The AmeriCorps health program in Danville. Courtesy of IALR.
The AmeriCorps health program in Danville. Courtesy of IALR.

Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

IALR gets AmeriCorps grant for health outreach

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville has been awarded a grant of $230,000 from AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism. The grant will fund the Regional Engagement to Advance Community Health (REACH) AmeriCorps program, which has provided public health workshops and educational opportunities in concert with the REACH Partnership since 2022.  

The REACH AmeriCorps program is dedicated to expanding capacity for public health service by providing direct outreach and education service in the City of Danville, Pittsylvania County and Caswell County (NC). Members provide individualized support, addressing the region’s most pressing physical and mental health challenges through a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) lens. 

IALR is recruiting 15 part-time REACH Community Health Educators, who will conduct community health workshops over nine months in targeted census tracts in the Dan River Region. Workshops will be based on specific population health topics, addressing areas of high need and chronic health issues. Members will serve approximately 25 hours per week. 

In conjunction with the REACH AmeriCorps program, The REACH Partnership, an effort supported by The Health Collaborative of the Dan River Region, deploys Community Health Workers and Community Paramedics – referred to as coordinated care teams – to assist with an individual’s physical and mental health needs and connect clients to community resources, addressing the myriad social determinants of health. The REACH Partnership includes the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (lead and fiscal agent),  Virginia Cooperative Extension, Piedmont Access to Community Health Services, Gateway Health, Sovah Health Danville, Compassion Healthcare, the Danville Life Saving Crew, Caswell County EMS, Danville-Pittsylvania Community Services and Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. The Partnership efforts are funded by a $6.3 million grant from the Danville Regional Foundation.  (Disclosure: The Danville Regional Foundation is also one of our donors but donors have no say in news decisions; see our policy).

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Groundbreaking held for trail center at Mountain Lake in Giles County

Friends of Southwest Virginia, Giles County, and Mountain Lake Lodge held a groundbreaking Friday to commemorate the construction of the Giles County Trail Center at Mountain Lake Lodge. The visitor center is being built on the property of Mountain Lake Lodge.

“The Trail Center and new four-mile loop trail to Bald Knob will make the highest point in the New River Valley readily accessible to hikers of all skill levels,” Giles County Administrator Chris McKlarney said in a statement. “Through a partnership with Mountain Lake Lodge, this will also give the public access to more than 20 miles of other trails on Mountain Lake property, a place to obtain information about other amenities in the region, increased parking, and restrooms/changing rooms so that people can hike and then enjoy a great evening out at one of the many great restaurants in Giles County.”

The Giles County Trail Center is a $1.2 million project funded through a 2016 Appalachian Regional Commission POWER grant with funding administered by the Giles County, Friends of Southwest Virginia, Giles County Industrial Development Authority (IDA), Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Eastern Federal Lands – Highway Division, and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

The land and building provided for the project is part of a partnership between Giles County and Mountain Lake Lodge and the property’s owner, the Mary Moody Northen Endowment.

The project is expected to be completed in late 2023.

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Roanoke will hold meeting on renovating Washington Park Pool May 8

Roanoke Parks and Recreation will be holding a Community Engagement Meeting  regarding the renovation of the Washington Park Pool. The meeting will be held at  the Gainsboro Library on Monday, May 8 beginning at 6:00 p.m.  

Washington Park Pool was originally built in the 1970s and the renovation project is part of the Department’s Master Plan developed in 2019. In a 2021 study, Washington Park Pool was ranked highest in terms of citizen support for renovation out of all the Department’s recreation centers and pools. The pool closed in August 2022 to prepare for demolition and rebuilding. Prior to its closure, a public survey was shared to gather community input regarding the design features of the future pool. Over 1,500 responses to the survey were collected, the results of which will be available during the meeting along with additional project details.