Mullens thanks VISTA workers

by Mary Catherine Brooks - The Register Herald May 19. 2007

MULLENS — Local officials celebrated AmeriCorps Week during ceremonies Friday at the Mullens Opportunity Center.

Complete with live bluegrass music and food, the event was one of numerous celebrations across the United States to recognize AmeriCorps VISTA members for their impact, as well as the community partners who make AmeriCorps possible.

The celebration provided an opportunity to spotlight the work done by VISTA members and to motivate more residents to join AmeriCorps or volunteer in their communities.

The Rural Appalachian Improvement League has used several AmeriCorps VISTA members to assist with local projects.

“We’re all here today because of the volunteers,” emphasized Dewey Houck, RAIL president.

RAIL houses a variety of programs in the Mullens Opportunity Center, including educational, economic development and health improvement projects, among others.

“RAIL has been a godsend to our county and our community,” said Frank Blackwell, county schools superintendent. “So many of these things would never have happened without volunteers.”

Also housed in the MOC is the Upper Guyandotte Watershed Association, which has worked to clean up area waterways and to advance flood control projects by working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Houck developed RAIL as a means to help Mullens rebuild following the 2001 flood, which nearly destroyed the downtown business district.

“This is a model of success that can easily be duplicated in any coal mining community,” said Dvon Duncan, RAIL director.

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Volunteers are a vital part of RAIL's success. We are SEEKING VOLUNTEERS! Please contact us if you want to make a difference and join our remarkable work teams.

In September 2010 RAIL volunteers began initiating a plan to invigorate Community and Economic development in the southern coalfields of West Virginia. In the past ten years RAIL has studied the needs of families in Appalachia as well as available resources and other accessible opportunities that can help their community become sustainable. Gaining a better understanding of what is needed has culminated in the Coal Heritage Trail of New Commerce Action Plan. Those implementing this plan, an organization at the grass roots, well understand their work cannot be successful without the help of volunteers and generous resources providers. Anyone interested in participating in this bold undertaking of helping families living in the Appalachian coalfields improve their economic and social conditions may contact for more information. RAIL gets its name from Rural Appalachian Improvement League, Inc. and can best be described as Volunteers coming together as an organization to find ways to best benefit their community

March 18, 2011

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