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VISTA Spotlight: Henderson Sensation

August 24, 2012
ImageSam Hafen aspires to visit every continent, but for now he is helping to plan a Rim Trail around the Vegas Valley and create a coordinated bike and pedestrian map across southern Nevada.  Sam recently served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at the Outside Las Vegas Foundation (OLVF), and the experience provided him with a pivotal stepping stone to help him to obtain his career aspirations.  “At OLVF, I get to draft grant proposals, write program policy, meet really great public servants, and work closely with the smart and fantastic staff,” said Sam.

As a native of Henderson, Sam feels a strong commitment to its development.  “When it comes to finding a position dedicated solely to capacity building in the public sector here in Nevada, United Way, and AmeriCorps VISTA is fantastic,” said Sam.  Through United Way of Southern Nevada’s Volunteer Center, Sam has been able to volunteer at an animal shelter, feed the homeless, clean trails, and chaperone middle schoolers.  “I think the variety of opportunities is a great asset for this community,” Sam began. “The Volunteer Center is precisely the kind of resource individuals need. If you want to help people but simply don’t know what to do or where to go, the Volunteer Center is perfect.”

Most recently, Sam witnessed the power of volunteers when he assembled meals at a United Way partner organization.  “I’m not sure exactly how many meals that I assembled, but it was a strong and real illustration of the power of assembling people and the impact they can accomplish.  Our relatively small efforts helped feed hundreds of children and I can’t help but feel inspired and proud when I think about those couple of hours of volunteering.”

With an English degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and Master’s degree in Public Administration from Brigham Young University, Sam is especially dedicated to one of UWSN’s impact areas: education.  “Education is so important to me and really helped solidify my career aspirations,” Sam said. “I strongly believe that a strong foundation in education is the common denominator in tackling any challenge a community faces.”

Sam believes that it truly takes a village to create positive change. “Living United is a simple and great idea to me.  It means that our community is made of unique individuals with all of our unique problems and challenges. Yet, with our talents and efforts combined we can tackle these challenges and improve our community.”

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