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View from VISTA: Sara at Salvation Army

November 21, 2012

Name:  Sara Burns

Hometown: Born in Visalia, California raised in Sacramento, California

What is your favorite aspect about your AmeriCorps VISTA position? I love being hands on with people, activities, and events.

What’s one reason you think people should volunteer with the organization where you’re serving? I believe people should volunteer with The Salvation Army because we truly care about the individual that needs help. We are there for them in every aspect of their life be it spiritual, emotional, physical and/or mental. If there is a will, there is away and there is a program or service that can be utilized here at The Salvation Army. We are always looking for volunteers to help provide these services and keep us as America’s #1 charity.

What project or event are you really looking forward to this year and why? The project that I am really looking forward to is our Angel Tree Distribution on December 22nd. We will be servicing approximately 2,000 needy families in Clark County with approximately 6,000 gifts for their children (2 gifts per child per household). I am looking forward to this event because I want to see how our services are truly appreciated. I am looking forward to seeing how happy the residents of Clark County really are and to see the smiles and hear the thank you’s received on that day.

What is something that you’ve learned about the community since starting your VISTA term? I have been someone in the community that has needed help and felt that there was nobody to turn too. What I have learned is there are so many people that I never thought cared, but they really do care and actually give a lot of their time and money to make sure the “forgotten people” of people of Clark County are taken care of. I give them a lot of respect and thank them for their genuine and unconditional love for their community.

What is something you want people who don’t live in Las Vegas to know about this community? This is a small city with big city credit, whether you realize it or not. Everybody who went to school here seems to know each other, which is ridiculous!

What’s your personal philosophy on what should be done about the cause?  I believe this could all be eliminated with less greed and people truly caring for one another. I guess peace on Earth, but it sounds like a dream. I think if people become more aware and start looking at the facts and putting them together instead of taking people at face value. That is when a real change will begin. I am doing a paper right now in my English 102 course and it is based on obedience. The paper’s focus is based on how people are forced to obey authority figures and authority figures actually get away with abuse because people don’t question them. I think people in poverty could really benefit from knowledge and that will be their way out.

Tell us about someone who has influenced your decision to work with the nonprofit and/or become a VISTA?  I am in poverty and sought help through Help of Southern Nevada. I asked the director how someone gets into her position. She pointed on her wall to a Certificate from AmeriCorps and said the application process should be closing in a few days; it was 2 days to be exact. I went online and applied, went through interviews and BAM! Here I am. I had this opportunity roll around last year and I messed it off because I was focused on needing help, that I forgot to help myself. When the opportunity came around the second time, I knew it was put in my path for a reason. Two months later that lady is no longer with Help of Southern Nevada.  She was there for a reason. Maybe right place, right time. I don’t know if she realizes how much her pointing to the certificate on her wall has changed my life, but I am truly thankful for her appearing in my life when she did. Thanks Kristi, you are literally a life saver.

This is the sixth in a series profiling the 15 AmeriCorps VISTAs serving in Southern Nevada during the 2012-13 year.  For more information on AmeriCorps VISTA and national service opportunities in Southern Nevada, click here.

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