Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside:

Harvest Foundation to hold listening sessions

The Harvest Foundation is hosting a series of Community Listening Sessions to hear from Martinsville-Henry County residents about potential projects and programs “that can build hope in their neighborhoods,” according to a relase from the foundation.

(Disclosure: The Harvest Foundation is one of our donors but donors have no say in news decisions; see our policy. You can be a donor, too.)

Harvest will host meetings from 6-8 p.m. at three locations across the city and county on Monday, April 24 at Laurel Park Middle School (280 Laurel Park Ave., Martinsville); Tuesday, April 25 at Bassett High School (85 Riverside Drive, Bassett, ); and Thursday, April 27 at Martinsville High School (351 Commonwealth Blvd E, Martinsville).

Pre-registration is not required. All meetings will include light refreshments, dinner vouchers for local restaurants and door prizes.

Each listening session will be facilitated discussions led by Julie Walters Steele, director of Reynolds Homestead, and Sarah Wray, community engagement, partnerships, and programs manager at Reynolds Homestead.

Initially launched as a celebration of The Harvest Foundation’s 20th Anniversary in 2022, Project Hope awarded five grants totaling $44,525 in its first year. This year, a committee of 13 local hope builders will consider and allocate funding for all submitted Project Hope proposals.  

Visit to find out more about Project Hope 2023.

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Applications now open for Virginia Service and Conservation Corps

Applications are open now for adults of any age to join the Virginia Service and Conservation Corps (VSCC) for service beginning on May 17. Applications for the 450– and 675-hour programs close on April 30.

The VSCC is an AmeriCorps program that operates in Virginia State Parks, and participants serve in park locations throughout the Commonwealth developing and leading interpretive programs and maintaining and enhancing trail systems. The programs vary by hours of service and each program allows you to build new life skills while giving back to nature.

The 450-hour program focuses on the park trails and service opportunities in Virginia State Parks during the summer months. Depending on their site, members may also assist with trail maintenance and construction as well as with resource management projects. Members of the 675-hour program focuses on delivering interpretive programming to park visitors with the goal of expanding visitor knowledge of the natural world. Participants of both programs will work with park staff to recruit volunteers and lead volunteer service days in state parks and natural heritage areas.

“We’re looking for members that are willing to learn and are comfortable working outdoors in a variety of weather conditions,” said Dorie Stolley, director of the office of community engagement and volunteerism for Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, which oversees state parks, in a statement. “Members gain hands-on experience and leadership skills by coordinating volunteer projects, assisting in the management of programs, and leading interpretive programs. This program will help people build job skills that they can take into many different fields, especially in land conservation.”

Benefits of joining the VSCC include training in interpretive techniques, first aid, canoe/kayak trip leadership (depending on park), and professional mentorship from park staff. Members receive a bi-weekly living stipend, along with an education award of up to $2,474 upon successful completion of service. Members who are not provided with park housing receive a housing stipend.

Applications for the 450– and 675-hour programs close on April 30. More information is found on the Virginia State Parks website.

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Nominations now open for governor’s awards on volunteerism and community service

Governor Glenn Youngkin has announced that the administration is accepting nominations for the 2023 Virginia Governor’s Awards on Volunteerism and Community Service, an annual award program that recognizes Virginians and organizations that volunteer their time to make a difference in their communities. Nominations will be accepted until Monday, June 19th at 5pm.

The Virginia Governor’s Awards on Volunteerism and Community Service honor individuals, community organizations, educational programs, and businesses that serve Virginians through volunteerism. Individual awards will recognize one person each in the categories of youth, young adult, adult, and senior volunteers. Group honors will be awarded in the categories of faith-based organizations, community organizations, small businesses, and companies. This year’s honorees will be recognized in a ceremony this October. More information about nomination process and the form to submit a nomination is available through the Virginia Service Commission at

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Reclaiming Appalachia Coalition to host webinar on coal communities

The Reclaiming Appalachia Coalition will host a webinar presenting its latest report, National to Neighborhoods: Catalyzing Opportunities for Coal-Impacted Communities. The report details RAC’s ongoing efforts deploying its innovative mine reclamation model, explains how RAC is leveraging new federal funding opportunities and provides profiles on leading-edge projects throughout Appalachia.  

When: Friday, April 21, 2023, 12-1 pm 
Where: Virtual: Register here 

The Reclaiming Appalachia Coalition is made up of leading organizations in the just transition movement: Appalachian Voices, Coalfield Development, Rural Action and Downstream Strategies.