Meet Jarod Hamm

—An informal interview by Epicenter Principal Jack Forinash and incoming Citizen Designer AmeriCorps VISTA Jarod Hamm.

Video: “Instead of using matboard and paper to show my work, I coded my website to be run using the portfolio case itself.” – Jarod Hamm

Jack Forinash: How does this Epicenter Citizen Designer AmeriCorps VISTA position in Green River, Utah, fit into your life?
Jarod Hamm: I’m from a small rural town in Kansas and as I’ve lived in and visited other places I’ve come to realize how special it is to have a thriving community in the “middle of nowhere.” I want to be a part of creating and maintaining that environment for the next generation, and I’m interested in seeing how I can do that with design. Hopefully I can use what I learn in Green River to benefit my own rural hometown in the future.

JF: Who are you named after? If not anyone in particular, why did you parents chose this specific name?
JH: I don’t think the name has any significance, but the odd spelling is after my Dad, Rodney. My older brother makes passive aggressive jokes about not being the namesake.

JF: Do you have any siblings? If so, where are you in birth order and how has that affected your view of the world?
JH: I have one brother who is six years older. We were far enough apart that our lives were somewhat separate, and we half-joke that we’re both only children. But I always wanted to do the things he was doing, so I would try to act more mature than I actually was. As we’ve gotten older we’ve become disconcertingly similar, but so far it’s been a good thing.

JF: What about the natural landscape around Green River excites you most?
JH: I really haven’t been west of the Rockies before, so I’m excited to see something totally new and unfamiliar. I’m imagining a Wile E. Coyote sort of vibe. I’m also a big fan of river floating.

jarod hamm Photo: Hamm in the screenprinting lab at John Brown University.

JF: What book, movie, or person is significant to your work/process/life, and why?
JH: Candide, especially the final chapter. He decides that the only bearable way to live is to cultivate the garden and “work without speculation.” It’s a reminder to me not to get caught up in theory at the expense of actually making something and being useful.

JF: What were you for the last Halloween? What were you for the first Halloween you remember?
JH: It sounds really sad, but I had just moved to Romania and didn’t really know anyone, so last Halloween I was “Alone.” The first Halloween I remember, I was Hall of Fame halfback, Barry Sanders. I imagine my Dad had some influence on my choice.

JF: You’re an Aries. Do you invest any credit into the typical attributes of an Aries?
JH: This is the first I’m hearing of it, so I guess I can’t say. After reading a bit, I hope it’s not totally true because they sound kind of abrasive.

JF: Your Myers-Briggs Typology is ISTP. Do you feel it’s accurate?
JH: This seems a lot closer than the Zodiac did. I especially liked the phrase “uncomplicated in their desires,” or at least I hope that’s true of me. Also “interested in how and why things work” I think is pretty accurate. But I don’t know where my “risk-taking/extreme sports” side is. I like having both feet on flat ground usually. I also have no idea how anything mechanical works, and I hope I’m not “detached”…

JF: What would be (or what is) your superpower?
JH: I can sleep just about anywhere, at any time.

JF: What’s your favorite card or board game, and why?
JH: I think it has to be Dutch Blitz. I grew up playing with my family, but we never played by the real rules (I think to compensate for me being younger). I’ve also been workshopping a 21+ version called Dutch Schlitz. I’ll be bringing a deck!

Photo: Dutch Blitz, Kansas Edition by Hamm

JF: Finally, tell us about the work you’ve been doing with Hope Dies Last.
JH: Last summer, I helped Hope Dies Last in Budapest, Hungary, design a book for victims of sex trafficking to show love and encouragement as well as provide information on human rights and ways to get help. They’ve started printing and distributing 14,000 copies across six languages. People can learn more about what they do and see the book here.

Since then, I worked for Eliberare Design a non-profit agency in Bucharest, Romania, that sells design and web development to fund anti-trafficking campaigns and prevention work.

JF: We’re ecstatic for you to hop on a plane in Romania, fly across the ocean, and join the Epicenter team for a full year, Jarod! See you soon!

Monday, August 1st, 2016
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Epicenter Citizen Designer AmeriCorps VISTA

group-photosm
Photo of Epicenter’s Summer Summit 2013 attendees by Nick Zdon (Epicenter former Frontier Fellow and current Board Member)

We have a unique opportunity for an exceptional designer with a wide and varied skill-set: a chance to spend a year living and working in a small town in Utah. To help citizens of this rural community lead better lives. To demonstrate the value of design in community problem solving. To gain a one-of-a-kind experience in an alternative model of professional practice. To learn new skills. To improve our non-profit. To improve yourself.

We believe this desert town can bloom, but there is work to be done. We’d like to work with you to do it.

Who We Are
Epicenter is a design-driven community development organization that serves the rural town of Green River, Utah. Epicenter strives to provide local solutions to community problems through a holistic approach with projects in three sectors: affordable housing advocacy and repair, business development, and arts and culture. An agile team of designers, creatives, and doers, we have a community-centered and multidisciplinary approach to problem solving and innovation. Here, we nurture local businesses, artists, entrepreneurs, and ideas.

We’re dedicated to this town and our practice, but constantly building on what we do and redefining how we do it. We are looking for more ways to engage our community and to help citizens envision their future. That’s where you come in.

Who You Are
— You’re an adept designer who is looking to take a deep dive into a rural community to learn about its issues and to strategize how its strengths can overcome its weaknesses.
— You have an eye for detail, a mind for numbers, and a willingness to get your boots dirty.
— You have exquisite verbal, visual, and written communication skills.
— You dream of open spaces, big skies, bold colors, and promising futures.
— You have experience and/or interest in working on a team with different skills and backgrounds.

What You Will Do (examples)
— Document, demonstrate, and articulate the value of design in addressing Green River’s problems.
— Execute graphic design for Epicenter’s projects, programs, events, and the organization as a whole.
— Strategically gather information and analyze data to help determine community needs and wants.
— Facilitate opportunities to help improve local businesses and local workforce.
— Assist in planning and execution of local events that encourage community participation and celebrate Green River.
— Work with motivated local organizations and co-workers to improve this community.

Compensation and AmeriCorps VISTA
The position is a twelve-month, full-time VISTA position that is potentially extendable for an additional year, or with successful fundraising, could become a full-time salaried position. VISTA members receive a living allowance, a health insurance benefit, a relocation allowance, pre-service orientation training, assistance in finding housing, and an education award of $5,775 or cash award of $1,500 at successful completion of service.

AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is a national service program designed to fight poverty, originally envisioned by President John F. Kennedy. Most current Epicenter staff members originally arrived to Epicenter via AmeriCorps VISTA and we are proud to offer this position once again.

We have funding, community partners, and the initiative to make this town as vibrant as its backdrop. All we’re missing is you. Come join us this year.

To apply, send your CV/resume, design portfolio, and a one-page cover letter to VISTA@ruralandproud.org by Monday, June 6 at 9am MST. If you have any specific questions about VISTA, please visit the Corporation for National & Community Service website.

We look forward to meeting you.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
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Citizen Designer AmeriCorps VISTA


Photo of Epicenter by Justin Flood (Epicenter’s Aug 2012 Frontier Fellow).

We have a unique opportunity for a special designer with a wide and varied skill-set: a chance to spend a year living and working in a small town in Utah. To help citizens of this rural community lead better lives. To demonstrate the value of design in community problem solving. To gain a one-of-a-kind experience in an alternative model of professional practice. To learn new skills. To improve our non-profit. To improve yourself.

We believe this desert town can bloom, but there is work to be done. We’d like to work with you to do it.

Who We Are
Epicenter is a design-driven community development organization that serves the rural town of Green River, Utah. Epicenter strives to provide local solutions to community problems in three sectors: affordable housing advocacy and repair, business development, and arts and culture. An agile team of designers, creatives, and doers, we have a community-centered and multidisciplinary approach to problem solving and innovation. Here, we nurture local businesses, artists, entrepreneurs, and ideas.

We’re dedicated to this town and our practice, but constantly building on what we do and redefining how we do it. We are looking for more ways to engage our community and to help citizens envision what the community can be through strong visuals.That’s where you come in.

Who You Are
— You’re an adept designer who is looking to take a deep dive into a rural community to learn about its issues and to strategize how its strengths can overcome its weaknesses.
— You have an eye for detail, a mind for numbers, and a willingness to get your boots dirty.
— You have exquisite verbal, visual, and written communication skills.
— You dream of open spaces, big skies, bold colors, and promising futures.
— You have experience and/or interest in working on a team with different skills and backgrounds.

What You Will Do (examples)
– Document, demonstrate, and articulate the value of design in addressing Green River’s problems.
– Execute graphic design for Epicenter’s projects, programs, events, and the organization as a whole.
– Strategically gather information and analyze data to help determine community needs and wants.
– Make presentations for Epicenter and the City of Green River based on data gathered.
– Create architectural renderings for envisioning revitalization of the built environment.
– Facilitate opportunities to improve local businesses and local workforce.
– Work with motivated local organizations and co-workers to improve this community.

Compensation and AmeriCorps VISTA
The position is a twelve-month, full-time VISTA position that is able to be extended up to two additional years, or with successful fundraising, become a full-time salaried position. VISTA members receive a living allowance, a health insurance benefit, a relocation allowance, pre-service orientation training, assistance in finding housing, and an education award of $5,730 or cash award of $1,500 at successful completion of service.

AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is a national service program designed to fight poverty, originally envisioned by President John F. Kennedy. Most current Epicenter staff members originally arrived to Epicenter via AmeriCorps VISTA and we are proud to offer this position once again.

We have funding, community partners, and the initiative to make this town as vibrant as its backdrop. All we’re missing is you. Come join us this year.

To apply, send your CV/resume, design portfolio, and a one-page cover letter to VISTA@ruralandproud.org by Thursday, June 4 at 9am MST. If you have any specific questions about VISTA, please visit the Corporation for National & Community Service website. For more information on Epicenter, visit ruralandproud.org.

We look forward to meeting you.

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015
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AmeriCorps VISTA Opening

In partnership with Epicenter, Habitat for Humanity of Castle Country is seeking AmeriCorps VISTA national service applicants to live, work, and play in Green River, Utah, and to serve the rural communities of Carbon & Emery Counties. This rugged frontier in the San Rafael Desert, between the Rockies and the Wasatch Mountains, has a population of 32,000 people living in 19 small communities spread over 6,000 square miles. Working alongside citizen architects, designers, planners, and artists serving the needs of their community, you’ll build the capacity of a fledgling Habitat affiliate that has completed seven new construction homes, one home renovation, and sixteen critical home repairs. You’ll gain invaluable and one-of-a-kind experience within the realm of public interest design in this alternative model of professional practice. To succeed, you’ll need to possess ingrained idealism, self-motivation, and an enthusiasm for affordable housing.

Habitat for Humanity of Castle Country needs most a person interested in developing the organization as a whole, strengthening the A Brush With Kindness (ABWK) home repair program, and raising funds to build new affordable housing. This VISTA will work within a partner organization’s office in Green River (Epicenter), receiving support in weaving regional housing assistance programs. This VISTA member will also promote environmental stewardship through encouraging the use of sustainable/green construction materials and facilitating energy efficiency home repairs. In year one, this VISTA member will reassess community conditions and assets related to housing; perform resource development for new construction, home repairs, and to hire executive staff; develop the Board of Directors; recruit volunteers; and create a volunteer management system. Beyond the twelve months, either you or a new VISTA recruit will, in year two, focus on intense board development, utilize year-one resources for new construction and home repairs, and manage volunteers with the new system. Year three will ensure the sustainability of programs and secure funds for operational staff.

This position is a twelve-month, full-time position that is able to be extended up to two additional years, or with successful fundraising, become a full-time salaried position. VISTA members receive a living allowance, a health insurance benefit, a travel allowance, pre-service orientation training, assistance in finding housing, and an education award of $5,730 or cash award of $1,500 at successful completion of service.

Qualifications:
— College degree.
— US Citizen or work visa allowing national service.
— Passion for affordable housing and rural communities.
— Experience working with a non-profit charitable organization (specific experience with Habitat is a plus).
— Effective written and verbal communication (Spanish-language proficiency is a plus).
— Organizational, interpersonal, and customer service skills.
— Grant writing experience is a plus, but not required.
— Interest in rural issues, community development, affordable housing, and/or public interest design.

Workload and Compensation:
— Twelve months full-time employment beginning August 2015
— Living allowance of $973 per month
— 10 days paid vacation/10 days paid sick leave, for a total of 1960 work hours
— Up to $550 travel reimbursement
— Education award of $5,730 or cash award of $1,500
— Sunny summer days at the river beach just north of town

To apply, submit a letter of interest and resume/CV no later than June 3, 2015 to habitat@ruralandproud.org.

More information on Habitat for Humanity can be found at HFHCC.tumblr.com.

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015
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Habitat for Humanity of Castle Country: AmerCorps VISTA Position Opening

Habitat for Humanity of Castle Country, in partnership with Epicenter, is now accepting applications for a year-long AmeriCorps VISTA position. The term begins late January 2015 with pre-service orientation (PSO) in Los Angeles, CA. The VISTA member will be located in Green River, UT, working from Epicenter, a partner organization to HFHCC. VISTA members will receive a living stipend of approximately $925/month, a health insurance benefit, a relocation allowance of up to $550, travel accommodations to PSO and Green River, and the choice of an education award at successful completion of service of $5,645 or a cash award of $1,500.

The deadline for applications through the AmeriCorps portal is December 1st at 1 PM MST. To find out more and apply, go here. To express your interest and receive answers to questions, please contact Jack Forinash.

About the Organization
Habitat for Humanity of Castle Country was established in 1989 as the only HFH affiliate in SE Utah, an area of the country that is both very remote and breathtakingly beautiful, home to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, the San Rafael Swell, and endless back-country roads and trails. HFHCC recently completed one new construction home (Dec 2012), one rehab home (Dec 2013), and established an A Brush With Kindness (ABWK) home repair program, which has served thirteen partner family homeowners since it began in November 2013. This new program seeks to serve a larger number of partner families to meet homeowners at their needs and to gain exposure for Habitat for Humanity as a affordable housing provider. HFHCC seeks to train its board to prepare for growth, attract qualified staff to move from a part-time and mostly volunteer organization to a fully-operating major housing provider for the communities we serve. Recently awarded grants have built the ABWK program from scratch, and partner family homeowners are paying on time, but the room for growth in this underserved area is immense, and our organization is ready to take the next step, but need a lot of capacity building efforts to assure as funding is secured and staff are hired we are adequately prepared. The Utah network of HFH affiliates is strong and willing to help. More information can be found here.

About the Position
VISTA member will build the capacity of the HFH affiliate, growing emerging programs to well-established operations that meet the needs of the residents of Carbon and Emery Counties. Assignment description will include research and writing of policies, procedures, and best practices; fund-raising through grant writing and community events; partnership building; awareness campaigns; recruitment of volunteers and applicants for staff positions; facilitating board training; and other efforts to build organizational capacity.

Ideal Applicants
Applicants must have a college degree and an interest in community development and affordable housing. Proficiency with Microsoft Office, Google Drive, and e-mail is required. Proficiency in verbal and written communication is required. Spanish language fluency is a plus, but not required. Experience with non-profit capacity building and working with a non-profit board of directors is a plus. Grant writing and fund-raising experience is a plus.

Critical Points
– Applications are due through the AmeriCorps portal by 1 PM MST on September 22.
– Position begins November 18, 2014, and completes in November 2015, with the potential opportunity to extend.
– Pre-service Orientation (PSO) will be held in Los Angeles, CA, November 18-21.
– Compensation and benefits: Living stipend (approximately $925/month), health insurance benefit, cash award ($1,500) or education award ($5,645) at successful completion of service, relocation allowance* may be available, pre-service orientation and training.

Click here to view the listing online and apply.

Friday, August 22nd, 2014
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Job Openings at Epicenter

We are excited to announce two AmeriCorps VISTA positions opening at Epicenter in Green River, Utah.

In partnership with United Way of Eastern Utah, Epicenter seeks to fill two AmeriCorps VISTA positions for the term of August 2014 through August 2015. Information on the position (including an explanation of AmeriCorps VISTA, compensation, and benefits) can be found online at nationalservice.gov. To apply for this position, click here. Once your application is submitted on the AmeriCorps website, we will review your application. If accepted, we may request additional information and/or schedule an interview. Original applications are due by 9 AM MST June 9th, 2014. Before applying, you are welcome to contact us with questions regarding the position.

What follows is a preliminary description of the applicant we are seeking and the probable programs and tasks that accompany the position. The position will be tailored to the specific attributes and interests of the chosen applicant and may also be adjusted based on the circumstances of funding and mission of the Epicenter. If you are chosen for an interview (Jun 9 -13, 2014), this will be reviewed in depth and a subsequent VISTA Assignment Description (VAD) will be edited that will include more specificity and expectations attached to timelines. For a copy of the detailed job description (VAD), simply e-mail us at info@ruralandproud.org.

Required attributes of applicants:
—Maturity and patience to operate in a live/work/play intensive environment
—A history of teamwork and effective collaboration
—Strong and persuasive writing and public speaking skills
—Respectful and optimistic attitude for small, rural communities
—Organized in both thought and action
—Optimism and willingness to get things done
—Honest and clear in verbal and written communication

Suggested attributes of applicants:
—Spanish language fluency
—Higher education degree in design, architecture, construction, sociology, or other fields relevant to Epicenter
—Creative ability (including drawing, writing, and/or cooking)
—Willing and able to move to work under the direction of Jack Forinash in Green River, UT
—Verbal and written communication proficiency and skilled in construction drawings
—on-site construction experience
—Microsoft Office, Adobe Suite, and AutoCAD proficiency
—Prior experience with social service or design/build

Probable areas of focus (for more details, e-mail us to request the full VAD):
—Economic and Community Development, inc. the proposed Green River Trail System
—Arts and Culture, inc. The Frontier Fellowship
—Affordable Housing, inc. Fix It First and social services
—Fundraising / Events Coordination

Critical points:
—Applications due June 9th, 9 AM MST via the AmeriCorps online portal
—Position begins August 4, 2014 and completes in August of 2015 (with a potential opportunity to extend)
—Required Pre-Service Orientation (PSO) Aug 4-7, 2014 in Los Angeles, CA; details will be discussed during interviews
—Compensation and benefits: Living stipend (approximately $925/month), health insurance benefit, cash award ($1,500) or education award ($5,730) at successful completion of service, relocation allowance* may be available, pre-service orientation and training.

Click here to view the listing online and apply.

*VISTA candidates who are relocating more than 50 miles from their home of record to serve in Green River, Utah, may be entitled to a Relocation Travel Allowance. The rate is based on the mileage between the home of record and the site, not to exceed $1,000. Any candidate who is relocating more than 50 miles may also receive a settling-in allowance up to $550.

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
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AmeriCorps Position Open at Epicenter

Habitat for Humanity of Castle Country announces their new position provided through AmeriCorps. Epicenter is partnering with HFHCC and Habitat for Humanity of Utah County to host the position. This position is to be filled as soon as possible. Apply here. All applications are due on Friday, September 13, 2013.

This AmeriCorps position is a direct service position, where 1700 hours of direct service are performed within a year (working out to about 34 hours per week). This AmeriCorps member will work directly with the staff of Habitat for Humanity of Castle Country to implement and grow the new A Brush With Kindness home repair program throughout Carbon and Emery Counties. This program compliments Epicenter’s own Fix It First program, and the AmeriCorps member will work side-by-side Jack and Armando at Epicenter to achieve collaborative program goals.

This AmeriCorps member will perform direct service activities, including on-site construction, volunteer recruitment and management, pre-construction administration and design, client recruitment and management, partnership building, and program funding solicitation. In essence, your ideal typical day ends with you sweaty and tired, with callused hands, eating a group dinner with local community volunteers and a satisfied homeowner client that has just worked alongside you to improve their quality of life. Even more, you live and work in beautiful Green River alongside the Epicenter Crew, jumping in with whatever adventures and tasks we’re tackling.

Pay for this position is $1,087.00 per month ($13,044/year) and includes health and dental insurance, along with an education award of $5,550 at successful completion of service (this can be used to pay school loan debt or for future higher education). Cost of living for Green River is estimated at $305/month for housing (volunteer housing available through Epicenter). AmeriCorps members are eligible for food stamp assistance and are invited to participate in family meals programs that reduce weekly food costs. AmeriCorps direct service members are permitted to hold other paid positions or attend school, so long as they are able to perform their 34 hours of service on average per week. Can you live in Green River on $1,087/month? Definitely. We all have. Some of us still are.

To express your interest and receive more information, contact Jack Forinash, Program Manager for Habitat for Humanity of Castle Country by calling (435) 564-3330 or e-mailing habitat@ruralandproud.org. This position is to be filled immediately and begin as soon as possible.

AmeriCorps State and National programs are open to US citizens, nationals, or lawful permanent resident aliens age 17 and older. More information on AmeriCorps via their website available here.

Friday, August 9th, 2013
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Open AmeriCorps VISTA position at Epicenter

We are excited to announce an AmeriCorps VISTA position opening at Epicenter in Green River, Utah.

In partnership with United Way of Eastern Utah, Epicenter seeks to fill an AmeriCorps VISTA position for the term of August 2013 through August 2014. Information on the position (including an explanation of AmeriCorps VISTA, compensation, and benefits) can be found online at americorps.gov. To apply for this position, click here. Once your application is submitted on the AmeriCorps website, we will review your application. If accepted, we may request additional information and/or schedule an interview. Original applications are due by 5 PM MST June 14th, 2013. Before applying, you are welcome to contact us with questions regarding the position.

What follows is a preliminary description of the applicant we are seeking and the probable programs and tasks that accompany the position. The position will be tailored to the specific attributes and interests of the chosen applicant and may also be adjusted based on the circumstances of funding and mission of the Epicenter. If you are chosen for an interview, this will be reviewed in depth and a subsequent VISTA Assignment Description (VAD) will be edited that will include more specificity and expectations attached to timelines. For a copy of the detailed job description (“VAD”), simply e-mail us at info@ruralandproud.org.

Required attributes of applicants:
—Maturity and patience to operate in a live/work/play intensive environment
—A history of teamwork and effective collaboration
—Strong and persuasive writing and public speaking skills
—Respectful and optimistic attitude for small, rural communities
—Organized in both thought and action
—Optimism and willingness to get things done
—Honest and clear in verbal and written communication

Suggested attributes of applicants:
—Spanish language fluency
—Higher education degree with experience in design, sociology, business, construction, public administration, or other fields relevant to Epicenter’s projects and programs
—Artistic ability (including drawing, writing, and/or cooking)

Probable areas of focus (for a detail of each area, e-mail us and request the full “VAD”):
—Epicenter Outreach and Public Relations
—Arts and Culture Experience (ACE), inc. the Frontier Fellowship, ACE Internship, and Workshops
—Social Services
—Fundraising / Events Coordination
—Critical Home Repair (aka “Fix It First”)
—Economic and Community Development
—Boys & Girls Club of Green River Outreach and Public Relations

Critical points:
—Applications due June 14th, 5 PM MST via the AmeriCorps online portal.
—Position begins August 2013 and completes August 2014 (with a potential opportunity to extend).
—Required Pre-Service Orientation (PSO); details and logistics will be discussed during interviews.
—Compensation and benefits: Living stipend (approximately $850/month), health insurance benefit, cash award ($1,500) or education award ($5,550) at successful completion of service, relocation allowance may be available, pre-service orientation and training.

Click here to view the listing online and apply.

Monday, May 13th, 2013
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AmeriCorps VISTA Report: Armando Rios

Clockwise from top left: Armando loves snow!, Armando with Habitat for Humanity (HFH) Volunteers, Armando & Jack at HFH House, and Armando leading volunteers at HFH House.

“I am almost 5 months into my Green River life. Working at the Epicenter is a great way to use my architecture education in a meaningful way that affects people on a special level. I am excited to be here doing great work alongside my fellow Epicrew. In these short 5 months I have focused on incorporating myself into the community by going to as many community meetings as possible (e.g. business group meetings, city council meetings, planning and zoning, Utah Housing Matters conference). Attending these meetings has allowed me to have a better understanding on what is going on in the community.”

“Now that the Epicenter has completed the first Habitat for Humanity house in Green River, the housing focus (and my personal focus) is shifting to the new Critical Home Repair (CHR) program. Funded through Bike & Build, the CHR program is set up to be a revolving loan fund that will provide micro-loans to residents who cannot afford the upfront cost of a major home repair (e.g. a $1,000 roof repair). In addition to providing the up-front cash, the CHR program identifies future candidates, provides a material takeoff, a quote for the work to be done, and organizes volunteer groups to perform the work. Utilizing volunteer groups helps keep costs down while also building a greater sense of community, a neighbors helping neighbors mentality. I am excited to see the results of this program and to watch it grow.”

“Here is a quote about snow because it is colder here then I have ever experienced, and I have never lived
in a place that has snow on the ground for weeks on end: ‘Snow flurries began to fall and they swirled around people’s legs like house cats. It was magical, this snow globe world.’ -Sarah Addison Allen, The Sugar Queen.”

Playing a vital role in the completion of the first ever Habitat for Humanity House in Green River, Armando quickly became a godsend for Epicenter. His patience and dedicated work ethic will prove useful in the coming months as he’ll be the project lead on the new CHR program that has the potential to assist 6-12 families this year with home repairs. Armando has had at least one major “win” in Green River, and we look forward to those to come!

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
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AmeriCorps VISTA Report: Ashley Ross

Clockwise from top left: Ashley face-painting at Melon Days as a fund-raiser, Ashley volunteering at the Green River Habitat for Humanity House, Ashley with Shawn Creeden (visiting artist/Frontier Fellow) and his massive embroidery piece, and Ashley and the Epicrew watching fireworks.

“In the summer of 2012, I arrived in Green River as an intern to Richard Saxton, Frontier Fellow. During Saxton’s fellowship, I enjoyed the scorching temperatures, long bike rides on Long Street, and explorative adventures of eroding Buttes. Like many other recent college grads, I was jobless. In fact, to be completely candid, I was absolutely directionless. I had no clue where life was going to take me. Leaving college with a degree in Fine Arts and Sociology had left me perplexed. Where can these soft skills apply in the “real world?” Living in Green River and working at Epicenter seemed like the perfect opportunity to marry my two main interests- art and people. So, I extend my stay in Green River after my month-long internship to become an AmeriCorps VISTA.”

“In my six months here, I have seen great strides in the evolution of Epicenter. I’ve seen and helped the Frontier Fellowship go from being just an internalized artist-in-residence program into a community-based arts program that serves local teens. The Fellowship has blossomed into a unique part of Green River thanks to the grant from United Way of Southeastern Utah. Fellows have hosted workshops at Green River High, Epicenter, and the Community Center. This has been really exciting! We are so very lucky to have such wonderful artists and designers share their special talents with the community.”

“A more personal accomplishment has come in the form of social work. Participating in the H.E.A.T. (Home Energy Assistance Target) program can be a huge help when living in Green River. H.E.A.T. gives applicants a break on their utility bills during winter months. This has been a particularly harsh winter (-18 degrees at the start of the year!), and with sparse job opportunities in these months, it can be difficult to meet our heating needs. Although it is not under the most favorable
circumstances, I’m happy to help sustain the H.E.A.T. Program and Green River residents.”

“On the entertainment/recreational side of things, I’ve coordinated a fitness class at our Community Center which provides a much needed service. Green River doesn’t have a public or private gym or recreation center for adults! In addition to gathering interest, I’ve recruited a very talented local instructor to teach the class, Heidi Taylor. She has been so gracious to dedicate lots of time to this program, and it has been quite successful. Starting this week, the classes wil be held weekly!”

“Thus far as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Green River, I’ve had an exciting and stimulating experience. I’m proud to say I’ve found a way to merge the arts and sociology while helping a non-profit build capacity and sustain itself.”

Ashley’s endless positivity, go-getter attitude, unique art and sociology background, and her incredible approachability has made her an asset for Epicenter and the Community Center. One accomplishment she didn’t mention above was her leadership role in creating and coordinating Spooktacular!, a fundraiser for our non-profit as well as a fun time for the entire community. Ashley has already had many successes in Green River, and we look forward to more!

Thursday, January 10th, 2013
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