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View from VISTA: Erica at Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth

November 28, 2012

Name: Erica Harmon

Hometown: North Branch, Michigan

Host Site: Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth

What is your favorite aspect of your AmeriCorps VISTA position? I absolutely love working for an organization that has such a strong focus on youth, and tailors all of its programming to the youth it serves. All of the staff, not only the case managers, but also the Executive Director and office support, is extremely passionate about helping every person who walks through the door, regardless if they qualify for services at our facility or not. It’s awesome to be part of a team that takes such a creative approach to solving the problem of youth homelessness.

What’s one reason you think people should volunteer with the organization where you’re serving? NPHY has a very awesome direct service opportunity that recurs every Friday, called Feel Good Friday. It’s an opportunity to actually go out into the community and pass out needs items to homeless and at-risk youth. It’s a great way to actually volunteer and come face-to-face with the people that are benefitting from your service. If direct service isn’t your thing, we also have PB&J Thursdays every week, where volunteers put together sack lunches that we then distribute at Feel Good Friday.

Tell us about what has influenced your decision to work with the nonprofit and/or become a VISTA? After I received my Bachelor’s Degree in spring 2009, I decided to attend graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in School Psychology. In my second semester of graduate school, I had an internship at a Head Start pre-school. While I was only required to attend 5 hours per week, I found that I would spend, on average, between 10-15 hours working with the teachers and kids. Needless to say, after that first year, I decided that my decision to attend graduate school probably wasn’t the best fit for my interests, and thus I began researching national service programs. It was a great decision! This year is my second as an AmeriCorps VISTA, and as a result, I have gained so much insight into how my passion to serve youth can translate into an enjoyable, fulfilling career.

If you’re new to Las Vegas, what are your first impressions of the community?  Are there any surprises? Having only been in Las Vegas since the end of August, I’m still figuring out the local scene. One thing that surprised me is how awesome the food trucks are! There are also a great many of wonderful restaurants off-Strip that are worth a visit. I try to eat at a new place every week, and stay away from the Strip as much as possible.

What is something you want people who don’t live in Las Vegas to know about this community?  There is an awesome flat-track roller derby team in Las Vegas, known as the Fabulous Sin City Roller Girls, which I joined upon moving to town. Check them out the next time you come to Las Vegas—they are a very unique and community-minded group of women!

Check out all the great things Erica and the entire NPHY team is doing by liking them on Facebook!

This is the seventh 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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