SERVING AT YOUR PROJECT
Before an AmeriCorps VISTA member is assigned, a sponsoring organization develops an AmeriCorps VISTA project to address identified needs of a low-income community. The community and sponsoring organization work collaboratively to design the project. A member's assignment is designed so that when the project is completed, the low-income community is better equipped to solve its own problems, and the systems, services, funding, and organization remain in the community to continue the efforts initiated by the project.
The project application details the specific problem the project will address in the low-income community, provides a set of goals and objectives for the overall project, and includes a project plan that describes the activities the VISTA member will undertake.
The project application serves as an important assessment and recruitment tool. The performance measures portion of the application is the basis of subsequent Project Progress Reports, which are used by CNCS staff to monitor the achievement of project goals. The assignment description portion of the application is used to recruit and assign AmeriCorps VISTA members and to summarize their required duties and skills.
SUPERVISING AMERICORPS VISTA MEMBERS
The sponsoring organization designates a supervisor to oversee the AmeriCorps VISTA project and the efforts of members at each site. Your supervisor provides day-to-day direction and guides your service as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. You do not, however, have an employment relationship with the sponsoring organization. You are an AmeriCorps VISTA member and are accountable to the AmeriCorps VISTA program. You are, nonetheless, required to act in a professional manner and conduct yourself with utmost decorum in accordance with the sponsoring organization's workplace policies and procedures.
It is not uncommon for AmeriCorps VISTA supervisors to have significant job responsibilities other than those related to AmeriCorps VISTA. Their supervision is needed to result in a successful project and member experience. It is critical that you and your supervisor are clear regarding oversight, communication, and operating expectations. The opportune time to address this issue is at the beginning of your service year during On-Site Orientation and Training.
In preparing to support you in your role as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, your supervisor should consider all aspects of your assignment, including:
- Your day-to-day tasks on the project
- The relationship of your tasks to the work of the sponsoring organization's staff members
- The sponsoring organization staff 's understanding of your role
- The target community's expectations of you and for the project
- The resources, facilities (e.g., reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities), and supplies needed for your assignment
Your duties cannot supplant or displace those of paid staff or existing volunteers.
Your role as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in the project should be made clear to community members and sponsoring organization staff well before your arrival. Much of your supervisor's role is to anticipate your needs and reactions, as well as those with whom you come in contact while working on the project.
Your supervisor is responsible for structuring assignments so that your health and safety are not jeopardized during your AmeriCorps VISTA service.