Youth and Family Counseling VISTA Writes Grants to Benefit Homeless and At-Risk Children

img_0858-003.pngMiranda Bonilla is a Resource Development VISTA with Youth and Family Counseling in Lewisville, TX. Youth and Family Counseling provides sliding scale and free services to low-income at-risk youth. She has been busy marketing for the agency’s many upcoming scheduled fundraisers by creating and distributing flyers. She has written and submitted a grant to the Build a Bear Foundation that, if funded, will provide weekly on-site group and individual counseling sessions to homeless and at-risk teens as identified by Journey to Dream and  Kyle’s Place, the county’s first teen homeless shelter. Miranda also found success in the request for funding proposal she submitted in February to the Speedway Children’s Charities. For the first time in recent history, Youth and Family Counseling has been invited to officially apply to this grant. If granted, the funding will benefit the agency’s First Offender and At Risk Kids (FOARK) Program. In a true act of altruism, Miranda held a Facebook birthday fundraiser in honor of her birthday and raised $200 for Youth and Family Counseling.


NewDay Services Community Outreach VISTA Continues to Increase Awareness and Develop Partnerships

IMG_1259NewDay Services’ Fatherhood EFFECT program strives to prevent child abuse and ease the burdens of poverty for children and families. Community Outreach VISTA, Meghan Kajihara continues to increase awareness and develop partnerships to help the agency achieve their goals. In March, she secured the Fatherhood: EFFECT program a place at the Mobile Food Pantry’s Resource Fair in Denton, TX and was able to share information with the 250+ people who visited. She was pleased to notice that her efforts have built the program’s brand recognition. Visitors to the food pantry have begun to recognize the mentor-navigators by name and as well as the agency’s mission. In addition, Meghan and the Fatherhood: EFFECT mentor-navigators met with the Executive Director and Program Coordinators of Our Daily Bread, a local soup kitchen. Meghan has was elated to have been able to set up this meeting to share information about NewDay Services, and even more so to have finally been able to set up a recurring outreach/tabling date with Our Daily Bread. Having a standing appointment to do outreach once a month will help build a sense of recognition and community between their programs. Furthermore, the meeting she coordinated went so well, that Our Daily Bread is eager to expand this nascent partnership by hosting a special Nurturing Fathers class for their clientele.

Collin County History Museum’s VISTA Begins Creating Curriculum for Summer and After-School Programs Benefiting Low-Income Children

Keith Uselton (2)Keith Uselton, the Curriculum and Development VISTA for the Collin County History Museum, began laying the foundation for the organization’s 3-year project by creating a working outline of curriculum for a 6-week summer program as well as one for an 8 week after-school program for elementary school children. He is working with the organization’s executive director, Mary Strother, and Sarah Gonzoles, a local elementary school counselor, to begin identifying a base of student participants to be served by the programming he has written. Keith researched and compiled a list of local historical sites and museums within Collin County that might serve as a guiding resource for himself and future VISTAs as far as what type of programming and resources are available to the McKinney community. He began to lay the foundation for securing grants and funding to finance the museum’s summer and after-school programming by meeting with and introducing himself to the Collin County Historical Commission which has served as a financial source of funding for the museum in the recent past.

VISTA Creates A Strong Process to Prepare and Host Volunteer Service Groups

Publication2As VISTA Jennifer Annen nears the end of her service with Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center, she is working to make sure that all of her hard work is sustainable and guarantees success in the future. In the month of March, Jennifer focused on one of the most important ways to interact with the community and recruit new volunteers- service groups. After Jennifer facilitated a group of 20 volunteers from a local church who came in to paint the entire Twice as Nice Resale store, she realized how important it is to maintain a strong process in preparing for and hosting groups. In just March alone, groups collectively served over 100 hours, which left Twice as Nice looking refreshed and also inspired the staff to rearrange the store’s departments. Not only does having a more attractive store lead to greater customer retention and sales, but it also helps staff to see the value in our community partners and encourages them to make one-time volunteers into individuals who would likely serve again, maybe even weekly. Jennifer feels confident that after her term ends, the Twice as Nice staff will feel confident in facilitating groups using her planning guide, which includes a step-by-step process and easy to follow flowchart. Overall, VISTA Jennifer is thrilled to see the impact of her training guides, but she also is excited to see how they can help grow the entire Woman to Woman volunteer base!

VISTA Service Opportunity with Cornerstone Ranch

2013LogowithtaglineCornerstone Ranch is a unique home and day program for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. This family-centered environment creates a safe place where independence thrives, character grows, and confidence is nurtured. Located on 42 acres just outside of McKinney, Texas, Cornerstone’s 10,000-square-foot residential home comfortably accommodates seven adults with disabilities residentially and two highly integrated care giving families. The Cornerstone staff strives to help each resident and day program participant feel loved, respected, and safe. Cornerstone Ranch exists to enable the residents and day program participants to experience three core values: Community integration – Be productive members of our local community by serving others; Abundant life – Live an abundant life through which they realize their God-given potential and enjoy every day to its fullest; and Family-centered Environment – Experience the joy of living with people who truly love them and celebrate their lives. . The Outreach and Development VISTA at Cornerstone Ranch will build capacity by increasing community awareness of the agency and increasing financial support through events and grant writing efforts to raise at least $100,000 to support programming needs. The VISTA will work with the organization to develop plans for events, solicit sponsorships and in-kind support, create logistical strategies and develop post-evaluation processes for each special event. To learn more about Cornerstone Ranch, visit

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VISTA Service Opportunity with Family Compass in Dallas

family-compass-logo no backgroundBuild healthy families and a strong North Texas community by preventing child abuse and neglect. Recruit and train volunteers to serve with Family Compass in Dallas, TX.

The mission of Family Compass is to build healthy families and a strong North Texas community by preventing child abuse and neglect. The primary goals of our mission are to protect the innocence of children; prevent abuse and neglect in our community; and preserve our future by keeping children safe and building strong families. We are the largest nonprofit in North Texas dedicated solely to the mission of child abuse prevention services with the purpose of keeping vulnerable children from entering the overburdened child welfare system. In 2016, 95% of our children (763) did not get referred into the Child Protective Services system. We believe every child is born with the fundamental right to a healthy family and a stable environment; the opportunity to succeed in school; and the capacity to experience life without violence. Our organization enters the lives of vulnerable children at-risk for abuse and provides parents with clinical mentoring to aid them in becoming stronger, healthier families. We served 2,011 children and parents in 2016, the highest number served annually since we were established in 1992. We’ve extended our reach in both Dallas County and Collin County through all of our primary programs.  Since inception, Family Compass has assisted 46,000 parents and their children.  The Volunteer Program VISTA will enhance a comprehensive volunteer management component by recruiting individuals with commitment to the Family Compass mission. Major duties include recruitment of 50 new volunteers, development and implementation of volunteer trainings, community outreach in Dallas and Collin Counties and staging regular appreciation activities To learn more about Family Compass, please visit


VISTA Service Opportunity with Epilepsy Foundation Texas in Dallas

10612904_1061535403886503_2042991343811989065_nIncrease awareness of epilepsy and engage the community through events and fundraisers as the Community Outreach VISTA at Epilepsy Foundation Texas in Dallas, TX.

The Epilepsy Foundation Texas located in Dallas, 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 Community Outreach VISTA at Epilepsy Foundation Texas will build capacity by assisting with major awareness and fundraising events and increasing support by recruiting volunteers, creating marketing materials and writing grants and applications for sponsorships and donations.  The Epilepsy Foundation Texas VISTA will play a dynamic role in ending poverty by raising awareness of epilepsy and increasing donations that will fund epilepsy clinics, educational events and camps throughout the state of Texas. To learn more about Epilepsy Foundation Texas, visit

VISTA Service Opportunity with Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center in Denton, TX

W2W new logoInterested in women’s health & have fundraising skills? The Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center Fundraising Events VISTA will increase funding to provide education & free medical care to women.

Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center is located in Denton, TX. Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC) empowers individuals to make wise life choices financially, sexually, and relationally through 3 programs that work together to provide assistance to women in unintended pregnancies and bring families out of poverty. Ninety percent (90%) of the clients receiving services through the programs at Woman to Woman PRC fall below the poverty line with an average annual income of $17,000. The clinic at Woman to Woman PRC provides free medical services, including pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, prenatal care and medical follow-ups, as well as counseling to clients. Woman to Woman’s Living Choices of North Texas program is a school-based program with the mission of educating youth, equipping parents and engaging the community with accurate facts concerning sexual health and well-being. The Twice as Nice Resale Store of Denton supports the mission of Woman to Woman PRC. Women seeking services from Woman to Woman have the opportunity to receive new and gently used merchandise from the thrift store for themselves and their children free of charge through the Earn and Learn Program. The Fundraising Events VISTA at Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center will build capacity and increase awareness of agency events and programs through development of community outreach strategies and will create a system of metric analysis for determining event sustainability. To learn more about Woman to Woman PRC visit

VISTA Service Opportunity with Chestnut Square Historic Village in McKinney, TX

Chestnut SquareAre you passionate about history? Bring history to life in McKinney, TX by developing a volunteer program to educate elementary school children and the community about their storied past.

Chestnut Square Historic Village located in McKinney, TX is a 2 block historic campus, consisting of five historic homes, a historically accurate replica of a one-room schoolhouse, a chapel, a store, a reception house, and a Visitors Center, spanning the time period of 1850-1930. We host hundreds of school children and thousands of visitors each year. We are located east of downtown McKinney bordering Hwy 5. Five (5) of the eight(8) Title I Schools are located within a 5 mile radius of Chestnut Square, where 50% of the 2500 students live in a home where English is not the first language. Our organization utilizes volunteers to execute our education programs which serve audiences of all ages, our community events which honor our founding families and speak to our roots as a developing metropolis, and our Farmers Market which provides access to locally sourced seasonal produce, farm fresh eggs and dairy, meats and a variety of specialty items. The Farmers Market has been nationally recognized multiple times as one of the best markets in terms of variety, customer service, sustainability, providing economic opportunities for farms and farmers, and adherence to strict farmers market guiding principles. The Chestnut Square Historic Village Volunteer Program Development VISTA will develop and implement a comprehensive volunteer program to support education programs serving McKinney elementary schools and farmer’s market. The VISTA will  develop a formal volunteer program, including policies, procedures, training and recognition events, and the recruitment of 35 new volunteers.


VISTA Member Finalizes Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance’s New Tenant Resource Guide

IMG_12511AmeriCorps VISTA member, Victoria Jackson, serving with Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance has spent the past few months finalizing and perfecting the New Tenant Resource Guide (NTRG). In this guide, newly-housed clients will find a Birth Certificate application, a Voter Registration Card, and a resource directory that ranges from employment needs to medical needs that can be fulfilled in Dallas and Collin Counties. In January, she gathered the participants of December’s pilot program, in addition to representatives from several other agencies for training and distribution of the first official New Tenant Resource Guides. In this meeting, she trained the representatives on the 60 pages of the NTRG, from the instructions on how to access critical documents to the ten-page resource directory at the end of the guide. To prevent too many general funds and office hours being used on putting together each individual guide, Victoria uploaded each element of the guide to Basecamp, a website meant to organize cooperative projects. In this way, all agencies funded by the Continuum of Care or the Emergency Solutions Grant now have access to this guide and can print it with ease and at no cost.