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 Beth Deroshia with questions (firstname.lastname@example.org).
NOW SEEKING A 2nd VISTA LEADER! Applications due Oct. 7; positing starting as soon as Oct. 21, 2019.
- As experienced peers, VISTA Leaders support and mentor VISTAs both professionally and personally in a range of roles (ambassador, recruiter, liaison, education, mentor, and resource generator). This VISTA Leader position supports 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 Leader provides 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). Specific objectives and activities include developing understanding of local community and campus resources; determining, developing and delivering appropriate training in support of VISTAs and their VADs; communicating and meeting regularly with VISTA members individually and in groups and with sites and supervisors; assisting with program compliance, reporting, and documentation; assisting with VISTA publicity, recruitment, retention, and transitions; and providing general support to the UGA VISTA Network and its stakeholders. VISTA Leaders must have successfully completed at least one prior term as a VISTA. Priority will be given to mature and conscientious individuals who possess solid understanding of CNCS/AmeriCorps policies and are able to effectively communicate with diverse stakeholders, problem-solve, work independently on multiple fronts, travel to placement sites in the Athens area, and use technology tools effectively.
UGA's network is led by a VISTA Leader who helps coordinate, train, and support the VISTAs and their site placements. In Summer 2019, UGA hosted eight-week Summer Associates placed with Campus Kitchen, UGArden, College Factory, Athens Community Council on Aging, and ACC Library.
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.
- 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.