Monthly Archives: July 2015

Chelsea Carlson – RSN VISTA Leader 2014-2015

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In August 2014, I completed my first successful year of AmeriCorps VISTA.There I served as the Marketing and Multicultural Outreach Coordinator for Adult Basic Education (ABE) in my home state of Minnesota. This year opened my eyes to many bitter realities faced daily by those affected by poverty. I had studied many of these issues at length throughout my time in University, but that did little to grow my understanding of the true, human experience behind it. I still have a monumental amount left to learn. I also witnessed the incredible resilience of my community, which I believe was essential for sparking my passion for public service.

Following my year at ABE, I moved to Seattle to become a VISTA Leader with the RSN. The experiences of a VISTA Leader are definitely very different than those of a VISTA. As a VL, I have seen the work done by the entire cohort from a unique angle. I have seen a wide range of conflicts and barriers that can arise in service organizations and have grown to more thoroughly understand why some mechanisms move quickly while others seem to face a constant uphill battle. VISTA Leadership has certainly given me more insight into the inner workings of non-profit organizations, big and small.

It has been exciting and inspiring to watch the progress of so many amazing projects. To say that this year has been eye-opening would be an understatement. In the end, I believe that the combination of my VISTA project and my year as a VISTA Leader ended up being the perfect education I needed to prepare me for the career that follows.

Hannah Hollmann – Asian Counseling and Referral Service Resource Development AmeriCorps*VISTA

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As a second-term VISTA at Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS), I’ve had the pleasure of really getting to know the people and communities I work with. I started as a VISTA in ACRS’ Volunteer Program which provided a number of opportunities to engage with staff members, volunteers and clients from a variety of ACRS’ 13 departments. From line dancing with seniors clients to celebrating volunteers at the ACRS Food Bank, I was touched by the dedication and generosity of spirit so many of our volunteers have. My first year as a VISTA provided me with the honor of meeting and developing strong connections with so many different aspects of ACRS and the work we do. 

 

Now, as a VISTA with ACRS’ Development program I am engaged in a different capacity, with a focus on grant writing, communications and the two ACRS annual fundraisers. I’ve really enjoyed learning about the programs from this perspective, and have grown leaps and bounds professionally under the leadership of my coworkers.  

 

These past two years have been hard, but also incredibly rewarding. I’ve struggled with insecure housing, finances, and other personal challenges. That said, I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to learn from so many people. I have changed significantly in the duration of this program, and remain motivated by a desire to help others however I am able.    

Margaret Major- Project Feast Program Coordinator

MargaretM

Gari niam. Lekkel. Mangez. Kay lanu an. Eat. Eat. Come, we’re eating lunch. Calls to food, calls to family. Invitations- in a myriad of languages- to be together, work together, eat together. This is what I remember from my family and teachers in Senegal. A year full of days living with these words and greetings and values was enough to convince me of the power of food, importance of family, and value of patience in making sustainable, positive change in the world and in myself.

 

I was drawn to AmeriCorps VISTA for all of the practical reasons: recent college graduate tired of making lattés, in search of professional development opportunities, and faced with encroaching loan payments. But what really convinced me that this position was right for me was that it was a platform for me to engage with so many of my passions and interests – food, women’s empowerment, cultural exchange, community, language, fighting poverty- all in the breathtaking northwest- doesn’t get much better than that.

 

Project Feast is unique. We are a nonprofit/ social enterprise hybrid, we are a start-up, and we are a four-person team. We work in a community center and in a co working space, in a cubicle and in a commercial kitchen. I’m bouncing around doing different projects all the time like creating outreach materials and going to career fairs for Tukwila parents, editing commercial kitchen skills curriculum to better suite adult English language learners, reading about how to use instagram effectively to promote a catering business, and teaching myself the language of customer relationship management software. It’s a whirlwind! While it is exhilarating to create things from scratch, take personal initiative, and have a say in the direction and vision of an organization, it is also at times scary and challenging to thrive with little direction, be assigned a task I really don’t know how to do, and work with people from around the world with different backgrounds, experiences, communication styles, and needs. But so is life, and so is the life of an AmeriCorps VISTA. Sometimes moving forward, often questioning my next and last move, always learning.