Jul 20th, 10
This is my second to last post and I cannot believe it. I feel like I just moved to Syracuse and now I’m ready to pack up and move out. I have really enjoyed my VISTA experience, but I am also excited to see what awaits me. I am finishing my manual and ready to pass my work down to a volunteer.
I have successfully increased our volunteer capacity and would like to thank my supervisors for making this experience as rewarding as possible. They handled my VISTA experience perfectly and have really embraced the capacity building model. My VISTA project was ideally suited for a two-month Summer VISTA experience. I have heard horror stories about VISTAs spending their year-long programs with nothing to do but that didn’t happen to me. Instead I spent my summer, feeling like I was making an impact. I will recommend national service to my friends in the future and am planning to enroll again later.
It is events like the Syracuse Habitat annual picnic that make me exited about future work in non-profits. The Picnic was last Friday and it sure was a lot of fun. I would like to thank everyone who came out in support of us. We had a good turnout and people seemed to really enjoy themselves. It was great to see all my social media advertising really pay-off. Our event committee definitely deserves credit for making it such a wonderful event. I know that out event-planning VISTA will make events even more successful in the future.
Be sure to come back next week and read a full wrap-up of my VISTA experience.
Jul 13th, 10
Last week was very stressful for the Syracuse Habitat Summer VISTA. That explains why my last post was not available until Saturday. Fortunately, all of my car problems have been figured out and I am now back at work.
Being stranded on the interstate did get me to start thinking about poverty in Syracuse. One day without a car seemed daunting at first until I thought about the thousands of Syracuse residents that ride the bus to work everyday. Half of Syracuse residents are low-income and can afford very few luxuries. Instead they spend most of their income budgeting between housing, healthcare, and food. This is why Habitat for Humanity builds houses.
The lives of Syracuse Habitat homeowners improve dramatically as soon as they finish their sweat-hours and move in. Housing immediately becomes more affordable and they are able to work towards a better life. Instead of spending half of their income renting substandard housing, they spend 30% of their monthly income owning a brand-new home. This is how Syracuse Habitat helps to eradicate poverty in Syracuse.
I am so glad that I am working on this mission and am excited to continue my work as a Summer VISTA. Check back next week for my post on week six and later this week for my report on my first Habitat for Humanity home dedication.
Jun 29th, 10
Another week at Syracuse Habitat for Humanity has come to a close. By my count, I just finished my third week of eight as a summer VISTA. With each week I become more and more proud to work for Syracuse Habitat for Humanity.
Last week flew by and I was barely able to catch my breath. Unlike previous weeks, I did not have a specific task to accomplish or a goal to work toward. Instead I did a little bit of everything. I did everything from stocking doors at the ReStore and assisting customers to editing marketing manuals. By the end of the week, I was ready to do something more long term. I got my wish in the form of database entry and development.
While I still wish that I was directly working with volunteers, this new project is exactly what the VISTA program is all about. It’s about capacity building and strengthening our organization. After my tenure is finished, Syracuse Habitat for Humanity will be stronger and be able to use volunteers more effectively. We will be able to easily track total volunteer hours by site, year, and even individual. All of this will help us to honor our volunteers, which are the heart and soul of our organization.
We will also be able to better use volunteers to suit our needs and their interests. Skills and experience will be viewed as assets and we will develop a more streamlined efficient machine. At least ten thousand hours of volunteer work was put forth at Syracuse Habitat for Humanity last year alone. That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars saved and invested into new homes. If we paid for construction, office work, Restore donation collection, etc our organization would fall apart. That’s why my VISTA experience this summer is so meaningful.
That’s how I feel at the beginning of my fourth week as a VISTA for Syracuse Habitat for Humanity. While I may not see the full impact of my work, I am sure that what I am doing is very important and am excited about the next few weeks.