VISTA Success Stories
The Families in Transition – New Horizons 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 – New Horizons’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 – New Horizons 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.
Madelyne is currently serving as the graphic design and communications coordinator VISTA at Families in Transition-New Horizons.
Where did you go to college and what did you major in?
Texas Tech University in Lubbock Texas, majored in Electronic Media & Communication.
Why did you choose to become a VISTA? Why did you choose to serve in NH?
I chose to become a VISTA so that I could use my skills to make a difference. The work experience and portfolio additions are a great bonus, too!
I knew almost nothing about New Hampshire before coming here. I applied for VISTA positions all over, so I wasn’t really looking specifically to come here, but I knew I wanted to move far from home for a little while to get out of my comfort zone. I’ve really enjoyed it here so far and I’m happy it’s where I ended up!
What drew you to your position and host site?
I interviewed for two VISTA positions in different places, but I felt that Families in Transition-New Horizons had a great mission that lined up with what I care about. I thought the position was a great chance to use all my skills—graphic design, photography, videography, and social media. Many of the other positions I looked at only focused on one area.
How do you feel that the work you’re doing has impacted the community you’re serving in?
I enjoy seeing the numbers broken down—the money OutFITters makes can be put towards housing a family or feeding someone a hot meal.
I also get really positive reactions when I tell people I’m serving at FIT-NH. The organization is well known in the community and local people really believe in their mission.
Shannon is serving as the Business Development VISTA at Arts in Reach.
Why did you choose to become a VISTA? Why did you choose to serve in New Hampshire?
I chose to become a VISTA because it seemed like a great opportunity to do some good while gaining valuable work experience. I have lived in southern Maine, just north of the New Hampshire Seacoast, for the past year. I wanted to stay at least another year to take in all the beautiful nature and unique cultural events this region offers.
What is your role at your host site? What does a typical day or week look like for you?
My host site, Arts In Reach, is a nonprofit that provides free art programming to teen girls. I work more “behind-the-scenes” in community outreach and business development. Some of my responsibilities include: maintaining the website and social media platforms, meeting with donors, sending email newsletters, inputting donations, taking notes at board/committee meetings, and preparing materials for events. We have a big fundraising event coming up soon that involves a silent auction so I am currently busy setting up displays and bid sheets for that.
What drew you to your particular position and host site?
The mission of my host site really stood out to me because I care greatly about mental health and have personally found art to be a very positive/fun form of self-expression. The more I learned about Art In Reach, the more I felt like it was a community I wanted to belong and contribute to.
What has been your favorite part about being 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.