Sunday, January 30, 2011

What's next after much-needed VISTA program?

“I don’t think anything can replace what this VISTA project has done. I never dreamed it could become what it is. ... I don’t know if it can be replicated.”

With those words, VISTA project leader Rosie Wiley humbly summed up her life for the past three-plus years with Volunteers in Service to America. As Herald reporter Tim Wolfrum wrote in today's story, VISTA's local program ends in August without a renewal of federal funding.

That, Tim wrote, is "a sad fact for the volunteers and the groups that employ them." It's also a sad fact for this community if nothing comes along to replace this group's amazing sacrifices to tackle so many worthy projects.

'They have revitalized neighborhoods -- Washington Park and Samoset are among them -- built wheelchair ramps, started community gardens, designed playgrounds and put together community coalitions to help the poor and get young people involved in government.'

Somehow, though, I doubt we've heard the last of Rosie Wiley, seen above in Grant Jefferies' photograph. She is one of the most spirited leaders of volunteers I've ever met. And she has never seen a challenge too big to tackle.

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