VISTA Service Opportunity with Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center in Denton, TX

W2W new logoInterested in women’s health & have fundraising skills? The Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center Fundraising Events VISTA will increase funding to provide education & free medical care to women.

Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center is located in Denton, TX. Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC) empowers individuals to make wise life choices financially, sexually, and relationally through 3 programs that work together to provide assistance to women in unintended pregnancies and bring families out of poverty. Ninety percent (90%) of the clients receiving services through the programs at Woman to Woman PRC fall below the poverty line with an average annual income of $17,000. The clinic at Woman to Woman PRC provides free medical services, including pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, prenatal care and medical follow-ups, as well as counseling to clients. Woman to Woman’s Living Choices of North Texas program is a school-based program with the mission of educating youth, equipping parents and engaging the community with accurate facts concerning sexual health and well-being. The Twice as Nice Resale Store of Denton supports the mission of Woman to Woman PRC. Women seeking services from Woman to Woman have the opportunity to receive new and gently used merchandise from the thrift store for themselves and their children free of charge through the Earn and Learn Program. The Fundraising Events VISTA at Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center will build capacity and increase awareness of agency events and programs through development of community outreach strategies and will create a system of metric analysis for determining event sustainability. To learn more about Woman to Woman PRC visit


VISTA Service Opportunity with Chestnut Square Historic Village in McKinney, TX

Chestnut SquareAre you passionate about history? Bring history to life in McKinney, TX by developing a volunteer program to educate elementary school children and the community about their storied past.

Chestnut Square Historic Village located in McKinney, TX is a 2 block historic campus, consisting of five historic homes, a historically accurate replica of a one-room schoolhouse, a chapel, a store, a reception house, and a Visitors Center, spanning the time period of 1850-1930. We host hundreds of school children and thousands of visitors each year. We are located east of downtown McKinney bordering Hwy 5. Five (5) of the eight(8) Title I Schools are located within a 5 mile radius of Chestnut Square, where 50% of the 2500 students live in a home where English is not the first language. Our organization utilizes volunteers to execute our education programs which serve audiences of all ages, our community events which honor our founding families and speak to our roots as a developing metropolis, and our Farmers Market which provides access to locally sourced seasonal produce, farm fresh eggs and dairy, meats and a variety of specialty items. The Farmers Market has been nationally recognized multiple times as one of the best markets in terms of variety, customer service, sustainability, providing economic opportunities for farms and farmers, and adherence to strict farmers market guiding principles. The Chestnut Square Historic Village Volunteer Program Development VISTA will develop and implement a comprehensive volunteer program to support education programs serving McKinney elementary schools and farmer’s market. The VISTA will  develop a formal volunteer program, including policies, procedures, training and recognition events, and the recruitment of 35 new volunteers.


VISTA Member Finalizes Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance’s New Tenant Resource Guide

IMG_12511AmeriCorps VISTA member, Victoria Jackson, serving with Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance has spent the past few months finalizing and perfecting the New Tenant Resource Guide (NTRG). In this guide, newly-housed clients will find a Birth Certificate application, a Voter Registration Card, and a resource directory that ranges from employment needs to medical needs that can be fulfilled in Dallas and Collin Counties. In January, she gathered the participants of December’s pilot program, in addition to representatives from several other agencies for training and distribution of the first official New Tenant Resource Guides. In this meeting, she trained the representatives on the 60 pages of the NTRG, from the instructions on how to access critical documents to the ten-page resource directory at the end of the guide. To prevent too many general funds and office hours being used on putting together each individual guide, Victoria uploaded each element of the guide to Basecamp, a website meant to organize cooperative projects. In this way, all agencies funded by the Continuum of Care or the Emergency Solutions Grant now have access to this guide and can print it with ease and at no cost.

Christian Community Action VISTA Increases Funding Potential through Grant Writing

IMG_13502AmeriCorps VISTA Stephanie Adams’ work at Christian Community Action (CCA) in Lewisville, TX has included submitting grants to the Hillcrest, Harry W. Bass, Celanese, and Kohl foundation as well as the Bank of the Ozarks. If granted funding from each of these foundations Stephanie’s work could provide Christian Community Action’s comprehensive programs and services with $32,500 to continue providing relief to its clients in crisis. CCA’s programs include food and financial assistance, life skills and job readiness training, as well as spiritual care and counseling to approximately 4,000 community members in need. The grants written to the Hillcrest and Harry W. Bass foundation could potentially provide funding for CCA’s Food Assistance program and help CCA purchase fresh fruits and vegetables as well as household and hygiene products.

Youth and Family Counseling VISTA Creates Mental Health Awareness Post to Increase Engagement

IMG_0858-(003)VISTA Miranda Bonilla is hard at work recruiting volunteers for Youth and Family Counseling (YFC) in Lewisville, TX.  Since YFC is a smaller agency, volunteers make a huge difference. By taking on some of the smaller but necessary tasks around the office, volunteers allow staff members to focus on capacity building, which leads to more funds raised to serve the community. Miranda has also been working on creating fresh content for YFC’s social media. She believes greater social media engagement is an important component of marketing. Getting the word out to the community in an accessible way leads to more awareness about the agency and more clients served. For the month of January, she created the series “31 Days of Mental Health”, in an effort to increase both mental health awareness and audience engagement. Each day, a new tip was posted along with a picture or video relevant to the post. Since the series started, the YFC Facebook page has reached 2,994 people, a 388% increase from December. YFC has also had 813 post engagements, a 359% increase. It is the Agency’s most successful series to date.

Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center’s VISTA Develops a Successful Volunteer Training

Jen Annen“Focusing on our foundation and building on it” is the theme that VISTA Jennifer Annen is using to create a new training for the volunteers at Woman to Woman’s Twice as Nice Resale in Denton, Texas. January was the second phase in the construction of the quarterly training, known as “BUILD,” for the resale store’s staff and 120+ active volunteers. After conducting over 20 hours of interviews with current volunteers, Jennifer and her volunteer management team took the feedback into consideration when planning how to most efficiently use the volunteers’ valuable time during trainings. Jennifer and her team began by replacing one of their old methods of training every first Thursday of the month and implemented BUILD, which would gather more volunteers at a time most convenient to them and jam-packed with the most pertinent information. By working closely with various presenters to compose their portion of the training, Jennifer made sure that the activities and lessons would be worthwhile, interactive, and even fun! To string together all sections of the training, Jennifer designed a PowerPoint presentation that remained on the screen to help the audience follow and to highlight the largest takeaways. She and the volunteer management team created a booklet for all of the audience members to fill in the blanks, take notes, and walk away with important upcoming dates and events. Ultimately, forty-five volunteers and staff participated in the training event and two of the founding board members even made an appearance. One of the highlights of the evening involved a long-term volunteer of thirteen years who spoke about why she has stayed with Woman to Woman for so long and how much of an impact you can within your volunteer service. Jennifer’s team received excellent feedback from all attendees and she cannot wait to see all of the hard work of the BUILD event transpire into more cohesiveness and ownership within the ministry. The value of these amazing volunteers’ service has helped to provide over 1,700 hours at the resale store in just the last month of 2017 alone. These hours enable Twice as Nice to serve Woman to Woman in providing many free services to the community. Jennifer hopes that these quarterly trainings will encourage volunteers to continue spreading the word to friends and the community how just serving a few hours a week can provide so much for the Denton County area!

VISTA Highlights the Impact Network of Community Ministries has on the Lives of Low-Income Seniors

IMG_0856-(003)Network of Community Ministries, Inc. located in Richardson, TX responds to human need by giving assistance with the goal of helping individuals achieve long-term independence. Its mission is “caring, coaching and empowering neighbors in need as they seek an improved quality of life.” Ben Chapman serves as the Marketing and Fundraising VISTA spent time shadowing Networks’ Handy-Men Program, a service provided to Network clients who are either seniors or disabled. He and the volunteers went to a senior woman’s home and he took photos of the volunteers fixing a woman’s fence for her. He also had the opportunity to interview her about her situation and how Network has been there for her. She is forced to be a working senior but still cannot afford to keep up with her home, despite already having a roommate. She told Ben that the fact that the Handy-Men Service can be there for her is truly a blessing. She stated “They keep you together. Because if your house is falling apart, it’s impossible to put your life back together”

VISTA Lays the Groundwork for Successful Drug Take Back Events at Senior Living Communities

IMG_16662April Comperda, serving as the Drug Education VISTA at Chisholm Trail RSVP in Denton, TX continues working on the agency’s Prescription Take Back Day campaign. Even though the Take Back Days occur just twice a year, Chisholm Trail RSVP continues to stand as mechanism for change and bridge the gap all year long. Recognizing that seniors do not fit the typical stereotype of a drug abuser, Chisholm Trail RSVP understands the necessity of bringing the Take Back Days to senior living communities and senior centers. In addition, April’s mission to increase public awareness, has led her to create a media kit containing resources promote the Take Back campaign to target seniors. In addition, she secured a generous donation of 1,000 Dettera at-home disposal pouches from a nationwide pharmaceutical corporation. The pouches reinforce the dangerous effects of leaving medication in places for anyone to find. April’s efforts build the capacity and necessary sustainability to carry-out Chisholm Trail RSVP’s initiative for years to come.

February VISTA Spotlight

RashikaName: Rashika Smith

Hometown: Orlando, Florida

Alma Mater: Florida A&M in Tallahassee

Volunteer history: I did AmeriCorps City Year and Pfeiffer Camp. I also volunteered with CASA, Red Cross, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

Why did you choose VISTA? I chose VISTA because of my experiences with the AmeriCorps in the past through City Year and Pfeiffer Camp. When I had the opportunity to move to a new city, I knew the skills that I would continue to gain while giving back to my new community would AmeriCorps would be exceptional. This was also an opportunity to develop skills for graduate school.

Tell us a little bit about what your organization does and your role in it: Epilepsy Foundation helps lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy. My role is fundraising and community outreach.

What is your biggest accomplishment as a VISTA so far?  I was able to increase the fundraising efforts for the entire organization. I was able to help increase volunteerism.


Cornerstone Ranch VISTA Organizes Donor Data Leading to Successful Fundraising

Martha TonnCornerstone Ranch, located in McKinney, TX, is a unique home and day program for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. In late November, Cornerstone Ranch began working with a development consultant to design and implement a strategic fundraising plan for the end of 2017 and 2018. The first step was to craft a year-end direct mail appeal targeting various segments of donors and prospects to consider an end-of-year gift. For the past two years, Cornerstone Ranch has maintained approximately 2000 names and address in their database, but not donation information. Donations have been stored in QuickBooks and various event-related spreadsheets. For this reason, it was a very difficult and time-consuming process to segment donors into major donors, mid-level donors, event donors, general donors, and lapsed donors, as was needed for the appeal. VISTA member Martha Tonn took the information that was compiled from various sources and sorted out the donors into the appropriate categories, taking the time to check and re-check for errors and duplications. While one large group of constituents was sent to a mailing house for processing, the smaller groups, totaling approximately 500 letters in six different segments were printed and processed in-house to save on costs. The appeal was successfully mailed in early December and resulted in donations of $37,275. These funds support the Day Program activities and operating costs for Cornerstone Ranch where the residents and day program participants learn new skills, and reach their highest level of independence, as active participants in grocery shopping, home care, meal preparation and personal grooming. They can also be found volunteering at local nonprofits and making contributions to their communities.