VISTA Volunteer training held in Mancos

Volunteers from Colorado, New Mexico share knowledge, pick up skills

VISTA volunteers from Colorado and New Mexico gathered for training in Mancos on Monday through Wednesday and about building nonprofits and the some of the negative impacts of mismanaged mining.

About 45 people gathered at the Mt. Lookout Grange and the Mancos library to learn about core skills to help nonprofits, including grant writing and community outreach, said coordinator T Allen Comp. The group included 24 volunteers who dedicated a year to the program, and most of them are recent college graduates.

"It's a really challenging professional start," said Comp.

Among the group was Danyel Mezzanatto the most recent VISTA volunteer for the Montezuma School to Farm Project who joined the group after Harrison Topp.

Each of the volunteers have a different mission dictated by the community, and Messanatto hopes to help build the new Mancos youth farmers market, which will be supplied by the school garden. She will also be applying for grants to help sustain the School to Farm project.

She is a part of a team of volunteers that was organized through the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation, which focuses on communities that have been negatively impacted by the mining industry.

The group planned to hear from Jim Law, a local community organizer, about the illegal Red Arrow Mill site on Tuesday.

The VISTA volunteer trainings are held twice a year in communities where the volunteers work to expose volunteers to other communities, said Comp. For example, a recent training was held in Silverton.

It also works as a small boost to the local economy. The group infused about $8,000 into the community locally, said Jessica Berry, the team director for the Colorado and New Mexico team.