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VISTA Fellows Impact Those in Poverty Through Their Work with Schools and Nonprofits Organizations

The WSU VISTA Fellows project is in its fifth year connecting VISTAs with nonprofit organizations, government and public health agencies, and faith-based organizations statewide through Wichita State University’s Community Engagement Institute.

AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is a national and community service program where VISTA members help support and expand efforts of organizations to increase their capacity for serving those in need and reducing poverty in Kansas.

If your organization is looking to expand or increase its reach into the community, VISTA members may be an option. VISTA members can help recruit volunteers, raise funds, manage projects and share your mission through promotion and outreach. AmeriCorps VISTA members come equipped with the talent and drive to work on projects that could be a game- changer for your organization.

Currently organizations in Wichita and northeast Kansas are supporting 18 VISTA members. Through the life of the WSU project, more than 55 individuals contributed to over 40 organizations in Kansas.

Organizations that have hosted VISTAs speak highly of the benefits. Executive Director for Guadalupe Clinic, David Gear, said, “As a donation-based healthcare clinic that operates solely on the generosity of foundations, corporations and individuals, the AmeriCorps VISTA program has been invaluable to our operation.” “By recruiting a skilled, educated graphic artist with design capabilities without the burden of covering a high salary, we put those unspent donated dollars directly to patient care. We are most grateful for this program. It has been such a blessing for Guadalupe Clinic and the people to whom we provide quality healthcare.”

Many of our VISTA Fellows are college graduates, have a passion for service and are committed to building the capacity of their host organizations to do exceptional poverty-related work. VISTAs serve full-time for a year. Applications can be submitted year-around from organizations interested in hosting VISTA Fellows.

With passion, commitment, and hard work, VISTAs create or expand programs designed to bring individuals and communities out of poverty. One VISTA in her second year of service describes what it’s like to contribute to homeless supports in Manhattan, Kansas.

“When I started as a VISTA at USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden I knew very little about the McKinney-Vento homeless program and even less about homeless students in our school district,” said Charle Schmidt, VISTA. “What I did know was that as a VISTA I had the chance to make a difference. When you live in poverty, you live in fear. What I am doing, I hope, is to alleviate some fear. Along with that, I hope to help our families feel less isolated and more connected.”

For information about how to expand your impact, project information and an application is provided online www.CommunityEngagementInstitute.org/VISTA. For questions, contact Angela Gaughan at angela.gaughan@wichita.edu or 316-978-5496.

The AmeriCorps VISTA program is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service placing volunteers in poverty-fighting organizations across the United States.