Tuesday, April 21, 2015

North Carolina Celebrates VISTA's 50th Anniversary!

The Corporation for National and Community Service North Carolina State Office, in partnership with VISTA programs and alumni, invite you to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of AmeriCorps VISTA!

Date: Saturday, June 20, 2015

Location: LIFESPAN Creative Campus

908 McClellan Place, Greensboro, NC 27409

Time: 11:00 am- 2:30 pm

Join VISTA Alums, currently serving VISTA Members, VISTA supporters, and friends to celebrate the impact that the program has had in the state for the last 50 years. This will be a celebratory event highlighting projects both past and present. There will be an opportunity to participate in a service project, connect with current and past VISTAs, and remarks by distinguished VISTA alums from over the decades! 

We are pleased to announce Joseph Bathanti, North Carolina Poet Laureate 2012-2014, as our keynote speaker. Mr. Bathanti came to North Carolina in 1976 to serve as a VISTA volunteer. As a VISTA Mr. Bathanti worked with prison inmates. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, he has BA & MA degrees in English Literature from the University of  Pittsburgh, as well as an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College.Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian State University, he is also Writer-in-Residence and Director of Writing in the Field for the University’s Watauga Residential College.

There is no cost to attend this event.


Please note that registration closed Monday, June 15th. If you are interested in attending please contact Catherine Casteel at ccasteel@elon.edu

The day at a glance:

11:00 am to 12:30 pm: Service Project (wear comfortable clothes and shoes)
12:30 pm to 1:30 pm: Lunch and Networking
1:30 pm to 2:30: Remarks by Keynote Speaker, Joseph Bathanti, and Distinguished Alums

Stay tuned for more details regarding service projects and speakers!

Directions to Lifespan Creative Campus.

To learn about other events throughout the country, please visit the VISTA 50th Anniversary Website.

Please contact for questions regarding:
Registration: Catherine Casteel at ccasteel(@)elon.edu
Service Project and Location of Event: Leah Parks at lparks(@)lifespanservices.org

"I am honored to celebrate this milestone with you, in part because I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for the service of others. Or the purpose that service gave my own life...Happy Birthday AmeriCorps VISTA!"- President Barack Obama (See full message below)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Three Vivacious VISTAs, One Full House

Adekemi Ademuyewo, Shannon Barr and Anna Mahathey 

From L to R: Kemi, Shannon and Anna
at the HPU Holiday party
“Well…this is awkward…” Kemi proclaimed to Anna and Shannon as she reveled in the awkward silence that filled the kitchen of their temporary home the first week they met. That sentiment was shared by all the women, who didn’t quite know what to expect out of having to live with the same people they would have to work alongside for the next year. As the only VISTA with a studio apartment to herself the year prior, Anna, quite honestly, was not looking forward to adding two strangers to the living mix. But along came quiet, inquisitive Shannon and vibrant, cheerful Kemi, and all three women, the now self-proclaimed Vivacious VISTAs, moved into a cozy, campus-owned VISTA house.

Stuffed peppers a la VISTA Chefs
They started off their bonding experience by taking the beautiful one-mile walk along the greenway to work each morning. As they trekked up the deceivingly steep hill that made their thighs and calves burn, the initial awkwardness blossomed into friendship. Over the following months, they spent many a night quizzing each other on state capitals, learning together the correct geography of the United States and trying for far too long to open jammed doors. They also bonded while hanging mirrors, sipping on wine and fabricating definitions for non-existent words during late night games of Boggle. They’ve challenged each other to try new things, including do-it-yourself haircuts via YouTube video instruction, a 30-day squat challenge (because VISTAs who squat together, stay together!), and the delectable treat of Oreos and peanut butter.

While mostly fun and full of laughter, this living situation hasn’t been without its challenges. As the VISTAs wear the multiple hats of being coworkers, friends and housemates, they readily find themselves coming home exhausted at the end of a long work day, only to catch up on other work-related matters late into the night. It’s been both a blessing and a curse for the VISTAs to wear these hats. As introverted people working in a highly extroverted field, they understand and share the time investment and demands of their job, which cultivates an empathetic environment and readily accessible support system. But it also means that their home often doubles as an office.

Anna (l) and Kemi (r) at
Thursday night dinner
To attempt to remedy that issue, the Vivacious VISTAs declared Thursdays nights as roomie dinner nights, a time during which work would not be discussed. Instead, they cranked up the Kitchen Karaoke station on Songza, put on their dancing socks and cut up yummy veggies together to relish in each other’s work-free company. However, old habits die hard. Several attempted work-free dinners ended in work-related conversation, so the VISTAs instituted their own book club. Following the glowing recommendation of one of their students, and because they all identify as introverts, the VISTAs decided to read Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain. What was once a time instinctively filled by work schedules, frustrations and questions, transformed into stimulating conversation about personal habits, self-reflective inquiries and new discoveries.

The VISTA house has become a home through late nights of laughter and late nights of work. Surprisingly, eight months into their VISTA term, they haven’t gotten sick of each other yet, something they all think is a miraculous feat. At the HPU VISTA house, VISTAs have provided one another an extraordinary education, have cultivated an inspiring environment, and have been caring people. 

The Vivacious VISTAs rock!

Learn more about the High Point VISTAs in the following media mentions:

Alumna Works to Make a Difference in High Point (featuring Anna Mahathey)

Knocking on Hunger's Door (featuring Shannon Barr and Kemi Ademuyewo)