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August 2018
Help FIght Poverty with Passion |  Service Site Spotlight  |  Know Your VISTAs
Help Fight Poverty with Passion
2017-2018_FIT_VISTAsAre you or someone you know interested in spending a year fighting poverty in the beautiful State of New Hampshire?

We're recruiting passionate, service-minded individuals for our 2018-2019 program year! The Families in Transition (FIT) VISTA Program is one of the largest AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) networks in New Hampshire. VISTA members serve for one year at a nonprofit or government organization to build programs that fight poverty and improve the quality of life for the most disadvantaged members of our communities.

Positions are available in the following fields:
  • Volunteer Engagement
  • Community Outreach
  • Marketing/Communications
  • Event Planning
  • Fundraising
  • Program Development
Currently we have 19 available positions at 16 nonprofits located throughout the beautiful State of New Hampshire. Help us spread the word or check out our list of available positions at:
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Site Spotlight: Palace Theatre

Olivia Opal
Palace Theatre Youth Liaison VISTA
Palace Theatre
Pictured: L-R Katherine Benoit, Kaitlin Ripaldi, and Olivia Opal.

The Palace Theatre Trust’s mission is to enrich the regions cultural life and serve as a community resource through its stewardship of the historic Palace Theatre. In doing so, the Palace Theatre provides a broad range of high quality, live performances as well as educational opportunities for performers and audiences of all ages.

At first glance, The Palace Theatre Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit multi-cultural professional performance arts center in Manchester, NH. However, the Palace Theatre is much more than a performance arts center. If one looks closely, it becomes apparent the Palace is a community hub, where all walks life from Southern New Hampshire and beyond can be spotted enjoying professional Broadway-quality theatrical productions, touring musical artists, or dropping their children off to participate in a Youth Theatre program.

By offering school vacation and summer camps, youth productions and teen companies, the Palace Youth Theatre serves 16,000 children within the community and 14,000 children beyond greater Manchester. In recent years, the Palace Theatre has set goals of providing easy and affordable access to theatre programming specifically focusing on children from low income families in underserved populations. Theatre camps at the Palace began in 2001 and capacity has grown from 20 to 100 children per session.

Olivia Opal is currently serving as the Palace Theatre’s first VISTA! Olivia’s service revolves around helping expand the Palace Youth Theatre’s footprint in the community. She helps to fundraise, research, and support the incredible youth theatre programs the Palace offers. She loves serving at a theatre that cares so much about education and impact in the community.


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Know Your VISTAs!
Shannon Fitzpatrick
Migrant Youth Program
Associate VISTA
NH Department of Education
Pictured: Shannon Fitzpatrick

Where did you go to college? What did you major in?
I went to Michigan State University and majored in Spanish and Interdisciplinary Studies in the Arts and Humanities.

What is your role at your service site? What does a typical day or week look like for you?
My role is to manage the volunteer tutor program. This involves meeting all of our migrant students to assess their needs, recruitment of volunteers, interviewing potential new volunteers, matching them up with students, introducing them to the families/students they work with, and then helping them out with any issues that come up during their tutoring. There is no "typical" day because every day I'm at a different point in the process with a volunteer or student. I also have some side projects I work on, including planning volunteer trainings and creating resources for our volunteers, students/families, and out of school youth.

What drew you to your particular position and service site?
I was drawn to the Migrant Education Program because I wanted to do something working with immigrant and refugees and have a chance to use my Spanish. I'm learning so much and I really love working with this population.

What has been your favorite part about being a VISTA?
What I love about being a VISTA is the ability to try a lot of new things to see what I like and what I don't. There's a certain flexibility to the position and so I'm able to do a lot of different things and learn not only new skills but also about myself, which will definitely inform my post-VISTA life in a really positive way.

Do you have any post-VISTA plans or goals? How do you think your time as a VISTA will help you achieve these goals? 
I'm still working on my post-VISTA plans, but my goals are to continue working with immigrants and refugees in an educational capacity. I think I would like to teach English as a second language to both children and adults. My time as a VISTA is really the reason I now have these goals because it has given me experience in so many different capacities that I was able to work out what I like best.

Conor Murphy
Communcations Assistant VISTA
CASA of New Hampshire

Pictured: Conor Murphy

Why did you choose to become a VISTA? Why did you choose to serve in New Hampshire?
A year after I graduated I was searching for my next step and my friend who was completing her service year told me about AmeriCorps and suggested I apply. I was open to go anywhere and wanted to experience someplace new. I stumbled upon the FIT VISTA pages and the rest is history. I decided to do a second year because I felt there was more I still needed to experience and I had made a home here in New Hampshire.

What drew you to your particular position and service site?
I was first drawn to CASA of NH mission. It is something I am very passionate about from my own personal experience. I really like the range and variety of events I would get to help plan and be a part of putting on. I also likes that at CASA there is a team.

Has serving as a VISTA, living at the poverty level, changed how you view poverty? What experiences have contributed to this outlook?
Definitely! Having to apply and go through the process of acquiring food stamps was very eye opening for me. Everything is done online, I am fortunate to have my own computer and I can't imagine the difficulty of not having access to a computer, scanner, or printer. Then it also took some time for me to even be comfortable using them in the store and I still prefer places with self-checkout so no one sees that I am using my EBT card. I just can't help but feel judged for needing EBT and that my purchases are being scanned for approval.

Is there anything that you experienced as a VISTA that you weren't expecting?
I wouldn't say I wasn't expecting it, but I found that I can be a self-starter and make a home from nothing. Having moved knowing no one in New Hampshire, I have made lifelong friends. It has given me so much confidence in what the future could hold for me.

Do you have any fun hobbies or hidden talents?
As a side hustle, I teach English to kids in Beijing in the mornings before work. It's a one-on-one lesson through a video chat program. The kids are awesome and I even have some regulars that I always look forward to teaching. It's a really fun way to start the day!

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The Families in Transition VISTA Program is part of the AmeriCorps VISTA National Service Program and is sponsored by Families in Transition-New Horizons. VISTAs (Volunteers in Service to America) are charged with fighting poverty through capacity-building projects in government and non-profit organizations.

Families in Transition-New Horizons provides hunger relief, emergency shelter, safe affordable housing, and supportive services to individuals and families who are homeless or in need, enabling them to gain self-sufficiency and respect. 

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Families in Transition-New Horizons
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