Here’s an update on how our VISTA members are mobilizing North Carolina’s communities and continuing to fight poverty with the power of higher education!
Our measurable impact from the past four months:
- $49,495 cash and grant resources generated
- $7,221 in-kind resources generated
- 1,751 volunteers mobilized
- 13,070 hours of service performed by volunteers
To date, our VISTAs and the programs and organizations they support have improved the lives of individuals:
- 176 low-income people received housing-related or financial literacy services
- 180 at-risk students completed participation in an education assistance program
- 117 at-risk youth/mentor matches were sustained for the required time period
- 11 new service programs met needs of low-income people or at-risk K-12 students and 72 new volunteer recruitment, management, and training processes supported these service programs.
VISTA Jess-Mara Jordan transformed the STRIVE mentoring program at Open Doors of Asheville into a UNCA service-learning class for credit, and created a mentor curriculum which includes training on cultural competency, non-parent role models, college exposure, and much much more. Jess also volunteered at “Open Doors’ Annual Art Auction” which raised $100,000.
VISTA Willie Jones turned his gleaning program into a gardening club to create a critical base of volunteers year-round. He and the new club members gleaned and secured 712.5 pounds of food this past quarter through the Fill-the-Bag Food Drive, which goes to the Community Table and other Cullowhee food pantries supporting over 25,000 people over the course of a year. His work was featured in this local news article. Apart from Willie’s primary gardening and food distribution projects, he also helped raise over $3,000 for “The Unbroken Circle” Fundraiser, to support the victims of the mudslide in Oso, Washington and their families in Western North Carolina. Willie also participated in the “Cullowhee Fire Fundraiser”, to benefit the victims of a fire which consumed 3 local businesses and left almost 30 workers displaced.
VISTA Brittany Johnson secured a building location for Hospitality House of Boone’s Thrift store! Once the store is operational, it will create a sustainable source of revenue for the organization. She is now developing a volunteer and recruitment program for volunteers to work at the store, teaming up with ACT to recruit Appalachian State University students. The 5k Memorial Day Fundraiser, notably named the “Color Blast”, will support start-up costs for the thrift store.
VISTA Jacob Lerner with the Marion Cheek Jackson Center in Chapel Hill piloted a landlord research team to better determine students’ relationships with landlords and what impact these relationships have on the community, and has also developed a student outreach team to help build networks among neighbors, learn more about what neighbors’ issues, and connect folks with information about the Jackson Center. Jacob also supports volunteer efforts at the Heavenly Groceries food ministry, which welcomes close to 80 people each day, who then go home and feed their families. Jacob also had $600 worth of food donated to feed 300 people for the Marion Cheek Jackson Center’s annual May Day Celebration.
VISTA Anna Mahathey at High Point University worked with the Bonner Leaders Program to develop Bonners Chats, inviting students and community members alike to discuss and learn about poverty, food insecurity, and other social justice issues specific to High Point. Their Chats included topics entitled “Childhood Literacy, Poverty, & the Impact it has on Children in School,” , “Putting a Face on Homelessness,” and “Immigrant and Refugee Justice,” The chats engaged over 50 people.
VISTA Bevelyn Ukah at Guilford College launched the African Youth Initiative (AYI) Youth Advisory Board with 5 youth and 4 interns. In collaboration with the board, Bevelyn secured a $1,500 grant from the Community Foundation Teen Grantmaking Council to support AYI Youth Ambassador operational functions. This advisory board creates space for youth ownership, learning, and creativity, and has most recently been focusing on food security. They have partnered with the Food Youth Initiative through the Center for Environmental Farming Systems to discuss forming a community garden and supporting local food education.
VISTA Erin O’Donnell works with low-income Wilmington residents who not only participate in the Rent-A-Farmer CSA Produce Box program and Feast Down East’s Fresh Market, but who also collaborate in planning and implementing new Feast Down East Projects. Erin worked with local farmers to donate $265 worth of fresh organic produce to these programs as well.
VISTA Ariel Mitchell at Lenoir Rhyne hosted several food drives for her community partner, Centro Latino, her largest spanning 15 days to end on National Volunteer Week. They collected over 200 food items to support Centro Latinos’ emergency food bank.
VISTA Takira Dale at Duke University’s Community Service Center incorporated a donation drive into her Alternative Spring Break “Dive Into Durham”, to donate 150 hygiene kits for Urban Ministries of Durham.
VISTA Elizabeth McIntosh recruited 7 interns to support the PAGE summer program, an educational enrichment program for which she recruited 30 middle school girls. The program is set to launch on June 17th. Elizabeth developed a new partnership with Hot Springs Learning Center, and received sponsorships from both local groups such as the Presbyterian Women’s Association, as well as groups at the corporate level including the Community Foundation of Central Florida. Most recently, she received a donation from a local family to start a Farm to Table initiative to address food insecurity in Madison County, and at PAGE’s summer camp, where the participants will learn about healthy eating and farming.
VISTA Sarah Cohn at the Community Empowerment Fund in Chapel Hill trained and supported 25 volunteer advocates this quarter, who in turn worked with 176 people experiencing homelessness to provide housing-related support. Forty-three of those 176 folks also attended financial literacy classes. Not only does Sarah match volunteers with clients, this quarter she also created an impact evaluation framework for CEF. The framework lays a foundation for CEF to improve data collection methods over time to better understand how CEF can meet client needs.
VISTA Shifra Sered recruited teachers and designed the program for “Arts on Third Street,” in which 40 low-income youth in west Greenville participated. Shifra’s primary achievement has been the creation of a 30 pag e volunteer manual and the design of a volunteer orientation to support educational programming at the Third Street Community Center.
VISTA Christina Hudson sustained mentor relationships of Queens University students as pen pals, lunch buddies, and after schoolcare tutors and classroom assistants to students at Sedgefield Elementary. These efforts were supported by the elementary school’s new emailing system informing volunteers of different opportunities to get involved. Christina also teamed up with Promising Pages to donate 398 books to Sedgefield, enough to start a new library.
The North Carolina Campus Compact VISTA impact spreads far and wide, and with it goes the word about AmeriCorps VISTA. One of our VISTAs shared, “I spread the word about AmeriCorps everywhere I go. I personally feel I can’t tell people what I do or am trying to do without promoting AmeriCorps.”
Read more about our VISTAs’ work on Alternative Spring Break trips and MLK Days of service, and Devin Corrigan’s large-scale MLK Day event in Greensboro. And if you missed our earlier project updates, learn about the rest of their work.