Based in Window Rock, Arizona is Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits VISTA Linda Banks; serving with DNA Legal Services’ sponsored VITA program. While based in Window Rock, Linda coordinates this valuable tax assistance program for low income residents all over the Navajo Nation, reaching remote towns and areas every week. We are proud to share Linda’s “above and beyond” service in honor of upcoming Cesar Chavez Day of Service on April 1st. Linda has started and is nurturing 30 tomato plants to be donated to the community garden in Window Rock! Linda Banks is making a difference in Window Rock!
On March 11, 2013 Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits AmeriCorps VISTA’s from Window Rock; Flagstaff; Cottonwood; Phoenix and the Tucson; along with a VISTA Leader and a VISTA Program Coordinator came together at Washington Manor in Phoenix. They broke ground, moved dirt, built several garden boxes and set irrigation trenches for the “Let’s Grow” Garden Project of the City of Phoenix as a service project during AmeriCorps Week 2013!
Congratulations to 4 of our current VISTA members – you’ve made it through 6 months of service! The Alliance so proud to have each and every one of you serving in our program. You’ve made a difference at your organizations and in the communities you serve!
Take some time to reflect on your term of service so far. Think about everything you’ve learned, the people you’ve met, and everything you’ve accomplished in a short time. Also take this time to recommit yourself to the next 6 months. The end of your term will be here before you know it!
VISTA Member Updates
Seven VISTA members passed their 6 month mark with our program in May. Before we know it they will be at the end of their year of service!
VISTA Members Rema, Brian, and Nate recently completed a tax season building capacity of local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs. In total, our VISTA members helped recruit 130 volunteers for VITA. These volunteers refunded $10.4 million to people in rural communities throughout Arizona, including Coconino, Navajo, Apache, Pima, Cochise, Graham, and Yuma counties. On average 19% of people in these counties are living in poverty, so maximizing refunds is vital service provided by our projects and VISTA members. Thank you Brian, Nate, and Rema for your hard work and dedication to VITA and VISTA!
More money came into the food bank in May due to Colleen’s efforts. The Community Food Bank received $5,000 from the Darden Foundation for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Colleen assisted on writing the grant for these funds. $1,000 was received from five local Darden restaurants (Red Lobster and Olive Garden). The TEFAP program is the food bank’s largest program. Residents of Pima, Cochise, Greenlee, Graham, and Santa Cruz counties who declare themselves in a food crisis can receive a TEFAP food box once a month filled with two to three days worth of nutritious food. The food bank distributes TEFAP boxes at over 60 locations.
Our marketing and communications VISTA members, Emma and Susan, continue to build awareness of their respective organizations, Arizona Grantmaker’s Forum and Old Pueblo Community Services. Emma writes e-newsletters and maintains the social media profiles of her organization. Through these mediums, she educates the community on the work AGF does and their importance in the nonprofit world. Susan has built an entire marketing and communications plan from scratch for Old Pueblo Community Services, which includes maintenance of Facebook and Twitter profiles. Emma and Susan’s projects really build awareness of their organizations and educate the public on the nonprofit sector, which are important milestones in our VISTA program.
In May, Julie strengthened the partnership between PASSAGE and the United Way. This partnership planned and executed the Foster Youth Transition Forum, which was a huge success. It was standing room only with 65 community leaders and youth in attendance. Creating space for conversations about foster youth and their transition out of foster care is central to PASSAGE’s mission, and Julie’s efforts to strengthen community partnerships will help these conversations continue.
Lydia has also been building new partnerships and community awareness for Goodwill Industries of Northern Arizona. The Job Connection in Fort Mohave relies on referrals and strong partnerships with businesses in the community. Dollar General is the newest business to help advertise and distribute information about the Job Connection’s services. I can’t wait to see who else will partner with Job Connection!
Marissa had the opportunity to participate in Emerge!’s Mother’s Day Luncheon in May. Marissa attended many of the planning meetings for this event, and she was excited to see the results of their efforts. The event is a fundraiser for Emerge! and they doubled their profits this year. For Marissa, May was also filled with in-kind donations. She sorted and valued over $4000 worth of merchandise for Emerge!
Alliance Program Updates
Recruitment of new VISTA members starting in August was in full force at the Alliance during the month of May.
We’ve also begun the selection process for our new November sites, and VISTA member recruiting will start all over again soon!
July 12: Designing Fundable Programs (Phoenix)
July 17: Designing Fundable Programs (Sedona)
July 18: Logic Models and Budgets (Sedona)
July 3: Volunteer Management with Rema, 11 AM
July 11: Making a Compelling Case with Sally, 11 AM
July 25: Logic Model with Sally, 11 AM
Congratulations to seven of our current VISTA members – you’ve made it through 6 months of service! Wow time sure does fly when you’re having fun. We are so proud of all of you and grateful for all of the contributions you’ve made to our program.
Now is a great time to reflect on your year of service so far. Take some time to think about your accomplishments. You really have made a difference by recruiting volunteers, raising money, tweeting important information about your organization, coordinating events, and being there for your organization! Also take some time to remember why you joined VISTA in the first place and recommit yourself to the mission of VISTA. Ready for the next 6 months of service?
VISTA Member Updates
The months of March and April were quite busy for our program and our VISTA members! Our program expanded to 12 members this month as we welcomed 4 new members in March. Lydia Adams comes to Arizona from Alabama and is serving with Goodwill of Northern Arizona in Fort Mohave. Julie Ball, a native of New York, is serving with PASSAGE Transition Coalition in Phoenix. Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse welcomed, Wisconsinite, Marissa Cassellius to their team in Tucson. And last but not least, Susan Duncan from Illinois, joined Old Pueblo Community Services in Tucson. We are so excited to have you as part of our Alliance VISTA team!!
April marked the end of tax season, and I know our VISTA members working in VITA programs are all breathing a big sigh of relief! Congratulations on all your hard work, Brian, Nate, and Rema! I can’t wait to see the final results of your programs.
Colleen and the grants team at Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona were awarded a major grant from the Department of Economic Security. The grant is an extremely important funding source for many of the food bank’s programs. Congratulations Colleen!
Many of our VISTA members were out in the community in March and April. Jean and Meisje, were lucky enough to attend the Western Regional Dental Convention at the end of March. While mingling with all varieties of dental professionals, they were able to do some great community outreach and promote their projects. Emma also got to rub elbows with a variety of Arizona nonprofit executives during a special project meeting.
Alliance VISTA Program Updates
AmeriCorps Week also took place in March this year, and the Alliance VISTA program was able to bring all of our members together for service and training. See the previous blog post for more details about our successful 2012 VISTA Summit.
Our program is beginning our site recruitment process for new VISTA projects that will start in November 2012. If you know of an organization that is interested in hosting a VISTA member, please encourage them to contact Sally, Stephanie, or Amanda.
May 9: Yuma Build a Winning Proposal
May 10: Tucson NET Breakfast. Free for Alliance VISTA members. Register here
May 23: Grant Training with Sally, 11:30 AM
May 30: Intersection of Race & Poverty with Nate, 11:30 AM
Our 2012 and 2nd Annual VISTA Summit took place during AmeriCorps Week this year. The Summit was a great success. It was the first time we were able to bring all of our members together this year. Some of our members have been part of our program since November and some of them started the first week of March.
AmeriCorps Week fell at a great time in our program, and it was the perfect excuse to bring our members together. We spent two days learning, serving, and connecting with each other. We even managed to squeeze in a hockey game thanks to the Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism.
Tuesday March 13th was a full day of learning and reflection. Our VISTA members got a chance to reflect on their service, learn about storytelling, and create a personal mission statement. Sally Clifford started the day with a appreciate inquiry exercise that got our members thinking about why they joined VISTA and what they want to accomplish during their service.
Sandy Price guided our members through a storytelling worksheet, which will help them talk about their service in the future.
Colby Jeffers led our members in the creation of a personal mission statement. Personal mission statements help people stay focused in their career and life. Creating a personal mission statement is one of the habits of highly effective people, according to Stephen Covey. Thank you to all of our presenters!
Wednesday March 14th our VISTA team served as volunteer leaders for Roosevelt Row Day. HandsOn Greater Phoenix hosted a community revitalization project in partnership with Citigroup and Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation. 800 volunteers from Citigroup helped beautify the Roosevelt Row District in Phoenix.
Ribbon murals were tied. Picnic tables were built. Trash and graffiti was cleaned up. Overall it was a great project and a beautiful day. Our VISTA Team was happy to help and grateful to be included. Check the links below for media coverage and more info about Roosevelt Row.
The Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits places VISTA members throughout the state of Arizona. The biggest way we felt we could make an impact on MLK Day is by hosting food drives at each VISTA member’s site and donating the food to an organization in their community. Each VISTA member collected food at their organization the week leading up to MLK Day then donated that food to a local food organization of their choice.
Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits VISTA Members: Adriana, Brian, Emma, Jade, Jean, Meisje, and Rema collected 574 items and 45 lbs of food for our statewide MLK Day food drive. The VISTA Members involved local businesses, government agencies, and faith-based organizations in the food drive. The food was donated to different food banks across the state, including the Love Kitchen, St Mary’s Food Bank, Desert Mission Food Bank, Flagstaff Family Food Center, Wesley Community Center Food Bank, Apache Junction Food Bank, and Yuma Community Food Bank. Our VISTA Members were able to meet new people in their community and make connections to new organizations.
Thank you to all our VISTA members for their hard work and dedication to service!
The Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday is a National Day of Service, and a time to re-commit ourselves to serving each other and our communities. On MLK Day, Americans across the country will honor Dr. King by helping their neighbors and communities. Led by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the MLK Day of Service will include thousands of projects spread across all 50 states. As a CNCS grantee we are proud to work with CNCS to honor Dr. King by creating opportunities to serve on MLK Day and throughout the year.
This year in honor of the MLK Day of Service, the Alliance VISTA Members will hold food drives across Arizona at their individual sites during the week leading up to MLK Day. We hope to make a collective impact with this project. It also gives our VISTA Members a chance to introduce themselves to their new community. Check back for a summary of our event!
I’ve always been the type of person who looks to the future. Planning ahead has been a prominent part of my thinking since high school. I was planning for college while making course selections in high school. I was planning for graduate school while changing my major in college to geography and sociology. My concentration in graduate school was supposed to be the basis for my career. Once I earned my degree my plans came to a grinding halt. There weren’t any jobs for recent urban planning graduates with no experience. After biding my time in the retail world, I moved to Arizona and looked for new opportunities. VISTA and a job as a grant writer in a city government office was that new opportunity.
As it turns out grant writing is a great fit with my planner personality. Grant writing is all about planning for the future. Grants have deadlines. Funding isn’t instant. Proposals are always written to fund a project that will happen in the future. How could this not work with my personality? The visioning skills I learned in graduate school translate well to grant writing. Also I know how to read and follow directions which is a key in grant writing.
Grant writing isn’t exactly anyone’s dream job. Little kids don’t say I’m going to be a grant writer when I grow up. There isn’t a specific college degree that is needed to become a grant writer. Grant writers learn by writing proposals. In the process of writing those proposals, grant writers also learn program development and how to make a program fundable. These are all things I’ve learned in my VISTA position, and I wouldn’t have learned them without VISTA. The question for me now is how do I marry my educational background with my VISTA experience?
Written by Amanda Ripstra