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Alum shift gears and gives back during COVID-19

Warren Wilson alum and NC Afterschool AmeriCorps VISTA Maddie Harris '18 has shifted gears and found special ways to give back during COVID-19.

Around mid-March, Warren Wilson graduate and NC Afterschool Americorps VISTA Maddie Harris was running six after-school programs on campus for students when the coronavirus pandemic began. In the midst of helping run Warren Wilson’s Center for Community Engagement, her role quickly shifted. Her service adapted from acting as a liaison between the campus and partner programs plugging students into community volunteer roles to students no longer allowed on campus and a newfound role working from home. Having served alongside so many community nonprofits, including a partnership between volunteers from the college with United Way Community School Coordinator Josh Wells, she began to reach out and ask those partners what their needs were looking like and how she could support.

Being Flexible, Knowing Every Day Can Be Different

“One really positive thing about AmeriCorps are all of the connections made with community partners,” Harris said. “I reached out to so many people when everything happened to find out who needed help and where I could plug in and support. I was willing to shift gears too, which helped, because you really have to be flexible and know that every day can be different.”

And flexible she was as she reached out to Wells and United Way staff to ask if there were volunteer needs she could help fill in service as an AmeriCorps member. With a bustling volunteer center helping to fill increased volunteer needs and meet community partner requests for in-kind donations through the early stages of COVID-19, Harris was able to shift gears and join the United Way team in a similar capacity as her work at Warren Wilson. She quickly plugged into a support role, reaching out to partner organizations their volunteer needs and requests for items to support their services were listed and active in the Hands On Asheville-Buncombe volunteer database.


This story was originally featured on the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County website: