Meet Zuleima!

Zuleima is a Marketing & Fund Development VISTA #GettingThingsDone at Denton Christian Preschool, located in Denton, TX.

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National Day of Service in Hutchins, Texas

Since its founding in 1896, Volunteers of America has supported and empowered America’s most vulnerable populations, including those returning from prison. Volunteers of America’s Residential Re-entry Center in Hutchins, Texas attempts to combat the vicious circle of incarceration and poverty by working with individuals in a halfway house setting as they prepare to re-enter the community.

“When individuals are released from prison, their options for employment, decent housing, credit and more are severely limited. In the face of these obstacles, committing crimes may seem like a necessity in order to survive. At Volunteers of America Texas, we believe in second chances, and we are committed to helping these individuals to reduce recidivism.” – Volunteers of America Texas.

Because their facility was strongly in need of some beautification, the VISTAs took a little road trip to the Residential Reentry Center to spend the day painting the interior walls. VISTA Leader, April Comperda, organized each aspect of the event ranging from the initial contact with Volunteers of America Texas to the strategically designed carpool schedule for the 17 VISTAs serving with the North Texas Project.

New & Improved tools in action: Volunteer Management at Woman to WOman

YoLanda Sanders

YoLanda Sanders, Volunteer Training  AmeriCorps VISTA, currently serves in Denton, Texas at the Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center. Woman to Woman (W2W) provides low-income women with free medical services, such as pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, prenatal care including medical follow ups, along with educational resources, and counseling services. Throughout the month of July, YoLanda generated a  volunteer management system, Better Impact. This cohesive, all inclusive system provides W2W the ability to better manage, measure, and interpret volunteer data leading to more effective client interactions and service offerings. YoLanda has proven herself to be an invaluable asset to W2M in their mission to serve low income woman with the best services they can offer.

In addition, she conducted a concise, accurate reporting procedure so that volunteers and staff members can log their activities fully and independently. Understanding the inner workings of W2W, YoLanda continues to emphasize the importance of sustaining an engaged relationship with the volunteers. By reaching out to previous volunteers, YoLanda was able re-establish that connection. As a result, twelve volunteers re-activated and have committed to serving at the thrift store.

Christian Community Action Announces Launch Date for Job Readiness Program

AmeriCorps VISTA member Steven Tillman

Christian Community Action in Lewisville, TX provides comprehensive services that alleviate suffering, bring hope and change lives. Life skills and Job Readiness VISTA, Steven Tillman, has created CCA’s Job Readiness Training Program. The program curriculum breaks down into five-day seminar-like  sessions, running from 1 to 2 hours each.  The curriculum developed by Steven strongly emphasises:

  • Career Management
  • Career Assessment & Communication
  • Resumes & Cover Letters
  • Professionalism & Self­ Management
  • Online Professionalism & Networking
  • Interview Skills

Clients will be able to receive training and full assistance with their employment matters during the full work-week and use the skills and information acquired the next week. Weekend trainings are to be held, as well; Steven is currently considering options for streamlining the process a bit further in order to accommodate those whom having other obligations during a regular work-week but are still interested in training.

An official start-date for the Job readiness Program has been set for August 13th, 2018, and training cycles will repeat weekly. Several new volunteers have been screened and brought on board for training. Other employment related programs exist in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but the Job Readiness Training program which Steven has developed is unique because it approaches employment matters not just from the perspective of a job seeker being well prepared, but also well informed and well adjusted for what the employment market has to offer. Continue reading Christian Community Action Announces Launch Date for Job Readiness Program

Collin County History Museum’s VISTA Develops and Launches Summer Camp Program

The Collin County History Museum, located in McKinney, TX, is an archival museum with historical artifacts, photographs, documents, diaries, manuscripts, and historical maps that provide valuable research and information for teachers, students, historians, authors and genealogists. The museum provides educational programming for students across Collin County. Keith Uselton, the Curriculum and Development VISTA for the Collin County History Museum, developed and launched an educational based summer program for 10 areas underserved 3rd and 4th grade students from low income families attending Title 1 elementary schools. Along with a volunteer, he procured a donation of a catered breakfast from an area restaurant for the students for all 6 sessions of the summer camp. Keith also acquired a donation of $100 for camp supplies. With donations from local merchants the students have been provided with daily snacks from high end restaurants and shops from around downtown McKinney. We have covered in our curriculum the first 2 topics of the TEK educational requirements for Texas 4th graders, Native Indians of Texas and Texas Pioneers. The goal of the summer camp is to promote students’ educational success by providing a preview of curriculum for 3rd graders going into 3rd grade and a review for 4th graders going into 5th.

 

VISTA’s Grant Writing and Fundraising Helps Christian Community Action Provide Programs and Services

IMG_13502AmeriCorps VISTA Stephanie Adams’ work this month at Christian Community Action (CCA) included receiving $15,000 from the Celanese foundation for CCA’s comprehensive programs and services as well as writing grant requests to Communities Foundation of Texas, City of The Colony, City of Coppell, TJX Foundation, ADR Foundation, Stallings Foundation, and Walmart Communities Foundation. If granted the requested from each foundation, Stephanie’s work could provide $99,000 to CCA’s comprehensive programs and services such as food assistance, rental and utility assistance, spiritual counseling, seasonal and senior programs, as well as job readiness and life skills training. This month CCA hosted its second annual Sporting Clay Tourney event which Stephanie attended and assisted in coordinating. The fundraising event included 87 shooter participants from local organizations and groups in the Lewisville community and provided the organization with over $35,000 in funds for CCA’s programs.

NewDay Service’s VISTA Sees Results from Outreach Efforts

IMG_1259VISTA Meghan serves with NewDay Services Fatherhood: EFFECT program in Denton, TX. They have successfully settled into their new facilities. Meghan was thrilled to have a stable launch pad from which to coordinate her outreach efforts and made sure to take advantage of it this month. She used the new opportunities presented by the excitement of new facilities to engage old contacts by encouraging them to come by and see what has changed in the program. Meghan has also been working on steadily building the relationship she has developed with two other community organizations, Our Daily Bread and the Salvation Army. This approach resulted in three very successful meetings with, producing a plethora of good ideas for collaboration as well as interagency goodwill. The first meeting was with the Community Liaison for Salvation Army. Meghan and the Fatherhood: EFFECT mentor-navigators were taken on a tour of the facility and given a detailed breakdown of the services they provide. On inclement weather days, they also provide presentations from the community and Fatherhood: EFFECT is being considered for participation. The second meeting was the team’s first outreach day at Our Daily Bread. Meghan and the mentor-navigators came away with a few referrals and were pleased to have kicked off the process of building recognition and trust with the ODB clientele. The third meeting was with the Denton County AgriLife office. They provide nutrition and SNAP benefit orientations free of charge and Meghan was interested in seeing how EFFECT could work with them. What came out of the meeting was the prospect of guest speakers during class as well as the idea for a charming dad and children bonding event–a family cooking class! Meghan can’t wait to see where this idea goes and hopes that it proves as fun and meaningful as past family events she has helped organize for the EFFECT team.

VISTA Helps Jacksboro, TX “Spring into Action Against Drugs”

IMG_3313 (3)Cailli Perry, Drug Awareness and Prevention VISTA, began her first month of service at STOMP (Standing Together on Meth Prevention) in rural Jacksboro Texas. STOMP’s mission is to educate the communities of Jack County and raise awareness of the dangers of methamphetamine use, crime awareness, and promote prevention. STOMP kicked off the month of April with their “Spring into Action” Campaign, which provides opportunities for Jack County to come together and spread awareness while educating the dangers of drug use/abuse with various events and activities. Cailli and 53 others participated in STOMP’s “Paint the Town” event and their Community Cleanup Day, equating to over 70 hours of community service. They de-cluttered the community of trash and other larger items such as furniture and decorated the Courthouse and schools with turquoise ribbons and STOMP signs. Two additional elements of the campaign involved Senior Scholarships and a Middle School Poster Contest. The overall goal of the annual “Spring into Action” Campaign is to bring the Jack County community together in thinking about how they as individuals, and a community can “Spring Into Action Against Drugs.”

Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance VISTA Creates Platform For Homeless Youth to Find Resources

IMG_12511AmeriCorps VISTA member, Victoria Jackson, Victoria played an instrumental role in MDHA’s overall mission to make the experience of homelessness in Dallas and Collin Counties rare, brief, and non-recurring with the creation of a comprehensive Youth Services Directory for young people seeking services. The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) brings together more than 85 shelters, housing and supportive services programs through their Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), a community-wide database serving 10,126 persons. Understanding that youth experiencing homelessness are far more likely to utilize community Wi-Fi hotpots on smartphones when choosing to seek services, Victoria transformed her directory into an online database on the MDHA resource page.  Users will see a paragraph explaining the webpage, followed by links to different service areas such as housing, educational help, employment services, and LGBTQ-affirming services. The Youth Services Directory webpage incorporates user friendly features, including direct links to each program website, gender identity symbols indicating whether or not programs house transgender individuals. And, as a precautionary effort to provide clients with an added sense of security while seeking services, the webpage displays an escape button that immediately exits out completely.

New VISTA Service Opportunity with Denton Christian Preschool

DentonChristianPreschoolDenton Christian Preschool (DCP), located in Denton, TX, provides early education for at-risk children in the community. Denton Christian Preschool was founded in 1970 by a group of concerned citizens, representing 17 different churches in Denton who believed the first few years of a child’s life are the most important. Since then, a group of dedicated professionals and volunteers have taught, fed, loved, and nurtured three and four year olds who are considered to be at-risk for succeeding in public school without early intervention. DCP does not discriminate based upon race, national origin, political belief, disability, color, religion, age, or sex and does not teach a specific theology, but cares for children with love and concern. Five main components make up DCP’s early childhood education program: developmentally appropriate learning activities in a classroom setting, transportation to and from school, daily nutritious meals and snacks, medical, dental, speech, and other diagnostic screenings and referrals and monthly parenting events. The Marketing and Fundraising VISTA will build capacity by developing a marketing plan to increase community awareness thus increasing student enrollment, volunteers and donors. As a Marketing and Fundraising VISTA you will be part of a cohort coordinated by the AmeriCorps VISTA North Texas project at Chisholm Trail RSVP, Inc. To learn more about Denton Christian Preschool, visit www.dentoncps.org.

The Marketing and Fundraising VISTA will increase community awareness and enhance fundraising activities to help provide early education for at-risk children in Denton, TX. Major functions will include developing a marketing plan to increase Denton Christian Preschool’s presence in the community to include the development of print materials, social media content and participation in community event. The VISTA will enhance fundraising activities and write 10 grants to raise an additional $100,000 for the education and care of at-risk children. Applicants should possess exemplary written and oral communication skills as well as experience in fundraising, marketing, and computers.

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