Building Up Immigrant and Refugee Youth, Building Up Myself

By United Way of King County, on December 1, 2015 | In Volunteering

Natalie Neville, Youth After-School Program Support Coordinator and AmeriCorps VISTANatalie Neville, Youth After-School Program Support Coordinator and AmeriCorps VISTA at Horn of Africa Services, is a passionate human rights and social justice advocate serving Seattle’s East African immigrant and refugee population with an incredible service experience.



After making significant progress on my project, I wanted to use my time to go beyond my assignment, while still building capacity for my organization. When my co-workers were discussing what to do for the summer program, I asked if I could spearhead the program’s design, and they gladly said yes. I was thrilled with the challenge of designing an entire program from scratch. I decided to implement all the Youth Program Quality professional development training I had the opportunity to attend. I was able to locate and request funds for the program through the Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Hope for Youth grant. Having always wanted the opportunity to write a grant, I worked closely with our senior grant writer to write, edit and submit the grant.

Over the next two weeks, I nervously anticipated the announcement of programs to be funded. One morning, I was elated to learn that we were granted full funding ($3,000), for our Summer Youth Program. Ultimately, 20 East African refugee and immigrant youth were meaningfully engaged with their community and learned about a variety of topics that are relevant to their young lives. It was an amazing summer program that directly impacted my organization’s capacity to serve the community. The Hope for Youth grant was the first real grant that I wrote and submitted, and successfully receiving the funding was a beautiful confirmation that I am meant to dedicate my life to this work.

I accepted my AmeriCorps VISTA position not out of any deep desire to commit to a year of National Service, but because I was interested in the project and organization: creating educational opportunities to refugee and immigrant youth. However, the reason that I fulfilled my year-long commitment as an AmeriCorps VISTA was because of the amazing opportunities that were presented to me as a result being a National Service member.

Throughout my service year, I have received a multitude of free professional development workshops, exceptional networking opportunities, and a huge, remarkable community of like-minded people. Being an AmeriCorps VISTA helped me grow in many wonderful and unexpected ways, and it did not take me long to learn that being an AmeriCorps VISTA meant much more than gaining professional nonprofit experience. Being a VISTA means building up others while you build up yourself, creating strong community connections at the grassroots level, and being a part of something so much larger than one person or one organization. I hope that you’ll take the opportunity to serve your community and country; become an AmeriCorps VISTA with United Way of King County today!

Launch your career in nonprofits, gain professional experience and help your community! United Way of King County is seeking 36 exceptional AmeriCorps VISTA members to join a team of dynamic change agents working to fight poverty in King County! We deploy AmeriCorps VISTA members to serve at partner agencies to expand their capacity to serve low-income populations.

Our positions are now available on Idealist. See our exciting opportunities in each of the focus areas:

Ending Homelessness

Engaging Youth in Academic & Career Success

Expanding Economic Opportunity

Helping Vulnerable People Meet their Needs

Increasing Food Security


Please send a letter of interest and resume to Jacquee Kurdas, Indicate position(s) of interest in your letter. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Please submit application materials as soon as possible for consideration.


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