South Cumberland Plateau AmeriCorps VISTA Project

About Our AmeriCorps VISTA Partnership

VISTA stands for Volunteers In Service To America, and is a branch of AmeriCorps, a federal program that is often referred to as the "domestic Peace Corps." AmeriCorps VISTA programs fight poverty across America by placing VISTA members in service to nonprofit organizations to help build capacity and sustainability.

 

The South Cumberland Plateau AmeriCorps VISTA Project began in 2014 and is a unique collaboration between South Cumberland Community Fund and the University of the South. SCP VISTAs serve each year at as many as 20 nonprofit sites in Franklin, Grundy, and Marion counties. 

Our VISTA Team

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SCP AmeriCorps VISTA Project

Katie Goforth

Title: AmeriCorps VISTA Program Manager

Email: adgofort@sewanee.edu

Phone Number: 615.417.7258

Born in Tennessee and raised in Colorado, as a child Katie spent most summers with her extended family in Grundy County, Tennessee. After earning a B.A. from the University of Colorado with dual majors in anthropology and geography, Katie made Tennessee her permanent home. She worked in the field of K-12 education for more than 20 years, along the way earning a master's degree in Elementary Education (Tennessee State University) and an Ed.S. in Educational Leadership (Tennessee Technological University). She then transitioned into the field of nonprofit grant management and went on to serve as director of South Cumberland Health Network and co-director of grants for Volunteer Behavioral Health. She is a member of numerous local and regional committees and boards in the fields of public health and education, including South Cumberland Health Network, Grundy County Health Council, Activ8 Grundy, Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, and Friends of South Cumberland State Park. 

 

Prior to her current service, Katie partnered with the University of the South's Office of Civic Engagement and South Cumberland Plateau AmeriCorps VISTA Project on many community outreach initiatives; her current position as VISTA manager gives her even more freedom to use her professional experience in innovative ways to help the local community. In her free time, Katie enjoys traveling, hiking, and walking her dogs along the scenic trails of the South Cumberland Plateau. 

SCP AmeriCorps VISTA Project

Vicki Borchers

Title: AmeriCorps VISTA Coordinator

Email: vmborche@sewanee.edu

Phone Number: 931.636.3403 

Vicki was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended college at the University of Puget Sound in Washington State, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in music. After spending much of her career as an international marketer in Munich, Germany, Vicki returned to the United States in 2019 and settled with her family in Sewanee. Having worked for multinational corporations as well as operating her own marketing business, Vicki brings broad marketing, organizational, and sales enablement experience to her role as VISTA coordinator for SCP AmeriCorps VISTA Project, and welcomes the opportunity to put her professional skills to use in her adopted community. She is fluent in German and is additionally a trained mediator with experience resolving conflict in professional settings. In her free time, Vicki enjoys playing the cello, running, reading, spending time with her family, and hiking on the Plateau.

Office of Civic Engagement, University of the South

Julianna McBee (May 2020-21)

Title: South Cumberland Plateau VISTA Leader 

Email: scvistaleader@gmail.com

Phone Number: 931.841.7648

Julianna McBee, born and raised in Pelham, TN, graduated from Lee University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and an Emphasis in Business and a minor in religion. During her time at Lee University, Julianna participated in multiple volunteer opportunities and was in the leadership of a campus club for two years. She enjoys serving others and hopes to make a difference in every life she touches. In her free time, Julianna enjoys hiking and spending time with family and friends. Julianna served as an SCP VISTA with the Grundy County School System in 2019 and is continuing her service with the Office of Civic Engagement as SCP AmeriCorps VISTA Leader.

 

Goal of the project: Julianna will build the capacity of the South Cumberland Plateau VISTA Project to support VISTA members in their individual and collective efforts to improve health, education, and economic opportunity for people living in poverty in the South Cumberland region. As a result of Julianna’s service, VISTA members will have a  more productive and rewarding experience as they work to develop effective systems, processes, and programs for community partners, establish supportive networks within the community, and develop their leadership skills. Julianna will work to enhance the SCP AmeriCorps VISTA Project's growth, organization, and sustainability, increasing its capacity to support community partner’s efforts to alleviate poverty.

BetterFi

Sam Shaw (July 2020-21)

Title: Financial Inclusion VISTA

Email: sam@betterfi.co

Sam Shaw was born and raised in Nashville, TN. In May of 2019 he graduated from the University of the South with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a minor in international and global studies. Starting out as a Summer Associate VISTA with the South Cumberland Plateau (SCP) AmeriCorps VISTA Project, he went on to enlist as a full VISTA in fall of 2019 and renewed for a second year in summer 2020. Sam is looking forward to spending more time addressing the economic issues facing the Plateau and tri-county area.

 

Goal of the Project: Sam’s goal is to build the capacity of BetterFi, a nonprofit answer to predatory lending located in Coalmont and established by a former SCP AmeriCorps VISTA member. Sam will develop a holistic financial coaching program operated by volunteers along with complimentary financial and soft skill programming to assist low-income residents in the tri-county area of Franklin, Grundy, and Marion. 

DuBose Conference Center

Thomas Macfie (July 2020-21)

Title: Healthy Roots Community Garden VISTA

Email: hrvista@duboseconferencecenter.org

Thomas Macfie was raised in Sewanee, TN, and attended college at the University of Montana in Missoula, where he studied creative writing. He has served in a variety of capacities for several organizations, including Black Mesa Indigenous Support; the Friends of Canon Gideon Foundation in Kampala, Uganda; and at the Free Nashville Poetry Library in Nashville, TN. In the summer of 2020, Thomas served as a Summer Associate VISTA with the South Cumberland Summer Meal Program and the Healthy Roots Community Garden Program at DuBose Conference Center. Thomas will continue his service with DuBose in fall 2020 as a full-year VISTA member. 

 

Goal of the Project: Thomas will strengthen the capacity of the DuBose Healthy Roots Program by developing systems and processes for volunteer recruitment, program promotion, curriculum development, and program evaluation for this program for low-income residents of the South Cumberland Plateau. As a result of Thomas’s service, people living in poverty on the Plateau will have increased access to healthy food and learn practices for well-being and healthy lifestyle choices, helping to break the cycle of poverty.  

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Franklin County Prevention Coalition

Katie Cole (May 2020-21)

Title: Opioid Prevention Outreach VISTA

Email: fcpcvista@gmail.com

Katie graduated from Penn State in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a minor in global health. Prior to joining VISTA, Katie was heavily involved in service and social justice at Penn State through service-learning trips and volunteer work at a local medical center. As a VISTA, Katie hopes to strengthen community efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and is excited to learn more about the communities of the South Cumberland area. 

 

Goal of the Project: Katie will provide sustainable solutions to build the capacity of the Franklin County Prevention Coalition to combat the opioid epidemic and reduce the frequency of substance abuse in Franklin County, Tennessee. Areas of emphasis include opioid abuse prevention and harm reduction, prevention of drug/alcohol/tobacco use, and reduction of depression and anxiety. Katie will address issues of poverty through the development of sustainable behavioral health and addiction programming that acknowledges the health literacy of the community.

Grundy County Mayor's Office/ Southeast Tennessee Development District

Kara Kramer (December 2019-2020)

Title: Sustainable Economic Development VISTA

Email: gcmvista@gmail.com

Kara has a degree in English from the University of Arizona, and before joining VISTA worked as an advertising copywriter. She looks forward to working with small businesses using her skills in marketing to bring more people to the South Cumberland Plateau’s tourist and historical sites. Kara enjoys live music, camping, and exploring new places. 

 

Goal of the Project: Kara will use her skills to expand Grundy County’s economic development activities including tourism and historical/cultural programs to attract visitors to the South Cumberland Plateau. She will collaborate with Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association to implement a marketing and communications strategy that promotes recreation and sustainable tourism and brings revenue and resources to rural, under-served low-income communities. Kara’s service strengthens partnerships with local businesses and residents to engage communities in developing sustainable tourism projects.

Grundy County Sheriff's Office

Blake Blevins (May 2020-21)

Title: Rehabilitation and Reentry VISTA

Email: bblevins@gc-sheriff.com

As a native Appalachian, Blake grew up in Harlan County, Kentucky. He graduated from the University of Kentucky in May of 2020 receiving a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics with minors in international business and philosophy. During his undergraduate years Blake was in the Global Scholars pathway of the honors program, an editor for his university’s independent student-run newspaper, a resident advisor, and a volunteer in multiple community service events. His passion for equity, justice, and humanity in the legal system led him to serve as a VISTA in the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office. Blake hopes that through his position he can increase opportunities afforded to the incarcerated and work to decrease recidivism. Blake can often be found reading, running, playing video games, and accidentally burning food.

 

Goal of the Project: Blake’s efforts will build the capacity of the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office to develop, expand, and sustain inmate recovery efforts. These recovery efforts include several programs designed to provide educational opportunities and job skills training for those who are incarcerated at the county detention center. These efforts will strive to reduce recidivism rates in Grundy County and poverty among ex-offenders.

Grundy Recovery Alliance Community Endeavor

Scottie Garber-Roberts (August 2020-21)

Title: Opioid & Substance Abuse Recovery VISTA

Email:  gracevista2020@gmail.com

Scottie graduated from East Tennessee State University in May 2020 with a Master of Arts in English. Before joining the SCP AmeriCorps VISTA Project, she taught college-level writing. As a VISTA working with Grundy Recovery Alliance Community Endeavor (GRACE), she looks forward to using her writing and communications experience to promote the essential community programs GRACE offers. Scottie enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time outside.

 

Goal of the Project: Scottie will build the capacity of GRACE to provide effective programming encompassing outreach, education/training, referrals, medical services, counseling/coaching, and opioid/drug interventions for adults in recovery. Through her efforts, Scottie will position GRACE as a model for Building Communities of Recovery by prioritizing program development based on the research of community needs, service gaps, and knowledge of best practices and industry standards. She will address issues of poverty through the development of sustainable behavioral health and addiction programming that acknowledges the health literacy of the community.

Grundy Safe Baby Court

Teressa Calhoun (May 2020-21)

Title: Community Outreach VISTA

Email: gsbcvista@gmail.com

Teressa graduated from the University of the South in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in politics and minors in Italian studies, philosophy, and southern Appalachian studies. While a student at the University she was involved in civic engagement projects, and was inspired by the initiative and involvement of community members that she met. As a VISTA for Grundy Safe Baby Court, she hopes to help increase capacity for the program and increase programming in the community. In her free time, Teressa enjoys biking, hiking, and reading.

Goal of the Project: Teressa will ensure that children of incarcerated parents receive the educational, social, and emotional support that they need. This will be accomplished by building upon the capacity of the Grundy Safe Baby Court to develop sustainable volunteer recruitment and a management system for its mentoring program.

Grundy Safe Communities Coalition

Sarah Krueger (January 2020-2021)

Title: Opioid Prevention Outreach VISTA

Email: gscc.vista@gmail.com

Sarah Krueger grew up in Pendleton, SC, and her family moved to Cleveland, Tennessee during her freshman year of college. She graduated from Western Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, and a minor in religion. During college, Sarah worked at an after-school program and learned about the importance of making connections with individuals and seeing the “whole person” behind whatever behavior was being displayed. She also had the chance to study abroad in Botswana which helped her gain confidence and reinvigorated her passion for service. Sarah is excited to be working with Grundy Safe Communities Coalition to help make Grundy County a safer, healthier place. In her free time, Sarah hopes to explore new hiking locations, diminish her “to-be-read” pile, and visit home to ride her horse, Kokopelli.

 

Goal of the Project: Sarah will strengthen the capacity of Grundy Safe Communities Coalition by building on community efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and reduce the frequency of substance abuse. Areas of emphasis will include opioid abuse prevention and harm reduction, a decrease in non-medical access to prescription opioids, and a decrease of overdose rates in Grundy County.

Office of Civic Engagement/ 
University of Tennessee Extension Office

Savannah Atkinson (January 2020-21)

Title: Cumberland Teaching Garden VISTA

Email: sewaneevistagarden@gmail.com

Savannah is from upstate South Carolina and attended the University of South Carolina before deciding to take some time to figure out a new degree path. Before joining the VISTA program, Savannah served in an AmeriCorps State position in southwest Virginia as a seasonal interpretive park ranger where she led daily educational programs. As a VISTA, Savannah hopes to continue and expand improvement efforts in her new community. In her free time, she loves to hike with her dog and enjoys learning new hobbies, the most recent being crochet.

 

Goal of the Project: Savannah will build the capacity of the School Garden Program by developing a sustainable school garden stakeholder network across the Plateau to improve volunteer recruitment, curriculum development, and program funding. Savannah’s service increases access to healthy food for children living in poverty on the Plateau and will help these same children learn practices for well-being and healthy lifestyle choices.

Sequatchie Valley Head Start

Jennifer Moeltner (December 2019-2020)

Title: Family Resiliency Education and Awareness VISTA

Email: vista@svheadstart.org

Jennifer Moeltner graduated from the University of Toledo with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and a minor in disability studies. Before joining VISTA, she worked in an after-school program for high-risk elementary students where she created and implemented a STEM program in addition to tutoring. During her service she became aware of the emotional and mental impact poverty has on students and their caregivers. As a VISTA, Jen hopes to create opportunities that aid in successful futures for kids and allows their families to break the cycle of poverty. She hopes to use the skills and experience she gains from her time as a VISTA to help her create a successful anthropology field school for people with special needs and that promotes their inclusion in the study of anthropology.

 

Goal of the Project: Jen will build the capacity of Sequatchie Valley Head Start to support parents and early childhood professionals in creating safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for children living in poverty in the South Cumberland region. To ensure that these children receive the educational, social, and emotional support they need to help their families break the cycle of poverty, Jen will develop a comprehensive two-generation education model incorporating policies, programs, and practices that utilize brain-based research to prevent and mitigate the impact of adverse childhood experiences. 

SETHRA CASA

Emily Stone (August 2020-21)

Title: Volunteer Recruitment VISTA

Email: sethracasavista@gmail.com

Emily Stone graduated from the University of the South in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in International and Global Studies and Spanish. As a student, she served as a Canale intern with Sewanee’s Office of Civic Engagement, coordinating and leading Sewanee Elementary’s “Wednesday Wonderings” after-school program for kids in kindergarten through 5th grade. During her time as a Canale intern, she became aware of the cyclical poverty present in the counties surrounding Sewanee and was inspired by varied efforts to address issues that perpetuate poverty. In her free time, Emily enjoys cooking, hiking, traveling, and playing with dogs.

 

Goal of the Project: Emily will build the capacity of the Southeast Tennessee Human Resource Agency Court Appointed Special Advocate (SETHRA CASA) position to coordinate volunteers and other key stakeholders to effectively serve abused and neglected children from low socioeconomic families that are appointed to the program by Marion and Grundy county juvenile judges. As a result of Emily’s service, children living in poverty in Marion and Grundy counties will have greater assurance of receiving safe, loving, and permanent homes where their educational, social, emotional, and psychological needs are met. 

South Cumberland Health Network

Connor Stack (July 2020-21)

Title: Health Network Community Outreach VISTA

Email: schealthnvista@gmail.com

Connor graduated from the University of the South in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Before joining VISTA, Connor worked in the University of the South’s Bonner Program writing grants, helping with development at the University Farm, and creating programming for Bonner internship outreach workshops. During this time, Connor gained a passion for changing people’s lives for the better and developed the belief that no matter who you are or where you live, being healthy and well-fed are essentials on which we can all agree. As a VISTA, Connor hopes to bring together all the different health initiatives on the South Cumberland Plateau to create a healthier community. Connor enjoys hiking and a good cup of coffee in the morning.

 

Goal of the Project: Connor will build the capacity of the South Cumberland Health Network (SCHN) to fulfill its mission of supporting health care providers in their efforts to improve health equity and healthy outcomes for people living in poverty in the South Cumberland region. Connor will develop systems and processes to promote effective and efficient collaboration between providers, engage local community members, identify funding sources for healthcare initiatives, and build organizational protocols and procedures for network sustainability. Through his efforts, SCHN will leverage more resources to improve health care access and health outcomes for uninsured and underinsured people in the South Cumberland region.

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