The University of Georgia VISTA Network was established in 2013 to support local community partners with AmeriCorps VISTA members to increase their capacity for bringing individuals and communities out of poverty in the Athens, GA area. The AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) program places passionate individuals in a year-long, full-time position to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency. They focus their efforts to build the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of organizations that improve health and educational services, reduce food insecurity, foster economic development, and otherwise assist low-income communities. AmeriCorps VISTAs are compensated with a small living allowance, health coverage, possible relocation allowance, and receive an end-of-term education grant or stipend. See more on the VISTA program and its requirements and benefits. Contact UGA AmeriCorps VISTA Leader Zariah Lewis with questions (email@example.com).
UGA's VISTA Network is supported by two VISTA Leaders who mentor VISTAs and serve in a range of roles (ambassador, recruiter, liaison, education, mentor, and resource generator). This VISTA Leader positions support the UGA VISTA Network, its AmeriCorps VISTAs, sites and stakeholders to build capacity, fight poverty and enhance connections between the University of Georgia and the Athens, GA community. With a focus on food insecurity and waste, sustainability and educational initiatives, the UGA VISTA Network includes year-long VISTAs and/or summer associates placed at middle schools in Clarke and Barrow Counties, Athens Regional Library, Athens Community Council on Aging, College Factory, Clarke County Mentor Program, and on campus (Campus Kitchen-UGA, UGArden, and Foodshed UGA). The VISTA Leaders provide assistance, resources, training, and coordination of the VISTAs in collaboration with their site placements, another VISTA Leader, and the UGA Office of Service-Learning (administrative home for the VISTA Network).
Current year-long VISTA positions as of 2019 include the following:
- Campus Kitchen VISTA: This VISTA focuses on increasing the capacity of the Campus Kitchen at UGA to collect food donations and produce and distribute meals to food-insecure seniors in Athens-Clarke County. The VISTA strengthens volunteer recruitment and training procedures and sustains partnerships with UGA service-learning courses, UGA student organizations, and local service agencies. Position is hiring for February 2020!
- Senior Hunger Coalition VISTA: This VISTA member is placed at the Athens Community Council on Aging (ACCA) and works with the various partners to build capacity within the Senior Hunger Coalition (SHC) efforts.
- Grow It Know It/Middle School Garden VISTAs: These VISTAs are placed at middle schools in Clarke County (and, since 2018, in Barrow Co.) to recruit and train volunteers to assist with school gardens, develop and implement garden, nutrition, and sustainability programs at local middle schools, support food waste reduction and promote increased use of fresh produce in the school cafeteria, and build capacity for program sustainability.
- Athens-Clarke Co. Library VISTA: This VISTA works with the library's teen services and leverages volunteers and community organizations to offer a range of relevant programming for young adults at the library.
- Clarke Co. Mentor Program VISTA: This VISTA helps recruit, train, and support community and UGA mentors who are partnered with mentees in the Clarke Co. School District.
- College Factory VISTA: This VISTA builds capacity with the organization which has programs supporting college awareness and readiness for low-income high schoolers.
- FoodShed UGA VISTA: This VISTA helps enhance connections and develop resource materials supporting this new initiative of OSL/Office of Sustainability, focused on food systems, food production, waste, and hunger.
- UGArden VISTA: This VISTA recruits and coordinates volunteers and community outreach activities with the UGArden demonstration farm.