residents by developing tourism on the Plateau. “Dominic was never frustrated,” noted Michael Brady, mayor of Grundy County, praising the work that Gialdini accomplished. Gialdini has accepted a position with Grundy County overseeing the tourism program he helped launch as a VISTA.

The South Cumberland Plateau AmeriCorps VISTA Project is jointly sponsored by the University of the South and SCCF, through a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service. For much of the past decade, the VISTA program has brought talent to the Mountain, and VISTAs have shored up the capacity of organizations to complete their mission or have begun new enterprises that are building human flourishing in the region.


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