Emma and Mary Share Memories From Their Year of VISTA Service
Our 2015-2016 AmeriCorps VISTAs leave us at the end of the week. In that time, they’ve dedicated their time, heart and brainpower to causes across King County. Here, VISTAs Emma and Mary share what their time here as meant to them.
Emma (above picture, left)
It is hard to summarize what this year has meant. It began with moving across the country to a new city, and every day since has been just as much of an adventure.
For me, joining the AmeriCorps VISTA team at United Way of King County was really about the work I got to do at Seattle Tilth. The VISTA team was an added bonus. The job at Seattle Tilth was a dream job; working at an organization taking a whole systems approach to the food system, and working on a project specifically focused on food access and alternative food distribution systems. This year has meant putting into action food access projects I had only researched and studied. It has meant meeting and getting to know a new community. It has meant learning from talented coworkers and gaining a new understanding of what non-profit work entails. It has meant more than doubling our subsidized CSA program to distribute over 7,000 bags of produce to over 300 families. It has meant working with city and state government to figure out a better way for to accept EBT payments for a CSA. It has meant getting to know community members to be champions for program expansion.
It has meant working hard and celebrating victories, and knowing that when one member says, “My kids are eating a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables because of the Good Food Bags,” this year has been a huge success.
Prior to moving to Seattle to complete a year of service with United Way of King County’s AmeriCorps VISTA Team, many folks told me to prepare for rain and gray skies. Still, I moved here. At least, I would be escaping the frigid winter months of Nebraska! Equipped with a heavy-duty rain jacket and an umbrella (even though most “Seattleites” don’t carry one), I set off to survive the rain and survive my year of service.
Yes, there were many rainy days… learning how to recruit and manage volunteers, navigating the systems – bus system, DSHS systems, etc., dealing with the loss of a loved one, and working with young adults who might not always show up when expected.
However, my rain jacket and umbrella, my VISTA Team, co-workers, family, and friends, always kept me dry and prepared me for the sunny days… matching more than 15 Career Coaches with young adults who are now meeting one-on-one, planning and hosting a Career Day at the YMCA, and learning so many things about myself, others, and this new community. Now my year is coming to an end, and I can honestly say I survived the rain and survived my year of service. Most importantly, this year equipped me to thrive in the future, in rain or shine.