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