AmeriCorps VISTA Spotlight on Candice Peters

Spotlight

Name: Candice Peters    

Hometown: Santa Cruz, CA

VISTA Site: Woodland United Way

When did your service start? November 2015 

What are you currently working on at your organization? 
My main project has been creating Woodland United Way’s first volunteer program, the Read to Succeed Tutors. In collaboration with the elementary schools, we are training volunteers to work one-on-one with 1st and 2nd graders on their phonics skills. The students selected for our program are those who are reading a bit below grade-level. These students just need a little extra help to get up to speed, and getting individual attention from one of our volunteers should give them the boost they need. We are about halfway through our trial run of the program, with 10 volunteers working at two local elementary schools. Once the school year is over, I am hoping to take what I learned from our first round of volunteers to expand the program. I’m aiming to add a third school, and at least double the number of volunteers. 

Why did you decide to be an AmeriCorps VISTA in Sacramento?
I actually applied for the position I have through some regular job search website, not knowing that it was a part of the AmeriCorps VISTA program. I was looking for a job in Davis or Woodland, and this job really struck me. I wanted to give back to the community of Yolo County, which had been so wonderful to me throughout my college years, and this seemed like the perfect way to do so. 

What have been some of the greatest triumphs during your year of a VISTA?
The principal at one of the elementary schools my program is at came up to me and said something like, “We’ve been trying to do a volunteer program like this for years. I didn’t think it would ever get off the ground. Thank you so much.” Also, I work right next to a pizza place and a cookie shop. So I consider it a triumph that I bring my lunch to work almost every day and don’t just eat pizza and cookies constantly. 

What have been some of the challenges you encountered and how did you overcome and/or learn from them?
I think one of the biggest challenges for me was that I don’t have any background in education or volunteer management. At the beginning of my term, I was totally unsure because it seemed like I had absolutely no qualifications for this position. So I guess gaining confidence in my abilities has been a challenge. But you learn as you go, so I think my confidence has grown a lot over the past 6 months. 

What is a 5 word statement to sum up your whole VISTA experience thus far?
It takes a village to raise a child. 
That’s not 5 words but I’ve been thinking about that saying a lot lately so I think it’s ok haha. 

What is your favorite thing about living in Sacramento?
I don’t live in Sacramento so I can’t say! But my favorite thing about living in Davis, is the friendly and welcoming atmosphere. 

Next Steps: What are you thinking about doing after your year as a VISTA?
In November, I am moving up to Washington so I can finally live with my husband. And I hope to find a job up there that I love, but I’m still trying to figure out what direction I want to go professionally.