Last two weeks, to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., members of the Green Mountain College community came together and volunteered for activities organized by the Vermont AmeriCorps and the Rutland Interfaith Council. They spent the day in Rutland helping the Boys and Girls Club, The Women’s Shelter, and the Vermont Achievement Center. This is a quick interview with Aaron Ashton, GMC Alumnus ‘11, and Jose Galvez, sustainability outreach coordinator at GMC.
Hi, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
Ashton (A): Hi, I’m Aaron Ashton, a 2011 alumni and current AmeriCorps VISTA member here in Vermont.
Galvez (G): My name is José Tulio Gálvez.
As both of you are GMC alumni, how do you feel about the life after post-graduation?
A: I have more opportunities now that I’ve graduated Green Mountain College and I feel confident about my future because of my GMC education.
G: Life post graduation has been wonderful. I stayed in the area and had the opportunity expand my interests in farming, sustainable food systems, renewable energy and community organizing. Now, I’ve been fortunate to be back to GMC as the Outreach Coordinator for Sustainable Community Development. It is an honor for me because this is a very special place to which I owe many unforgettable years of my life.
So now tell me about the event and your work. What role did of you play in this volunteer activity?
A: I serve in Rutland, Vermont and played a large role in organizing this volunteer event. I was responsible for developing a website and electronic sign-up sheet, organized a food drive from four different sites, and communicated regularly with other members of our organizing committee.
G: As the Outreach Coordinator at GMC, my role was to promote a service learning opportunity for our community and also serve as a volunteer. I helped out since the morning throught the afternoon. It was fun to be there!
And how many volunteers participate in that day?
Over 70 volunteers participated on MLK Day, 25 of which were various Vermont AmeriCorps members.
It seems like the event attracted a lot of people. Why did you become involved with this event (can we call it an event or project)?
A: You can call it an event. I was involved because my VISTA program has a requirement that we organize an event on MLK day. I also became involved because I wanted to make a positive impact on the Rutland community.
G: I was invited by my good friend Aaron to participate.
How do you feel after finishing this project?
A: I feel great. Our food drive collected 808 items for the Rutland Community Cupboard after only 3 weeks
G: I felt happy! It was a full day of activities and good people who came together for one cause, help their neighbors.
What were the most challenges/ difficulties that you encountered during working for this project?
A: Logistics can be difficult when coordinating a volunteer event. You have to make sure everything is ready for when your volunteers arrive. We had some volunteer projects cancel last minute so it was a challenge trying to find something for the remaining volunteers to do.
G: I did not particularly found any challenge, perhaps that all of a sudden I found myself singing on stage with the children in front of a crow of one hundred plus people.
So how did you overcome that challenge?
A: We became creative at the other volunteer sites and accomplished more than we thought was possible by taking on more work.
G: I needed to stop being shy and continue singing.
Haha! Final question, what have you learned from this project?
A: The spirit of MLK lives on and every MLK Day in the future, I hope others join together to volunteer in their communities. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and make a difference wherever they serve.
G: Get out there and help others, it makes you more aware of how little your problems can be compared to what many are going through today.
Thank you so much for spending your time on the interview! Wish both of you best with your work and personal life after GMC!
For more about the event, see the following article in the Rutland Herald, where Ashton and Galzez were both quoted.