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.
Volunteer Coordination VISTA Sean Enfield focused his efforts on expanding Plano Children’s Theatre’s (PCT) volunteer base through its summer intern program and a newly implemented Volunteer Training program. Both programs help make enrollment in productions and classes more affordable. PCT interns earn credits that can allow them to earn up $400 toward a future production, and volunteers often receive credits for the productions in which their child is cast. By expanding the reach of these positions, the theatre hopes to allow those who might be interested in theatre, but unable to afford it, an opportunity to participate with little to no financial involvement. Sean has developed trainings for two of the organizations vital volunteer positions and will eventually develop trainings for all positions. The goal is to minimize the stress in all of the positions and to acclimate new participants into the theatre community.
As VISTA Leader Chanell Rose’s service term comes to an end, she has been firing on all jets to leave the North Texas Project with more than it had when she came in! In the month of March, Chanell welcomed in the last new group of VISTAs during her service term, taking them through On-Site Orientation & Training (OSOT). As the PowerPoint for OSOT had yet to be finalized, Chanell worked on getting a final draft of the OSOT PowerPoint approved by the Project Director. Along with the presentation, Chanell also began work on a VISTA checklist that will lay out the recruitment process in an easy to follow format. This will help to stabilize the project once the VISTA Leader’s service term has ended. Chanell has truly enjoyed her year of service as a VISTA Leader with the VISTA North Texas Project. She’s learned so much from working with Project Director Christina Penland, and plans to take everything she’s learned on with her in future endeavors.
North Texas nonprofit Christian Community Action (CCA) continues its efforts of service to the communities of Lewisville, Texas and the surrounding areas of Denton County. With over 40 years of service, it’s no wonder that CCA has come to be well respected by many. AmeriCorps VISTA Steven Tillman took the challenge of developing a new program for CCA’s clients which would assist them with laying a foundation for continued employment and successful endeavors in the professional business market. Steven’s research and curriculum development have resulted in a program which incorporates job market awareness, the vision-scaping of future plans, and personal brand marketing with concurrent case management and assessment. His program takes a progressive approach because it not only focuses on clients securing employment but also on clients assuring that the same employment aligns with their personal habits and ambitions. Steven conducted research on the entire county of Denton and concluded that its citizens deal with a chronic matter of underemployment, with some households having as many as five means of employment distributed amongst two adults. He says that this is due to the average living wage not being sufficient enough to sustain the average worker through a singular means of employment, resulting in many individuals requiring additional employment. Steven is poised to roll out the program to an extensive degree once an embodiment of case managers are trained and additional trainers are recruited. He states that his work with CCA is directly connected to his “life’s work” and future ambitions.
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.
VISTA member, Nicole Owens and the Denton County Friends of the Family Community Education team worked together to revamp and organize their presentation for Denton High School’s freshman class. Nicole and the team added several activities and vital information to help the freshmen understand the dynamics of abuse and sexual assault. Each group of freshmen will be presented with three 90 minute classes on topics such as boundaries, abuse, and healthy relationships. Nicole and the team have already started the presentations for over 400 students at Denton High School and the presentations will continue into December.
November 1st marked the start of a brand new VISTA year for 4 new VISTAs to the North Texas Project. VISTAs Melanie Kuriger, Sean Enfield, Steven Tillman, and Meghan Kajihara went through their VISTA North Texas on-site orientation and training (OSOT) with VISTA Leader Chanell Rose on November 1st. Chanell facilitated training for the four new VISTAs on proper reporting, terms and conditions of service, and the pre-service orientation blend (PSO Blend) course they are all enrolled in. As PSO Blend is relatively new, VISTA Leader Chanell was tasked with updating and presenting the VISTA North Texas OSOT in a way that complements the extended Blend course work. Making that adjustment to the OSOT for incoming VISTAs ensures that the North Texas project is sufficiently preparing new VISTAs for Blend without leaving them asking too many questions without answers. This also allows the VISTA North Texas project to use this training in the future for incoming PSO Blend VISTAs.