Over the past year, three members of the AmeriCorps VISTA program have worked at Goodwill of Central Iowa in support of its mission. VISTA program participants commit to a year of service at host organizations that serve low-income communities in an effort to fight poverty.
Three members, Nancy, Michael and Stewart, have worked with Goodwill to grow our involvement in the immigrant and refugee population, market our mission to the public, and support our programs surrounding those re-entering society following incarceration. Below they shared their experiences and how it affected their lives.
Michael Fox, Mission Marketing
Being a VISTA with Goodwill of Central Iowa has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I’m surrounded by staff whose kindness shines through in everything they do. My supervisors are committed to helping me grow as a professional, and I contribute to making a difference.
In my position of mission marketing, I write to support the mission of Goodwill of Central Iowa. The most rewarding part of my job is when I get to interview program participants for our content marketing efforts. I have a conversation about what they’ve struggled to overcome, their dreams for the future and how Goodwill impacted their life. It’s inspiring to see the dedication of the staff and the hard work of these individuals.
I am lucky in that I get to tell stories every day and feel good about how I’m contributing to the mission. At the end of my VISTA year, I’m so much more confident in the skills I’ve developed on the job.
Coming into this program, I was looking for a new direction in life. One where I could dedicate myself to helping people through non-profit work. Thanks to the VISTA program and Goodwill of Central Iowa, I’m now positioned make a career out of my passion. I’ve grown as a professional and have learned new skills that I can take into the next step in my journey. I will be eternally thankful for everything that I have experienced in my time here.
Nancy Medel, New Iowan Outreach
My VISTA year was impromptu. It was not something I had necessarily planned after graduation, but it has become an experience that I needed. I had just graduated college and was not sure what I wanted to do. During my senior year I started volunteering at different organizations, from helping people with disabilities to victims of sex trafficking. All I knew was that I wanted to help people. This position offered me something that hit close to home. Being a first-generation American, I had grown up in the immigrant community and became very familiar with the struggles.
I think that every VISTA sometimes questions the impact they are making, and that is normal. It takes time to see progress and the changes that have been made. For me, it happened within the first couple of months. I remember going to the Refugee Roundtable in downtown Des Moines on a Saturday morning. I was nervous because this was the first big event that I was going to by myself. There, I met some of the most passionate leaders in the refugee communities. Their words resonated so deep within me and I just knew that I needed to be here to help. Everything they talked about left me speechless.
I had the pleasure of meeting some truly great individuals here that love what they do because of their participants. They taught me so much about this organization and what it can be like to work with a purpose.
Stewart Rice, Re-Entry
I chose to join AmeriCorps VISTA because I wanted to feel like I was in a job where I was making a tangible difference. I knew the position at Goodwill of Central Iowa would be the perfect fit because of my familiarity with Goodwill’s mission and values. Getting to see all the different participants come through our doors, whether it is for our Day Services Program, the different job training programs we have, or our Creating Excellence in Re-entry (CEiR) program has really been a joy. Getting to go out into the community and share our mission with those unfamiliar is an awesome part of the job.
My favorite memory was on the Martin Luther King Day of Service, as we held a shirt drive for migrant farm workers. We hosted about 30 volunteers ranging from middle school aged kids, to Drake students, and even some professionals from the area. It was awesome seeing a group of strangers come and work together for a great cause. I’m proud of the fact that we were able to donate over 500 shirts.
I’ve been able to closely observe and work with our CEIR group, getting to see the hard work these guys put into bettering their lives has been a bright spot of my VISTA tenure.
AmeriCorps is a great opportunity for someone who is ready to make a difference and not quite sure where they want to start their career. The VISTA position you serve can either be a stepping stone to a full-time job or point you in the right direction.
In Their Own Words
Now Accepting Applications
We are now accepting applications for our 2019-2020 VISTA positions. These include:
- Connection Center Outreach
- Digital Skills
- Mission Marketing
- Rural Outreach & Program Development