Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Our VISTA Quarterly Reports Are In! See the Summary

Our NC Campus Compact VISTA members submit reports on their service activities every quarter. The August - October quarter recently concluded, so we've compiled a report summary that shares service data totals and highlights. And, we've created this snazzy new "infographic" to illustrate the scope of our VISTAs' efforts!

Below are just a few examples of VISTA projects that contribute to these grand totals. All our VISTA members focus on one of the CNCS priorities: economic opportunity, education, and food security.
  • Durham Tech Community College - Campus Harvest Plot, 24 vols, 54 hrs, 8/12-10/31, Student volunteers serving at Briggs Ave. Community Garden.
  • Queens University - Sedgefield Elementary library re-organization, 25 volunteers, 120 hours, Every Tuesday afternoon, Students are re-organizing entire library to provide more Accelerated Reader tests to students.
  • UNC Chapel Hill - SMART Mentoring Program, 24 vols, 223 hrs, 9/24-10/31, student mentors met with mentees during variety of activities and projects for approx. 2.5 hours a week.
  • Lenoir-Rhyne - Centro Latino Soccer Fundraiser, Cash, $530.95, Between 10/8-10/13.
  • UNC Greensboro - IRC/Transition Greensboro Community Garden Cistern, Grant/Program, $1,659, Oct. 3 (date approved for funding), NC Community Conservation Assistance Program.
  • Wake Forest University - Campus Kitchen, Food and produce donations, $9250 (in-kind value), Aramark and the Fresh Market.
  • Mary Baldwin College - Project GROWS, donated food to the food bank and Boys and Girls club, $200 value, Fridays between 8/28-10/26.

As you can see, our VISTAs have been busy mobilizing resources to strengthen campus-community partnerships! You can view the full VISTA Quarterly Report Summary at our VISTA Annex site. In the coming weeks, we'll highlight more of these projects and the VISTA members who make them happen.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

VISTA Profile: Derald "Banjo" Dryman

Alma Mater: Western Carolina University
Hometown: Asheville, NC
Service Site: Western Carolina University
Previous Service Site: UNC-Pembroke

Okay, we have to know: Where did you get the nickname "Banjo?"
Well, I don't actually play the banjo. The nickname came from my uncle. I was named for him, and everyone called him Banjo. He got it from a race car driver. It just wouldn't seem like I was taking his full name without taking the nickname too.

Why did you decide to become a VISTA?
I chose to become a VISTA in order to give back to my community while discovering what type of career I would like to have. I thought VISTA was an excellent way to better understand issues surrounding poverty and to see first-hand its affects.

Why did you choose to sign on for another term of service?
As an alumnus of WCU, I have been, and continue to be, very involved with community partners and the campus community as a whole. I wanted to continue to deepen relationships with a few key partners, while at the same time continue to grow partnerships with other departments on campus. I am also highly involved with planning alternative break trips and days of service and I am very excited about seeing those programs grow.

What has your biggest accomplishment been as a VISTA?
 My biggest accomplishment has been working with two different universities and helping to grow their programming and relationships with the community.

What has challenged or surprised you about being a VISTA?
 Limited income has been a huge challenge. I knew coming in that I would be living in a low-income situation, but it's hard to realize until you're actually doing it!

What are you most looking forward to this year?
 Most looking forward to working with new and returning students and seeing programs grow.

What do you have coming up with your community partner, the Sylva Community Table? Right now I'm working on volunteer recruitment and resource development. The economic downturn has brought a lot more people into the community table than usual, so they're straining to meet the needs of their clients.

Share something unique about yourself!
Big NASCAR (Jeff Gordon) and NFL Fan (Go Packers!)...also very involved as an alumnus in my fraternity, Kappa Sigma.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Four VISTAs attend CSNAP Conference

On November 2-3, four NC Campus Compact VISTAs attended the 2012 CSNAP Conference at UNC Wilmington. Sponsored by the Compact, every fall CSNAP (Citizenship, Service, Networking, And Partnerships) brings student leaders from campuses across the state together to learn and share strategies to address community issues. This year's event focused on the theme "Becoming Citizens, Becoming Community," and featured Paul Loeb, author of Soul of A Citizen, as keynote speaker. Nearly 125 students from 18 campuses attended.

Our VISTAs were on hand to lead discussion sessions, share ideas for community engagement, and support the learning of student leaders. Two of our VISTAs led open-space discussions. Lenoir-Rhyne VISTA Ariel Mitchell led a conversation centered around culture and cultural barriers within communities. She connected her work with the Latino community and key community partner, Centro Latino of Hickory, to the greater challenges of working in culturally diverse communities.  UNC Greensboro VISTA Anya Piotrowski facilitated a discussion about community gardening. Anya shared information and expertise she's gained from her project starting a community garden at a local homeless shelter.

Jacqui Trillo, Warren Wilson College VISTA, coached several students who delivered a workshop helping service participants connect their service to deeper community engagement. She also attended a session on building strong partnerships between institutions and their surrounding communities. Jacqui noted how excited students were between sessions, enthusiastically discussing ways to apply what they learned to their own institutions and communities. She believes conversations like these can help build a bridge between students and their communities.

NCSU VISTA Brianna Roach concluded the conference with a powerful recitation of her original poem, "The Elephant in the Room." Students who live-tweeted the event said they left the conference feeling inspired and motivated.

On Friday evening at the conference kick-off, Anya joined other conference participants for a tour of the Wilmington-based film studio, EUE/Screen Gems. The group heard from the head of the Wilmington Film Commission about his work bringing projects to the area, toured the facilities, and spotted Robert Downey, Jr. working on set!