Posts Tagged ‘HELP of So. Nevada’

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New York / Nevada State of Mind

November 3, 2011

Last month, our featured VISTA told us of the two years she served at HELP of Southern Nevada. November brings us the brand new VISTA who has traveled a great distance in to fill Meagan’s shoes.

Lisa Laudadio hails from Long Island, New York. She chose HELP because of its remarkable mission: “We assist families and individuals throughout Southern Nevada to overcome barriers and attain self-sufficiency through direct services, and training and referral to community resources.” Hard-pressed to find something more important than independence for all people, Lisa decided to pack her New York life into a suitcase and head to Las Vegas, always knowing she was making the right decision. “My heart pulled me here,” she said. “I saw opportunity to make a lasting change in the lives of many, and that could not be resisted.”

Having taken on the role of Volunteer Coordinator, Lisa has begun recruiting and scheduling volunteers to assist during the many life-changing HELP events that occur throughout the holiday season. First up is Holiday Intake, where volunteers help clients fill out applications requesting assistance for Thanksgiving and December holidays. Lisa is also gathering volunteers for the Turkey-Thon, Turkey Distribution, Adopt-a-Family, the Toy Drive, and Toy Distribution. Each event brings food and gifts to families that would not have a happy holiday season due to their current circumstances.

“Holidays for me growing up were always surrounded by family,” Lisa said, “no matter the circumstances.” She thoroughly enjoyed Italian Thanksgiving with Lasagna, Manicotti, and Eggplant Parmesan. Another big dinner followed on Christmas Eve before her family gathered around the tree to exchange gifts. And Christmas morning found she and her brother racing to the tree to see what Santa had brought. Lisa is thankful for the opportunity to bring a fuller, happier holiday experience to needy families in the Las Vegas area through her work at HELP.

For the coming year, Lisa has both personal and professional goals she’d like to achieve. She hopes to aid in the expansion of both departments in which she works: in-kind donations and volunteer coordination. She’d like to create additional partnerships for donors and a volunteer program that promotes social responsibility in a greater portion of our community. Personally, Lisa wants to “push my boundaries and those of the people around me, to supersede the expectations set by myself, my friends, my family and, most importantly, those who hired me at HELP.” Those are big goals, and we believe Lisa will have no problem achieving them.

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Lending a HELPing Hand

October 20, 2011

Last month, United Way bid farewell to three fantastic AmeriCorps VISTA members who had each completed two terms of service.  Last month you met Rebekah, a Nevada native who served at the American Red Cross.  However, not all our service members are local.  In fact, many of them come from the opposite side of the country…

Before she began her VISTA experience, Meagan Ho Ching was an eighteen-year-old full-time college student living and working in Boston, Massachusetts. She had spent summers with her extended family in Las Vegas for as long as she could remember, so when it came time to “find herself” she couldn’t think of a better place to do it. “A dear friend of mine suggested HELP of Southern Nevada as a site to apply to. As soon as I read their mission statement and researched some of their work in the community, I knew I wanted to be a part of such an amazing organization,” Meagan said.

Each holiday season HELP of Southern Nevada provides over 1,200 Thanksgiving meal baskets, adopts out 400 families, and supplies over 13,000 children with toys. The past two years Meagan took on the responsibility of raising turkeys and other Thanksgiving dinner staples for the meal baskets. “It was the most heart-touching thing to see local businesses, organizations, schools, and families band together and give, especially in an economy that would suggest otherwise.”

Meagan was able to organize over 100 food drives around the city. She saw elementary school children pool their allowances and offices give up coffee for a month just to donate a turkey, then watched as families, local leaders, volunteers, and HELP staff members all stood shoulder to shoulder sorting, packaging, and lifting the precious baskets. “The long hours all paid off with the first thank you from the first mother that came to retrieve her family’s turkey.”  Meagan personally took in all the vouchers for the baskets and saw firsthand the gratitude of over 1,200 families. She calls it indescribable: “We live in a remarkable community that when all odds are against us we seem to come out, not necessarily unscathed, but stronger and closer.”

The proud Nevadan recently relocated to Chelsea, Massachusetts and will be finishing her Liberal Arts degree with Harvard University Extension School. “I cannot explain how much my two-year tenure with VISTA has changed my life,” she said. “I left Massachusetts defeated and timid. I return a confident young professional. My VISTA experience shaped me into an individual that is more passionate and driven, but more importantly, involved.”