Posts Tagged ‘View from VISTA’

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View from VISTA: Tarman at The Arthritis Foundation

March 7, 2013

Hometown:  Born – London, England (UK) – Moved at early age to Southern California (Anaheim)

What is your favorite aspect about your AmeriCorps VISTA position?
The chance to educate the people (including children) here in town regarding arthritis and the widespread impact of the various types of arthritis in our community. A vulnerable population with many questions and concerns about their quality of life can be directly helped daily through our efforts at the Arthritis Foundation.

What’s one reason you think people should volunteer with the organization where you’re serving? 
One reason – diversity of volunteer opportunities!!! We have so many opportunities, including leading exercise classes and walking programs, helping in our office with patient calls and product inventory, serving as a camp counselor, and working on advocacy initiatives with our local government officials. There is a task to match almost every potential volunteer’s personality and interest. We even have some grants with major hotels for those who want to help us collate and record data in our research efforts.

Arthritis-Foundation-logo

What project or event are you really looking forward to this year and why?
The summer camp for kids affected by Arthritis – this is an especially vulnerable population here in Southern Nevada, as we have no full time pediatric rheumatologist here in town, relying solely on doctors with primary practices in Los Angeles. The camp not only provides a direct resource for kids and families, but also raises community awareness.

What is something that you’ve learned about the community since starting your VISTA term?
I learned about the vast network of government and non-profit agencies we have here in town. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many groups working in a collaborative and congenial way. The display of resource coordination at the recent Project Homeless Connect was truly amazing, and not the type of community event I expected in Las Vegas. A pleasant surprise!!!

What is something you want people who don’t live in Las Vegas to know about this community (cause-related or otherwise)?
We are about a lot more than casinos, buffets, and assorted nighttime debauchery here in Las Vegas. Like any other city, we have ordinary people living their lives, with the same need for social service support. People still ask me if I live in a hotel on the Strip when I tell them I am in Las Vegas – sure, it’s a joke, but the sentiment carries over into false notions in general about how we live here in town.

Does anyone in your life play a role in supporting your involvement? In providing inspiration?
I have two close family members with debilitating arthritis, so they are my inspiration.

What’s your personal philosophy on what should be done about the cause?
Empower people to take control of their own health, with a hope they can maximize their quality of life through educated and wise choices.

This is the tenth View From VISTA in a series profiling the 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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View from VISTA: Seelypon at Nevada Health Centers

February 4, 2013

Hometown: Henderson, NV by way of Honolulu, HI

What is your favorite aspect about your AmeriCorps VISTA position? I enjoy the ability to work with other community organizations and people in the community. It is wonderful that I get the chance to go into the community and talk to individuals that need the healthcare services that NVHC has to offer or know people that need it. I love seeing the faces of these individuals that get the information. It is interesting to meet the different people of the community I grew up in. I’ve learned so much that I hadn’t before my VISTA term. There is so much of the Las Vegas Valley to explore and know.

Seelypon serves as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Southern Nevada, but she started volunteering years ago.  Her volunteer service even took her to Costa Rica as a college student.

Seelypon serves as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Southern Nevada, but she started volunteering years ago. Her volunteer service even took her to Costa Rica as a college student.

What’s one reason you think people should volunteer with the organization where you’re serving? There is a great need for quality healthcare. In addition, many individuals do not have access to quality healthcare. Health care could be a costly expense for those individuals that do not have insurance or have access to the health care at the start. Nevada Health Centers bridges that gap and volunteers can help bridge that gap. By volunteering for Nevada Health Centers, volunteers have the opportunity to get to know the community they live in while providing information about the health care options that very same community through outreach. In addition, volunteers have the opportunity to be exposed to health care professionals and have a change to network with some of these individuals. In the near future, the volunteers may have the option to volunteer within one of NVHC’s health centers as administrative volunteers.

What project or event are you really looking forward to this year and why? The project I am most looking forward to is the partnership with Clark County School District’s Title I Parent Centers. With this partnership, I am working to create presentation about different health topics that with the help of volunteers, we will present to parents at various Title I Parent Centers. These presentations will provide information to the parents and give them pointers to live a healthy lifestyle. These presentations act as preventative health tips that parents may follow to keep them from going to the emergency room or the urgent care more. If this is occurring, parents and their children will be at work and school more. I feel that this will be a great partnership and give the volunteers an opportunity to be well versed with different health topics.

What is something that you’ve learned about the Las Vegas community since starting your VISTA term? As I grew up in the Las Vegas Valley, I’ve learned so much since starting my VISTA term. There are so many organizations that can provide assistance and resources to those in need. I did not realize the amount of people that did not have health care. I took for granted having insurance as my mother worked in health care; it was never a problem. Many people have multiple part-time jobs, which most of the time barely support their families. With part-time jobs, insurance and benefits are not included. Individuals may be working the same amount of hours of their full-time counterparts; however, they do not get the “perks of the job”. There are so many individuals in the Las Vegas Valley that are in that situation. I’ve seen a larger span of this valley through the different outreach efforts. It was great to get out of my “home bubble”.

What is something you want people who don’t live in Las Vegas to know about this community (cause-related or otherwise)? There is more to Las Vegas than The Strip that many flock to this city for. There is a lot of culture and history with the museums and the revitalization of Downtown Las Vegas. Visit the Neon Museum or the Atomic Testing Museum. Hit up one of the local casinos to get away from all the other tourists. If you’re here around the winter, Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory as a beautifully decorated cactus garden for all to enjoy. For the outdoorsy people, there are many amazing hikes at Red Rock, Lake Mead, or up at Mt. Charleston. There is so much to do for those not into the typical Vegas scene.

What do you wish other people knew about the nonprofit or its cause? Nevada Health Centers does not only cater to the Las Vegas Valley. It actually started in rural Nevada towns then expanded to Carson City and Las Vegas. Firstly, we catered to the geographically isolated then expanded to focus on the underserved, uninsured populations in the urban sites. We want EVERYONE to have quality healthcare. I think this is wonderful! Everyone deserves to have a chance to live life with the best health. NVHC provides that opportunity. In addition, there are actually two administrative offices that work together run the entire organization. Although I am a VISTA in Las Vegas, some of my projects involve all 15 health centers throughout the state! It is amazing how much NVHC covers this state with its amazing programs.

This is the ninth 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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View from VISTA: Alexis at United Way of Southern Nevada– Immediate Needs

January 25, 2013

Alexis

I have to admit, I was extremely envious of the VISTAs I met during Pre-Service Orientation that were relocating for their terms. I was jealous of the new people they would meet, the new community they would call home, and the new places they would see. I wasn’t born in Las Vegas but I have lived here for the majority of my life.  Little did I know that my VISTA term in my hometown would give me all of those experiences and so much more. My coworkers at the United Way of Southern Nevada welcomed me in with open arms and it wasn’t long until I was able to witness a new side of Las Vegas that I had never before been exposed to.

I have been able to meet individuals that are driven by their passion to leave a positive impact on our community because of my VISTA position. One of the greatest lessons I have learned in my VISTA term is that I did not need to relocate to experience a new community, meet new people, and see new things. In all my years growing up in Las Vegas I had never witnessed such a generous and caring side of our community. I am so happy that I made the decision to become an AmeriCorps VISTA in Las Vegas because it has given me a new sense of pride for my community!

This is the eighth 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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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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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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View from VISTA: Kathy at Clark County School District School-Community Partnership Program

November 15, 2012

Hi!  My name is Kathy Hamilton and I am a long-time resident of the Las Vegas Valley.  Living, working, and raising my kids here since 1996, I consider Las Vegas my hometown.  I love this community, its residents and all it has to offer!

My AmeriCorps VISTA position is with the Clark County School District School-Community Partnership Program.  What I love most about this position is that it matters.  It has a direct impact on the students of CCSD; the kids right here in our very own neighborhoods.  We partner local businesses with community schools to help meet the special needs of the students in those schools.  From supplies, to volunteers, to student incentives, to Mentors…we help make that happen and IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE!

There are so many needs to be met, and not enough volunteers to meet all of those needs.  People of the Las Vegas Community should get involved and volunteer with the Partnership Program, whether as a Mentor in our Stay In School Mentoring Program, or a speaker in our PAYBAC program, or volunteering at one of the many curriculum focused events throughout the school year, so that the experience of these students can be enriched and to promote academic achievement.  IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE!

I look forward to assisting in recruiting volunteers for our many events, programs and projects.  The opportunity to meet new people and share in the experience of giving back to the community through our students is a tremendous reward.

Even though I have lived in Las Vegas a long time there are two very important things I learned about our community since beginning my VISTA term.  First is the alarming number of children in our valley that do not have their basic needs met.  Second is the overwhelming generosity of the businesses, organizations, and individuals throughout the community.  THEY MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

This is something that I think people outside of Las Vegas don’t know about us…we care about our community.  Casinos, corporations, small businesses, civic organization and clubs, houses of worship, families and individuals come together to build our community up; to make our community better.  WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Lead by an Advisory Council made up of a dynamic group of community and business leaders, the CCSD School-Community Partnership Program has been in existence since 1983, yet still remains one of the best-kept secrets of Southern Nevada.  The efficiency, caring, and humility of the staff here is second-to-none; never seeking praise or accolades.  I am grateful that my VISTA service has brought me to this program and honored to be a part of its continued success.

For more information on the programs offered or to find out how you can volunteer and MAKE A DIFFERENCE, please visit www.partnership.ccsd.net. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ClarkCountySchoolPartnership, and Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CCSDPartnership.

This is the fifth 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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View from VISTA: Steven at Boys & Girls Club of Las Vegas

November 7, 2012

Name: Steven Nichols

Hometown: Kansas City, MO

What is your favorite aspect about your AmeriCorps VISTA position?

“What do you eat?” blurted out impulsively in a giggling classroom of fourth graders was one of the first interactions I had serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas. Rambunctious and eager to learn young faces met me in the morning to discover the world around them. We at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas are so much more than babysitting and basketball, an increasing number of children are at home with no adult care or supervision, and these young people need to know that someone cares about them.

The Boys & Girls Clubs offer that and more— our club programs and services promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence in lives. When I wake up, drink coffee from my French press and know that I am going to have the ability to be creative and enhance the lives of youth, I am so pumped.  There is no way I can articulate how amazing that feels.

What’s one reason you think people should volunteer with the organization where you’re serving?

The number one reason to act as a volunteer with Boys & Girls Club is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens. Based on the interests and needs of the boys and girls we serve, our club volunteers offer diverse program activities in five areas: Character and Leadership Development, Education and Career Development, The Arts, Sports Fitness and Recreation, and Health and Life Skills.

What project or event are you really looking forward to this year and why?

We regularly host booths at First Friday in Downtown Las Vegas, and it’s a great way to serve youth and recruit volunteers.  This month, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas Day of the Dead – (Día de los Muertos) activity and volunteer informational booth for First Friday was a huge success. The booth’s purpose was to educate the community on ways to become involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas as well as introduce them to our fantastic arts program. During the First Friday activity families learned about the Day of the Dead and had the ability to create a Day of the Dead sugar skull portrait as well as a Dia de los Muertos tissue garland.

We hope to have more people come out and participate in the next Boys & Girls Club First Friday event on December 7th at 7:00 pm, located in the Kids’ Corner of the First Friday pavilion.

This is the fourth 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.