PediPlace welcomed the newest member of their team, VISTA Tori Wheelis. Her role in the organization will be to help increase capacity by building a solid presence on social media as well as increasing patient and volunteer/donor engagement through social media and expanded volunteer opportunities. Tori jumped in head first, creating an online social media publicity campaign for PediPlace’s biggest fundraising event in September, North Texas Giving Day. Through her efforts, PediPlace raised $6,135 on North Texas Giving Day. PediPlace has also seen an increase in traffic and followers on Instagram and Twitter, and an uptick in Facebook engagement.
Tierra Bishop, an AmeriCorps VISTA working on grants with Christian Community Action (CCA), completed a significant portion of a Grant Procedures document. The document will be used by the next VISTA at CCA, and will allow the VISTA to become familiar with grant research, writing, reporting and other related information. This information would otherwise have to be learned completely first-hand, and will therefore allow the VISTA to become efficient with grants more quickly than the first-year VISTA was able to.
When you cross a FEMA Corps Alumnus with a Logistics VISTA position you get a member that is able to build capacity by supporting an organization through improving their capabilities to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate all hazards. VISTA member Sarah Crain at Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center has used her FEMA Corps experiences to help prepare for any hazards that may arise in her organization. Seeing that there was a need for education on threats such as bomb threats, Sarah sprang into action by creating emergency protocol. She created a Bomb Threat Analysis check list that will be put at every phone location throughout the organization in case a real threat arises. To help protect the organization Sarah has also designed a training that explains how Personally Identifiable Information (PII) should be handled. This included training 20 staff members on what is classified as sensitive information and how it needs to be protected at all times. Creating PII training was a test of her skills that she received from working at the Maryland National Processing Center during her FEMA Corps service year. Successfully Sarah was able to engage the minds of staff members and challenging them to mitigate any hazards the organization may face.
Community Outreach VISTA Rebecca Dake created and distributed many of the visual communications for Interfaith Ministries (IFM) of Denton, an emergency assistance nonprofit in their fundraising campaign for North Texas Giving Day, a communal day of philanthropy. She also maintained the social media accounts for IFM during this important month for outreach and donations. Rebecca created graphics specific to North Texas Giving Day for social media and email marketing to engage loyal supporters as well as community members and partners. She created 10 videos for her organization for the campaign, ranging from short quotes made by one client or volunteer to longer (one minute) videos with more graphics. She pinned the main video she created in August, for North Texas Giving Day, to the top of IFM’s Facebook timeline. By the end of September, the video had 567 views on Facebook and 73 views on YouTube. A fun video she posted the day before North Texas Giving Day received 94 views on Facebook and 11 views on YouTube and 61 engagements on Twitter. Rebecca helped IFM gain 46 new followers on Twitter in September. The donor emails she scheduled in September averaged a 35% open rate. What do all these numbers amount to? IFM Denton gained 21 new donors this year for North Texas Giving Day than the previous year and raised $6,175.
Raven Carr is a VISTA member serving at Interfaith Ministries of Denton, Inc. as the Volunteer Coordinator. Interfaith’s mission is to provide emergency basic needs assistance to the people of Northern Denton County with the goal of helping those people to become self-sufficient. As Raven’s year of service is coming to an end she has been focusing on developing things that will be available to the agency to use after she leaves. Lastly she has been working on volunteer job descriptions. She has already developed multiple job descriptions that the agency has used to recruit volunteers. Raven continues to develop job descriptions to be used in the future by the agency to recruit more volunteers.
Community Education VISTA, Nicole Owens, partnered with the Community Relations Department of Denton County Friends of the Family for a busy month of fundraising. Denton County Friends of the Family hosted Taste for a Cause- a silent auction featuring delicious food, drinks and music. Nicole created educational table toppers to be displayed at the event and ran a social media campaign to market the event throughout September. The event brought in a net profit of over $28,000. Days later, Nicole managed the social media for North Texas Giving Day, resulting in over $9,000 in donations. Nicole created a social media campaign for North Texas Giving Day that started at the end of August. These two events brought in over $37,000 to benefit Denton County Friends of the Family’s emergency shelter.
Youth and Family Counseling’s Resource Development VISTA, Kem Dwumaah, utilized her grant writing talents to secure a $2900 grant from Grande Communications. Funds from this grant will be used to provide counseling services to students who fall outside of Youth and Family Counseling’s current funding areas. In addition, this hard working VISTA secured a $500 product grant with 4Imprint. The agency will be using these funds to order “Tangle Stress Puzzles” which will have the agency’s logo and phone number. The stress puzzles will be used in counseling rooms, as well as a giveaway at marketing events.
Woman to Woman is a volunteer driven non-profit that is continuously seeking civic-minded individuals to add to their ranks. Hannah McNeill arrived during a season of change at Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center in Denton Texas as the Volunteer Recruitment VISTA. One of the biggest changes at Woman to Woman is that a former Volunteer Recruitment VISTA became the new Volunteer Coordinator allowing for Hannah to build upon capacity that was already established. Hannah came to Woman to Woman with social media skills that were gathered from the for-profit marketing world. She now has garnered an understanding of establishing a presence in the social media platform for non-profits. Some of her non-profit favorites are “Muglife Monday”, “Wednesday Wisdom”, and “Outfit of the Day”. After further refining her skills, Hannah was given the task of making Woman to Woman’s presence known at the 7th Annual North Texas Giving Day. This included taking pictures and videos of the events happening around the organization’s booth and posting to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Through the actions of Hannah’s colleagues and herself, Woman to Woman was able to raise $4,250.00 through 21 donations. What a seasonal transition!
The mission of Giving Hope, Inc. is to help homeless families achieve self-sufficiency. In order to continue the mission, it is most important for the agency to bring in resources and donations. Resource Development VISTA, Daisy Martinez, helps Giving Hope, Inc. allocate resources in the community to continue providing free services to their clients. Daisy did an excellent job advertising, organizing, and planning the North Texas Giving Day fundraiser that Giving Hope participated in this year. She designed post cards, flyers, created posts for their social media outlets, sent out challenge fund letters, attended bi-weekly meetings, secured donated costumes to bring attention to their donation table, and represented Giving Hope the day of the event. In the end, Giving Hope raised $6,881.. Daisy has also helped organize events on the behalf of Giving Hope in order to raise awareness of their agency. She helped organize the 2nd Annual Veterans Strategy Summit along with the Denton County Veterans Coalition. She was able to secure catering for 50 individuals, and created a signup sheet in order to send out a follow up survey.
VISTA member Cody Armstrong submitted a grant application to the Denton Benefit League for $13,225 to remodel client bathrooms at Our Daily Bread. The facilities have not been update since the creation of the church and have become quite dilapidated. If awarded, this grant will be provide Our Daily Bread’s clients better facilities while receiving services and facilitate a more positive interaction with the organization.