“As an AmeriCorps VISTA, Katie Blair volunteers in the Programs Department of Network of Community Ministries. Network’s mission is “caring, coaching and empowering our neighbors in need as they seek an improved quality of life.” The goal of Katie’s VISTA project has been to improve the overall client experience by creating, refining, and coordinating systems that promote smoother service delivery. Katie has played a huge role in a large-scale project that has fundamentally changed service delivery in Network’s Food Pantry and Clothing Closet.”
Katie’s commitment and determination in creating a better and more dignifying experience for Network client’s, has significantly and positively impacted Network and the satisfaction of their clients. We are thrilled that her hard work and determination has been recognized in such a monumental way! Congratulations, Katie!
On Thursday, September 18th, Network of Community Ministries participated in North Texas Giving Day. This is a day dedicating to giving to nonprofits in North Texas and inspiring volunteerism and philanthropy. During the past three months, VISTA member Ashley Edling has been working diligently on ways to market for this large day of online giving. She was able to implement new techniques such as the creation of a ‘storyboard’ email that went out weekly prior to the event which told stories of client and how Network’s programming has impacted the community. As a result of her hard work, Network DOUBLED the amount raised this year compared to last year! Hitting almost $82,000, this was a record-breaking fundraiser! After debriefing with all the staff at Network, the organization was able to look at what changes were implemented this year, evaluate how many new donors were brought in, and already set goals and plans for next year. Examples such as this really show how impactful a VISTA can be when empowered to make a change for the better for an organization.
Katie has completed her second month at Children At Risk, a non-profit organization that strives to improve the quality of life of children through the use of research, policy analysis, collaboration, and advocacy. This month, Katie continued to reconnect with community partners participating in Collaborative for Children, a coalition sponsored by Children At Risk. The purpose of this coalition is to bring non-profit organizations and government organizations together, in an effort to help bridge the communication gap of these entities who are helping to support children and their families’ recover from Hurricane Harvey.
In light of the federal administration’s decision to extract funding from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), Katie has been researching the potential impact this action will have to survivors of future natural disasters, and the risks this course of action will have on current/future recovery efforts. Finally, Katie has also been researching the correlation between climate change and the frequency of natural disasters occurring in the United States. Specifically, verifying the benefit constant climate change mitigation has to the plant and overall health to current/future generations.
Ashley Edling, an AmeriCorps VISTA in her second month of service, is working towards developing healthy futures for the Richardson Independent School District in Richardson, TX. Serving at Network of Community Ministries, she has been working to develop funding for the nonprofit’s numerous programs. Grant writing and fundraising are the primary tools used to address financial needs for the organization. After submitting many letters of inquiry and applications, Ashley landed a large grant of $25,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through their Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program. Having received these funds last year, Network uses this money to ensure the food pantry has enough produce and other forms of food to share with their neighbors. This year, Network is expanding their food pantry to also include a mobile food pantry, which means they need any penny they can obtain to supply both programs. This $25,000 grant will help the continual operation of the food pantry to feed our neighbors in need.
VISTA Member Genesis Herrera serves with CHILDREN AT RISK. CHILDREN AT RISK provides children a voice, conducts research on the various aspects that impact children and advocates for policy change. Throughout the month of July, Genesis Herrera has been preparing for the publication of the report and the Hurricane Harvey Summit. During the Hurricane Harvey Summit, “The Game Changers ” presented and disseminated information about their SAY application. By hosting them at the Summit, Genesis hopes to reach more children. These children will have the opportunity to share their Hurricane Harvey experience and CHILDREN AT RISK can use this data for their policy and advocacy of children.
VISTA member, Rebecca Harms, serves with CHILDREN AT RISK in Houston, Texas. CHILDREN AT RISK is a nonprofit organization that provides advocacy, strategic research, public policy analysis, education, and collaboration to improve the quality of life for children. On July 30th, she helped organize and hold a summit focused on Hurricane Harvey’s impact and long-term recovery efforts. Over 70 people attended from various organizations across the City of Houston. Attendees were very interested in the information that was shared and took pictures of the posters we created. The feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive with most attendees expressing that their knowledge of Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts increased! This information will allow organizations to utilize available resources and help better serve the communities that are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Harvey.
On July 30th, Chanel Brown and her fellow VISTA members at Children at Risk hosted a summit. It brought together over 90 nonprofit leaders and government officials. They had TX State Representative Armando Walle, who gave a presentation of the legislative efforts around Hurricane Harvey. Also Marissa Aho, the Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Houston. Chanel and the VISTAs spoke on a panel and discussed the research they had done around Hurricane Harvey recovery. They also had the GameChangers, high school students who created an app where children could share their stories about how Hurricane Harvey impacted them, give a brief presentation. Finally, Wendy Wiseburn, principal of Frazier Elementary School in Pasadena ISD, closed out the event and shared her story. Chanel and the team received so much positive feedback and, overall, the attendees thought that it was excellent.
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.”