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By: Andrianna Betts
When I first moved to Minot last March I had no idea where my journey as an AmeriCorps VISTA member would lead me. I made the decision to be a federal volunteer in order to serve communities that are working to become more resilient in the face of social and environmental changes.
I began my service year in the planning department for the City of Minot. During my first three months I familiarized myself with the recovery process after the 2011 flood, and learned about the various local organizations that aim to improve the quality of life of Minot area residents.
In the process of doing this research my fellow AmeriCorps VISTA member and I observed that not all Minot residents had access to the resources they required to repair or rebuild their home in the aftermath of the flood. The idea for creating a tool lending library stemmed from this observation, and after my partner wrote a project proposal we worked together to find a home for the library. We were elated when the Minot Public Library agreed to operate the tool lending service for its patrons. MPL is a wonderful public institution, and the staff there constantly strive to connect library patrons to resources they might otherwise not have access to. The tool lending service similarly aims to connect local residents to some of the tools they require to repair their home, and if another flood occurs, they may more easily fix damages to their property using tools from the library’s inventory.
My partnership with the Minot Public Library was one of many wonderful partnerships I experienced this year. I continued the partnership my predecessors (the 2016 class of Resilience AmeriCorps VISTAs) had developed with Friends of the Souris River. This local organization aims to improve the community’s perception of the Souris River by organizing volunteer driven cleanups and fun river activities including a skating trail. The “Skate the River” event held in February was my favorite FSR event to date. On a sunny Saturday afternoon individuals and families enjoyed a nearly two-mile skating trail that FSR completed using grant dollars. As music played from speakers, event participants could pause to drink a cup of hot cocoa or grab a slice of cheese pizza. It was a day that celebrated the river as a place for winter recreation available to all.
Endings are really new beginnings in disguise. As my first service year comes to an end this month, I am starting to prepare for a second service year with AmeriCorps. I will serve as a VISTA Leader at a nonprofit in Austin, Texas; there I will mentor VISTAs who are serving at nonprofits throughout Texas. I am stepping onto a new path, but I will carry with me new friendships and memories of my adventures exploring North Dakota.