May 12th, 2010

We are celebrating National AmeriCorps Week by telling you about all the great benefits of the AmeriCorps VISTA program.

VISTAs are Volunteers In Service To America. We spend a year building the capacity of a non-profit organizations to fight poverty. Instead of direct service for community members, we do indirect service:  coordinating volunteers, building databases, researching, building web pages, event planning, fund-raising, etc. We are essentially a government grant to the many underfunded and understaffed non-profit organizations working throughout the country to end poverty. In addition to a volunteer stipend, VISTAs receive healthcare benefits, a childcare and relocation stipend, priority application for government jobs following completion of service, and a $5,350 grant to pay off student loans (or future tuition).

I just finished a 2-day celebration with AmeriCorps members from across the state, which culminated in an afternoon of community service in the Birmingham area.

Left to right: Andrew Kurtzman, from the Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives; Ann Benjamin, director of the Shepherd Center; Lynette Glatzer, of  Positive Maturity; me; Vanessa Stevens, from HICA; and Harold Deason, from Aware Shelby County.

Our group included VISTAs from across the state. We spent a few hours planting at The Shepherd Center East Community Garden – squash, banana peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

I am loving my year of service with the Alabama Poverty Project. If you want more details about the VISTA program, feel free to email me. And please check out our jobs page to see how you can become a VISTA with APP!

Posted by Robyn Hyden