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New AmeriCorps VISTA Members Welcomed to CHP

It may be hard to believe, but August marked the arrival CHP’s fifth group of AmeriCorps VISTA members.  Highlighted below, this team of five men and women will work for one year in our Christiansburg offices helping to revitalize and stabilize neighborhoods across our service area.

AmeriCorps VISTA is the national service program designed specifically to fight poverty. Founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965 and incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993, VISTA has been on the front lines in the fight against poverty in America for more than 40 years.

“Thanks to the AmeriCorps VISTA program, CHP has had the privilege to work with several exceptional individuals, and the talents and character of this year’s group appears to be no exception,” said Director of Corporate Development Kimberly Strahm.

Carrie Lisle of Winston-Salem, North Carolina is newly graduated from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill where she majored in Biology.  Part of her work experience includes an internship with the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling at UNC where she helped expand a sports recycling program at home football games and researched and reported on other sustainable projects in the UNC Athletic Department.  Lisle says she also spent two years working in a church nursery every Sunday and Friday “watching small children be adorable” but laughingly admits her child care skills have yet to be applied in the month she has been working in CHP’s Corporate Development and Resident Services departments.  Ultimately, she hopes to work at a job related to environmental sustainability, “but right now I’m not really sure what. I’m open to ideas!” she adds.

In her free time, Lisle sings in the Blacksburg Master Chorale and enjoys running “very, very slowly.”  She also gets a kick trying to recreate the things she finds on Pinterest, at which she claims to be successful “about 75 percent of the time.”

Lisle explains that she decided to be a VISTA member because she “realized that as a brand-new college graduate I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with the next forty-ish years of my life. I thought that being a VISTA would give me a great chance to try different things while also getting to help out a community!”

Hailing from Martinsville, Virginia, Ben McGarry recently received a degree in Marketing from James Madison University (JMU).  While in school, McGarry helped execute marketing initiatives for JMU’s Recreation Center and interned with a local Parks and Recreation department and an area sports complex. 

The soccer-playing book and movie buff plans to one day work in the nonprofit world combatting poverty, which is part of his reason for becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA.  “I wanted to help people and to do something that would be rewarding.  I thought working for an organization such as CHP would be a good opportunity to gain experience and make a difference.  I've heard that past VISTA members made meaningful contributions to CHP and I hope that I can do the same."

A Radford University graduate with a Bacheor of Science degree in Geology, Tim Naylor will be spending his VISTA term working with the CHP Energy Solutions team.  He gained a breadth of work experience performing internships and apprenticeships related to the fields of geology, biology, landscaping, and farming and as a camp coordinator for Maine Appalachian Trail Club.

Regarding his decision to apply for a VISTA member position, Naylor says he wanted to work for a company “whose values and ideals align with my own. I am excited to work both directly and indirectly with the people in this community to improve this place that we share.” Naylor’s goal for the future is “to be personally fulfilled in whatever work that I do and to make a positive difference in the lives of people living in my community.” An avid outdoorsman from Warrenton, Virginia who enjoys travelling, kayaking, biking, backpacking/hiking, farming and gardening, Naylor also has fun cooking and creating and appreciating music and art.

Now a VISTA member working for CHP Design Studio, Isabel Rutherfoord also served as a summer VISTA member in our Corporate Development department during the months of June, July, and August.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Architectural history from the University of Virginia and a Master’s degree from the University of Southern California in Historic Preservation and Urban Planning.

The Roanoke, Virginia native gained previous work experience as an interior designer in New York and as a development associate for an affordable housing developer in Los Angeles. She also spent time working in materials conservation for a subcontractor, also in Los Angeles.

With a passion for “participating in tactical urbanism projects and challenging cities to take on more progressive planning policies,” Rutherfoord aspires to “continue building and rehabbing thoughtfully designed affordable housing throughout the Southeast.”  She elected to become a VISTA member so that she could assist CHP and serve the local region.

Rutherfoord’s hobbies include running, cycling, hiking, skiing, and gardening.

Originally from Gurnee, Illinois, but a Blacksburg, Virginia resident for five years, Colbi Young attended Virginia Tech and received a degree in Architecture.  During her time in school, Young was involved with the university’s Community Design Assistance Center (CDAC), gaining her valuable design experience which she is now applying at CHP Design Studio.

Young would like to eventually get herarchitecture license and continue to work for an architecture firm...for a while.  “I am also interested in what other opportunities are available to me with my architecture skills that are not necessarily mainstream office work,” she explains.

“When I heard about the VISTA opportunity, I was excited for the chance to use my education in architecture to serve my community.  The VISTA mission of fighting poverty in the US is something that I care a lot about and really wanted to be a part of,” Young says of her decision to do AmeriCorps VISTA work.

She enjoys spending time with friends "whenever the opportunity arises" and also loves baking, watching movies, and being outdoors.