AmeriCorps programs enable talented individuals an opportunity to serve in their communities while also providing professional and personal growth. The Phillips Sectoral Employment Initiative VISTA program is uniquely situated to maximize this experience for host sites and VISTA alike. Last year I saw the impact a VISTA can have on an organization and the impact a year of service can have on an individual in the right situation.
I knew entering my second PSEI term as the VISTA Leader, that our program was special. I came to appreciate just how ideal our program really is after attending VISTA Leader training in Dallas last month. Other leaders were worrying about logistic issues: how to facilitate specific skill trainings, whether or not frequent group meetings were worth it, how to support 40 VISTAS, etc. While other programs were still figuring out how they could engage their members our cohort had already gone through two days of training about our program, two days of training on workforce development, and two of our ongoing bi-weekly trainings. It stood out to me how beneficial it is that all 18 VISTAs are located in the Twin Cities Metro Area and that we can afford to bring in experts to bolster our trainings.
This year’s cohort includes 18 VISTAs serving at 15 different organizations focusing on building better career pathways for low income adults in the Twin Cities. Because many of our VISTAs activities overlap we have had successful peer learning opportunities and been able to tailor trainings to meet specific needs.
These are just a few of the favorable factors our cohort has going for it. The best indicator that this will be a great year for PSEI is the VISTAs themselves. I encourage you to visit our meet the members page. They come from a variety of different backgrounds, posses a number of different college degrees and have different career plans, but they all have shown a strong desire to challenge themselves and maximize their impact at their organizations.
It hasn’t been all work and no play. We utilized the training room at the Midtown Global Market and our VISTA’s had the opportunity to explore the market through a scavenger hunt. We have also organized a few social events including a bowling night, Twin’s game, and a bike tour of Northeast Minneapolis. Members also participated in 911 day of service doing yard work for senior citizens.