Volunteer Tennessee Visits the South Cumberland Plateau AmeriCorps Project

Friday, August 18, 2023 | 09:19am
Greg Lyles, Volunteer Tennessee commission member, learns how the South Cumberland Plateau AmeriCorps Program is addressing hunger relief

by Beth Riner

Representatives from Volunteer Tennessee recently visited the South Cumberland Plateau AmeriCorps Project to take a closer look at its initiatives, including the highly successful 2023 South Cumberland Summer Meal Program.

Visiting the local AmeriCorps program which is based out of the University of the South in Sewanee were Greg Lyles, Volunteer Tennessee commission member, and Latiyfa Fields, Volunteer Tennessee’s AmeriCorps program manager.

Volunteer Tennessee is the Governor’s commission that encourages volunteerism and community service. It is led by a 25-member bipartisan citizen board, oversees AmeriCorps programs and manages the Tennessee Serves Network to help solve community problems throughout the state.

Lyles said that board members are asked to make site visits every six months.

“Seeing the needs that AmeriCorps and VISTA members are helping to meet in the community is awesome,” Lyles said, adding he particularly enjoyed seeing the work being done by AmeriCorps members Maggie Parmley and Will Cunningham, who are both University of the South alumni.

A native of Tracy City, Parmley serves with the Tracy City Free Clinic to provide healthcare resources for the uninsured and with the Beersheba Springs Medical Clinic to develop a diabetes prevention program. Cunningham serves with Housing Sewanee and the University Farm to address housing access and hunger relief.

Fields, who visited a summer meal program site at St. James Midway Park Pavilion in Sewanee, praised the excellent quality of candidates for the Summer Associate program, which manned multiple meal pickup sites in both Grundy and Franklin Counties over the summer. She noted that volunteer recruitment can often be difficult in rural areas and credited Ashley Cheaves, SCP AmeriCorps Project program director, with making positive strides in the program since coming on board.

“You have amazing programs, and you’re in touch with some wonderful community partners,” Fields added. “You’re doing great work out there.”

Cheaves was pleased with how the site visits went.

“Our Volunteer Tennessee representatives were able to see the great work being executed to combat food insecurity, recidivism, and healthcare accessibility, just to name a few,” said Cheaves. “These initiatives are all imperative to address social determinants of health and to improve communities and lives in the southeast part of rural Appalachia.”

For more information about Volunteer Tennessee, email volunteer.tennessee@tn.gov or call 615-253-8585.


Volunteer Tennessee, the Governor’s commission on volunteerism and community service builds capacity and sustainability in Tennessee’s volunteer sector. Annually, Volunteer Tennessee provides more than $6 million in AmeriCorps grants and
volunteer center grants to local agencies throughout the state so they can engage volunteers to meet local needs in education, social services, health and wellness, public safety and the environment. The commission consists of
a 25-member, bi-partisan volunteer citizen board appointed by the Governor and eleven State Government ex-officio representatives. For more information, visit www.volunteertennessee.net or visit us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn,
and Instagram.

 AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism, provides opportunities for Americans to serve their country domestically, address the nation’s most pressing challenges, improve lives and communities, and strengthen civic engagement. Each year, the agency places more than 200,000 AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers in intensive service roles; and empowers millions more to serve as long-term, short-term, or one-time volunteers. Learn more at AmeriCorps.gov