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.
During the month of February, Adam Jones, a Volunteer Training VISTA at Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center, was recruited to amass a wealth of information on the topic of volunteer management. The information gathered was used in a lecture hosted by Funding Information Network. With the track record of over 183 volunteers trained and managed and 424 hours of service contributed to Woman to Woman over a span of 10 months, it would be safe to say that he has a few things to share about volunteer management. This lecture not only helps Woman to Woman to establish a presence in the community, but it also offers opportunities to network with other non-profits in the area. Adam also created two volunteer leadership positions to be used with the hopes that volunteers will play a more prominent role in the management of the sales floor and warehouse. These positions allow staff to resume the administrative aspect of the organization, which will allow staff to seek out other creative means to make a presence in the community.
As a resource development and grant writing VISTA with Youth and Family Counseling (YFC) VISTA April Neal has been meeting and collaborating with different restaurants and organizations to set up fundraisers for her agency. She met with three General Managers in the area to set up monthly “Family Fun’d Nights” where YFC invites families and local community members to come out, play games, meet the staff and board of the agency while raising 15-20 percent of the proceeds. This month, April had the opportunity to confirm two local dine in fundraisers. One will be in March at Lewisville IHOP and the other will be in Denton at Rosa’s Café. April is excited to meet more people in the community and give them information on Youth and Family Counseling. April also sought out in-kind donuts and coffee from both Dunkin Donuts (who LOVE YFC) and Good Morning Donuts. She has launched a new Instagram page for the Lewisville YFC, and hopes to gain followers and spotlight their “get to do’s” through social media.
Over the past year serving at a financial assistance nonprofit, AmeriCorps VISTA Rebecca Dake has taken the lead getting client stories out to the public. From a quick social media post about a family receiving help with their utilities to larger campaigns, including a video featuring multiple clients, she has relayed to her community the desperate needs of those living on the financial edge. In February, Rebecca focused on making her work easily replicable for staff. She created a graphic for the agency’s counselor Melody, featuring the counselor’s image blurred out with the title A Message from Melody. Rebecca trained Melody in the use of a free graphic design program so she can easily add text to the graphic, enabling her to state something moving about a client’s story. This will ensure the agency has a steady stream of quality content for social media channels when the VISTA’s term of service ends.