VISTA Success Stories
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 Coordinator of Volunteers and VISTA Program recruits dedicated volunteers and service 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 service sites work together to create sustainable programs that better the New Hampshire community. In turn, both VISTAs and their service sites receive the invaluable benefit of personal and organizational growth.
Rachel is serving as the Communications Assistant VISTA at Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of New Hampshire.
Where did you go to college and what did you major in?
I went to Tennessee Martin and majored in Political Science with a minor in Business.
What is your role at your service site? What does a typical day or week look like for you?
I serve as the Communications Assistant at Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of New Hampshire. Each week I schedule our social media presence, send out email blasts to update our supporters about upcoming events or recent news, work on event management for our major fundraisers and smaller gatherings, manage our greeting card program, and participate on multiple committees throughout our organization. I help design advertisements, materials for prospective volunteers, and am always looking for new opportunities to spread the word about the work that CASA does.
Has serving as a VISTA changed how you view poverty? What experiences have contributed to this outlook?
I grew up very fortunate, with incredibly supportive parents and a safe, loving home. Serving as a VISTA at CASA has shown me lives that I was shielded from recognizing growing up in the Granite State. Our volunteers are truly serving the most vulnerable children in NH, and they are often the one person looking out for the child’s best interests. It has not only changed my views on poverty, but addiction and family dynamics as well. I feel as if I have a much deeper connection with my community and the challenges they are facing. Our CASA children are so resilient, and they are surviving unimaginable circumstances. Sometimes my days are long, stressful, and overbooked, but there is no better feeling then knowing that every minute of hard work I am putting in is changing the life of a child who is truly in need.
Is there anything that you have experienced as a VISTA that you weren’t expecting?
I did not expect to find such strong connections. With my community, my co-workers, and myself. I have been able to recognize my passion, and what truly want to do with my career.
Do you have any fun hobbies or hidden talents?
I am an avid equestrian, typically spending no less than 5 days a week at the barn. I also love to explore New England on my motorcycle, and spend as much time in the mountains as I can!
Julianne is serving as the Marketing & Outreach VISTA Leader at Families in Transition.
Why did you choose to become a VISTA Leader? Why did you choose to serve in New Hampshire?
After completing my first year of VISTA service in Rhode Island, I realized I wanted to stay involved in national service, while also continuing to build my marketing skills. My last site didn’t have any VISTA Leaders, but I knew I wanted to stay in New England, and when I found the position at Families in Transition (FIT), I knew it was perfect for me. I like that it allows me to still do the communications and outreach activities I enjoy, while also working closely with other VISTA members and sites.
How do you feel that the work you are doing has impacted the community you are serving in?
In a way, being a VISTA Leader is even more indirect than regular VISTA service. However, I feel accomplished in impacting New Hampshire communities through all of work we’ve done to raise awareness about the program and the work of our VISTAs. We were able to welcome 13 new host sites this year, and expanded into more low-income communities that I know will really benefit from having VISTAs. Plus, by helping to place and support the members at those sites, I get to help foster the impact they will have within their communities.
What has been your favorite part about being a VISTA Leader?
My favorite part about being a VISTA Leader has been getting to know all of the other VISTAs in our program, as well as other national service members throughout the state. It’s been wonderful to get to meet so many passionate, like-minded people who are truly making an effort to help others and create positive change. Plus getting to serve at an amazing organization like FIT and learn from all of the staff here has been a great experience.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a VISTA?
There really is no other opportunity that can give you this level of independent, impactful work, with so little prior experience required. It’s a unique opportunity to grow your professional skills, while learning about the nonprofit field and poverty alleviation programs. Your work as a VISTA will last long after you complete your service, and the skills and experience you will gain can easily be transferred to any field.