This tax credit, part of the American Rescue Plan, has provided economic relief in the form of monthly checks to working families since mid-July, 2021. Families have used this money each month to meet expenses, purchase more and better food for their families, and invest in their children's future.
If you have not yet signed up to receive these monthly checks, now is your chance! Members of the City of Fairbanks VISTA cohort have received training and will be out in the community answering questions and helping families sign up. We have three future tabling events here in Fairbanks (with kind hosting assistance from the FNSB Noel Wien Library); we will update the times and dates below if and/or when more in-person tabling events are scheduled. November 15th is the deadline to sign up to receive this truly important cash benefit, so don't miss your opportunity!
Denise Lavoie, VISTA Team Leader
Daniela, Julia, Julia (!), and Nathanael will serve Fairbanks from August 16, 2021 - August 15, 2022. As full year VISTAs, they will build the capacity of their individual organizations through indirect service, and in Daniela's case, for the very first time at her site (trailblazer, she). We're excited to welcome them to the team and see the impact they have in the coming year!
Kenzley moved to Fairbanks with lots of excitement, both for the VISTA position and opportunities within the state and community. All of her expectations were exceeded! During her year as VISTA Leader, Kenzley recruited 19 new full year and summer associate VISTAs, supported them through any challenges they encountered (thank you COVID…), and celebrated their many accomplishments. Her favorite VISTA memories include planning and implementing the first annual Kids Literacy Farmers Market and being inspired by the motivation, energy, and kindness of the VISTA cohort. Kenzley has fallen in love with Fairbanks and is excited to stick around as the Energy Justice Organizer with the Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition.
Kenzley Defler is the ultimate professional! She excelled in every aspect of the VISTA Leader position. She built upon previous VISTA Leaders’ work and blazed a path for future VISTA Leaders. Kenzley successfully advocated for two expansions to the program resulting in the program growing to 16 full year VISTA positions, 14 Summer Associates, and the Team Leader position. I don’t think the VISTA program has ever been this large in Fairbanks and it’s due to Kenzley’s efforts. Growing the program was just a small part of what Kenzley did. Her main contribution was the impeccable leadership she gave to the VISTAs. She was a mentor, fierce advocate, active listener, and a role model to the VISTAs. Everybody respected and appreciated Kenzley for her leadership. Under her leadership the VISTA team became one of the most cohesive, drama free, and productive VISTA year groups I have ever seen. Kenzley is amazing and I am excited to see what her future holds!
I am very thankful for my experience at the Noel Wien library! It has given me more community outreach skills. This experience has given me more of an appreciation for the Fairbanks community and the work the library is doing to support the community. Special thank you to all the library staff who always were so friendly to me and offered ideas, especially to Melissa Harter. I am so proud to be part of the work that our library is doing, which is so vital to our community during the time of coivd. Thank you! Gracias!
The library is a challenge in the best of times. It is a feast or famine situation, and our VISTAS need to be self-sufficient and go-getters to make the most of this placement. Stephen is a shining example of the perfect fit for our mission. From the beginning he was very open minded and willing to adapt to our ways. His arrival during COVID added complicating factors to his year here, but still he persisted in moving projects forward. Always willing to help and do what is necessary, Stephen has been a truly positive force for our staff. With his friendly nature and can-do attitude, he immediately fit in and was accepted as one of our own. His contributions to our programs are many. He is very well liked, and he will sorely be missed, but we wish him all the best in his new adventures!"
Tessa served at the Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District from August 31, 2020, until August 30, 2021. Throughout the year, Tessa was able to immerse herself in FSWCD outreach events, food policy groups, and natural resources education. She recruited a community-led advisory council, pursued integral partnerships with the Fairbanks Community Food Bank, successfully wrote a grant to support Community Gardens in Fairbanks, and conducted soil samples and soil health workshops at multiple gardens throughout the summer. Tessa will continue to support food security in Fairbanks through her work on an urban agriculture conservation grant as a Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District employee.
Tessa was a complete dream of a VISTA. She started with a quarantined two weeks but worked and researched the whole time. When she started we just learned that we received the large USDA grant and she was raring to go with ideas and setting the tone for the grant process. She dove right into the project head first and was my right hand help throughout the whole process of getting everything set up and structured. I don't think I could have survived the process without her help. She was always flexible, working through the hills and valleys, sometimes deep valleys, of this enormous project with a smile on her face the whole time. Her professionalism and super attitude was noted by so many that we worked and connected with during her service. She was always willing to help and learn new skills at the office. She was an integral part of our FSWCD team all year. I'm so happy that she chose us and we are so happy to have been a part of her VISTA experience. She is truly amazing."
We were so pleased to have Mikayla Riley join our Reentry Coalition in August 2020. Her Big Audacious project was to take all the Reentry data from the Fairbanks Reentry Case manager since 2017 and transform it into meaningful data, with charts and graphs. She came during a time of COVID-19 and program transition, hard for anyone but she made the adjustments, even working from her small apartment with grace and willingness. She has a passion for justice and tender heart. Mikayla, we wish you all the best with your coming adventures."
Mikayla and I only had a month or two to work together but in that short time, she did her best to bring me up to speed as the new Reentry Coalition Coordinator. Although there are several impactful contributions that Mikayla made to the Reentry Coalition, I am most grateful for her hard work and strong organizational skills as it relates to the Reentry Simulation that she spearheaded. Mikayla created a timeline, pulled the right people together for consultation, sent out invitations, ordered food, reserved the venue space, and did what she could to make sure the event would be a success! In the end, the Simulation program got postponed due to COVID-19 concerns but when the event does successfully take place in a few months, it will still be because of the groundwork Mikayla did. Thank you Mikayal for putting together this program / event but also for all that you did to help build capacity toward our mission of serving reentrants.
I spent the past year working with Thrivalaska helping them develop sustainable fundraising and marketing strategies. This has been a wonderful, empowering year and I will always be grateful for the trust and support that I've been given throughout my service. On top of what I've learned with Thrivalaska, it's been incredibly educational to see so much of what it looks like for people to work together and share resources to improve their community. After service, I will be working with Fairbanks Arts Association as their communications associate. I'm so excited to spend more time in Fairbanks and in this beautiful state!
Nicole was our second year VISTA and she really knocked it out of the park! Initially she spent quality time learning all about Thrivalaska and how best to assist the whole organization. She worked with all our program leaders, our Board, the admin team, and reached out into the community so many times for resources! I cannot say enough good things about Nicole – she’s smart, funny, thoughtful, brave, and extremely talented. She helped us with fund development and marketing. She’s so talented putting together flyers – she always seems to find just the right picture to capture what she’s trying to convey. I have the utmost respect for her as a young working professional – she will do so well wherever she lands! We have been so lucky to have her talents – she’s written funding proposals (several were funded), she’s developed training for the Board and has been instrumental in helping them understand their role as fundraisers for the organization, sent out quarterly newsletters, kept up with Facebook and Instagram, is assisting us with building a new website, and is helping establish our 3rd year VISTA goals! We will miss her so very much and thank her for being so awesome and spending quality time with all of us at Thrivalaska!!"
It has been a pleasure working with Nicole and watching the magic unfold. She has a keen eye for creating engaging marketing content.I can recall meeting with her, thinking through ideas, sifting through different angles and settling on brilliant concepts. She has truly shaped the way we disseminate information. We were so fortunate to have an innovator on our team. From grant writing to team collaborations, you were present and consistently exceeding our expectations. Nicole, thank you for sharing your gifts with Thrivalaska. It has been an honor watching your impact touch our families and children in a meaningful way. The systems you have created will continue to serve our community beyond your time here."