As I was graduating from college I needed an option, one that would provide me a small sum of money, experience for my resume and the opportunity to repay my student loans. I selected VISTA because it would provide me administrative experience and the opportunity to travel to a region beyond where I grew up. At the outset it was purely a pragmatic choice. After I had begun my term I slowly developed an appreciation for, and deep belief in, what VISTA was and what it accomplished. It was that belief, pride in the work that I was doing and the mission of VISTA that motivated me to become a VISTA Leader.
During my first term with Okiciyapi Tipi Habitat for Humanity, I was the Family Services and Volunteer Coordinator. I worked with new homeowners on understanding the requirements associated with the purchase of their new home. Additionally, I helped in the recruitment of volunteer groups to work with the affiliate. As part of the recruitment process I developed an educational packet that was sent to groups to educate them about the Lakota Sioux people and arranged for speakers and events while they were serving.
I was helping to build homes in an area of the country where the majority of people lived in HUD homes and there was a critical housing shortage. Through home ownership families developed security, pride, built capital and allowed for a greater investment in the welfare of the community.
For my second term, I was in Washington DC. I worked with the National Alliance to End Homelessness as a VISTA Leader. I assisted in the administration of their national VISTA program. I recruited, trained and placed VISTAs with host sites and then monitored their service and developed in-service trainings. In addition to site relations, collecting and responding to monthly reports, VISTA concerns etc., I also worked at maintaining the VISTA payroll and the issuance of post-service stipends and educational awards.
With the National Alliance to End Homelessness I worked to ensure that VISTAs were properly prepared and supported to do the best job possible with their sponsoring agency to solve the challenges confronting their clients.