The city of West Plains and several local organizations recently celebrated AmeriCorps volunteers who, for the last several years, have worked to make improvements to community assets.

In celebration of AmeriCorps teams’ service, March 9 was officially declared AmeriCorps Day in by Pahlmann.

AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is an arm of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), and works with nonprofits, faith-based groups, schools and local agencies around the country to meet critical needs in education, environment, public safety and disaster services.

Health Haven Botanical Gardens in West Plains has received more than 50 weeks of AmeriCorps team support, and was presented the coveted Southwest Region AmeriCorps Sponsor Award. 

“Through the AmeriCorps teams’ service, we are building social capital, bringing unity to community,” said Jeri Dias, with Health Haven Botanical Gardens.

AmeriCorps team members are between the ages of 18 and 24, with no upper age limit for team leaders. The program aims to foster a culture of citizenship, service and responsibility in America.

In exchange for a successful year of service, AmeriCorps members earn a modest living allowance and an education award, equal in value to the Federal Pell Grant, which can be used to pay for college or to pay back qualified student loans.”

Health Haven’s most recent AmeriCorps Team ‘Water 4’ was involved in developing the home gardening demonstration area at the recent West Plains Home & Garden Show held in the civic center.

Eight pallets of landscape stone were supplied by Home Depot in Mtn. Home, Ark., and Health Haven received a collaborative grant from Missouri Department of Agriculture for additional materials to complete the demonstration project. Funds were also used for fencing around the West Plains Community Garden.

Howell County Extension donated soil tests and Karri Koeling provided horse manure to enrich the garden beds. 

Lodging and food assistance for AmeriCorps teams are provided by the local community. While stationed in West Plains, AmeriCorps team members have received lodging at Missouri State University-West Plains student housing, All Saints’ Episcopal Church parsonage and Health Haven Botanical Gardens.

Showers, pool and fitness center accommodations have been supplied by the West Plains Civic Center.

Meals and snacks have been provided by Ozarks Medical Center, Bootleggers BBQ, Ozarks Café, Captain D’s, Wendy’s, Spring Dipper, “Go Farm” Farmers Market, West Plains Farmers Market, Domino’s Pizza, Caseys on Broadway, Fish Shack, Little Caesar’s Pizza, Howard and Suzanne Davis, Barbra Knight, Midge Heater, Jessica Nease, Don and Jeri Dias, Health Haven BG Board of Directors, Savor, Rameys, Walmart, West Plains Community Garden, Boys & Girls Club, Southern Missouri Builders Association, West Plains Beverage, Coca-Cola and many others. 

Team members are also provided with uniforms, health benefits, childcare benefits, loan forbearance and a modest living allowance through CNCS.

Project sponsor Health Haven Botanical Gardens along with partners West Plains Community Garden and Boy & Girls Club of Greater West Plains have focused on food security, conservation and experiential hands-on STEAM learning opportunities.

AmeriCorps teams have assisted with garden beds and fencing at the community garden, Boy Scout Eagle Projects and Girl Scout Gold Projects at Health Haven, and the Kinder Club and Positive Sprouts programs for Boys & Girls Club. 

While in West Plains, AmeriCorps teams have also provided service for many other organizations and events. These include the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology; Habitat for Humanity; West Plains Regional Animal Shelter; Ozarks Independent Living; Old-Time Music, Ozarks Heritage Festival; the Home and Garden Show; BrewFest; Casino Night; Cystic Fibrosis Concert; Galloway Park, Parkside House; frisbee golf course; Zizzer Homecoming Parade; Rotary Taste of Missouri; Bringing Back the American Small Farm Conference; Yellow House Community Arts Center; Ozarks Small Business Incubator; 37th Judicial CASA; and West Plains Animal Control. 

Accomplishing their targeted projects requires collaboration and donation of volunteer manpower, tools, supplies, services, money and equipment.

Some of the many contributors include Reeves Hauling and Excavating, Community First Bank, Timberland Forest Products, Johnny Murrel, Jessica Nease, Honorable David Evans, USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Aaron Evans, Stan Cooper, Anchala and Nalini Reddy Family, Sarah and Barrett Wittenauer;

Don and Jeri Dias, Carol Lenardi, Teresa Skinner, Iver Johnson, Mike McMahon, Lea Lashaway, Caroline and Patricia, the Brinkerhoff family, Garry Butler Crane, city of West Plains, Yvonne Saunders, Justin Saunders, the Bowen Family, Dorothea Berthoud, Eagle Scout Jarom Wilber family and friends, Gordon Berthoud, Helene and Bob Hipple;

Jennifer Callahan, Greir Hull, Emilie Hoglen, Lisa Hull, Stephanie London, Richard Rector, Ginny Henderson, Dawn Hicks, Ozarks Native Plant Society, Missouri Department of Conservation, Walmart, Turning Leaf, Ozarks Medical Center, John Kaiser, Lehman Adkissen, Jason Gargione, Ernie Hatley, Betty Queen, J & S Welding;

Brent Whitwell Gravel, Gary and Regina York, Travis Smith, Cary Stewart, Dakota Cordel, John Taylor, Dr. Robert Jones, West Plains Elementary School, Glenwood School, Cawvey Family, Donna Hensley, Dr. Eugene Ulmanis, Karri and John Koehling, Tim Rosa, Roy Crouch, Emily Gibson, Maggie Clifford, Becky Cooper, Debbie Davison;

Judy Gordon, Andy Ingalsbe, the Collins Family, Habitat for Humanity, Meeks, RP Lumber, Eagle Scout Levi Baker family and friends, Linda Collins, Jay Godwin Architect, the Johns Family, Doyle Lynch, Patrice and Craig Jennings, Dr. Linda Risner, MSU-WP Ag Dept., Cheri Holmes Quality Floors, Westlake Ace Hardware, ABC Carpet;

State Farm, Zach McNett and Southern Bank, Howell County Extension, Howell County Health Department, Mayor Jack Pahlman, Sadie Hutchison, Bill and Jan Pierson, Greg Stevens, Morgan Jones, Mark Joliff, Community Foundation of the Ozarks, Miranda Farms, Rick Wahner, Josh and Mandy Wilber Family, Eagle Scout Jaden Wilber family and friends;

Jeremy and Amanda, Jefferson Thomas, Rick Hoover, Jacob Zeh, Theresa Dias, Zimmerman’s High Tunnels, Wendy Ziegler and “dozens of others too numerous to mention whose contributions are greatly appreciated,” according to sponsors.

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