Ashton served as VISTA Team Leader from April 10, 2019 to October 8, 2020. She recruited 32 VISTAs for both full-year and summer terms and took pride in mentoring them through their service. She also created the Fairbanks VISTA website, Facebook page and Alaska AmeriCorps Facebook group. Ashton moved to Fairbanks in March 2018 to serve as the public library's first VISTA and fell in love with the community. She appreciates all the opportunities Fairbanks and Alaska opened up to her. Her next adventure takes her to the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i as the County's Homeless Coordinator.
It is amazing what Ashton can accomplish in just 18 months! Before Ashton started, I had serious concerns about the VISTA program. The City had just taken over the sponsorship and at the same time AmeriCorps was going through a significant restructuring. Because the sponsorship had changed, we had to recruit for all 11 full year VISTA positions and the 18 Summer Associate positions. The Summer Associate recruitment began about a week after Ashton started as the VISTA Leader and our recruitment period was only two weeks long. To make matters even more challenging, our local program didn’t have a website or dedicated social media presence yet. Within a few weeks of accepting the VISTA Leader position, Ashton created the AmeriCorps VISTA of Fairbanks website and social media pages, established our local VISTA office, and recruited for 14 of the 18 Summer Associate positions. After those first couple weeks, I no longer worried about our VISTA program.
Ashton, thank you for your service to our community. You helped our local program with your dedication, problem-solving, and leadership skills. We can't wait to see the great work you'll continue to do in Hawaii!
From the moment Zak arrived, I could tell we were very lucky to have her here. Rarely do you meet someone with such imagination and creativity combined with skill. Using her talents to encourage literacy and library use she began a very successful run of highlighting library resources to members of our community. I have no doubt she made a difference in the lives of very many people. Zak fit right into our crew and became a member of the library family and will be missed. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors!"
Zak, thank you for your service to our community. You helped our local program with your creativity, humor and passion. We look forward to seeing you around town!
Brynn wrapped up her service year on August 17, 2020. She served at Fairbanks Reentry Coalition as their Reentry Program Associate. In her role, she organized a relationship with the Fairbanks Wellness Court to facilitate a location for those in their program to come and fulfill their community work service obligations and facilitated sustainability by putting together a complete "box kit" of supplies and materials needed to organize and run a Reentry Simulation. As the pandemic affected our community, Brynn stepped up immediately as a front-line worker to run a Warming Center for the homeless community, providing them with a place to warm up and eat while other agencies were closed.
She will remain in Fairbanks and work at the Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living as their Administrative Assistant to three of their programs.
It has been my privilege to work with Brynn for the last year. She had obstacles to overcome and did overcome them. In telling her story, she told us that she would no longer let anyone write her story for her, she would write her own story. In many ways working with us in setting up a new program, she has not only charted her own way but helped us write the story of the Reentry Coalition in Fairbanks. Her authenticity and ability to share her life with us has made us more trauma-informed and sensitive to the re-entrants that we serve.
Brynn, thank you for your service to our community. You helped our local program with your perspective, hard work and dedication. We are excited to continue seeing your good work in Fairbanks!