By Zak Mitchell, FNSB Library '19-20
Beginning in January 2020, two recipients will receive a Library Foundation scholarship that completely pays for GED education at the Literacy Council of Alaska. The award will be offered biannually.
If you or someone you know are interested, please contact Zakeya Mitchell at email@example.com.
By Zak Mitchell, FNSB Library '19-20
I am currently an AmeriCorps VISTA serving in the Interior here in Fairbanks, Alaska. Myself and the other 5 VISTAs were invited to Los Angeles, California for an all-expenses paid In-Service Training for 3 ½ days, food included.
Wahoo! I’ll admit that invitation didn’t catch my attention until they mentioned food. Now I’m dedicated to the cause because they have showed me they are dedicated to my appetite.
Day 1 : Salutations
I arrived at LAX around 4ish, I don’t believe in checking luggage for trips that last less than 2 weeks so I carried all of my belongings. I got to the hotel roughly 15 minutes away from the airport and checked in. I went to my room with the intention to relax, but was startled by my roommate taking a shower so I just put my things down and went wandering about looking for my cohort friends. I couldn’t find them, so I sat at a table full of strangers. All of us were from someplace different but found much common ground when we gathered the courage to talk to one another.
Day 2: Making the Most of Your VISTA Service
Training began promptly at 8:30 am, the only bummer was, we weren’t allowed to take breakfast out of the dining hall. My newly acquainted roommate and I obviously overslept and rushed downstairs to munch on a warm meal as quickly as possible.
They separated us into groups based on colors predesignated on our name tags; I was in the red group. Of course I was: I’m bold, daring, radiant, primary - pun intended. [Insert laughter here.] Pardon me while I gas myself up.
Our first class of the day was ‘Making the Most of Your VISTA Service’.
Day 3 : Serve and Thrive: Resilience as a VISTA
We were asked to write three words to describe ourselves on the first day. My first word was sensitive. When people meet me, they develop a synopsis based on the way I dress, my nonverbal communication and word choice in conversation, if they can catch me speaking. These things help them postulate who they think I am. It is rare that someone is 100% accurate, and most people never gather how empathetic I am until a koala is burned in an Austrailian forest fire and they see me crying at my desk. Nevertheless, as an empath I’ve had to learn the hard lesson of exercising emotional boundaries.
This class, lead by a wonderful woman named Shoshanna, taught us techniques to prevent what many experience at the DMV called compassion fatigue. It’s when someone is in a position to assist another, but does not appear to have any empathy in an environment where empathy should be abundant. I am certain we have all experienced a person who has been anything but compassionate about a situation we thought was dire. It doesn’t feel good, and without properly separating yourself from your clients or your taxing daily tasks, anyone can be lead down a road of being unapologetically indifferent.
So, how is that prevented? Take a walk, practice deep breathing exercises, punch a gnome, anything positive that relieves the stress.
Day 4 : Last Day of Training
I am always sad when something is over. Each moment feels like water rising until I’m completely engulfed and there is no more air to gasp. I guess I’m a little anxious when change is lurking. And our last day was everything I expected, sappy, in a good way. Acknowledgements and final remarks about the days prior, moments where we shared our thoughts in conjunction with our expectations on the first day. Goodbyes.
My philosophy is when good people with common denominators get together, it somehow feels familiar and that should be embraced. I embraced it; and I have yet to regret that choice.
By Kelsey Snyder, Thrivalaska VISTA '19-20
Serving as the Development Coordinator at Thrivalaska involves a lot of outreach to the community including creating relationships with donors and companies. I recently submitted a grant to Wells Fargo to help my host site complete a re-flooring project at our thread Resource and Referral building. One of the main goals for my year of service is to help my site see visible growth in their ability to reach out to companies and individuals in the community for project and program support.
While the flooring project may not be seen as a dire need project, many families come to our organization looking for resources and we want to ensure they feel welcomed and comfortable while getting the help they need. We have used grants as an opportunity to gain funds for projects in the past such as new internet servers or other building updates in the classrooms. If approved for grant funds, you must use the funds given specifically for the project you had listed in your application.
My time writing the grant involved a lot of collaboration with my administration offices. I had to learn about the demographics our non-profit serves, and generate specific numbers to show the application board why our target population was in need. Writing this grant was a very useful way for me to practice painting a full picture of what my site does and the true difference it makes in our community.
The process began with creating an organization profile, simple information based on location and contact addresses. The large portion of the grant itself is the project proposal. You begin with funding purpose and describe what project you need funding provided. Many grant applications ask if there is a benefit to the company such as mention in a newsletter, daily paper, or on your website. This specific grant asked for information on how many low to moderate income group individuals you serve throughout the organization. Finally, you talk specifically about your organizations goals and accomplishments. This is where you get the opportunity to show the company why your program matters in your community!
After collaborating with my Executive Director and get approval to submit my proposal, we were told to expect our application to be reviewed within 45 days. Around a month and half after submitting our initial proposal to Wells Fargo, we were fortunate to receive an email letting us know that our grant has been approved! The email explained how we could expect a check in the mail within the next 8 weeks. As a non-profit, these application approvals are big victories!
What it's like being on the other side?
By Vicki Slobodyanik, Love INC. VISTA '19-20
The Fairbanks Reentry Coalition held a Reentry Simulation that I was able to be a part of. It was a very good opportunity to experience the life of someone who was incarcerated and is reentering society.
My name is Meagan Scheer and I served as a VISTA from 7/2011 - 7/2012 and then came back in 12/2015 for another round as VISTA Leader.
I am a military brat so I have lived everywhere; however, I spent the better part of my life on and off in Hampton Roads, Virginia. In 2011, I had been working full-time in a pretty toxic work environment for about 3 years and working towards my Associates Degree. I knew there was more out there for me so I applied for a VISTA position in Fairbanks and moved here in 2011 to serve at Love INC of the Tanana Valley. In April of that year, my project ended and I had the opportunity to begin work at Fairbanks Youth Advocates working on an outreach project. In that one year, I developed relationships that will last a lifetime.
After my service was over, I left to use my Ed. award to finish school in Colorado. There I worked another dead-end job (I really like to balance my work experiences) until I graduated and moved back to Virginia. One day I got a phone call from my friend and fellow VISTA co-worker at FYA to let me know she was leaving her position as VISTA leader and that I should apply.
I laughed and laughed. It was 90 degrees in October in Virginia Beach and I was sipping on a frosty PBR while Sarah told me it was snowing in Fairbanks and I should come work for VISTA wages again for another year.
Well, long story short, I applied and came back as Fairbanks VISTA leader. Here I was again: poor, working a hard job, and walking around in sub-zero temps.
Honestly, it was the best decision I ever made.
I had the opportunity to work with other VISTAs and help support them through their VISTA year. I met community members that have made Fairbanks a better place. I made friends that will last a lifetime. I worked at the University, the Borough building, had the opportunity to connect with other VISTAs in Anchorage and all around the state of Alaska. I was able to work with the Housing and Homeless Coalition, Access Alaska (where a huge part of my heart still exists), and now I work at the Girl Scout Council. I have the opportunity to volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club, the Ester Community Association, Bread Line, Angry Young and Poor, and other organizations.
Fairbanks has become a part of my soul. I owe my career and passions to the AmeriCorps VISTA program and to the community of Fairbanks. I hope that each and every one of you find your experience here as special as I have found mine.