Serving in Rural Minnesota

Alumni story
Eric Sebo 1969 1970 Winthrop, MN

I joined VISTA in August 1969 and was assigned to a Senior Citizens Center in rural Minnesota: Hands, Inc. Rural poverty rates were the highest in Minnesota with seniors especially impacted. Hands provided supplemental income, specializing in hand assembly contracts; e.g. placing wheels on toy trucks. There was a staff of five, forty production workers and three VISTA volunteers. The main challenge was finding sufficient work. Assembly work was competitive with several companies competing for the same contracts. We did our part assisting in obtaining contracts and spent alot of time on the road gathering and distributing food. Our car was government issue with only two gears functioning--we would often have to push our car down a hill to engage in second gear. In time, Hands grew into a corporation with average annual revenue of 1.5 million dollars, serving over 20 communities. I've written a commentary on my time in Minnesota and would be happy to share. The commentary includes the cultural and political enviroment in which we trained and worked, as well as stories of how twenty-something volunteers and workers with an average age of 68 grew to trust, work with, and learn from each other. As with many other VISTAs, the experience of serving has stayed with me and has always been an important part of my life.


Decade: 1960s