AmeriCorps 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.
VISTA 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.
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.”
AmeriCorps 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.
Denton 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.
Our Daily Bread (ODB), a community soup kitchen located in Denton, Texas, provides an average of 300 meals per day along with health and human services to the hungry, homeless and economically disadvantaged. Serving those in need for over 17 years, ODB, strives to improve the health, well-being and economic self-sufficiency of its clients. The 2017 Denton County Homeless Coalition Point-in-Time Count identified the top three needs for those experiencing homelessness as transportation, clothing/food, and food stamps. Our Daily Bread meets these three areas by providing gas vouchers and public transportation passes to those who have interviews or medical appointments, by serving seven meals per week on site, no questions asked, as well as providing weekly meals to three other local agencies, and by hosting a Tarrant Area Food Bank Social Services Specialist to answer questions and complete applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In 2017, ODB distributed nearly 204,000 hygiene items; 436 shower passes; 1200 laundry vouchers; 21,422 referrals to social agencies; 232 gas vouchers; 80 prescription vouchers; 4,085 Farmer’s Market items; 993 bus vouchers. All in addition to over 86,000 meals served. The Marketing and Fund Development VISTA will build capacity by researching and writing a minimum of 4 grant proposals with a potential outcome of $60,000 and enhance current fundraising and marketing efforts through the creation of a plan that will result in improved community outreach, awareness and support. As a Marketing and Fund Development 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 Our Daily Bread, visit www.ourdailybreaddenton.org.
The Marketing and Fund Development VISTA at Our Daily Bread will increase community awareness and enhance fundraising to provide more clients with nutritious meals and basic needs services. The VISTA will increase fundraising efforts through the research, writing and submission of a minimum of 4 grant proposals that persuasively communicate ODB’s mission and programs to potential funders and garner a potential outcome of $60,000. The VISTA will enhance fundraising efforts by developing a plan to increase donors and participation in fundraising events, will create and update collateral marketing materials and improve current social media communications to include the development of new social media avenues to communicate with targeted audiences. Applicants should possess good communication skills, be proficient with social media marketing and have basic computer skills.
Cailli Perry, a Drug Awareness and Prevention VISTA, is serving with STOMP (Standing Together on Meth Prevention), located in rural Jacksboro Texas. STOMP’s primary focus is to educate the communities of Jack County and create a greater awareness of the dangers of methamphetamine use, crime awareness, and prevention. The non-profit organization has developed a new summer program called “Xtreme Challenge Camp.” The leadership camp will provide 50 youth (6th-8th grade) the opportunity to learn various leadership/teamwork skills (i.e., CPR/certification, fire safety/rescue, outdoor survival skills, and much more), throughout the week of June 4th-8th. For the camp, Cailli created a youth camper registration packet and camp schedule. She, also created a database for the organization to use in order to keep track of the event’s budget/details, the youth campers as they register, and the adult sponsors/volunteers who sign-up to guide the organization in running a safe and successful camp. This upcoming summer, Xtreme Challenge Camp will help these youth develop positive attitudes in the hope they will make smart choices as they continue to grow up and live their lives.
For more than 40 years, Christian Community Action (CCA) has been healing, feeding, and educating families in need throughout Collin, Dallas, Denton, Tarrant and Wise counties in North Texas. Headquartered in Lewisville, TX, CCA is one of the largest private nonprofits in North Texas, providing more than 10,000 individual services each year. Through careful case management, CCA’s holistic approach from rescue to transition helps families in need achieve self- sufficiency by offering a “hand-up” instead of a hand-out. Available programs include: the Food Pantry, Spiritual Care and Counseling, Vocational/Education Services, Case Management Services and Seasonal Programs. The Grant Writing and Social Media Marketing VISTA at CCA will build the agency’s capacity through grant research and development of new funding relationships as well as developing a social media campaign to increase donor engagement and community awareness. The VISTA will write a minimum of 10 grants proposals with a potential outcome of $250,000. As a Christian Community Action Grant Writing and Social Media Marketing 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 Christian Community Action, visit http://www.ccahelps.org.
The Grant Writing and Social Media Marketing VISTA at Christian Community Action will build the agency’s capacity through grant research and development of new funding relationships and development of a social media campaign to increase donor engagement and community awareness. The VISTA will identify new funding opportunities and write a minimum of 10 grant proposals for a potential outcome of $250,000 to foundations and other grant-making organizations that persuasively communicate Christian Community Action’s mission and programs. The VISTA will create and implement a social media campaign strategy designed to increase donor engagement online as well as client and donor awareness of the mission and services, resulting in an increase of online donations by 20% and new Facebook likes by 20 a month. Applicants should possess excellent verbal and written communication skills, proficiency in research and basic grant writing knowledge and be familiar with social media platforms.
The Epilepsy Foundation Texas located in Houston, Texas leads the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures and save lives. Established in 1983, the Epilepsy Foundation Texas-Houston/Dallas-Fort Worth/West Texas provides a number of programs and services, including: public and professional education and awareness programs, camp and recreation programs for people with epilepsy and their families and specialized medical care throughout the state. As the largest non-government support of epilepsy research, the Epilepsy Foundation is leading the fight to stop seizures, find a cure and overcome the challenges created by epilepsy. We fund research that is focused on a cure for epilepsy and aimed at eliminating seizures, side-effects and other consequences of epilepsy. The Program Resource Development VISTA at Epilepsy Foundation Texas will build capacity through the development of new funding streams and recruitment of volunteers for camp programs and medical clinics. AmeriCorps VISTA members perform only indirect service; interaction with clients will be limited and the member will spend the majority of his or her time in an office setting. However, the Epilepsy Foundation Texas VISTA will play a dynamic role in ending poverty by increasing stakeholder and community engagement outreach activities. As an Epilepsy Foundation Texas Program Resource Development VISTA you will be part of a cohort coordinated by the AmeriCorps VISTA North Texas project at Chisholm Trail RSVP, Inc. Early applications strongly encouraged. To learn more about Epilepsy Foundation Texas, visit http://www.eftx.org.
As a VISTA at Epilepsy Foundation Texas in Houston you will help families and individuals living with epilepsy receive excellent programs and services such as medical clinics and camp programs. Major activities include researching and writing grants benefitting camp programs and medical clinics. The VISTA will build on the success of camp and clinic programs to increase overall community outreach through the development of processes, presentation and training materials/manuals used for outreach and retention of donors, campers and volunteers, etc. VISTAs serve their communities through indirect service. Applicants should possess excellent written and oral communication skills, community organization and grant writing skills.
Homelessness can be both visible and invisible. When there are encampments under the freeways, homelessness is visible. But when someone goes to school every day for a hot meal, or couch surfs for weeks on end that is when homelessness is invisible. Youth Homelessness is often invisible, and receiving feedback from young people who have experienced homelessness is imperative to finding a sustainable solution to it. As a result, Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance’s AmeriCorps VISTA member, Victoria Jackson, has founded a Youth Action Board (YAB) that consists of individuals under the age of 25 who have experienced homelessness, foster care, or unstable housing. The YAB’s inaugural meeting was held in March, and Victoria facilitated the meeting as the members connected across agencies, discussed goals for the group, and possible marketing techniques to get more Youth Experts involved in the YAB. For their next meeting in April, they will establish governance if a quorum is present. The YAB will elect a Chair who will attend the Continuum of Care board meetings and report back to the group, as well as facilitate meetings and activities in which the YAB wishes to participate.