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Today is the 50th Anniversary of the AmeriCorps VISTA Program and this morning we honored our two outstanding VISTAs, Maihnia and Monica who are with us for the year. They bring vision and energy to the United Way California Capital Region. In addition, we honored two staff members, Amy and Casey, who were former VISTAs at other organizations in the past. We are so thankful for all their service!
AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) taps the skills, talents, and passion of more than 8,000 Americans annually to support community efforts to overcome poverty. The program’s nationwide corps of VISTAs commits full-time for a year at nonprofit organizations or local government agencies to build the capacity of these organizations to carry out programs that tackle poverty. VISTAs recruit and manage community volunteers, raise funds, and help manage projects. VISTAs support programs that improve literacy, expand job opportunities, develop financial assets, reduce homelessness, and improve health services. They also support programs that increase housing opportunities, increase economic opportunities for low-income veterans and military families, and expand access to technology for those living in rural and urban areas of poverty across America.
I have to admit, on my way to my volunteer activity for Young Leaders Society I was tired and almost cancelled at the last minute. My email inbox was full and I was behind on some projects. It would have been so easy to cancel. But then I reminded myself that would the easy way out and that I’ve never gone to a volunteer event that I’ve regretted. I always walk away with a sense of fulfillment and pride; a feeling that I helped make my community a better place. So I got out of the car and went to the Grant High Geo Garden with a (forced) smile on my face.
Parker was a serious basketball fan. At just 8 years old, he saw the Sacramento Kings in the newspaper and started looking up their scores after the games. Soon he had the basketball bug and wanted to learn to play.
Parker joined YMCA Superior California’s after-school program, which is funded by United Way’s health initiative that includes our Fit Kids project. He learned a hard lesson: It’s hard to get the ball in the basket. Fortunately, a staff member encouraged him to keep practicing.