AmeriCorps VISTA Program
AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) members bring their passion and perseverance where the need is greatest: to organizations that help eradicate poverty. AmeriCorps VISTA members serve as a catalyst for change, living and working alongside community members to advance local solutions.
Step Up acts as an intermediary for AmeriCorps VISTA, and brings in 12 new VISTA members each year to help build capacity at some of our partner agencies, for a minimal investment on the partner agency’s part.
Become an AmeriCorps VISTA! Apply for the year-long positions by clicking on the links below:
- Program & Development VISTA- Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Savannah (CCCS)
- Fundraising & Outreach VISTA Leader- Step Up Savannah
- Outreach & Development VISTA- Georgia Legal Services Program
Check out our VISTA Stories! Step Up has hosted more than 31 VISTAs – and counting! Check out the VISTAs who have served in our community.
Meet Lauren! Lauren was an AmeriCorps VISTA with Georgia Legal Services in 2015. During her service, Lauren said “it is my role to help build capacity to increase resources and impact its mission of providing access to justice and avenues out of poverty for lower-income families within Georgia”.
“There is nothing more rewarding to me than seeing the work that I do help the low-income individuals of our community gain valuable representation with their civil matters”. The people that are helped by Georgia Legal Services are so thankful. When they tell you how much they appreciate your help, it is the most rewarding feeling in the world.”
Meet Ally! Ally was a VISTA in 2016 and served at Step Up’s Chatham Apprentice Program (CAP). During her service, Ally said “working with the CAP participants and seeing them learn and grow through the program and eventually find employment is the most rewarding part of being an AmeriCorps VISTA.”
“Witnessing the everyday struggles our participants deal with while living in poverty is the greatest challenge as a VISTA. Would I recommend the AmeriCorps VISTA program? YES! YES! YES! It is a great opportunity to volunteer and serve others in your community while also gaining invaluable experience for yourself. Not to mention they help with student loans once you complete your year of service”.
Meet Catrice! Catrice served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Consumer Credit Counseling Services in 2015. Catrice worked on recruiting and coordinating all of CCCS’s volunteers, and she managed their social media accounts.
Catrice says “the most rewarding aspect of being a VISTA has been doing outreach and volunteering with local organizations.” She also states “the most challenging aspect was getting used to the local environment and learning how to find different locations.”
“I would recommend the AmeriCorps VISTA program to others because it is an excellent way to accumulate professional training as well as an opportunity to do outreach and help communities in need”.
Meet Alexandra! You may recognize Alexandra form earlier in the month. Alexandra was Step Up Savannah’s last VISTA, and she is currently serving as Step Up’s first AmeriCorps VISTA Leader. As a Leader, Alexandra is working on growing the AmeriCorps VISTA program by partnering with more organizations to host VISTA members. Alexandra also works on coordinating professional development opportunities to benefit the VISTA group.
Meet Diana! Diana served as an AmeriCorps VISTA in 2016 at Wesley Community Center. Diana was the Program & Resource Developer whose responsibilities include enhancing the Wesley Community Centers’ database system used to track donors, donations and grants. Diana also assisted her colleagues with fundraisers. She helped promote events and programs with social media communications and videos.
Diana became a VISTA because she wanted to help others, having served previously in Savannah, she fell in love with the children at Wesley Early Childhood Learning Center and loved volunteering at the Family Life Center. Diana immigrated to America at a young age. She relates to clients who were in need of assistance and enjoys to helping them.
Wesley offers many forms of assistance and working alongside their driven and dedicated staff has made Diana more determined to work in the non-profit sector.
Meet CaTyra! CaTyra was a VISTA in 2015 serving at Step Up Savannah.
CaTyra says “as the Program & Development Associate I contribute to capacity building for our financial literacy programs, tax preparation for residents, event planning and drafting grant proposals”.
She says “the most rewarding part of my role has been the availability of training and networking opportunities.” I have always been interested in event planning, grant writing and fundraising. I recently planned Step Up Savannah’s first frozen yogurt fundraiser. I am grateful for the support of Step Up Staff in executing the fundraiser”.
She believes the most challenging part of being a VISTA is being able to adjust to the modest income, “I am glad AmeriCorps changed the outside employment policy to allow AmeriCorps members to work part-time. I hope this policy changes improves retention”.
“I would recommend AmeriCorps VISTA to gain experience, network, acquire and/or enhance skills and to discover your work preferences”.
Meet Hollyn! Hollyn joined our VISTA team in November, 2018. She is Inspiritus’ (formerly Lutheran Services of Georgia) second VISTA and works as Volunteer Coordinator for the Refugee and Immigration Services.
Hollyn has a long history with VISTA and attributes this tenure as pivotal to launching her professional career. After earning an M.S. in Public Health, she joined VISTA in 1983 as a Health Educator in Seattle. Inspired by her training as a community organizer, in 1985 she accepted a position with the World Council of Churches in Turkey where she founded a social service for refugees fleeing the Iran/Iraq war.
In 1989, she returned to the U.S. for much-needed mental R&R. As the Brazilian activist Paulo Freire encourages “action and reflection”, the next five years proved invaluable during which Hollyn earned a doctoral degree in Adult Education, married Mainus Sultan and welcomed their daughter, Kajori. In 1995, the family transitioned to the Lao PDR where Hollyn and Sultan served as Co-Country Directors for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).
In 2000, the family returned to the U.S. and Hollyn served as Executive Director of The Literacy Project in western Massachusetts. Five years of learning non-profit administration, (and getting Kaj through elementary school), encouraged Hollyn to accept the position as the Quaker International Affairs Representative in South Africa, where she represented AFSC in six southern African countries.
The global economic crash of 2007/8 scrambled NGO funding so, in 2009, Hollyn transitioned into the Dept. of State, Foreign Service. In this capacity, she served in Mexico City, Washington D.C., and Sierra Leone, where she was sole Public Affairs Officer during the Ebola outbreak. Hollyn age-retired in 2017 and now reflects “I couldn’t be luckier to be living and working in beautiful Savannah where, every day, I learn from the dynamic change-agents of VISTA and community partners.”
Meet Jamie! Jamie was a VISTA in 2015 at Georgia Legal Services Program.
During service, Jamie said “Seeing a tangible impact has been the most rewarding thing about being a VISTA. It is rewarding knowing that working with GLSP Savannah has helped the office raise funds and helped more people gain access to critical legal services. The most challenging thing about being a VISTA is the lack of ability to do more. No matter how hard you work, time and resources are limited.
I would recommend AmeriCorps VISTA because your service benefits the community and provides great work experience. Being a VISTA makes you more knowledgeable about poverty and gives you tools to help reduce poverty in your community.”
After her VISTA service, Jamie was offered a full-time position with Georgia Legal Services Program at their Atlanta office.
Meet Hannah! Hannah is our newest VISTA member, serving at Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council. Hannah has lot of experience with volunteering and serving others. She is currently volunteering as a crisis counselor and a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Volunteer. Hannah is also currently getting her Masters in Social Work. Welcome to the team Hannah!
Read other VISTA stories below!
Meet Agata! Agate served as a VISTA member in 2015 at Wesley Community Center.
Wesley is largely an accredited early childcare and development facility that serves children in Savannah regardless of family economic status or ability to pay, but also provides wrap around services for the whole family through the Women’s Center programs.
Agata says “my title is “Program and Resource Associate” but that doesn’t begin to cover it!” Any given day I am walking through and participating in activities in childcare and getting great pictures of the children to help amp up the visibility of Wesley in the community through their social media. I’ve been managing their Facebook and website to get things more up-to-date, and I’ve had a ton of success. Other days I aid in volunteer group tours, which are so crucial to a nonprofit working with such a limited budget, and am at times a point-person for their duties while they serve. I spend time also research, writing, and especially putting together grants for all of Wesley’s programs to aid in further expanding the ability to help those in need. Most recently I’ve been solely responsible for tracking all donations that come to Wesley into donor management software that was purchased all thanks to a generous grant. This helps Wesley better see where donations are going and how to best approach individuals and organizations in the future.
Agata shares “I love sitting in on activities and capturing the priceless joy in children’s faces in childcare or in the spring and summer Youth Arts Program camps.” Sharing the good work that Wesley does has been so rewarding! I am pleased that every week the website and social media accounts get more and more visits, and that families in the community know Wesley exists and can help them even at their lowest. I also love seeing success stories piece together of Wesley helping a family, mother, or child in need and knowing that I had a part in that.
“It is challenging seeing mother, at times single parents, come to the Women’s Center needing rental assistance, or help with their utilities, or even food from our Food Pantry.” Often times we can help, and do much more by even offering extended services they possibly didn’t know Wesley offered (GED program, computer classes, Early Learning College, Home-bound food visits, clothing Career Closet). But getting a phone call for utilities assistance and knowing we don’t have funds left for a given month and telling a family to wait a week or two, is always heartbreaking.
I always recommend AmeriCorps VISTA to others! Experiencing poverty while at the same time working to alleviate it in the community hits home harder and allows my work to go further. Though my background is in art and art nonprofits, I plan on continuing my work in human services. AmeriCorps VISTA opened my eyes to problems I knew exists but wasn’t sure what to do about them.
Meet Lindsey! Lindsey recently finished her service this month.
“Before being a VISTA, I had just moved back from Portugal. I wanted to find out if I liked social work or teaching better. I had a desire to gain experience in something that was more social work focused, so being placed at SafetyNet was the perfect opportunity to learn this. I also wanted to gain some professional development and learn new skills. Being a VISTA definitely opened up some great learning opportunities for me. I was able to go to Las Vegas this year to see an example of this multi-agency resource center. When I returned, I used what I learned to work on a grant-funded program. This was my favorite project during my time as a VISTA. The grant was from Georgetown University Center for Juvenile Justice Reform. The goal was to work with Chatham County agencies around the creation of a multiagency resource center which is now The Front Porch. We were a convening agency and coordinating that support. My role was coordinating meetings, assignment deadlines, following up with partners. I felt like that was a good use of my skills. It was about bringing together all this information and communicating that in a useful way. This really helped me to understand that communities and systems are just made up of people. If you push for something, you could end up having a lot of opportunity just by knowing who to talk to and what meetings to go to.
When I finish my year of service, I plan to go visit with family for a bit, go to Argentina for three months, go to Chile for a month, and then teach Spanish to public school students.”
Meet our 2018 Summer VISTAs!
Meet our 2018 Summer VISTA members! Hannah, Alexander, Ahna, Quinn, Emma and Dawn. For the first time in 2018, Step Up and its partnering agencies hosted 6 Summer VISTAs. Step Up will continue the program into the summer of 2019!
Six sites hosted a Summer VISTA member last year including Wesley Community Center, Forsyth Farmers’ Market, City of Savannah, Performance Initiatitves, Park Place Outreach, and Horizons Savannah.
Look out for more information on the Summer VISTA positions this year-coming soon. Stay tuned!
Meet Kirsten! Kirsten is currently serving as a VISTA at Forsyth Farmers’ Market! Kirsten has a background in Agriculture & Development, and is interested in public health. At Forsyth Farmer’s Market, she’s worked on fundraising, grant writing, social media management and volunteer management. Kirsten said she joined VISTA at Forsyth Farmer’s Market to gain experience in local community initiatives that will support a career in Public Health and that are also aligned with the One Health platform — which emphasizes and supports the health of people, animals, and ecosystems.
Meet Amy! Amy was an AmeriCorps VISTA with Union Mission in 2017.
Her time was spent in a variety of capacities, from training volunteers and interns, to writing grants and fundraising, to coordinating different agencies and developing programs. For Amy, the best thing about working as a VISTA at Union Mission was seeing the transformation of her clients. She loved being a part of the transitional time in their lives. Since being a VISTA member, Amy was offered a position at Union Mission! Since being hired, Amy been promoted to a Case Manager at Union Mission’s Grace House. Recently, she has been accepted into a graduate program to get her Master’s Degree in Social Work. Congratulations Amy!
The Mediation Center is searching for an AmeriCorps VISTA!
Park Place is seeking an AmeriCorps VISTA
Apply for a VISTA position at EmployAbility
Step Up Savannah AmeriCorps VISTA Project Impact
(May 2016-May 2017)
- During the last project year, Step Up hosted 7 AmeriCorps VISTA members.
- VISTA served at: Step Up, Georgia Legal Services Program, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Savannah, Wesley Community Center, Forsyth Farmers’ Market, Chatham Emergency Management Agency
- New sites this project year: Lutheran Services of Georgia, Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council
- Chatham Emergency Management Agency is hosting its first VISTA in response to Hurricane Matthew. This position is funded by a grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation.
During the last project year, VISTA’s helped to:
- Recruit over 300 community volunteers
- volunteers performed over 6600 hours of service
- Manage over 200 community volunteers
- volunteers performed over 6900 hours of service
- Secure over $272,000 in cash resources and $11,700 in “in-kind” resources
- Connect over 3700 Savannah/Chatham residents to financial education opportunities
- Enable agencies to serve over 11,000 residents with asset building services
- Support host agencies in assisting 111 individuals to complete job training programs
- Connect 305 new EBT customers to local food through the Forsyth Farmers’ Market
- Present disaster preparedness training to 25 individuals through CEMA (that VISTA position began May 2017)
- Support Wesley Community Center in helping 88 children to complete early childhood programs
Host an AmeriCorps VISTA
If you are an organization and are interested in becoming a full-time host site for an AmeriCorps VISTA, you may review the RFP below. If you would like to be notified when we are accepting applications, please complete this form.
For more information contact Tatiana Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-232-6747.