VOLIN — Progress is still rolling along with the Volin-Gayville Horizons Project, and members of the planning committee are gearing up for the new year with a call for volunteers.
"There's a lot of committees out there that do need more help," said planning committee member Chuck Flemming during a Tuesday night meeting in Volin.
Planning committee member Marie Flemming said people are needed to develop a phone directory and calling trees, as well as to serve with groups like the Community Wellness Program, which focuses on physical as well as mental wellness.
The community garden is one area of community wellness where "we need people to step up," she said. "First, we need to see if it's a viable idea, and if it is, then we need the foundation builders of that project."
Horizons focuses on community leadership to reduce poverty, and is funded with grants from the Northwest Area Foundation.
Overall, the Horizons project is going well, said community coach David Olson.
"I'm really pleased with how they're doing and the progress that they're making," he said. "That's why I keep coming back to learn from them and encourage them and connect them with resources."
"It's going pretty good," Chuck Flemming added. "It started out hard and fast, but it slowed down, and now we should see it start picking up."
Marie Flemming agreed, saying, "I think a lot of the community are very interested in seeing how things grow. I think there's a few people who think things are going slower than anticipated, but it's all a process that needs to be worked on. Any good project has plans laid and foundations built before they get bigger than what they can handle."
Olson said the project benefits from the fact that the community plan has been established, with continuing modifications.
"They're already beginning to think about changing, depending on what's going on, depending on interest that's involved or not involved," he said. "They've kind of put (some) things on hold, and they're probably going to eliminate one or two of the objectives because people who were initially interested either moved away or have gone on to other things.
"But they've begun to change the structures in the community and get people together on issues," he said.
Changing goals should be "a basic part of community planning," Olson said. "You're always modifying and evaluating goals as you go along. This is a working plan, which is not cast in stone … and sometimes things don't work out to implement the objectives, so we change them. Most of the communities that are in the first phase — all of them that I've dealt with — have all added new goals after the plan was adopted the first time."
Some of the projects organized under the Horizons banner are already benefiting the communities. One of these is the Volin-Gayville Food Pantry, which was established last month.
"I'm really enthused about the response we've gotten from the community, and even from the broader community — just a lot of contributions," said Barbara Egbert, one of the pantry's organizers.
As a result of drives from locals schools, churches and organizations, the food pantry is fully stocked. More than $600 has been raised, all of which will go toward the purchase of more food.
The pantry is mobile, meaning the food is stored at a certain area and then taken out once or twice a month to be distributed in both Volin and Gayville.
"The idea was, these are small communities," Egbert said. "They don't need a huge facility, but there is need. People can't get to other areas — to Yankton, Vermillion — or they just aren't as familiar with the situation.
"And maybe a year, five years from now, the economy will be so good that it won't be necessary. We don't know," she said. "It just seems like right now, it was a need that we didn't anticipate."
In the future, a more permanent home for the pantry may be built using grant money, Egbert said. This would mean "we could get a refrigerator and have more food available, and then only move it when we bring it to Gayville. That would be the mobile component."
Horizons is a partnership between the South Dakota State University Cooperative and the Northwest Area Foundation of St. Paul, Minn.
For more information about the local Horizons project, visit http://gayvillevolin.communityblogs.us/.