• Alumni story
    Stephany Medina 2019 2020 Virginia, Minnesota

    Joining AmeriCorps VISTA meant taking a leap of faith for me. I was able to land a wonderful VISTA position with St. Louis County Public Health in Northern Minnesota focusing on Opioid Prevention. I knew I wanted to be in public health, but the opioid epidemic seemed like such an overwhelming health concern to tackle.

    My early days of service involved a lot of research and trainings about the multitude of layers involved in the opioid epidemic and how to administer the opioid overdose reversal drug, Narcan. I built partnerships with community members and organizations working towards the same goals and I was proud of all the action taking place in my community; however, I didn’t quite know where I fit into the strategic plan. When National Take Back Day neared, I knew this event promoting safe medication disposal would be a great place to start.

    I was able to utilize my research, partnerships, and health promotion experience to inform community members about the importance of removing unused medications from the household and educating them on where to find collection sites around the county. After the event, the Sheriff’s Department informed me that we more than doubled the amount of medication collected from the previous year, totaling more than 125 pounds!

    Seeing the results of this event, I realized that it’s the small, community-driven efforts that can make an impact on the harms related to the opioid epidemic. Since then, my service year has been filled with community coalition work and various projects chipping away at each layer of the opioid epidemic. I’m happy to say that I found my place in this field and position. Looking forward, my hope is that the manuscript I co-authored with pharmacists and public health professionals in the region on how to increase Narcan access to community members will be published.

  • Alumni story
    Nedrea (Bee) Scott 2018 2019 Baltimore


    To begin, I have never had anyone trust me with anything so fragile, and this experience will forever be etched in my memory. I was given a task so big that even I was in suspense the entire time. I learned a lot about Project and Program Management, and most of the time, this was all I did daily. However, one of those times I received an assignment that was very sensitive in nature, and it was attached to the Maryland United for Youth Conference in which I had been a part of planning (Pre-Post) for 2019. My response when I first got the assignment was: Why? I found out two weeks later that the assignment had originally been given to the Operations Manager and in the back of my mind, I was thinking that this must be pretty serious because they are trying to fnid the right fit. They want the right person for this and apparently I am that chosen one. 

    So air goes I have the assignment. I look at the task itself, and I sized it up. After I decided how I would proceed, I began working on the assignment. I prioritized how the project would be laid out, timelines for specific deliverables and wether or not I would need assistance. I then chose times when I would send the Team Project updates and elicit assistance if ever necessary. After I came up with a definitive plan, I begin working the plan. This all occurred in February 2019. Fast forward and it is now April at this point. I would discover how huge of an undertaking this was and I elicited some assistance, which was later approved. However, that help did not come until late May 2019. I continued to work the project to the point of revisioning deadlines and obtaining all necessary information to demonstrate deliverable statuses to higher-ups. It then became a team effort to bring the project to a completion. Moving forward, the project was completed and sent off two months a head of my original and revisioned forecasted projections, which were originally set for May and then reset to June and later July.

    The project then flipped and busted wide open what others of Conference Planning Team had not done, when the head of the Department for the State of Maryland's MSDE sent the project back with lots of questions. I was totally blown and blind sided. My only mistake was not including in my plan, a cross-sectional aspect of deliverables from other conference committee's and other independent assignment teams. What I learned from this is that I should have been getting other teams to share with me what they were working on, and where they were on their deliverables. Their deliverables would have shown me, what they needed to do before my project reached the point of being finalized. In this, I started looking to see what Conference Committee's I could help, and researching how other committee's would potentially impact my committee and my indenpendent team's assignment. We used the questions from the state to assess which conference committee we needed to approach and offer team assistance to. I put on the Calendar to address not making the same mistakes again for the next year - (Conference Debrief) learning curves, and then I put on everyone's Calendar all Conference Committee and Planning Team Meeting. This would help us compile the results of where we were, how to move forward, and what our next best steps were. We knew we only had a small window of time to act to help others of the conference planning team, so we came together as a Team with me at the helm of the assisgnement I was taked to complete. This was only a small setback that I felt we could overcome, and eventually we did. Once everything was reworked, I sent the project back off to the Department of MSDE for the State of Maryland and we were approved. This was still done 1 to 2 months a head of my forecasted projections and the State's. I was very proud of the work the Team did and what I had done. I was and still remain humble about this because I needed help and I did not do the work alone. I had help! I may have carried this on my back, but again I say I had help. 

    When we got to the conference, I saw the fruits of our labor when Packets for CEU's - Continuing Education Unit's and/or Credit's were handed out to the VISTA's first and then Conference Attendees. Whenever we were  not working the conference, we were considered Attendees. We reaped the benefits of this work and earned CEU's ourselves. Ultimately, the State had backed the MD4YC2019 Event with a CEU Seal of approval. I have never been given an opportunity such as this before and I am so proud of the work I committed to doing for this conference. 

    I am Bee Scott and this is my VISTA Alumni Story!

  • Alumni story
    Wacinque Amistad Kaizen BeMende 2019 2020 Socorro

    With a service term that begins in the end year of a decade and continues to the beginning year of a new decade I thought I would approach my story on that basis. This is a story build on hugh potential.  The service assignment is at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and is a piller in the community. Tech is known worldwide for it's excellence in education and produces more PHd's per student enrollment than every college in America anddrawing student from around the world.  Our mission name is STORM FORCE: STEAM OutReach & Mentoring Fueling Opportunity through Relationships, Community and Education.  Our mission foundation is Collective Impact using the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem.  The specific social problem we seek to address is poor academic outcomes in Socorro which trails both national and state performance outcomes by a significant measure receiving D or F for both 4th and 8th grade Reading and Math.  Changing this outcome is a worthy challenge.  It is with this foundation that I launch my service tour.

  • Alumni story
    Baker 2012 2017 Harrison Arkansas

    I had never heard of VISTA before 2012, although an organization in town supported a team of VISTA for years. The distribution Company that I had worked with for 30 years decided to close, displacing roughly 500 people in our surrounding communities. Our local and state officials came to us to educate us on opportunies and to let us know there IS life after such a rude awakening. Our local workforce center was there with surveys, asking each of us to fill it out. One question on that survey that leads me to this point is..”What do you want to do with yourself now that the company has let you go”? We received a great severance package as well as unemployment benefits for 6 months. My answer was to volunteer somewhere. This answer displayed a “red flag” to one of the workforce employees. She called me and talked at great length about the VISTA program in town. I applied and was accepted. I was 56 years old, did not want the education award, so I served 5 years, thinking I might retire. NOPE, I’m now working with a non-profit in town, one that had supported a VISTA for years prior. That’s it in a nutshell!!!


    Thanks for all you do

  • Alumni story
    Quiroz 2019 2020 Mar Vista

    When I first joined VIsta, I was fresh out of college. I thought I wanted to go into law but I figured I'd give Vista a try in the meantime. I ended up falling in love with the organization and now, 6 years after serving, I am back again! I am excited to apply the skills I've gained in the past few years to better empower the community I serve. 

  • Alumni story
    Wendy Alvarado 2019 2020 Los Angeles

    I graduated from college 2019 with a Single-Subject Teaching Credential in English. As I look for a city and school district to drop anchor, I want to make a positive direct impact in my community. Serving as a volunteer recruitment and retention coordinator will allow me to learn about how out of school support systems operate and ultimately help facilitate student to refine their reading and writing skills. As a future educator, I want to be resourceful for students inside and outside of the classroom. The non-profit organization I have been placed at will allow me to learn the nuts and bolts of how to launch and maintain support programs for students. I look forward to serving this year as a Vista Member.

  • Alumni story
    Leif Olandese 2016 West Palm Beach/ Fort Myers FL

    While I currently serve as The VISTA Leader in Florida's only Promise Zone, my story is focused back in my 1st year as a VISTA in West Palm Beach. I worked with the Children's Home Society designing and implementing a vocational program to assist single parents in the job search for compatible employment given the complexity of their daily demands. But my greater contribution came, I feel, from my FEMA Training. I ordered disaster preparation materials for all three offices in English, Spanish and Creole. With permission from my site supervisor, I also did presentations on building disaster safety kits at each office. I say this was my greater contribution because 2 months later the area would evacuate for Hurricane Irma. I like to feel I helped prepare some residents of the West Palm Beach area for that tragedy.

  • Alumni story
    Justine McDilda 2017 2018 Coeur d'Alene

    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. 

  • Alumni story
    Tina L. Hayes 2012 2014 Gainesville, Florida

    I do have to mention that I am an AmeriCorps State/National Alumni. I realize that this site may only apply to VISTA Alums, however I did not want to miss out on sharing a snapshot of my experience. I served with Rebuilding Together, Inc. a nationwide nonprofit organization with a mission of "Bringing volunteers and communities together to improve the homes and lives of low-income homeowners." I served at the Gainesville, Florida affiliate. My titles were AmeriCorps State/National CapacityCorps Member, Volunteer/Project Site Coordinator for Rebuilding Together North Central Florida 2012-2014 (now that's a mouthful!). I served for 2 years, repairing and rebuilding homes for homeowners that could not afford the much-needed critical home repair that was endangering the lives of them and their families. When I completed my AmeriCorps terms, I continued to serve the organization as a permanent staff member until I relocated. I am currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Pennsylvania.

    Thanks for looking! Photography by me, Tina L Hayes. Enjoy! If I am not able to upload more than one picture, I'll try to upload more in another post if I am allowed.

  • Alumni story
    Sabrine Elberkani 2016 2017 Atlanta

    My first term will be ending next month and I am very excited.  I have learned so much this year, I believe that being able to network and meet different people in the non-profit field has opened my eyes made me consider options that I had never thought about.  I have been able to do community service and event planning, which I enjoyed a lot.  I was also able to help and interact with opportunity youth, something that I have always been pationate about.  I feel like everyday I meet someone new, someone who works in a different department and I love learning about their position and their career path.  This service year has encouraged me to explore different career paths and be open to learning new things and being outside my comfort zone.

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