In August I will be embarking on my fifth year as an AmeriCorps member. I am so grateful for the wonderful experiences I had during those times. I’d like to share those years with you.
My first assignment was with Volunteer Mobile in Mobile, AL. My supervisor, Krista, was the program manager for HandsOn Mobile. During that year I planned and helped execute a large-scale MLK Day Prichard neighborhood project; a Day of Service Children’s Alphabet Garden project at an elementary school; a clean-up and garden project (one outside and a Japanese garden inside) for the Exploreum Children’s Museum’s off-campus building; judged Marketing presentations at the Mobile Robotics competition; participated in two health fairs and three Volunteer Fairs; worked at Volunteer Mobile’s Shrimp Cook-off competition; and participated in two disaster scenarios and was a member of a Youth Task Force for the United Way of Mobile.
My favorite assignment at Volunteer Mobile was mentoring the teen Impact Club/ Jr. Medical Reserve Corps whose biggest project was raising funds to purchase oxygen masks for animals. They were successful in securing enough money to put one set of masks in every fire house in Mobile and Baldwin Counties. As a result of their successful year as a new Jr. Medical Reserve Corps, I was invited to do a poster presentation of their good works at the National Medical Reserve Corps Conference in Las Vegas that year.
My second VISTA Year I served as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Bay Area Food Bank serving communities along the Gulf Coast in Mississippi, Alabama and the Panhandle of Florida. I recruited volunteers from the Air Force Station in Biloxi, MS, church, high school and college students (including Alternate Spring Break groups), and alumni organizations to mention a few. I ended up scheduling food drives and Mobile Food Pantries as part of my work.
My third year I served with the United Way of Greenville, SC as an AmeriCorps State/National member. My site was at Community Works South Carolina in Anderson SC where I served as an Assets Attainment Counselor. I counseled people on the services available through the Benefit Bank, IDAs (Independent Savings Accounts), and was a site supervisor/tax preparer for the VITA Tax Program in Anderson County, SC. That year was very taxing (pun intended).
This past year (my fourth) has been gratifying, and at times, overwhelming. Being a VISTA Leader has been a lot different than my previous experiences. Doing webinars has added to my knowledge base, although I still have a ways to go before I can claim that as a skill. My VISTA Year Initiative was preparing a power point presentation for our site supervisors to help them prepare for recruitment. Recruitment proved to be as mind-boggling as I thought it would be. It was worth all the work we put into it as our efforts resulted in bringing a great new group of VISTAs on board.
I have enjoyed working with our cohort, and am very proud of all you have accomplished in your year of VISTA service. I am pleased that so many of you intend to continue your good work at MNA. That tells me that your VISTA year has been special for you. Thank you for all you have done. It’s true…AmeriCorps gets things done!
Hi Everyone! I serve in Lansing as an AmeriCorps VISTA Leader for the MNA Civic Engagement Team. This is my fourth year in an AmeriCorps Program. My first two VISTA assignments were in Mobile, AL serving at Volunteer Mobile and then at the Bay Area Food Bank. Last year, I served as an AmeriCorps State/National member in Greenville, SC at the United Way of Greenville. At the end of last year, I felt like it was high time to step up to the plate and be a VISTA Leader. I am so glad I made that decision and so glad to have joined MNA’s active pursuit of nonprofit capacity building.
A lot of my time is spent supporting VISTA members. I use our blogs, webinars, and Weekly Updates to answer questions, pass on resources, and remind folks of reporting due dates. In terms of national service, I participate in Days of Service like the MNA Service Day at Peckham, the AmeriCorps VISTA service project at a community garden as well as review grant applications, network with local AmeriCorps alumni, and update VISTA Assignment Descriptions. Fortunately, I don’t have to do this all alone or all at once. I have my co-leader, Lee Xiong for support throughout the year.
Another important aspect of my job is beginning now: the recruitment process has started! I have updated our marketing materials for the program, helped set up a recruitment timeline, and registered for career/job fairs around the state. Lee and I started at Alma College, went next to Michigan State University and then to Job Pursuit in Lansing. We still have a few more in March. I really enjoy this aspect of my job. It is fun to tell the students about the AmeriCorps VISTA program and what it can mean to them. This is the first step in our search for candidates in the spring. Lee and I will be interviewing, working with site supervisors, and keeping all the necessary paperwork in order with hopes of filling our VISTA slots for the 2015-16 term. I hope that our VISTA members will be encouraging their friends and acquaintances to join in the fight against poverty.
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!