The smell of bug spray and the sound of children laughing indicated summer camp had begun. The Epilepsy Foundation of Texas hosts three camps with over 300 kids in attendances. Community Outreach VISTA, Rashika Smith was able to assist with Kamp Kaleidoscope located in Anna Texas. She had an amazing experience witnessing the results of her advocating, fundraising, and pushing for these past couple months. She learned from the children how they cope with their condition and the saw the bravery demonstrated as they continued to participate in the camp activities. Rashika used the information the campers shared with her when she attended a school nursing conference. She spoke to over 100 school nurses and educated them on how children with epilepsy felt during a seizure and what helped them cope better after having one.
VISTA member Nicole Owens completed her year of service in April at Denton County Friends of the Family, an agency dedicated to providing compassionate, comprehensive services to those impacted by rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence, while partnering with the community to promote safety, healing, and prevention. To raise awareness for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Nicole created educational social media content to share on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Sexual Assault Awareness posts on Facebook had about 15,000 views and almost 400 reactions, comments and shares. Twitter had over 7,000 views and about 170 engagements (clicks, likes, and re-tweets). The hope is that these facts about sexual assault will raise awareness and combat some common misconceptions people may have heard about sexual assault. Awareness is the first step in prevention and creating a community where fewer people experience sexual assault and those that do feel safe and secure in coming forward and getting help. Nicole will continue to serve the clients at DCFOF as she was hired as the Community Education Coordinator. Her primary duties will be to schedule and lead presentations at schools, assist with planning for awareness months, schedule and lead trainings in the community, and to train and supervise interns and volunteers for Speakers Bureau.
Steven Tillman, an AmeriCorps VISTA currently servicing the city of Lewisville in Denton County through the nonprofit Christian Community Action (CCA), has completed his initial cycle of the Life Skills & Job Readiness Course pilot, which is designed to help course participants secure gainful employment. Steven recently completed analysis of the surveys he administered to participants, and came to some interesting conclusions which changed his view of the level of information the program must provide. He states that the majority of CCA’s potential clients experience a chronic measure of underemployment, and have an increasing need for finding solutions to make their working hours more effective at not only earning an income, but also at reaching their overall goals. Several members of CCA’s Administrative Leadership have taken notice and are eager to see the results of his work. Occupational Psychology and Workforce Development are his forte, and he says that his efforts to secure a team of trainers are beginning to produce results, which may prove to be of tremendous benefit to the citizens of Denton County. He also states that he sees that citizens of Lewisville whom are experiencing struggles with employment can benefit from taking more practical steps toward accomplishing their overall goals, as well as securing employment. Steven says he took great inspiration for the changes he’s making from a former employer, teacher, and mentor of his hometown of Chicago, Illinois.