VISTA Success Stories
Formerly the Manchester VISTA Project (MVP), the Families in Transition VISTA Program is one of the largest networks of AmeriCorps VISTAs (Volunteers in Service to America) living and serving throughout the state of New Hampshire. Families in Transition’s Manager of Volunteers recruits dedicated volunteers and host sites to join the VISTA team, with the goal of improving the quality of life for the most disadvantaged members of our community.
Families in Transition VISTAs and host sites work together to create sustainable programs that better the New Hampshire community. In turn, both VISTAs and their host sites receive the invaluable benefit of personal and organizational growth. Here are some of their stories.
Nick McIntyre, VISTA
Hometown: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
VISTA Position: Homeless/Migrant Youth Program Associate, Department of Education
Term: February 2013 – Present
The New Hampshire Department of Education is committed to helping students, parents and educators meet the educational needs of students. The Homeless & Migrant Youth Education Programs work to provide educational services and support to New Hampshire’s schools and personnel.
These projects range from smaller tasks such as tabulating the number of youth identified as homeless in New Hampshire’s schools, analyzing the proficiency levels of homeless youth, and helping coordinate tutoring services for migrant youth, to larger, ongoing projects, like the New Hampshire Homeless Teen Task Force and the Higher Education Initiative.
The NH Teen Task Force seeks to open the first emergency overnight youth shelter in the state as well as identify the barriers facing homeless youth in the state and finding ways to address them. The task force has also supported community forums to address the needs of homeless youth on a regional basis. The first was held in Portsmouth in October 2012, the second in Claremont in August 2013.
The Higher Education Initiative is an ongoing project that seeks to establish a support network at New Hampshire’s colleges to address the needs of homeless youth seeking post-secondary education.
The Homeless Education Program has also previously collaborated with the Bureau of Homeless and Housing Services at the Department of Health and Human Services to host the New Hampshire Homeless Provider’s Conference for many years. Overall, these programs focus on eliminating the barriers that disadvantaged youth face in accessing education and ensuring their educational rights are met.
Amanda Bean, VISTA
Hometown: Derry, New Hampshire
Title: Volunteer Engagement VISTA, Families in Transition
VISTA Sponsorship Term: July 2013 – Present
Amanda Bean is serving as the Volunteer Engagement Coordinator at Families in Transition. Amanda majored in Marketing from the Dominican College in Orangeburg NY, a small liberal arts college 17 miles north of the “Big Apple” in New York’s scenic Hudson Valley.
While at Dominican College in Orangeburg, NY, Amanda joined Rotaract, a Rotary-sponsored service club for young men and women. Her service projects ranged from providing meals and clothing to homeless in New York City to supporting disaster relief efforts around the country. Amanda’s positive volunteer experience as a member of Rotaract helped change her life path, away from the glamour of Madison Avenue to the more grounded and meaningful needs of Main Street. During her “re-building” projects, she worked closely with AmeriCorps volunteers and liked what she saw. While contemplating post-college work options, she discovered the VISTA opportunity at FIT and felt it aligned well with her interests and new career aspirations in community service.
Families in Transition (FIT), a nonprofit organization located in Manchester, Concord and Dover, New Hampshire, was founded in 1991 in response to the growing number of homeless individuals and families in the greater Manchester area and throughout the state. FIT is committed to providing innovative, comprehensive, and effective interventions specifically designed to help homeless individuals and families reach beyond the cycle of homelessness to lead healthy and successful lives.
At FIT, Amanda supports the volunteer engagement program, doing all things necessary to maintain a viable volunteer base for the organization – recruiting volunteers, assessing their interests and goals, matching them with volunteer opportunities, and making sure they have everything they need to be successful. Her biggest volunteer requirement is to recruit volunteers at two OutFITters Thrift Stores operated by FIT in Manchester and Concord. Together, the stores generate over $100,000 in sales revenue annually to support FIT housing and services for the homeless.
Amanda’s goals for her VISTA year are twofold. First, she wants to help create “higher impact” volunteers who, in addition to providing hands-on services, can take on roles as volunteer ambassadors, leaders and mentors. Secondly, she wants to gain practical non-profit experience and skills as a foundation for the master’s degree in Non-Profit Management she hopes to pursue after her VISTA year.
Like most new VISTAs, Amanda occasionally stresses over assimilating and prioritizing the multitude of tasks associated with her position. But she’s a quick learner and credits the “amazing, up-beat and totally dedicated” FIT staff and VISTA cadre for helping her get up to speed quickly. Based on her track record of leadership and service, there’s no doubt in this author’s mind that Amanda will have a significant impact on the success of FIT’s volunteer engagement programs this year!
Annie Seekins, VISTA
Hometown: Seaport, Maine
VISTA Position: Programs Associate VISTA, Women’s Fund of NH
Term: July 2013 – Present
Annie Seekins is serving at the Women’s Fund of New Hampshire. Annie is a Sociology and Women Studies Major from the University of New Hampshire.
As a recent college graduate, Annie was looking for a way to get involved with community organizations. With a strong interest in working with nonprofits, the AmeriCorps program was an ideal way for Annie to gain valuable real world experience. “I have heard nothing but positive feedback from people I know who have served with AmeriCorps and I look forward to the opportunites this year will bring!”
Annie is a first year FIT VISTA working with the Women’s Fund to develop and publish a resource guide for refugee women in the state of New Hampshire.
The mission of the Women’s Fund of New Hampshire is to encourage philanthropy among and for women and girls; to improve the lives of women and girls through research, advocacy, and social change grant making; and to educate the community about the potential of women and girls.
Annie has always enjoyed volunteering and enjoys seeing the end result of her labors. ”For me the payoff is seeing the results of the hard work the volunters have put into each organization and project.” Eager and willing to learn new skills, Annie looks forward to this upcoming year with positivitiy and optimism.
At the Women’s Fund, Annie has also discovered that she enjoys the opportunities to go to events and to meet the founders of the Women’s Fund of New Hampshire the most rewarding so far this year.
Annie finds her inspiration in her friends and family, as well as the various mentors she had during her young adult life. She loves Do It Yourself projects, traveling, and spending time in the great outdoors, which New Hampshire has a lot of. “I don’t think I could ever get tired of the view of the state from the top of a mountain!” Annie exclaimed about a recent hike she had done.