Daisy Martinez Engages the Community for Woman to Woman’s Ladies Purse Auction

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Resource Development VISTA Daisy Martinez has worked hard alongside Events & Marketing Coordinator, Morgan Collins to help grow their upcoming fundraising event, “Ladies Purse Auction & Brunch”. This fundraising event is one of the three largest fundraisers that Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center hosts each year. Daisy hopes to exceed their fundraising goal through engaging the local community, and spreading awareness of their mission. Each day, Daisy reaches out to businesses, and women in the Denton Community asking them to participate in the Purse Auction by “adopting” a purse of their choosing from a selection of donated purses located in the W2W office. After adopting the purse, the woman or business takes the purse to fill it with goodies of their choice. The purses are then returned to be auctioned off to the highest bidder at the Purse Auction & Brunch event on June 24th at Robson Ranch. All funds raised go directly towards providing services to the clients of the nonprofit.

April Comperda Begins Promotion of Denton County Friends of the Family’s Faith for Freedom Event

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In May, April Comperda began service with Denton County Friends of the Family (DCFOF) as their Community Marketing Liaison VISTA. April will build capacity through increased awareness of DCFOF’s brand and services, create a sustainable form of communication with donors and volunteers, improve social media marketing and donor acquisition/ retention. The goal of the project is to create a sustainable donor relations plan, with the intention of increasing donor retention, donor acquisition, and dollars raised through fundraising efforts. The majority of April’s first month was learning the various ins and outs of the entire organization and her own role at DCFOF. She attended the four day New Worker’s Institute training for all new interns and employees and began to work with her team to promote their latest campaign, Faith for Freedom. The goal of the campaign is to build a relationship of trust with faith communities in order to connect clients with congregations of their faith, while simultaneously raising awareness of domestic violence and resources that are available. The campaign will kick off with a social event on June 22, 2017 at the outreach office to raise momentum and strength for the campaign.

VISTA Steven Tillman Launches Saturday-Session Job Readiness Program Pilot

StevenThe citizens of Denton County, Texas have an interesting socioeconomic structure and somewhat of a unique need for workforce development. VISTA Steven Tillman, serving with Christian Community Action in Lewisville, TX, has spent months researching, gathering, and reviewing data, in efforts of finding a point of engagement which aligns with those needs. Programs department administrators at Christian Community Action approved Steven’s vision for holding Job Readiness courses on Saturdays. He recently launched the pilot for a group of hopeful and enthusiastic clients. The program still incorporates job market awareness, vision-scaping of future plans, and personal brand marketing, but also assist the client in conserving time by scheduling three classes in one day, rather than scheduling three classes over a period of three consecutive days. With this new addition, clients who have a busy schedule during regular business hours can participate in courses with less compromise.

VISTA Stephanie De Los Santos Writes Grants Benefiting Children with Epilepsy

Stephanie De Los Santos, Camp and Resource Development VISTA serving with the Epilepsy Foundation Texas, began her year of service in March and dove right in to grant writing. Stephanie has been able to submit 3 grants for a potential outcome of $33,600. If awarded the funds will be used to send children with epilepsy to summer camp. The Epilepsy Foundation Texas camping programs provide children and youth with epilepsy a safe, structured, FUN and encouraging home away from home. In order to learn more about how epilepsy effects individuals and families, Stephanie interviewed a father and son. The son has a seizure disorder and the father was away at work while most of the testing/diagnosis process was ongoing. They told her about the fear, worry, and anxiety of having to go through the medical testing. They also told her about the relief of becoming involved with the epilepsy foundation and how the agency has helped them. At that moment, Stephanie felt like she was a part of something important.

Volunteer Recruitment and Management Activities Keep VISTA Sean Enfield Busy

Sean EnfieldIn April, VISTA Sean Enfield recruited 20 new volunteers and managed 52 volunteers to help organize a number of events for the North Texas Performing Arts (NTPA) organization. He connected with the Plano chapter of the National Charity League to operate a crafting booth at the Shops of Willow Bend, a mall located in Plano, TX. This booth was used to reach kids and advertise for Plano Children’s Theatre’s eventual move into that retail center. In addition, he connected with National Honor Society chapters in the McKinney region to recruit volunteers for the last of NTPA’s award ceremonies. Throughout April, Sean worked to improve his volunteer recruitment and management skills. He developed a survey to distribute among the office staff weekly so that he can better prepare a list of Volunteer Needs, Opportunities, and Activities. He has also been working to improve communications among the existing network of parent volunteers, particularly as it pertains to the production volunteers.

VISTA Rebecca Dake Aids in the Success of Interfaith Ministries’ Apple Tree Project

Rebecca Dake-preferred photo 1April was an excellent month for Interfaith Ministries of Denton, an emergency financial assistance agency in Denton, TX, to have an experienced VISTA. Community Outreach VISTA Rebecca Dake was able to take over a major back-to-school assistance project when a staff member moved on to another job opportunity. Rebecca took on the planning, coordination and execution of online registration and four in-person registrations for local families who met a financial hardship requirement—enrollment in the local school district’s Free & Reduced Meals Program. So far the registration process has secured spots for nearly 800 children to receive a backpack and school supplies, and as donations allow, a clothing gift card and book. When a new project lead was hired, Rebecca was able to train the new staff member on the registration process and next steps to continue coordinating and managing the project. As April is her last month of a one-year service term, Rebecca has updated the new staff member on outreach activities she led during the year. She trained the staff member in social media techniques, graphic design software, newsletter creation and email marketing campaigns. She also leaves behind a manual—with graphics of course—to make website updates, social media posts, tabling opportunities and other outreach activities easier to execute.

VISTA Melanie Cheney Streamlines Communication and Increases Donations at Plano Children’s Theatre

Melanie CheneyThe mission of the North Texas Performing Arts – Plano Children’s Theatre is to develop the character of youth through quality performing arts education and family entertainment. Plano Children’s Theatre offers full-ride scholarships to talented and less privileged children, provides complimentary tickets to charitable organizations, teacher groups, and school fundraising events and offers free programming at local community centers. Melanie Cheney, Resource Development VISTA, prepared and consolidated documents for an annual board meeting at North Texas Performing Arts. During this process, Melanie edited the documents for clarity, sorted the documents into easily understandable categories, and created binders for each board member in attendance (45 total). Cheney delegated some work to volunteers, so she was not only able to practice her editing skills, but also her leadership skills. In addition, Melanie played an instrumental role in raising $20,000 in private donations from patrons she met with in previous months. Monies raised will add to the current capital campaign for the Willow Bend Theatre and benefit low-income and special needs children through the agency’s programs. Melanie helps to solidify relationships with new and existing donors through prompt thank you letters of which she created templates for use by staff and volunteers. Melanie attended a meeting with representatives from the Hudson Foundation and established a relationship that will hopefully lead to consideration for future grant-giving.

VISTA Meghan Kajihara Uses Data to Improve Programs Offered at NewDay Services

MeghanNewDay Services for Children and Families’ Community Outreach VISTA, Meghan Kajihara, continues her work on the agency’s organizational archive and has made meaningful progress. She is nearly done transcribing the testimonies of fathers who have participated in the FOCUS and EFFECT programs. Having these materials transcribed and organized will help NewDay perform qualitative analyses of their programs and see how they have developed over time, as well as acting as a resource for creating outreach materials. She has also started assembling templates for class materials that may be stored in the OneDrive and easily adapted after she is gone.  The word for the month of April in the Fatherhood EFFECT program was “data”. Meghan found herself inundated with it this month, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. From survey results to survey writing to newsletter analytics, she had many different streams of data to learn from. The whole North Texas Fatherhood EFFECT team has been carefully considering their survey methodology as well as the information they survey for, and Meghan feels proud and excited to be able to be a part of this discussion. During the last EFFECT class cycle, she kept track of the people sending them referrals and wrote a special newsletter just for them, announcing the summer session of the Fatherhood EFFECT class. 84% of the recipients opened the email and they have since received a flurry of referrals. At the very end of the month, she pitched her idea for an analysis of class attendance data to get a better understanding of when and why participants may start to drop off, and what they can change to improve retention. Her supervisor was very receptive to the idea and she can’t wait to get started on it.

Organizational Connections Made by VISTA Jennifer Weatherford Increases Housing Options in North Texas

Jennifer Weatherford TwitterAmeriCorps VISTA Jennifer Weatherford has been busy making important organizational connections throughout the 12-county North Texas region Texoma Council of Governments’ (TCOG) Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) serves. Jennifer was invited to attend four Career and Community Resource Expos in the Texoma area. On Tuesday, April 18, Jennifer traveled to Texarkana, TX to represent her agency at the first of many expos. At this function she spoke to dozens of local individuals, many of whom expressed their interest in the services that the ADRC offers. She managed to refer more than 40 veterans and family members of veterans to the ADRC toll-free informational number, and dozens more seniors and primary caregivers received vital information regarding benefits counseling and referral services. Through community connections with housing authorities and community resource expos Jennifer has located several landlords in the Texoma and Texarkana area which are invaluable to the capacity building process. One landlord in particular has expressed generous interest in working closely with TCOG and the ADRC to house low income and disabled individuals in Grayson County.  Jennifer intends to work with the landlord and inquire about the availability of 9 additional vacant units in the following months. Jennifer also took the initiative to research and compile a Local Support Services Directory for Grayson, Cooke, and Fannin counties, the major counties which the TCOG serves. This Support Services Directory will not only aid TCOG employees in their referral services, but also serve as a convenient, concise, sustainable directory for locals to take advantage of when searching for local community resources.

VISTA Hannah McNeill Honors Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center’s Volunteers

Hannah 1This month was one of thankfulness and festivity as volunteers were appreciated at Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center in Denton, TX. Volunteer Recruitment and Development VISTA Hannah played an integral role in developing the ways that Woman to Woman encourages and honors their volunteers. Hannah used social media to shed light on how thankful Woman to Woman is for their faithful volunteers. She did this by making one Volunteer Spotlight post each day. Hannah interviewed the volunteers and posted a little about them. Her goal in this was not only to honor each highlighted volunteer but also help people outside of the organization to better understand the joy, community, and integrity within Woman to Woman and encourage them to choose to volunteer with the non-profit. The organization hosted theme days with a candy or food item each day to give away to the volunteers to show appreciation. Hannah assisted Woman to Woman’s Volunteer Coordinator in assembling the needed decorations for the week. They set up a “Compliment Corner” to provide everyone with the opportunity to encourage others and create a more life-affirming atmosphere. Hannah anticipates that the volunteer environment at Woman to Woman will grow more and more like family and that this will draw in potential volunteers for the organization.