VISTA Members Share a Commitment to Community
CHP has just received a welcome infusion of young energy and talent that will help the organization revitalize and stabilize neighborhoods suffering from the negative effects of a difficult economy. As members of the AmeriCorps VISTA program, Darnell Parker and Amanda Schick of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Camryn Sorg of Virginia Beach, Virginia, will work for one year at CHP’s corporate headquarters in Christiansburg, Virginia.
Founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965 and incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993, AmeriCorps VISTA is a national service program designed to fight poverty. Specifically, CHP’s VISTA members will focus their efforts on building the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of the company to better create affordable and sustainable housing opportunities, improve human services, and otherwise assist low-income communities.
“Our VISTA volunteers are a very important part of the CHP team,” said CHP Director of Corporate Development Kimberly Strahm. “With their skills and commitment to the communities we serve, we will be able to assist even more people with their housing and energy needs—more effectively and more efficiently.”
Parker, who works with the architectural team at CHP Design Studio, holds Bachelor and Master of Architecture degrees from Virginia Tech. Prior to arriving at CHP, he gained a wealth of community development experience as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Izbiste, Moldova. Parker says he was motivated to extend his service experience by becoming a VISTA member because he “wanted to understand what poverty is in America and how it is defined in a developed nation as opposed to a developing country. I also wanted to learn how I can build capacity in my own country.” Ultimately, Parker aspires to become a licensed practicing architect who helps develop impoverished areas locally and in remotes parts of the world through urban design and regional planning. When he is not working to strengthen communities, Parker enjoys reading, travelling, and strength-conditioning.
Schick is currently performing her second year of service as a VISTA member. Before working in CHP’s corporate development and resident services departments, she was the Community Outreach Safety Specialist with LISC Milwaukee. As a University of Wisconsin student, Schick was able to apply her studies in political science to her role as Grassroots Campaign Coordinator for the Wisconsin Student Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG), a consumer advocacy group. Although she is still uncertain as to where her career path will lead, Schick explains that working at CHP “is a great opportunity to focus in on options for the future. Being here is also a chance to be a part of a new community and foster new experiences while facing the challenges of poverty head on.” While living in Blacksburg, Schick hopes to take advantage of the area’s abundant natural resources and indulge her passions for gardening, hiking, and traveling.
Also a Virginia Tech graduate, Sorg double majored in environmental planning and international studies. While in school, she worked in the Virginia Tech Office of Energy and Sustainability planning sustainability and education events for students and also interned with the Virginia Beach Planning Department’s Environment and Sustainability Office. Sorg would like to follow a career in sustainable community development, “which makes CHP a great place to start,” she says. “I want to have a positive impact on the New River Valley community, which I loved being a part of as a student. I hope to learn a lot while working with CHP Energy Solutions over the next year and am very excited to be a part of an organization with such a meaningful mission!” A fan of hiking, running, and travelling, Sorg also has fun reading and spending time with her friends.