By Samantha Kosters
I chose to become an AmeriCorps VISTA because I needed an opportunity to gain more experience in the field I wanted to go into. I was still living in Tallahassee Florida a year after graduating from Florida State with my degree in History. I couldn’t give up on pursing a job at a museum/nonprofit. That’s what I wanted my career in. Currently, I was volunteering at Goodwood Museum & Gardens. My duties encompassed a little bit of everything from giving tours and coordinating volunteers to assisting at large events. For sometimes up to 30 hours a week I was at the museum while also balancing 2 part time jobs at a big retail chain and local fast food shop just barely getting by on minimum wage. The museum just couldn’t hire me because they didn’t have funding to provide jobs.
My cousin was currently serving as a VISTA and I learned more about the program from her. After some research I realized that this was the perfect opportunity for me to get paid while also enhancing my skills and resume. I applied to a few positions focused on fundraising and grant writing and within a few weeks had signed up to be Georgia Legal Service’s VISTA!
At Georgia Legal Services, I learned how important it is was to be a VISTA members. A nonprofit like GLSP really benefits from having a VISTA in their Savannah regional office because they now have a staff member completely dedicated to fundraising and attending outreach events in the community. Our legal aid office is so important to the low income residents of Savannah who need legal assistance when it comes to government programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and social security. We also provide services for power of attorney, advanced directives, and wills. In Savannah specifically, I was able to spend a considerable amount of time managing the GLSP Facebook page.
One of my biggest successes as an AmeriCorps VISTA was writing and receiving my very first grant! I received money from a Savannah foundation that allowed GLSP to purchase a flat screen smart TV with the necessary technology to allow our attorneys to communicate with clients who live in further away counties. The TV is also used when our office has meetings with presentations. It was a necessary technological advance that our office was lacking.