AmeriCorps Alumni Melanie Reynolds

AmeriCorps Alumni Profile

AmeriCorps VISTAMelanie Reynolds
AmeriCorps VISTA, 1981
Served on the Blackfeet Reservation, Browning, MT
Currently resides in Helena, MT

Melanie Reynolds came to Montana in 1981 as a VISTA-Volunteer in Service to America , the predecessor to the AmeriCorps VISTA program established under the National and Community Service Trust Act in 1993. After graduating from the University of California- Davis with a degree in Human Development, she opted to pursue her interests in working in the area of public health and serving children and families through volunteerism. Her year of service as a VISTA at the White Buffalo Home on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning gave her a broad range of experiences that have been tremendously helpful in her career in public health, including her current role as the Health Officer for Lewis and Clark County. That year, Melanie also met Bob Rowe, a fellow VISTA and her future husband. Melanie and Bob chose to raise their family in Montana for the balance of lifestyle and professional opportunities they’ve found, and thirty years later are happy to call Helena home.

Alumni Melanie ReynoldsMelanie’s desire to make a positive contribution in society started early in life, when she chose to pursue a degree in Human Development at UC Davis. Serving as a VISTA volunteer seemed like a great way to combine her career interests with a personal desire to work with communities facing social and economic challenges. Melanie’s year of service brought her to the White Buffalo Home on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in rural Browning, Montana. As a VISTA, she provided technical assistance to the staff, educated families, and worked with a variety of community resources including Indian Health Services, social services, WIC, and Head Start. These experiences were invaluable for a young woman looking to pursue a career in the public health field, and Melanie’s work was a tremendous asset to an economically disadvantaged community stretched thin to provide these resources.

“I learned so much! I learned about family systems, needs and gaps in social services, and cross-cultural issues. The most beneficial aspect was getting the opportunity to provide service.”

In her role, Melanie acted as a bridge between the community and resources that were available from local and state agencies.

“My biggest impact was developing connections with other social services and health agencies in the Browning area. These agencies and service providers offered services that benefited the children that lived at the White Buffalo Home.”

Nancy Schweitzer and Melanie Reynolds

Melanie Reynolds (R) with First Lady Nancy Schweitzer during AmeriCorps Week in 2011.

When Melanie arrived in Montana over three decades ago, she was an immediate benefit to Browning. Today, she continues to have a positive impact on her community as the Health Officer for Lewis and Clark County. In that role, Melanie is charged with overseeing county efforts to educate citizens about preventative measures that can be taken to maintain and improve public health. She is also a homeowner, a tax payer, and an investor in her local economy. As a result of the VISTA program, Montana gained an impassioned, dedicated individual who contributes to the social and economic health of her community.

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