Building and Strengthening Neighborhoods and People

VISTA Spotlight: Sarah Lesperance

Know someone interested in making positive changes in the world? GHCC is seeking qualified candidates for our nationally-renowned AmeriCorps*VISTA program.  Sign on for a year of service with us and receive health benefits, a modest living allowance, and an end-of-service education award.  We have 10 positions available to start in August 2010 in the areas of improving public schools, strengthening neighborhoods, and adult literacy.  

We’ll be featuring several VISTA stories in the coming weeks to raise awareness of national service.

Want to know more? Visit our website!
Submitted by Sarah Lesperance.

Growing up in the small town of Meredith, New Hampshire, I was not exposed to a lot of diversity.  Moving to Worcester, Massachusetts for my undergraduate studies opened my eyes to a new kind of culture and different ways of living.  I was heavily involved in volunteering, and it soon grew to become a passion.  I knew right away that I needed to continue advocating and assisting those who were less fortunate.  After seeing so many fellow volunteers go on to serve, I knew for years that AmeriCorps would be my next step in life.

Being accepted as an AmeriCorps*VISTA member at GHCC has proved to be the path I was meant to take for many reasons. Moving to Baltimore immediately felt like home to me.  Everyone was so welcoming and willing to help in all ways.

On a daily basis, my primary responsibility is getting parents more involved in the school by notifying them about what is happening in the school and when. Currently I am helping our new softball club get started by helping with the practices. I also apply for grants, such as a Parks and People Foundation grant we were awarded recently for our annual Earth Day Celebration. I also keep in constant contact with Medfield Heights Elementary’s community partners and let them know about important meetings and events. My work varies day to day, but with the ultimate goal of bringing in new resources and people to improve the school’s well-being and success.

When I got to Baltimore, I was not accustomed to how a city public school system operates. Back in Meredith, we had three towns attend our one public school, and even then I only graduated with a class of 99 students.  But with the help of staff at GHCC and Medfield Heights Elementary School, I was quickly able to catch on.

The skills and experiences that I have gained from my VISTA year so far have been invaluable. Being put into so many unfamiliar situations allowed me to grow as a person. I have realized that if you live within your comfort zone, you aren’t really living at all. I have met some fascinating individuals through my work as a VISTA member and just living in Baltimore. I have learned that it is important to make friends before you need them, work hard but always with a smile, and to listen to what everyone has to say around you because it’s a great way to learn.

I would definitely recommend a year of service with AmeriCorps*VISTA to others because it is a great chance to build new skills and experiences and meet new people. It is also a great way to give back to your country and community, which will have a lasting impact on the community as well as the individual.

Sarah completes her VISTA year in August 2010.  She is currently searching for non-profit job prospects and hopes to remain in Baltimore.