In celebration of National Volunteer Week, April 17-23, individuals and groups paused to thank Virginia's volunteers and national service members with special events and service projects throughout the state. Rep. Rob Wittman traveled to York River State Park on Tuesday, April 18, to spend time with some of Virginia's amazing AmeriCorps members serving with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Rep. Wittman reflected on his own passion for Virginia's outdoor parks and thanked the members for their dedication to ensuring these spectacular spaces remain some of the best in the country. Joined by Melissa Adams, Director of Virginia State Parks, Matt Wells, Director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation; and Kathy Spangler, Director of the Virginia Service Commission, Rep. Wittman joined the members for a service project to construct a pollinator garden ahead of the growing season.
"What each of you do through the AmeriCorps program and through Virginia State Parks," he said "is to make a difference in someone else's life which is so important."
James Pittard, an AmeriCorps members currently serving with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation program, says that serving in this program feeds his passion for the outdoors and is preparing him for a career in the park system. James led the group volunteer project which included planting seeds and plants, as well as mulching. He explained the importance of bees and insects to a healthy ecosystem and how the park service is prioritizing these types of pollinator gardens throughout their parks.
In Newport News, Virginia Delegate Shelly Simonds and Senator Monty Mason visited Hiddenwood Elementary School to get a firsthand look at how AmeriCorps members serving with The Literacy Lab - Virginia Reading Corps are helping students improve their reading skills. The members shared their stories of service with the represenatives saing that the program has "given the children a sense of pride in themselves, and a sense of confidence that they hope will carry on into their adult lives." "We’re making citizens!," exclaimed one member.