Where to begin? Let’s start with this… I’m Nicole and I’m serving as a VISTA Leader with the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) Civic Engagement AmeriCorps VISTA program. I’ve been serving here now for about two months and it’s been a whirlwind, but I’ve enjoyed (almost) every second of it! My service here also marked my move back to Michigan after 12 years, and I’m happy to be closer to my family in Grand Haven, although I still miss the lakeshore. I also miss the mountains of eastern Kentucky where I served last year with the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky and coordinated a citizen-led downtown revitalization initiative in Hazard, KY. I met so many amazing people who are committed to their community and I’m so happy to have had the experience to work with them.
I started my service at MNA the week of Thanksgiving, and then the following week went to VISTA Leader training, and with all the site visits, trainings, meetings and holidays in December, I didn’t feel like I was truly able to settle into my role until the beginning of January. It was also at that time that I found out that my co-VISTA Leader had ended her service term early. While I’m sad that I wasn’t able to get to know Rachel better, I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.
VISTA Leader training in Austin, TX was quite a bit different from the Pre-Service Orientation (PSO) experience I had at the beginning of my VISTA term last year. During PSO I met a lot of wonderful people, but we were all going into very different service experiences, whereas at VISTA Leader training, we were able to connect through our shared leadership roles. While in Austin, we were invited to attend the final AmeriCorps VISTA 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Lindon B. Johnson Presidential Library, with a great program of speakers including Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. I would share photos of my experience in Austin, but they are all food-related. (Who doesn’t love a good taco?)
At the moment, I’m in the midst of completing check-in calls with the 31-member VISTA cohort who are serving throughout Michigan. I’m happy to have the chance to get to know them all a little better, as I’ve only met a handful of them in person so far. But that will change come March, at our Mid-Year Training, which is in planning stages right now. I’m looking forward to having the chance to meet everyone in person, and to share a little more of the VISTA experience with them during the training.
Besides connecting with the VISTA cohort, I’m also working on connecting to the Lansing community. While I don’t know where life will take me after my VISTA Leader service term is over, I do want to make the most of the time I have here. I’ve identified a couple of organizations here in Lansing whose work I’m passionate about (community/neighborhood revitalization and the arts) and will be connecting with them over the next couple of weeks.
I can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store, and I’m looking forward to both inspiring and being inspired by our VISTA members!
Each blog post is written by one of our program's VISTAs!