My first introduction to AmeriCorps VISTA was when my mom was one when I was a teenager in the late 1990's. I saw how much she enjoyed her year, and how much she learned that I always thought there was a possibility that I would do VISTA too. I began my VISTA year in March of 2017. I was lucky enough to be a VISTA for the place that I did my undergrad internship at, so I did not have to learn as much about the position. While I knew most of what I would be doing when I accepted the position, I was also scared. It had been almost 10 years since I had last worked, since I had spent time in college and raising my children. I was worried that I would not be able to do the position correctly, or that I would burn out fast.
In my position, I spent a year managing volunteer facilitators, and becoming a facilitator myself. We work on training adults in 10 counties of north Idaho in child sexual abuse prevention. Child sexual abuse a hard topic to deal with, but doing this position has taught me a lot and made me more aware of what my own children do and whom they are around. There was a VISTA for 2 years before me, so I was the sites final VISTA. I took that to heart. I dove in even though it took me a little to get my feet wet so to speak. About six months into my year, I finally started seeing results. Training numbers were low before I started, and for around the first six months. I worked on getting youth serving organizations trained, and our state childcare training hours program approval for our training. From October 2017 to the end of February 2018, we saw more than double the amount of adults trained. I have also been working on getting more volunteer facilitators. We do a yearly facilitator training which is coming up in April. I have more interest from volunteers than prior years. While I did not make the personal professional connections that I had hoped I would, I still got to do plenty of community outreach and meet people from other orginizations. I also realize that it is not much of an issue that I did not build my professional connections much, as I will be moving to the other side of the country when my children finish the school year.
I feel that my VISTA year has helped me grow more professionally, and helped me to shed some of my fears of failure. This year has also helped to solidify that I want to continue in the social services field, so I started my Masters of Social Work degree in January 2018. I am excited to see what the future brings and I am glad that I had the VISTA experience.