April Comperda, serving as the Drug Education VISTA at Chisholm Trail RSVP in Denton, TX continues working on the agency’s Prescription Take Back Day campaign. Even though the Take Back Days occur just twice a year, Chisholm Trail RSVP continues to stand as mechanism for change and bridge the gap all year long. Recognizing that seniors do not fit the typical stereotype of a drug abuser, Chisholm Trail RSVP understands the necessity of bringing the Take Back Days to senior living communities and senior centers. In addition, April’s mission to increase public awareness, has led her to create a media kit containing resources promote the Take Back campaign to target seniors. In addition, she secured a generous donation of 1,000 Dettera at-home disposal pouches from a nationwide pharmaceutical corporation. The pouches reinforce the dangerous effects of leaving medication in places for anyone to find. April’s efforts build the capacity and necessary sustainability to carry-out Chisholm Trail RSVP’s initiative for years to come.
Christian Community Action, located in Lewisville, TX ministers to the poor by providing comprehensive services that alleviate suffering, bring hope and change lives. Through CCA’s Job Readiness program, unemployed and underemployed individuals are taught skills needed and assistance is given connect them with better job opportunities. VISTA member Steven Tillman submitted a grant to the Walmart Foundation in September for the amount of $1,750 to aid with the expenses of Hiring Fairs and Job Readiness Program-related expenses. As a result, the Walmart Foundation awarded CCA $1,500. Steven is very excited, and plans to begin searching for other grant resources which the program can utilize. Steven’s revamp of the Job Readiness Training program is nearly complete; he is taking time to fully assess the curriculum’s logic and theories in order to address many relevant questions which could be asked by both client and trainer, alike. Though the pilot-programs both went very well from a clientele-outlook, Steven wasn’t confident that volunteer trainers would have all that they would need in order to fully engage the program’s clientele, while keeping the amount of training hours for volunteers to a minimum. With his research reflecting the core of the program curriculum’s logic and theories, he is geared to relaunch the program very soon. He is confident that the program will be even more effective at training volunteers to work with Job Readiness clientele on becoming entrenched within socioeconomic increases and with maintaining successful employment.
Denton Christian Preschool opened its doors during the month of August to welcome new 3 and 4 year olds. As the weeks progressed the children transitioned from anxious into excited and motivated learners. Since the 1970’s the organization has served thousands of at-risk children in the Denton area. AmeriCorps VISTA, Maegan Shafer, contributed to their continued success by making their online presence more viable by increasing their social media activity and updating their website. In addition to updating the information Maegan created several graphics that would advertise the Denton Christian Preschools services to be shared across all media platforms. With over 500 viewers reached we hope to increase our revenue and strategize to increase funding.
April Comperda serves as the Community Marketing VISTA with Denton County Friends of the Family (DCFOF). In July, she worked towards promoting DCFOF’s campaigns and upcoming events. The Back to School Drive was featured on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and the bimonthly newsletters. April shared the link to their Amazon Wishlist in order to create an easily accessible form of contribution. DCFOF collected 300 backpacks filled with school supplies and recruited 20 volunteers who served 72 hours to help fill them. Promoting DCFOF through social media makes a substantial impact on community responsiveness. Incorporating current social media trends, such as the Boomerang App with four second videos, is something April will be working to improve in order to increase followers, donors and volunteers.
AmeriCorps VISTA member Steven Tillman is placing his efforts towards fully staffing Christian Community Action’s Job Readiness Training Program with volunteer trainers. Theses volunteers will be needed in order to facilitate trainings not only at CCA, but also at two other nonprofit organizations; Goodwill Industries in Lewisville, and the Salvation Army of Denton County. These partnerships were secured after Steven met with representatives for both organizations and presented an overview of the Job Readiness Training and what the program offers to clients. Steven will be meeting with representatives from Texas Workforce Solutions in August. He has a goal of securing partnerships with five organizations. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in Denton County, TX 27,000 individuals are unemployed and 64,000 individuals are living in poverty. The Job Readiness Training program, with regard to this group of the population, is anchored upon teaching people methods, belief systems, best practices, and techniques for maximizing one’s employment/earning potential and then strategically navigating an action plan of elevated employment, training, and/or education until one’s desired outcomes are achieved. Such outcomes range from a person obtaining a GED diploma through information provided about such resources, to a person securing employment which pays a functional wage suited for independent living, to a person earning a promotion at work, to a person identifying a career field which best suits his/her education and training, to a person earning an advanced degree through a well-executed plan of organization and achievement while simultaneously employed.
Stephanie Del Los Santos is serving at the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas in the Houston office as the Camp and Resource Development VISTA. Stephanie keeps everyone informed of the Foundation’s activities and events through the monthly CEO Update. The CEO Update reaches over 7,000 people and includes board members, major donors, and involved participants. The Update allows the community to stay informed about the Foundation’s activities and learn about the people they serve.
VISTA leader, Marcela Solia, spent the month of June putting her artistic skills to use by creating marketing materials for recruitment events. She developed flyers and social media graphics that will be used to market each of the 8 VISTA positions that are currently open. Templates of the flyers and graphics were saved for future recruitment events. Marcela also created a pop up banner for the North Texas Project. Thorough research was done to find the best strategies for creating an aesthetic banner that also grabs the viewers’ attention. This banner will be taken to tabling events in the hopes of attracting even more potential VISTAs and partnering agencies. The more our project grows, the bigger the impact can be made on our community.
When running a race and you see the finish line, people have a way of pushing harder and finishing as strong as they can. The month of June was no different for the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas. This was the month to make every fundraiser and in-kind donation matter because it was the start of Camp! Epilepsy Foundation-Texas host three camps and send over 325 kids to camp for free. On average, the cost to send one kid to camp is $1,200. Community Outreach VISTA, Rashika Smith was responsible for obtaining in-kind donations of water and snacks for participants for two events which took place in west Texas. The Lubbock Landmark Lope, a 5k trail run at the Lubbock Lake Landmark and Sharon’s Ride. Walk. Run in Amarillo raised $22,876.57 which will support medical and educational service provided by the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas. The final June fundraiser brought the heat, sweat, and money. The Cornament was an entertaining and unique event featuring a cornhole tournament, side games, entertainment, beverages and food. Rashika obtained in-kind donations of gift cards worth over $1,040, to be used for prizes for participants. During the event a parent spoke about how the camp provided a place for their kid to be a kid and how no other camp was willing to give the child a chance to attend because of their medical condition. Over 100 people attended the Cornament and raised $29,412 which will send approximately 24 children to camp at no cost!
VISTA Hannah McNeill, serving in Volunteer Recruitment and Development at Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center in Denton, TX, spent her month utilizing social media to market her agency’s Annual Ladies Purse Auction and Brunch. Hannah created a social media schedule posting once a week with a reminder and encouragement to register paired with the Purse Auction graphic to Woman to Woman and Twice As Nice Resale (TANR) Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The week of the event, Hannah used TANR’s and Woman to Woman’s already implemented daily posts to advertise for the event. W2W’s #FactualFriday post let everyone know that the purse auction was coming up and TANR’s #TuesdayTreasures was of a purse that was currently for sale in the store with information that there would be more at the Ladies Purse Auction. The day of the event, Hannah was in charge of social media and co-coordinating the Twice as Nice Resale style show. Hannah communicated thoroughly with the style show volunteer models as to where they would go and what they would need to expect that morning. Hannah documented the event with pictures and videos of auctioned purses, brunch, the guest speaker, and the TANR Style Show. Hannah’s efforts on social media garnered 273 likes across all social media platforms combined. This year’s event’s monetary donations are still coming in, but so far the 193 guests in attendance gifted Woman to Woman with over $15,835, the highest amount received from the Annual Purse Auction ever! Hannah’s efforts will assist in the ultimate goal to further build the TANR and Woman to Woman social media and customer/client base thus increasing the number of low-income women who will receive free health care services.
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.