Karen Kelly served in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1980.

Alumni story
Karen Kelly 1980 St. Joseph

I entered VISTA in 1980 and was sent to St. Joseph, Missouri. I was 20 years old and wanting to change the world. There were 6 of us from all over the country and our job was community development and organizing neighborhoods to spend HUD monies in the community. I met so many amazing people that were also working for change and am friends with many of them today. I met my future husband while serving and actually live in St. Joseph and have for over 20 years. 

I had never really been exposed to the level of poverty as what I saw in St. Joe and it moved me. It made me want to help to change things even more. I feel that my VISTA year helped to shape life into wanting to be of service to folks in need.  I think all 20 year olds should do a volunteer year and take a step outside the comfort zone and experience real life. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to do what I have done. When I retire I hope to join the Peace Corps. Thanks VISTA!!  

Decade: 1980s