It has truly been a remarkable year with the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) Civic Engagement AmeriCorps VISTA Program. To date, I have completed over 40 interviews for the new cohort of VISTA members and I can assure you, finding great VISTA members is harder than you would think. As crazy as our recruitment season has been, it is definitely worth being a part of the process in finding the next group of leaders, innovators, pioneers, and community organizers who will shape civic engagement, student engagement, financial literacy, employment services and college access and success efforts in the communities of Michigan.
Looking back at some of the most memorable moments in the program, one, solely in terms of shock value is that, it is finally sunny in Lansing! In fact, it is sunny to the point where I can actually see blue skies, which was rare in the dark, cold, gloomy year of 2014, and for most of 2015. Two, the unforgettable MNA Signature Service Project - Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) in Jackson, Michigan. Much of the success goes to our amazing VISTAs (Meg, Ebone’ and Leslie) and TA Wilson Academy students who took control of an event that involved over 400 students. I’m truly amazed by how well TA Wilson Academy students handled the whole event and hope that coordinating GYSD will only be their first step towards an already very bright future. Three, having the opportunity to work with energetic and inspiriting VISTA members. They probably know this by now, but I’ve learned more from them then they probably have from me. I have watched many of them transform into professionals in the past year and it has truly been a pleasure just to witness the transformation. Lastly, it has been exhilarating to work with a strong group of women in the civic engagement team at MNA. These women are moms, grandmas, and spouses but they are also mentors, movers and shaker, closeted writers, and most of all, just genuinely authentic individuals whom readily share their passions and skills. I will definitely miss their support.
Even though I only have a couple of days left, I look forward to having an opportunity to work with MNA again in the future. Until then, it’s graduate school for me!
Reporting from the gloomy but ever-so-vibrant city of Lansing, Michigan, I serve as one of the VISTA Leaders for the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) Civic Engagement (CE) AmeriCorps Program. It has been an exciting last seven months and we are gearing up to the highly anticipated recruitment season for our 2015-2016 VISTA cohort. But before recruitment is in full gear, I am taking this moment to reflect on what has happened in the last seven months.
I moved to Lansing after living twenty years along the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. The first couple of months was hard, as I was accustomed to seeing the lake but that was not a problem for long. In fact, it rained so much in Lansing, I forget how much I love water now. Aside from the gloomy, Poe-like weather, Lansing has an amazing AmeriCorps Alumni network and an even more amazing community that truly understands national service. Being in an area that is filled with passionate individuals and groups that values service and understands leveraging state and community efforts to make a greater impact, has been very rewarding and quiet honestly, very refreshing. Probably one of the most wonderful thing about being in this environment is having the opportunity to serve alongside the tireless, innovative, and magical staff at Michigan Nonprofit Association.
So, what have I actually been doing in the last seven months, aside from complaining about the weather and learning about the community? I have been busy, very busy. The MNA CE AmeriCorps VISTA program is the biggest VISTA program in the state of Michigan, with 34 members throughout the state of Michigan and yes, we even have members in the snowy Upper Peninsula. In the last seven months, we have had three regional trainings on grant writing and College Positive Volunteerism, four Post Pre-Service Orientation Trainings, and a massive Mid-Year Training, where we squeezed in all VISTA members and their site supervisors into a room. Don’t worry, we had plenty of coffee and candy to keep the energy going. We even visited almost all 26 VISTA site locations and did not get stuck in snow. That is an impressive thing if you understand the geography of Michigan and how crazy the weather can get here!
Even though we have been able to reach these massive milestones, for me, the heart of my service is the little things I get to do every day and month for and with our VISTA members. My co-VISTA Leader, June LaVernway and I help support the whole VISTA cohort but I directly communicate with the VISTAs in west and north Michigan. I have an amazing team of VISTAs who have charisma, spunk, character, and a bright future. Serving with these individuals has been an inspirational and exhilarating experience!
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!