Friday, April 19, 2013

Lighting it up - more VISTA project highlights!

MLK Day of Service was a big event for many of our VISTAs this term, as reported in a January blog post. VISTA Takira Dale, for example, helped to coordinate a MLK Day Read-In that drew 70 volunteers from 3 Winston-Salem-area campuses (Wake Forest, Winston-Salem State, and Salem College) to work with over 50 children, ages 4 -10. Participating kids were from Title I schools or agencies serving at-risk youth. The college students served as reading buddies for the day long event, which included fun activities geared to literacy, safety, civil rights history, and healthy eating.

VISTA Tiara Pugh and her supervisor work on MLK Day.
Elizabeth City State University, VISTAs Marion Hudson and Tiara Pugh coordinated an MLK Day event with the help of funds from NC Campus Compact's MLK Day Challenge Grant. The event drew 180 volunteers who served during the day at a dozen different host sites. The event was a partnership with two other local higher ed institutions, College of the Albermarle and Mid-Atlantic Christian University. 

Lenoir-Rhyne University VISTA Ariel Mitchell reports exciting new programs with her community partner, Centro Latino of Hickory, including a kids tutoring program that began in January and a new elder care program called "Adopto Un Abuelito," which will pair Centro Latino volunteers with elderly residents in the community to provide food assistance and companionship. Partners on the project include Meals on Wheels, the Backpack Project, and a local church. Having convened partners and given input on program design, Ariel will focus now on organizing food-donation drives to support the project.

At Virginia Tech, VISTA Alejandra O'Connor has implemented several improvements to ESL and citizenship programs offered by the Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority (RRHA) and the Coalition for Refugee Resettlement (CRR), a Virginia Tech student organization. Alejandra worked with the RRHA to develop a statement of program goals, and she created a basic reading comprehension and citizenship knowledge assessment to be used in ESL classes. Happily, two of the students Alejandra supports passed their exam and became citizens this period.

Saarah Abdul-Rauf, UNC Chapel-Hill VISTA, established community mentors at Volunteers for Youth (VFY) in Chapel Hill. Saarah worked with the SMART mentoring program, a group at UNC previous providing mentor support for VFY, to transition to a community-based mentoring program.

During the past three months, some VISTAs also supported innovative local and regional alternative breaks. More on those in a future post!