Name: Jennifer Weatherford
Hometown: Seguin, Texas
Alma Mater: Arizona State University
Volunteer history: Let Girls Learn Fundraising and Awareness Project for Senegalese girls (2016); Votua Village Service Learning Project to maintain agricultural projects in Votua, Fiji (2015). I’ve also volunteered my time as a research assistant during my undergrad and spent a couple years as a foster for cats in the East Valley in Arizona.
Why did you choose VISTA: I recently relocated to Northeast Texas and was looking for a way to connect to my new community while putting my love for volunteering and community service to its best use. VISTA was the best option for me—not only does the VISTA program give me the resources I need to grow as a service-minded individual, but offers incentives for me to continue my education and pursue my graduate degree after my year of service has ended.
Tell us a little bit about what your organization does and your role in it: I’m serving as an Affordable Housing Advocate VISTA with the Aging and Disability Resource Center at the Texoma Council of Governments. Essentially, my role in the organization is to connect with housing developers, landlords, homeless coalitions, and other partner agencies in order to expand the capacity of my community to offer affordable housing to homeless, at-risk homeless, seniors, veterans, low income families, and disabled persons.
What is your biggest accomplishment as a VISTA so far? My role with VISTA has been a roller coaster of information, particularly because I’m the first VISTA in my community and the first to serve in this capacity. There was a lot to learn early on but the rewards from my time spent providing outreach to Northeast Texas have begun to show themselves; I’ve helped house a dozen individuals by connecting them to services throughout the region, and I’m excited to begin the next step of my service by providing much needed outreach to builders and developers to expand affordable housing.
VISTA member, April Neal is serving with Youth and Family Counseling in Lewisville, TX. The mission of Youth and Family Counseling is to aid the families and children of Denton County, thereby creating healthy and productive individuals, families, and communities which will benefit the quality of life for all. In the month of April, she learned the importance of balance and time management. With good planning, April put together her second DINE- IN Fundraiser where she met a lot of people and potential clients for the agency. At the fundraiser, single moms inquired about counseling services for their children. Some parents also learned that about the free services offered to keep children and families healthy.
The VISTA North Texas project has 3 new service opportunities that will begin on August 14th. Applications will be accepted through June 30th.
Denton Christian Preschool Marketing and Fundraising VISTA Denton Christian Preschool (DCP), located in Denton, TX, provides early education for at-risk children in the community. The Marketing and Fundraising VISTA will increase community awareness and enhance fundraising activities to help provide early education for at-risk children in Denton, TX. Major functions will include developing a marketing plan to increase Denton Christian Preschool’s presence in the community to include the development of print materials, social media content and participation in community event. The VISTA will enhance fundraising activities and write grants to raise an additional $100,000 for the education and care of at-risk children.
DCFOF Community Marketing Liaison VISTA Denton County Friends of the Family (DCFOF) located in Corinth, TX is committed 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. The Community Marketing Liaison VISTA will help stop financial abuse and help victims break the cycle of poverty by creating a sustainable system to increase support and strengthen donor relationships. Major functions will include developing and implementing a donor management system to include communication through print and social media to keep supporters informed and creating a time-effective donor acknowledgement process. The VISTA will create new, general marketing materials for agency use, assist in the planning, marketing and execution of fundraisers and create a planning manual for all agency fundraisers.
Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center Volunteer Recruitment and Development VISTA Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center located in Denton, TX, 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. The Volunteer Recruitment and Development VISTA at Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center will enhance the volunteer program to develop volunteer leaders. Major functions will include expanding and enhancing the volunteer program through implementation of new policy and procedure manual and continued development of a volunteer training manual, developing a volunteer management system to track volunteer activities and hours of service and developing areas to cultivate relationships with volunteers and move 12 of them to leadership positions within the organization to ensure retention and growth of the agency’s programs.
For a step-to-step guide on how to apply for these Service Opportunities please visit our Apply Now! Tab or Contact Us for any additional questions.
In February 2017, AmeriCorps VISTA Melanie Kuriger was able to write and submit a grant application for $20,000 from the Andrea-Mennen Family Foundation. The grant money, if received, will be used to strengthen North Texas Performing Arts’ Therapeutic Drama program for children and adults with special needs. In the preceding weeks, she created an outline and wrote several drafts of the application. She also generated statistics based on information she was able to obtain from archived 2016 documents. Upon approval from her supervisor, she submitted the application in mid-February.
Tierra has taken on CCA’s grants Spring Cycle in full force this month. So far, she has completed and submitted a total of six grants for a potential of $74,000 to support CCA’s comprehensive services and programs to assist low-income individuals across North Texas. Tierra has already secured $15,000 in funding from CoServ Charitable Foundation to assist CCA’s CoServ clients with utility assistance, as well as $5,000 in funding from Direct Energy’s Neighbor-to-Neighbor program to assist Direct Energy clients with utility assistance as well. But it doesn’t stop there! Tierra is already working on six other grants for CCA, including an application to the Texas Emergency Shelter Grant Program with a Denton County Collaborative, including Giving HOPE Inc., Denton County Friends of the Family, Salvation Army of Denton and Interfaith Ministries to reduce and prevent homelessness across the County.
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.
North Central Texas College (NCTC) officially submitted and was approved for a VISTA project through VISTA North Texas in the month of February. VISTA Leader Chanell Rose first made a connection with Roxanne Del Rio, Associate Dean of Denton County Campuses for NCTC, in the first few months of her service. Throughout her term, Chanell has stayed connected with Ms. Del Rio, and fostered the relationship with NCTC into a blossoming VISTA site. With this new addition, the North Texas Project has been able to diversify its partner agencies with a college site, which could open other recruitment avenues at campuses in Cooke County. We are excited to begin recruiting for this position starting in July!
In February, VISTA Sean Enfield played a part in the opening of North Texas Performing Arts’ new theatre in Fairview. A couple weeks prior to the Ribbon Cutting, he managed a small team helping in the final stages of the build out, and conducted interviews with the major volunteers in the Fairview project. The new theatre opened a few weeks later, and he helped volunteers ready the reception and put on the final touches for that evening’s production of Mary Poppins. In addition to the Fairview project, Sean also worked on the Plano branch’s move to Willow Bend. On that end, he recruited over 40 National Honor Society volunteers to help organize and package up parts of the theatre over Spring Break in March. He also began leading the community service volunteer initiative there and managed his first volunteer on the last Monday of the month.
Aleisha Tunstall is the Grant Research and Development VISTA at Our Daily Bread (ODB). ODB is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit community soup kitchen located in Denton, TX, that provides nutritious meals, special services and referrals for other services to those in need. Currently, Aleisha is assisting the Executive Administrator to plan for ODB’s Volunteer Appreciation Event. Aleisha is assisting with organizing and developing event flyers, decoration themes, giveaway items, and scheduling. The event takes place on Thursday, April 27th from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. There will be music, an ice cream sundae bar, and a gift giveaway at the event. The purpose of the Volunteer Appreciation Event is to ensure that all Our Daily Bread volunteers receive a personalized and meaningful acknowledgement for their efforts.
This February, VISTA Hannah McNeill serving with Woman to Woman PRC, co-facilitated a Best of Denton campaign for Twice as Nice Resale. Best of Denton is Denton’s annual community acknowledgement of their town’s outstanding restaurants, coffee shops, stores, etc. Hannah assisted in composing graphics to use for advertising on social media and providing Twice as Nice with quality content to market their resale store for the event. Hannah’s hope is that through promoting Twice as Nice Resale in Best of Denton, the store will experience an improved presence in the community. Higher revenue, increased customers, and new volunteers will contribute to the Woman to Woman clinic in supporting women, children, and families in the Denton community. Throughout the month, businesses have been in a frenzy in the pursuit of the #1 spot. Now, the dust has settled. The ballots have been cast. Stay tuned to hear what’s next for Twice as Nice Resale.