When I started working for MAVA in September 2020, I was new to AmeriCorps VISTA and had a lot to learn. With the help of MAVA’s VISTA Leader (Brien Osborn), our Corporation for National and Community Service Regional Representative (Deborah Richardson), and MAVA staff, I received a crash course in all things VISTA and eagerly started meeting our VISTA members and Site Supervisors. In no time, I felt like I was part of a dynamic team working together to serve communities across the state.
We are lucky to have a strong Cohort of 9 VISTA members who (along with Brien) fill the 10 positions with MAVA and our host sites. Our VISTA members (Jane, Sarah, Cat, Jenna, Miriam, Marissa, Josh, Emily, Alyssa, and Jenny) have spent the last 2-10 months developing volunteer programs, increasing capacity for food shelf transformations, establishing volunteer databases and engagement infrastructure, developing an anti-bias curriculum for early childhood education, increasing and expanding community connections with institutions and organizations that have a need, and developing education and training workshops for volunteers and staff to support diversity, equity and inclusion. This is a fraction of the work that they have been doing to support community-identified and community-driven efforts to end poverty. They are indeed making an impact that will be felt across generations.
I am proud of the work our VISTA members have been doing and love hearing their successes and helping them work through the challenges that they may encounter. We have begun the process of bidding farewell to our 2020/2021 Cohort members (Jenny, who was a returning MAVA VISTA member recently accepted a position with their host site). I will think fondly of them as they will always be the first VISTA Cohort that I have been lucky to work with. But as we wish them well in their future endeavors, MAVA has also started preparation for the 2021/2022 VISTA Program Year. We are excited to explore expanding our program to include more host sites and reach more Greater Minnesota communities in the process. This has been a time of discovery for me, but I am ready to help MAVA and AmeriCorps continue this great work to engage, educate, and provide resources to help end poverty.