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!