Meet Kayla, the newest member of our team. Kayla relocated from Oklahoma to serve as the Marketing VISTA at Family Compass, located in Dallas.
The mission of Family Compass is to build healthy families and strong North Texas communities by preventing child abuse and neglect. Kayla will be working with the Development Manager to create a unified, cohesive marketing strategy to expand the scale and reach of their services.
Kayla is a recent graduate of University of Central Oklahoma. With a B.A in Strategic Communication, Kayla will definitely be putting her skills to good use. She will be implementing new initiatives throughout the year that will position Family Compass as a industry leader for effective service delivery and best practices.
What do you get when you put 13 AmeriCorps VISTA members together to complete a task? You get it done, that’s what.
Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in a nation of freedom and justice for all, and encouraged all citizens to live up to the purpose and potential of America by applying the principles of nonviolence. MLK Day of Service is a way to honor his life and teachings by engaging in community action that continues to solve social problems.
On February 7th, AmeriCorps VISTA North Texas members rallied together to complete their MLK Day of Service Project with Network of Community Ministries in Richardson, Texas.
Through its Emergency Services division, Network offers clothing assistance to qualifying families, individuals and seniors in need. Thanks ongoing community support, Network receives clothing donations that are then sorted and placed in the Clothing Closet. Donations range from newborn baby onesies, to interview ready attire, to warm weather necessities. The Clothing Closet operates with a voucher system so keeping an accurate inventory count is extremely vital. VISTA members inventoried the Clothing Closet and sorted incoming clothing donations.
Within a few couple hours, we finished our task— 1,685 clothing items.
Network of Community Ministries
Network of Community Ministries (Network) responds to human need by giving assistance with the goal of helping individuals achieve long-term independence. Its mission is “to care, coach, and empower our neighbors in need as they seek an improved quality of life.”
“The people we serve have limited incomes and choose between paying their rent, buying food, paying medical bills, or providing for their families. They come to our center because they don’t have the resources or networks to help them through tough times. Many are one paycheck away from crisis and homelessness.”
As a Community Outreach VISTA at the Epilepsy Foundation Texas, Shannon works closely with the development team to raise funds for programs and services for people struggling with seizures. With the start of a brand new year, they have begun preparing for events in 2019, namely the Foundation’s 1st Annual Annual Walk to End Epilepsy.
Shannon also focused on creating marketing materials, such as videos, social media graphics, and website updates to provide clients with the latest information while promoting the Foundation’s mission.
Epilepsy Foundation has made a name change to their previous annual event, Stroll for Epilepsy, to fit with the national theme, “Walk to End Epilepsy.”
The walk will still be at the zoo, but Epilepsy Foundation Texas decided to align with National’s campaign since it is a stronger call to action and recently implemented changes that better benefit the local affiliates. The walk will be in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and El Paso this year.
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.
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 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 Assessment & Communication
Resumes & Cover Letters
Professionalism & Self Management
Online Professionalism & Networking
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”
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.
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.