AmeriCorps VISTAs Reflect on their Service through “V is For ____”

AmeriCorps VISTAs and alums reflect on their service through the “V is For _” Campaign.

V is for ideas + action = making visions happen.

V is for ideas + action = making visions happen.

“V is For__” is a Campaign on Flickr that allows AmeriCorps VISTAs and alumni to post a photo of themselves, ostensibly holding up the V sign with their fingers, and saying something meaningful. Since several of us involved with Idealist.org are also AmeriCorps VISTA Alumnae, we thought we’d contribute!

Our Grad School Blog Project Blogger Eileen Gallagher served as an AmeriCorps VISTA and then VISTA Leader before heading to grad school at Brandeis’s Heller School. As a VISTA, she served at the Center for Experiential Learning at Allegheny College, her alma mater. She worked with students to plan service events, ran a tutoring program in local elementary schools and functioned as part of the college’s student affairs staff.

As a Leader, Eileen helped run the program and learned a lot about management. She knew that she loved the students, their idealism to create change, the community that she had built in small-town Meadville and the way that she saw people banding together to create change.  Her passion to study ways in which to bring all of those things together more effectively and to use the resources that a community has to create change led her to pursue a Masters in Business Administration at Brandeis’s Heller School.

V is for the voyage and the courage to dream.

V is for the voyage and the courage to dream.

My colleague Jung Fitzpatrick served two terms with AmeriCorps VISTA before joining the staff of Idealist.org. Jung says,

“I served my first term in a semi-rural community, advocating on behalf of young children and their families for affordable and accessible health care [2004-2005, FIRST 5 Mendocino, Ukiah, CA]. My second year I promoted small business development in the Pacific Northwest as a means for self-sufficiency in Native American communities [2005-2006, ONABEN, Portland, OR]. Being a VISTA gave me the opportunity to grow personally, professionally, profoundly. Go VISTAs!”

V is for meeting funny people who are also effective

V is for meeting funny people who are also effective

I served as an AmeriCorps VISTA Leader for the Clara Barton AmeriCorps*VISTA program, here in Portland at the Oregon Trail Chapter of the American Red Cross. I helped run a program of 18 VISTAs who served across the state on a wide range of issue areas related to bringing communities out of poverty.

Being a VISTA Leader was the Best. Job. Ever. (though it wasn’t a job job). I got to meet new people all the time, write, lead projects and workshops, and cajole my teammates into trying new things. You can become a VISTA Leader after a term of AmeriCorps*VISTA or else a term of Peace Corps service. The experiences I had and training I received as a VISTA Leader really made it possible for me to take on my current roles at Idealist.

Read more about the national service program AmeriCorps VISTA. Find out more about the “V is For__” Campaign on the VISTA Campus (free guest login required).

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7 thoughts on “AmeriCorps VISTAs Reflect on their Service through “V is For ____”

  1. What Jung doesn’t mention is that she is a remarkable woman and helped Mendocino County children enormously. In fact, Jung was instrumental in lauching Healthy Kids Mendocino–universal health insurance for children ages 0-19. Quite an accomplishment for a smallish county without many local philanthropies. See http://www.healthykidsmendocino.org.
    Thanks Jung!

  2. Amy – Love your V is for ___ statements & pics! I agree that being a VISTA Leader was the best job ever 🙂 Go VISTA!

  3. Thanks, Anne! We agree!

  4. Thank you, Eileen! I’d love to post yours here as well!

  5. I am a VIsta and I am Volunteering with Red Cross. Can Vista’s teach classes? I want to teach disaster preparedness to communities. I live in Florida. Our Supervisor says we can’t do work-shops or teach a class because it is direct service.
    my e-amail is hkckathy@yahoo.com
    Can anyone help me?
    Thanks

  6. Hi Kathy, I can invite comments from people who know for sure, but it’s my understanding that you are limited with the number of hours per week (or total service time percentage) you can offer direct service in your community. So my sense is if you would be teaching more than a couple hours a week, that’s probably not allowable. If you’re planning to teach classes in the evenings, after your regular service day, you should be able to consider it as a separate volunteer gig. If your supervisor says no, though, and teaching classes isn’t in your work plan, it might be really hard to get permission to move forward with that noble idea! Thanks so much for your service and I’ll ask others to chime in.

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