MAGNOLIA -- In support of the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance, EngageAR AmeriCorps awarded a grant to SAU+VISTA to join in patriotic acts of service. September 11th was designated a National Day of Service by Congress in 2009 and is led by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). EngageAR is a unit of the Arkansas Division of Higher Education within the Arkansas Department of Education.

“September 11th  is a day of history, emotion, and reflection,” said Dr. Katherine Berry, director of the SAU+VISTA AmeriCorps program as well as SAU’s First Lady and interim director of the new Ed.D. Program in the College of Education.  “For many Americans it is also a day of service that provides an opportunity for citizens to put into action a shared belief that by serving our neighbors we can make our country stronger and better for decades to come while we honor those who lost their lives in 2001 and those who rose in service to our country.”

The SAU+VISTA project focused on the purchase, bundle, and delivery of art and learning supplies for use at home by financially disadvantaged area children in Magnolia elementary schools who may experience quarantine or isolation due to concerns related to COVID-19. Additionally, SAU+VISTA Fellows revitalized and supplied the arts and crafts room at the Boys and Girls Club of Magnolia. SAU+VISTA Fellows join hundreds of thousands of citizens across the country in this American tradition.

“For SAU+VISTA, we believe the best way to secure the future is to nurture our community’s children,” said Dr. Berry. “They have had a complicated year of learning disruption, and through this small project, we hope to make learning outside of school accessible to children who need it most.”

The SAU+VISTA program, established in 2019 to reach the goal of alleviating poverty through college degree completion, continues to make a difference in the lives of current and future Muleriders on Southern Arkansas University’s campus.

This year, the SAU+VISTA program currently sponsors 17 full-time Fellows; Abbie Guin, Allysia Hurt-Hunter, Atache’ Hill, Caitlin Mullins, Cat Jones, Jamia Evans, Jordan Wylie, Krizia LeGrande, Mackenzie Leal, Macye Plunk, Michala Barker, Nyki Dockery, Reagan Harvill, Saida Walker, Ta’Ru Harris, Warren Basinger, and Zach Lambert. This past summer, an additional 24 Summer Associates provided direct service to SAU. For more information, visit www.saumag.edu/VISTA.

Over three years, the SAU+VISTA project will seek to meet the following goals: identify poverty-related barriers among current and future students and then reduce barriers that prevent degree completion. Mentor and shepherd students in landing their first job post-college. The team also works to create more efficient processes for encouraging service among students and, lastly, inspire and actively encourage the next generation to pursue a college degree.

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