“After a year of soul-searching following my graduation [from college], I decided that national service would be an excellent way to give back to communities in the U.S.,” says North Carolina native Matt Ragazzo, who recently joined AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America).
AmeriCorps*VISTAs commit a year of their lives to build capacity for a nonprofit, government agency, or community organization to fight poverty in America. Matt, who will be working for the Neighborhood Design Center in Southeast Baltimore, was just one of 17 VISTA members who attended an official VISTA welcome ceremony at GHCC on August 9 here at GHCC.
This year marks the launch of an expanded relationship between GHCC and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that funds AmeriCorps. With support from CNCS, we are now sponsoring 25 VISTA placements in Baltimore City and Prince George’s, Montgomery, Frederick, and Washington counties.
GHCC has over three decades of experience in recruiting, training, and managing VISTA projects, and we are thrilled to play such a key role in supporting national service in Maryland. “GHCC’s role in making the VISTA resource available to so many organizations in Baltimore, and now around the state, has really given [CNCS] the ability to expand our reach,” says Crystal Biles, Director of the CNCS Maryland State office.
Our VISTA program is not only focused on supporting high-quality and meaningful projects that fight the war on poverty, but also on helping VISTA members develop into nonprofit and community leaders. For Angela Mack, who is a VISTA at the Magic Johnson Community Empowerment Center in Bladensburg, MD, the year is already headed in that direction. “I wanted to be a VISTA to bless others, but I see now that I will be the one to be blessed beyond measure.”
Over the next few weeks, GHCC will publish a series of VISTA Spotlights here on our blog to keep you up to speed on how all 25 projects are going. At the welcome celebration, National VISTA Director Mary Strasser urged the VISTAs to tell their stories. “We can’t have enough stories about the good work you do,” she urged. We agree, and are looking forward to sharing all of that good work with our readers.
To stay informed about the progress of this year’s VISTA cohort, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to this blog.
If you are interested in joining AmeriCorps*VISTA, contact our VISTA Leaders Allison Wilhite (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Tom Pfeifer (email@example.com) for more information about when to apply.