A team of 11 young adults is helping Southwest Colorado build infrastructure to achieve the goal of local food security.
On April 11, a crew with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps arrived to begin projects at the Old Fort Lewis campus in Hesperus and Manna, Durango’s soup kitchen.
This almost two-month stop in Southwest Colorado is among the last rounds of AmeriCorps projects for the young crew, said team representative Emma Hodgson. Their last day will be June 2.
AmeriCorps is a full-time national service program. Almost 2,200 adults between the ages of 18 and 24 work in teams of eight to 12 on projects that address critical needs in a community.
Typically, members work on different six- to 12-week-long projects over a 10-month term. Projects usually address natural disasters, infrastructure improvement, environmental stewardship, conservation and urban or rural development.
The crew that arrived in Hesperus last month embarked on its first project in Holton, Kansas, working with Homestead Affordable Housing. There, the crew renovated apartments for senior housing and did some trail maintenance at local trails, among other work.
Then, the team traveled to Tucson, Arizona, where it worked on beautification projects at eight different high schools around the area and helped build a college and career center.
Hodgson said they also tutored young adults, held prep classes for ACT testing, assisted in the education of English language learners and helped low income families file their taxes.
Here, the crew is splitting its time between the Old Fort Lewis campus and Manna.
At the Old Fort, Hodgson said the crew is helping improve gardens and irrigation systems, repair fencing and upgrade the root cellar for winter storage.
Recently, the group embarked on a project to repair six miles of barbed-wire fence, while at the same time, clean the side wheels of an irrigation system, sort potatoes and weed a garden.
“We’re also helping Southwest Conservation Corp remove brush,” Hodgson said. “Every day is a different project.”
Brooke Frazer, garden coordinator for the Garden Project of Southwest Colorado, said the group comes to Manna once a week to help build a community garden.
Specifically, the AmeriCorps crew is building nine terraces on the hillside, which will serve as a community garden for Manna members to have and grow food.
Hodgson said once the projects are complete, crew members will travel to Gunnison for five weeks for similar work. They will then travel to Denver to finish up their 10-month commitment.