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December 2017
TLC Family Resource Center Accepted for HIVE Program  |  Service Site Spotlight  |  Know Your VISTAs
 
TLC Family Resource Center Accepted for HIVE Program
TLC Family Resource Center Staff Photo
TLC Family Resource Center staff enjoying their 25th Anniversary Celebration Dinner. Pictured from left to right: Kathy Pilchman, Liz Morse-Boynton, Neil Allen, Karen Jameson, Jo-Ann Kleyensteuber, René Couitt, Liza Draper, Barbara Brill, Holly Bee, Melony Williams, Erin Kelly, Brenda Foley, and Maggie Monroe-Cassel.


The High-Impact Volunteer Engagement, or HIVE, Program, run by the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits, is an intensive one year program that gives staff and volunteer leaders the opportunity to explore the latest trends and best practices in volunteer engagement to help build the capacity of the organization. Neil Allen, our VISTA at TLC Family Resource Center, wrote up the application with the support of the Resource Center's Executive Director, Maggie Monroe-Cassel
. Neil recently received confirmation from the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits that they have been accepted into the program! A great step towards building capacity!
 
Site Spotlight: Arts in Reach

Katie Lusa & Melaney Brown
Arts in Reach
AIR Staff Smiling
Pictured from left to right: Katie Lusa; Rebecca Romanoski, Program Director; Mary-Jo Monusky, Executive Director; and Melaney Brown.

Arts In Reach (AIR) is a nonprofit that provides mentoring through the arts to teenage girls in the Seacoast area. AIR empowers teenage girls through innovative teaching and mentoring, utilizing accessible arts programming as the platform for success. They develop girls’ creative freedom and power of voice in a positive setting where teenage girls thrive. AIR offers eight annual programs in dance, theatre, songwriting, singing, visual arts and creative writing. They balance positive youth development and artistic goals, value the process of creating art over the product, and commit to making programs accessible to lower income teens by charging no fees and assisting in transportation. This year AIR is celebrating their 20th anniversary of providing free arts mentoring in the Seacoast area of New Hampshire.

There are two VISTAs serving with Arts In Reach this year. Melaney Brown began serving in August as the Program Development VISTA. She recruits teens, serves as program assistant, and runs the Advance on AIR program for older teens. Katie Lusa began her term at the end of July as the Business Development and Community Outreach VISTA. She works on fundraising, special events, and social media. They are both enjoying working with such a unique and impactful organization!

 

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Know Your VISTAs!
Damaris Gibaldi
United Way of Greater Seacoast VISTA
United Way of the Greater Seacoast
Damaris posing with a sheep

Where did you go to college/what did you major in?
I went to Gordon College in Massachusetts and majored in Recreation/wellness. I also minored in Sustainable Development, Art, and Outdoor Education. I then went on to earn a degree in Community Development Policy from the University of New Hampshire.

What drew you to your particular position and host site?
I knew I wanted to serve the Seacoast of New Hampshire during my service since I have grown to love this area and call it my home. I was drawn to United Way of the Greater Seacoast because they help to create positive change for several local nonprofits within the area.

Has serving as a VISTA changed how you view poverty? What experiences have contributed to this outlook?
Yes, it has, since I myself am faced with navigating the complicated system of social services. Working in a field where people come first can really stretch you thin at times when working with limited resources.

What has been your favorite part about being a VISTA?
Having the freedom to experience different roles within a larger nonprofit. It has helped me determine what aspects of nonprofit work I enjoy as well as what tasks I do not enjoy as much.

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a VISTA?
I would say know your worth as a person, that one VISTA really can make a difference. Not all days and activities are glamorous, but if you can deal with working behind the scenes VISTA may be for you! It is also okay to go into your VISTA year with your own goals in mind too. A big part of my year is trying to gain more work experience with fund raising and build my resume.

Do you have any fun hobbies or hidden talents? 
I have a secret love of quilting and making creative pieces of art with fabric. I also love backpacking and rock climbing, anything to get outdoors!

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Katherine Benoit
Family Enrichment and Volunteer Program Coordinator VISTA
Child Health Services
Katherine with roses

Why did you choose to become a VISTA? Why did you choose to serve in New Hampshire?
I chose to become a VISTA because of the opportunity presented by my host site. I felt that the opportunity would enable me to spend a year pursuing meaningful work while learning and discovering ambitions for the future. I chose New Hampshire because it is where I grew up. After being away for four years of school I was eager to return to New Hampshire and work within a community that means so much to me.

What is your role at your host site? What does a typical day or week look like for you?
I am currently coordinating tutors for kiddos in need in the Manchester community as well as coordinating a Family Literacy Class that runs weekly. The rest of my time is spent managing our food pantry and coordinating events such as our annual Turkey Toss that gives Thanksgiving meals to families in need, diaper drives, school supply drives, etc. 

What is it that drew you to your particular position and host site?
I was drawn to Child Health Services because I have a passion for health and felt my previous education has provided me with skills I can use here. I understand the value of wrap around services, such as tutoring and literacy classes and how they can help to improve the overall health of individuals which made me excited to work with them. It was also located near the community I grew up in, which means a lot to me.

Has serving with VISTA changed how you view poverty? What experiences have contributed to this outlook?
Serving as a VISTA has not changed my view on poverty itself but rather changed my view on how to help. Although I am passionate about the many different services I perform at my host site I am aware that some of them are only band-aids for the problems our participants face and not a cure. This is why the focus on Family Literacy and tutoring services has increased at my site. These programs enable individuals to receive the assistance and services which can ultimately break the cycle of poverty that many families face.

How do you feel the work you are doing has impacted the community you are serving in?
During our annual Turkey Toss event we were able to give out more meals to families than in previous years (close to 400 families, or 1,700 individuals). We did not have to turn a single person away, even those who were not signed up. I have also been able to expand our food pantry program to help more families receive emergency groceries and help connect individuals with educations resources both here and at other organizations.

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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. VISTAs (Volunteers in Service to America) are charged with fighting poverty through capacity-building projects in government and non-profit organizations.

The mission of Families in Transition (FIT) is to provide safe, affordable housing and social services to individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, enabling them to gain self-sufficiency and respect. 

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Families in Transition
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