Archive for October, 2012

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View from VISTA Leader: Amanda at United Way

October 25, 2012

Name: Amanda Boehmer

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada by way of Woodbridge Township, NJ

What is your favorite aspect about your AmeriCorps VISTA position? I am lucky enough to be serving as the AmeriCorps VISTA Leader for 14 United Way of Southern Nevada VISTAs serving in 10 Southern Nevada agencies.  This opportunity has allowed me to discover new agencies in town and a chance to work with other agencies in a different capacity.  However, my favorite part of my position has been working with the VISTAs – being a mentor, friend, role model, leader, etc…

What’s one reason you think people should volunteer with the organization where you’re serving? The Volunteer Center at UWSN serves as a clearing house for many of the volunteer opportunities in Southern Nevada non-profits.  Our website volunteer.uwsn.org is a great place for new and experienced volunteers to find volunteer opportunities to fit their needs.  As a National Service member I encourage volunteerism is any way shape or form.   

What project or event are you really looking forward to this year and why? I am looking forward to Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on January 21st 2013.  It is going to be a GREAT day of service so closely tied to VISTA’s mission of eradicating poverty. 

Since you’re not new to Las Vegas, what is something that has surprised you about the community since starting your VISTA term?  I’ve lived in Las Vegas since I was 11, nothing surprises me anymore. 

What is something you want people who don’t live in Las Vegas to know about this community?  Las Vegas is much more than “The Strip”.  Las Vegas is a real city dealing with the same issues facing many cities and towns in the US.  The families who call Southern Nevada home worry about their children’s education, their parents’ and grandparents’ health and healthcare, and making ends meet.  It’s a unique place where locals, transplants, and tourists mix and mingle and come and go. 

What’s your personal philosophy on Service and Volunteerism?

“Service is the rent each of us pays for living – the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time or after you have reached your personal goals.”                                     Marian Wright Edelman

Does anyone in your life play a role in supporting your involvement?  The only way I was able to serve last year and continue to serve this year is because of my family.  We are a full house of 7 people including my parents, brother, sister, grandma, and special needs uncle.  My dad and brother are so wonderful that they transformed a portion of our three car garage into a room for me last year.  I call it “Apartment A” they call it “The Cave” either way we are one big (usually) happy family and I am grateful for them. 

This is the third in a series profiling the 15 AmeriCorps VISTAs serving in Southern Nevada during the 2012-13 year and the only profile of our one great VISTA Leader!  For more information on AmeriCorps VISTA and national service opportunties in Southern Nevada, click here.

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Make a Difference Day

October 22, 2012

Transplants and tourists alike quickly find out what all Southern Nevadans already know: We are a 24 hour town. Gas stations, casinos, supermarkets, and more are all open around the clock to serve the needs of our diverse community. On October 27th, 2012, United Way of Southern Nevada’s Volunteer Center and their partners are celebrating Make a Difference Day by embracing the non-stop energy of Southern Nevada with “Service 24,” an around-the-clock series of volunteer projects designed to engage all Southern Nevadans from all walks of life.  Make a Difference Day is the largest national day of community service, in which millions of volunteers around the country unite in a common mission to improve the lives of others.

We are excited to partner with Junior Achievement of Southern Nevada, The Las Vegas Rescue Mission, Spread the Word Nevada, White Horse Youth (WHY) Ranch, Toys 4 Smiles, Next Step Ministries, Get Outdoors Nevada, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Clean The World, Foreclosed Upon Pets, The Lili Claire Foundation, and many more organizations serving Southern Nevada.

Find a project and sign up!  Projects in our community can be found on the Opportunity Calendar on the UWSN’s Volunteer Center website. 

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CommUNITY Day of Sharing

October 17, 2012

Five of the largest non-profits in Southern Nevada will unite on Saturday, October 20th for an unprecedented valley wide donation drive hosted by Albertsons Sav-on.  United Way is pleased to be a part of this great event and would like to invite all community members to help make a difference for the hundreds of thousands of people in Southern Nevada who struggle with basic needs.

We are asking the community to donate “gently used” clothes, home goods, non-perishable food items, and new hygiene and paper products. 

Get involved this Saturday

Drop off your donation at any Albertsons in Southern Nevada on October 20 from 9am-4pm.

Stop by the main event site at the Albertsons on Durango near Flamingo from 11-3pm and enjoy music, a community barbeque, prizes and more!

Donations will benefit thousands of community members reached through Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, Three Square, Goodwill and United Way of Southern Nevada.

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View from VISTA: Blythe at United Way of Southern Nevada’s Volunteer Center

October 16, 2012

Name: Blythe Cherney

Hometown: Visalia, California

Host Site: United Way of Southern Nevada– Volunteer Center

What is your favorite aspect about your AmeriCorps VISTA position?  My position as a VISTA at United Way of Southern Nevada’s Volunteer Center has thus far offered an incredible introduction to the Las Vegas Valley.  I have served at events all over the city, met many wonderful people, and learned so much about this new community of mine in just a couple months of serving here.  Part of my introduction to the community has involved presenting about volunteerism to area high school students, which I love.  High school students have so much to offer this community. 

What’s one reason you think people should volunteer with the organization where you’re serving?  UWSN’s Volunteer Center is very unique in that it helps facilitate volunteer opportunities at many nonprofits around the Las Vegas Valley.  I think people should really take advantage of the Volunteer Center website to find volunteer opportunities and learn more about local nonprofits.  It is a great tool for volunteers and nonprofits to connect.

What project or event are you really looking forward to this year and why?  A central part of my VISTA service at the UWSN Volunteer Center is coordinating a high school volunteer and recognition program called Next Generation Actively Gaining Experience (NGAGE).  I am really looking forward to the recognition event in April so we can acknowledge the accomplishments of area high school students.

If you’re new to Las Vegas, what are your first impressions of the community?  One of the more odd first impressions I had about Las Vegas was how central cars are to life here.  Before moving to Las Vegas, I used to commute by bike and bus.  I realize that that is not necessarily the norm in the US, but I was still surprised when I looked up how long it would take me to get to work by bus in Las Vegas—it would take 3 hours!  By car it takes just 20 minutes.  I’m fortunate to have access to a car, but I can’t help but think about the challenge it would pose to individuals who don’t, especially because Las Vegas is a very spread out city. 

What is something you want people who don’t live in Las Vegas to know about this community?  I am still completely in awe of the size of Clark County School District, which encompasses Las Vegas.  I don’t think many people outside Las Vegas know that CCSD is the fifth largest school district in the U.S.  You can imagine the challenges that would arise in a district of such size.

What do you wish other people knew about the nonprofit or its cause?  I think a lot of people have heard of United Way, but don’t know exactly what it does.  In Southern Nevada, its impact areas of education, health, financial stability, and immediate needs cover a lot of ground.  UWSN makes an impact in so many different ways, from early childhood education centers to free tax preparation for low income individuals.  This video explains it in a way that is much cooler than I can:  

In your opinion, what is the most important work that this organization does? As you can probably tell from my earlier answers, I think that education is central to a community’s success, and nowhere more so than in Las Vegas.  I think that the resources UWSN provides in the area of education are incredible and diverse and so fully represent the mission of United Way.  And, better yet, all the impact areas reach into education.  For example, UWSN has created a program to provide financial literacy to elementary school students, trains early childhood teachers, engages families to encourage academic success and help their high school students graduate, and established dental and health clinics at low income schools.  And, I’m lucky enough to be part of the team that is helping to teach the importance of community service to high school students and recognizing them for their achievements in volunteerism. 

This is the scond in a series profiling the 14 AmeriCorps VISTAs serving in Southern Nevada during the 2012-13 year.  For more information on AmeriCorps VISTA and national service opportunties in Southern Nevada, click here.

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Fall into Fun!

October 10, 2012

Looking for some free family fun this weekend?  Look no further!  The Arthritis Foundation, Nevada Office, invites your entire family to join them for a day of fun and discovery at the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum.  This event is open to all community members, and there is no cost for you to attend!  

Saturday, October 13th

12:00-3:00 pm

Lied Discovery Children’s Museum

833 Las Vegas Boulevard, North

Las Vegas, NV 89101

Please RSVP to Crystal from the Arthritis Foundation at 702-575-7669 or cschulz@arthritis.org

See the flyer for this community event here: Free Family Fun

This event information comes from Tarman Aziz who is serving at the Arthritis Foundation, Nevada, as an AmeriCorps VISTA member.  Check back for his View from VISTA blog post about the great work the Arthritis Foundation does in Nevada!

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View from VISTA: Genessa at WestCare Nevada

October 3, 2012

Name: Genessa Mak

Hometown: a north suburb of Chicago

Host Site: WestCare Nevada

What is your favorite aspect about your AmeriCorps VISTA position? I work at WestCare’s Women & Children’s Campus, which has several different programs for women and teens struggling with addiction, substance abuse, and other issues. I really appreciate the passion and dedication staff has for helping the clients get to a better place in their lives.

What’s one reason you think people should volunteer with the organization where you’re serving?WestCare is all about community. This place wouldn’t exist without community partners and relationships.

What project or event are you really looking forward to this year?  I’m looking forward to getting to know more clients and being a part of their journey while they’re here.

What are your first impressions of the Las Vegas community?  Have you had any surprises? Vegas is a place unlike any other. I imagined life outside of the strip would be more…normal. I can’t quite explain what I was expecting normal to be, but the image definitely didn’t include slot machines at corner markets and gas stations far away from the strip. I’m from the Midwest – most legal gambling is only found on waterways!

What is something you want people who don’t live in Las Vegas to know about this community?  Bright lights and big fancy shows are great and there’s a place for that, but I prefer stuff off the strip. Explore Fremont/Downtown for a good mix of touristy and local stuff.

You can expect the unexpected and still be surprised

I moved here about a month and a half ago from a north suburb of Chicago to serve a year as an AmeriCorps Vista. Previously, I had been to Vegas once before to visit with a close friend of mine who was born and raised in this town. He has never hesitated to tell me about the less glamorous things in the area. Therefore, I had no delusions of Vegas being solely about the flashy lights and gambling riches. I was expecting to see people in need – I just didn’t expect so many. The juxtaposition of those with excess and those in need greatly intrigue me. 

My host site, WestCare Nevada, seeks to “Uplift the Human Spirit” by providing a variety of health and human services to meet some of the needs within the community. WestCare is all about community – it wouldn’t exist without local partners and relationships. There are several WestCare campuses throughout the VegasValley; I work at the Women’s and Children’s Campus. Our campus provides several programs to help people overcome addiction and substance abuse:

  • Healthy Families: Pregnant & Parenting Women’s Residential Treatment
  • Serenity: Adult Women’s Residential Treatment
  • V.O.Y.A.G.E: Transitional Living Program for young women runaway/homeless, 16-21 yr old pregnant and/or parenting females
  • Youth Emergency Shelter: a Safe Place, Runaway/Homeless Shelter for ages 10-17, CPC/detoxification
  • VA – Emergency Women’s Veterans Housing

On September 25th, WestCare celebrated a graduation of 95 clients who completed their program. It was one of the biggest graduating classes they’ve had in a while. While I didn’t know most of the clients too well, I felt honored to be in that audience – to share in their celebration. It’s not easy to overcome addiction, but it can be done with great determination, hard work, and perseverance. The graduates recognize that completing the program doesn’t mean there aren’t any struggles ahead, but the ceremony was a chance for many of them to recognize how far they’ve bounced back from hitting rock bottom.

The staff at WestCare has some of the most compassionate and dedicated people I’ve met. I look forward to continue working with them. For more information about WestCare or its services, please call (702) 385-2020 or visit: www.westcare.com.

This is the first in a series profiling the 14 AmeriCorps VISTAs serving in Southern Nevada during the 2012-13 year.  For more information on AmeriCorps VISTA and national service opportunties in Southern Nevada, click here.