Marching on

Marching on

Winter Markets have finally come to a close! After three glorious winter months with Ciclops Cyderi and Brewery as our gracious host, its time to return to Northside Harvest Park.

As we reflect on the winter, we think of the successes of our farmers, and the satisfaction of our customers with the goods they were offered. Despite a cold winter accented with frost and a snowstorm, our farmers were able to provide a bounty that could easily hold down a holiday meal, or several family dinners.

We matched $1,255.00 in SNAP benefits over just three markets, and hosted over 20 vendors.

In anticipation of weekly markets to come, our farmers are gearing up for an even bigger harvest. The first market of our regular season will not be one to miss.

On a personal note, I’ve passed the midpoint of my AmeriCorps VISTA term with HCFM. I reflect on challenges I’ve overcome thus far, and where I’ve set my sights for the end of this service year.

Over the past 7 months my coworkers has been incredibly welcoming to me, an outsider, valuing my ideas and input for the organization moving forward.

Connections I’ve made in Spartanburg have multiplied since the start of my VISTA term, extending beyond that of my AmeriCorps cohort and into the community at large. People are willing to work with you on collaborative efforts, and are rarely self-interested.

In this small town with big aspirations, it is clear that people are working together to move Spartanburg forward.

Being that this is my first full time job, I can’t think of a better place to have started out, growing alongside Spartanburg. What I’ve learned here serves as the foundation for future employment, and it has been interesting seeing Spartanburg soar in just the last 7 months.

Since I’ve been here, the AC Hotel has risen from a heap of metal and concrete, the shell of the old Montgomery Building has been partially restored, the library fell under a cyber attack, there was a tropical storm, tornado, and a snowstorm (we here in Spartanburg take the bad with the good). I’ve seen the Butterfly creek project come to fruition, connecting the market to the surrounding community.

I’ve most enjoyed developing relationships with our vendors, volunteers, and local educators who have a stake in the future of this community.

Many other moments in between have made this experience truly special. Having the chance to talk with my fellow service members after our community workdays made me realize something: my experience is not unique.

We share, for the most part, the challenges of living in a new place, independent of our parents financial support. We have similar thoughts about the meaningfulness of the work that we are doing, and the realistic impact we can have on the community in 1 year.

My VISTA cohort has recruited dozens of volunteers, logging hundreds of hours and helping raise funds for numerous nonprofits. The goals of our host organizations are centered around health, education, and financial. My roommates work for Emerge Family Therapy Center and Birth Matters, two well known nonprofits in the community striving to build healthy families. I greatly admire the work that they do.

Our post-AmeriCorps career goals may be different, and I hope we all can reach what we are striving for. I am hoping to either attend law school this fall, or seek employment back in my home state of Maryland.

Passing the midpoint, I realize that serving Spartanburg has made a great impression on me. I hope that, by the end of the year, I have made a reciprocal impact on this community.